"A Sunflower By Any Other Name…" – Samurai Champloo (anime) – 9/10 Sugar Cubes

A true friend is one who thinks you are a good egg even if you are half-cracked. ~Author Unknown

Genre: Adventure/ Comedy/ Action/ Historical (sorta- not the most accurate!)

Review Status: Full (26 Episodes/ 26 Episodes)

Licensed: Licensed in the US

Art/Animation: Samurai Champloo has fantastic art and fluid animation, is filled with bright, vibrant colors and very well-choreographed fight scenes.

Summary: Mugen’s a buck wild warrior – violent, thoughtless and womanizing. Jin is a vagrant ronin – mysterious, traditional, well-mannered and very strong as well. These two fiercely independent warriors can`t be any more different from one another, yet their paths cross when Fuu, a ditzy waitress, saves them from being executed when they are arrested after a violent swordfight. Fuu convinces the two vagrant young men to help her find a mysterious samurai “who smells of sunflowers.” And their journey begins. This is a story about love, friendship and courage… NOT! (Source: AniDB)

Review: If you know anime, then chances are you’ve heard of this title. It’s very popular- for good reason! This is a great samurai action title loaded with historical anachronisms, amazing fight scenes, and a great story. This was really the breakout title for Manglobe Studios, which has produced amazing anime titles such as Ergo Proxy and House of Five Leaves.

Samurai Champloo has fantastic art and fluid animation, is filled with bright, vibrant colors and very well-choreographed fight scenes. Most of it is set to various hop-hop and funk music, with many being incredibly catchy, such as the opening song “Battlecry” and the closing song “San Francisco”. All the songs fit very well with the anime, capturing the scene and mood that’s being set. Not only is the soundtrack great, but the story is also a lot of fun, with pop-culture references and anachronisms that make this look as cool as anything (16th century designer sunglasses, anyone?). The only thing that could be a downside is that, while there is a constant reminder almost every episode that they have to find ‘the samurai that smells of sunflowers’, the plot is pretty episodic. There’s a lot of travel, but they don’t get anywhere fast. Not that the pacing is slow, by any means! Every episode, though fairly self-contained, has great stories and adventures, like the counterfeiters and the gay Dutchman that came to experience Japanese culture. And eventually, the series does come down to the reason they were travelling in the first place, with a somewhat surprising end to it all which might leave some wanting. Though it also seems fitting- I don’t think it could all have ended any other way for these three!

Of course, the characters can make or break a series, no matter the plot and animation- and that’s where this series seems to shine. From the innocent and sometimes obnoxious Fuu, to the arrogant and wild Mugen, and the stoic, honorable Jin, all the characters are well-developed. They all have their own motivations and personalities, and the bonds that form between them are as strong as any. Thankfully, the voice acting is strong enough to carry these characters well. I was lucky enough to hear it in both Japanese and English. While the English acting is fairly good, the Japanese is definitely the way to go if you can follow subtitles.

Overall, while the violence and sexual themes in this anime might put some off, for anyone who wants to see the ‘classics’ of anime, or just a really cool samurai action title, this isn’t to be missed!

Recommended: YES! Older teens and up, due to heavy violence, sexual themes, and language.

Other titles you might like: Cowboy Bebop (anime),
Sword of the Stranger (anime),
Baccano! (anime)
Seirei no Moribito (anime)


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