It’s tough to post a blog about Japanese animation and not look like an unemployed dweeb living in a basement apartment in the suburbs somewhere. While we can assure you that, yes, we are fully functional adults (Rafy owns his own house!), we sometimes take pleasure in an anime or two. I just finished watching a series that, despite it’s possible negative affect on my love life, I feel the need to blog about.
The series that I am willing to risk my Fonzie-esque reputation on is Samurai Champloo. It’s a 26 episode series from Shinichiro Watanabe (Cowboy Bebop, The Animatrix.) While I want to entice even the most anti-anime amongst you to check this series out, I’m not going to bore you with a plot synopsis. The plot isn’t really anything special. The animation is fluid, colorful and engaging, but that’s not what really separates this anime from others. You know what makes Samurai Champloo great?
The artful blend of historical Edo era Japan and modern American Hip-Hop culture.
Beat boxing, graffiti and some incredible break dance-infused fight scenes make this anime something truly and uniquely worthwhile. Don’t think that Watanabe leaned on hip-hop as a gimmick to sell a lackluster show though! The characters are well developed and, for the most part, devoid of the clichés that plague this genre. The overall plot (the search for “The samurai that smells like sunflowers”) is a little loosely thrown together, but each episode sparks an intriguing sub-plot that quickly draw the viewer in.
Samurai Champloo is, all in all, a kick ass anime. The masterfully balanced infusion of hip-hop into feudal Japan is tough to accurately describe however, so I’ll leave this as Lavar Burton did on Reading Rainbow, “But you don’t have to take my word for it!”
Give it a shot. I’ll even direct you to the first episode, here. Enjoy!