View Full Version : The Samurai Champloo Appreciation Thread
07-31-2005, 12:35 AM
Agent Foxtrot and I are both thoroughly engrossed in the anime Samurai Champloo. It's set in 17th century Japan, and contains elements of traditional Japanese culture anachronistically married to modern hip-hop and breakdancing.
Fuu is a waitress who saves the lives of Jin, a stoic samurai, and Mugen, a rough-and-tumble criminal. She makes them promise to go on a journey with her to find the "samurai who smells of sunflowers"; once this task is completed, Jin and Mugen will be able to duel one another to the death. During their quest they encounter sometimes hilarious, sometimes heartbreaking, sometimes thought-provoking adventures.
The artwork in this anime is stunning, very clean and detailed, and the characters actually look different, imagine that! I love that the dialogue tends to be minimalist -- there's a lot said with expression and action, rather than yapping.
There's an element of realism to the show. The characters actually spend a lot of time trying to find food and shelter, instead of just trotting along happily for days on end with no problem. They try to scrounge up a few bucks by taking odd jobs; in one episode Jin and Mugen find jobs as bodyguards for warring Yakuza clans. In another episode, they have to pawn Jin's glasses in order to buy dinner. There's something endearing about watching these three outcasts beginning to form tentative bonds with one another, almost without realizing it. Beautiful and sad, but never mushy.
Anyway, I'm in love with Samurai Champloo and I just wanted to gush and see if anyone else likes it, too.
I agree, it kicks quite a bit of ass.
It has a lot of the feel that Bebop did, which isn't surprising considering that they were both directed by the same guy, Shinichiro Watanabe. Don't get me wrong, now, I love Bebop, but Champloo seems to do things better. Bebop relied on mid-20th century style set in the late 21st century, and it was great. Champloo's use of present-day hiphop elements and other anachronisms in feudal Japan makes for a much more entertaining contrast. Case in point: the human beatbox in episode 9.
It's interesting that you mention realism. You're absolutely right, like when it shows how they have to scramble for the necessities of life, and even if, say, Fuu manages to find some good in the heart of a pickpocket, he gets killed anyway. I love how the series is plausible and yet irreverent to themes like redemption in that respect. But again, the anachronisms. It doesn't make it AUTHENTIC samurai drama, but it still makes things work. It's like taking the cast of a serious drama and putting them in an out-of-character situation for an episode. And that's key to why it's so good.
Are you watching the dub or the sub? Even though they've got some talent in the dub, they don't seem to be doing their best and translating it into English takes a lot away from the show. Scenes where they randomly break into English/engrish get screwed up, and it sucks. Again, take the beatbox episode: when that guy hits on Fuu, he greats her with a heavily Japanese-accented "heeeeyyyy, babyyyyyy." In a later episode, they have some English-speaking foreigners show up and the humor of that will be completely lost (then again, maybe they weren't meant to be funny, but who knows).
David Lucas, though he kicked ass as Spike, Gara, Roger Smith, and others, isn't suited to Mugen. I can't think of a single English-speaking VA that could approach the job his Japanese counterpart did. Mugen isn't smooth or hip, he's an uncouth loudmouth and Kazuya Nakai's voice work captures that perfectly. Jin and Fuu's VAs do good work, though.
Anyway, how much have you seen?
07-31-2005, 08:35 AM
I fell in love with this show from the first fight scene. Its' so differnt from anything else I've ever seen on TV. I'm taping the shows and watching them on a bit of a delay so the last one I saw was the one with the human beatbox. Maybe my anime voice over palate isn't that refined, but I like Mugen's American voice.
07-31-2005, 11:37 AM
It's a good dub, although I also prefer the sub. In a case like this, it's often what you see first. I do admit to liking some other translations better, especially:
"This country will certainly open up its asshole."
"Who would open up their asshole for you?"
The dub translated it as being less tight-assed, but I find the strangeness makes it funnier. The guy's Dutch, it's fine if his speech is a little off. I wonder if the baseball episode will be as funny in English, but I'm sure they can pull it off. (That episode was funnier than the zombie one, IMO.)
Some of the things they do on this show, direction-wise, are simply beautiful. Every episode you get a scene of the quality that you get once a series in something like Rurouni Kenshin. Love the character design, love the animation, love the acting, love the script.
Strangely enough, it's not addictive like other anime (don't ask me why Dragonball Z or Pokemon are addictive even to adults, if I knew that I'd be making a fortune.) I never rushed to watch an episode. But I always enjoyed them.
07-31-2005, 05:51 PM
Kinda makes you wish to be caught in a forest fire too! :p :p :p
07-31-2005, 09:57 PM
I am in love with Jin.
I really liked Bebop, too, but I like the visuals in Champloo better. I do occasionally want to kick Fuu, but I always wanted to strangle Ed, so it's an improvement. I've only seen the first ten episodes or so. Very good characters, very good story.
07-31-2005, 10:03 PM
I fucking love this anime. I loved Cowboy Bebop, but as is true of all animation, the more recent it gets, the prettier it seems to get somehow.
I don't know if the series has come to its conclusion yet, but...
There appears to be a foreshadowing of some sort of mutual annhiliation of the two swordsmen protagonists. Which is essentially a reiteration of the Cowboy Bebop finale. I thought it appropriate in that storyline, but in this one it just seems pointless--wasteful. Spike's past caught up to him in Cowboy Bebop, but in Samurai Champloo, it appears that they just have nobody else to kill but each other... Has this occurred? Does anyone else see this coming to pass?
07-31-2005, 10:14 PM
Spoilers for the end of the series!
That totally doesn't happen.
07-31-2005, 10:19 PM
Then I feel a little better. :cool:
07-31-2005, 11:39 PM
Gorgeous show—especially Fuu. :cool: —even with the dub. Definitely a high point of my week.
08-01-2005, 03:52 AM
My girlfriend and I have been buying the DVDs as they're released, so we're an episode or two ahead of Adult Swim, and we love it so far. Samurai Champloo has a lot of elements in common with Cowboy Bebop, but it manages to have a completely different feel regardless. I do wonder who would win in a fight between Mugen and Spike, though.
As for the voice acting, this is one of the series for which I prefer the English voice cast. I wasn't aware of the language-specific jokes mentioned in this thread, though; are there any episodes I should make a point of rewatching in Japanese?
08-01-2005, 11:05 AM
Great little series - possibly the only one thats really grabbed me since Bebop.
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