So the wife and I found Samurai Champloo on Hulu and while she’d never seen it, I watched back when it first came to American in 2005 or so. It’s the story of two Japanese swordsmen and young woman following their search for a samurai who smells of sunflowers. The series comes from the creator of Cowboy Bebop which helped change many American attitudes about anime and manga being considered art as opposed to children’s fare.
Champloo is the second major series from Shinshiro Watanabe and it continued to blend his various inspirations into one form. Cowboy Bebop had a classic Western feel, mixed with a 70’s New York vibe set in outer space. Samurai Champloo draws together the environment and politics of post feudal Japan with modern hip hop music and present day Japanese sensibilities. As with Cowboy before it, the run of the entire series is just 26 episodes. This at times disagrees with my American Comic Book up bringing as I want things to last forever like 80 plus years of continuous Superman stories and multiple Spider-Man books put out each month. Watanabe tells the story he has to tell, then lets go.
Mugen is my favorite character in the series. He’s the wild haired warrior who fights fast and free and holds no allegiance to anyone but himself. He is voiced in the American dub by legendary voice actor, Steve Blum, who also voiced Spike in Cowboy Bebop. Jinn is the other male protagonist of the series and he’s the exact opposite of Mugen in all ways except also being an accomplished fighter. Jinn is voiced by Kirk Thorton. Lastly is Fuu, the girl who brings them all together on their path for the Sunflower Samurai, she is voiced by Kari Wahlgren.
The series holds up remarkably well. I found the original ending to be a little lacking, mostly in regards to the sudden stop that it is as opposed to the vague ending of Cowboy Bebop. It will be interesting to see if I like the ending any better almost 15 years later.