I don’t usually watch anime. Many don’t even consider Samurai Champloo legitimate anime since it’s so Westernized. Nevertheless, Samurai Champloo is awesome.
Okay, the story line is pretty predictable. A girl finds some companions, asks them to help her find “The Sunflower Samurai”, and then they all go through some trials and tribulations to get there. You can even probably predict that the samurai they are in search of probably has some sort of familial relation to Foo (the girl).
It all flows. The characters interact mellifluously while everybody still has their quirkiness. People fight. people talk. At some points, you can just drift away in the mellow jazz-hop Fat-Jon/Nujabes tracks, which tie together the entire thing. There is definitely something special about the way everything is orchestrated.
The entire series is pretty scattered. One day, Foo’s in a whore-house. The next, the entire crew is stuck with a foreigner, touring the city. Honestly, I have no idea how that stuff really pertains to the main plot, but trust me, it just works. Everything works. The majority of the show is actually “filler”, but it’s not like the onerous, dreadful filler in Naruto or something of the like. The filler made this show awesome.
I hate to sound like a pretentious bastard in saying that there were so many little references and lessons in the show (everyone probably noticed them, so I’m not special), but there were. If you don’t go against the flow of the water, but flow with it… That’s probably the one that really got to me the most. The characters just go with whatever the world throws at them until they find that one moment where they know what they need to do. They catch the fish. The tracks in the background feel like some background music from the hip-hop cultured alleyways in Japan. But, it all flows. The tracks mesh perfectly with the environment. The artistry ties everything into the hip-hop-Japanese-Samurai theme. Even Mugen’s fighting style resembles breakdancing and he emulates that IDGAF gangster ideology. The ensemble of everything flowing together creates an incredibly immersive environment.
The Westernization makes it all feel a bit more real. Hip-hop is not commonly used in Anime to the extent that it is used in SC. We see the Japanese culture. We see the history. However, we also see the connections to our own lives. This show does give the feeling that nobody important can die, but doesn’t give that to the extent that other shows do. I can barely describe it; the show doesn’t feel real. It feels real.
There are heroes, but they are completely normal. It’s not like we get to see everything going on inside everybody’s mind at all times. I feel like Watanabe intended that, although many critics have said that the character development is a bit shallow. He wanted it to feel real. In real life, we don’t see everything in a person like a lot of anime’s allow you to see. At least for me, very few people have that much emotional depth except for myself, since I can feel everything I experience. We see the surface; sometimes we might see a little depth. To some extent, we understand Mugen, Jin, and Foo. However, we don’t know everything. We never even get to see the true history behind “The Sunflower Samurai”. We just get to see it as it happens. That’s why it is real. It’s not like we could be master swordsmen killing crowds of henchmen everywhere we go. We can see how it would all happen in real life, though. Nobody’s flying around shooting lasers from their swords. Nobody has the multi-episode, super in-depth characterizations of the characters. There may be a few monologues or episodes that give us a little insight to each main character, but nothing goes that in depth. Everyone has their secrets, and there are a lot of open ends. It’s all just like the real world.
Yeah, you probably have to watch it to see what I’m saying. Watanabe definitely did a great job. I’ll probably watch it again some time when I have time. I probably missed a lot. But, hey, this is the real world; we don’t see everything.