Thursday, June 4, 2009

Samurai Champloo

This has to be one of the BEST samurai anime ever. It’s not the best because it brings many insights on samurais or anything, it’s the best because it is very entertaining. Samurai Champloo is all about style, with dj-style scratching scene changes, hip-hop-inspired soundtrack and eclectic character design. The story is about three people traveling together through edo-era Japan, finding battle and comedy wherever they stop. Those three are: Mugen who has a fighting style which is a funky meld of capoeira and limb-cutting, Jin who is all steel and old-school samurai style, and a girl named Fuu. What binds them together is the desire to test each other's abilities, and a promise to the girl: to find the samurai that smells of sunflowers, who plays a pivotal role in her past. What I like about this one is how well it mixes historical Edo period with modern styles and references. The show relies on factual events of Edo-era Japan, such as the Shimabara Rebellion ( persecution of Japanese Christians ) and Dutch exclusivity in an era where edict restricted Japanese foreign relations. Incorporated within this are signature elements of modernity, especially hip hop culture, such as rapping, graffiti, bandits behaving like "gangstas", and much of Mugen's character design, including a fighting style influenced by breakdancing. Samurai Champloo's musical score predominantly features hip hop beats, which are obviously not in accordance with the timeline. But there are other things not in accordance with the timeline for example baseball and the United States.
The opening, even though features a rap beat, faces the same problem as Gankutsuou… it’s boring. All the action, fighting and violence yet the opening is something so dull and lifeless ( shit-puking-sound is how I would describe it ). But again the ending makes up for it. So does the rest of the musical score. And since I am talking about sound, know that the sound effects, although don’t sound very realistic sometimes, do the job right, and voice-work ( the English dub ) is done with the same care and professionalism as DBZ. 
What I guarantee is that you will lack… boredom. You will NEVER HAVE A DULL MOMENT ( which is actually a good thing ). There is always a good fight to watch in every episode. The fights may not seem too realistic, but they get the job done. And remember this anime is not about much historical accuracy as it is about senseless fights and limbs getting cut samurai style. There is also very little to no drama, which means there is no consistency in the plot ( or very little ) but that is Ok, cause again this anime is not about much story or meaning, just mind-numbing fun. Also what I would like to address is the amount of dumb moments you will meet. But that is good. Yeah I know that when I usually say this I mean it in a bad way, but this time is good. This time, these moments are MEANT to be retarded, not like the moments which I complain about, cause they usually mean to be dramatic or smart-funny. But here it is because they are meant to be retarded that they are so funny. Trying to explain it would be like this…. Imagine that your friend comes up and gives you a nice package and tells you that inside is a beautiful and expensive gift. You open it, expecting something nice, but all you see to your horror is a big piece of horse shit. Now you feel more disappointed because you friend promised you something else. Now imagine that same friend comes up with another package, and tells you from the start that inside is a piece of shit. You open it, you see the piece of shit and you are pleased because you received what you were promised. Maybe that’s a bit exaggerated, but you get the picture. The most retarded episode is one in which our heroes play baseball with the U.S. Navy. You can clearly see the anachronistic facts in here: 1)Baseball wasn’t invented yet; 2)U.S.A. didn’t even exist at that point in history. It is retarded, sure, but it’s entertaining because of this. 
The graphics are good to, but sometimes just don’t feel realistic, like that girl Fuu getting obese after a meal, but quickly loses that weight, or the physique of certain characters ( e.g. a Dutch emissary ). But again, they are so unrealistic because that’s how they should be for the sake of the comedy. That’s what this anime is about, fighting and comedy, fighting and comedy. Sometimes though you get the feeling that they overdid it ( the comedy ). I mean it works out fine here, but sometimes it gets so stupid that’s it’s just… stupid. Also it has it’s moments of drama ( e.g. Jin falls in love with a woman who became a whore because of here debts ), and sometimes it’s good but otherwise they just don’t feel really needed.
Overall, Samurai Champloo is a fun experience, and it if you want some hot samurai action than this is the one I recommend.  

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