It’s honestly hard to put our feelings for Samurai Champloo into words. This gem hails from the mid-2000s, a truly great time for both anime creators and fans alike. For many of us, Samurai Champloo represents a simpler time in our lives – a time when everyone seemed less angry and frustrated, and animes of all kinds filled the airwaves.
Admittedly, it’s going to be hard to not discuss Samurai Champloo with nostalgia goggles on; it doesn’t necessarily represent an objectively better period of modern history, but it does represent a freer one. Ah, we’re probably getting a bit too sentimental right now. Give us a moment to wipe the mist from our eyes, then we can discuss ten objective reasons why you should check out Samurai Champloo.
10. It Was Created By Shinichirō Watanabe
To the uninitiated, the name Shinichiro Watanabe might not mean as much as it should. But we are initiated, aren’t we dear reader. We know that Mr. Watanabe has worked on some of the most impactful animated projects in modern history – chiefly, The Animatrix, Mobile Suit Gundam, and the legendary Cowboy Bebop!
Watanabe has a directing style that’s unmistakable for any other artist in his field. His work is so prolific that major companies like Netflix and Warner Bros. have spent years searching for a way to adapt it. Moreover, Watanabe’s work seems to resonate just as much with die-hard anime lovers as with non-anime fans.
9. It’s Short And Sweet
As we get older and busier, we sometimes find it harder and harder to get into the latest animes – or even stay up to date with some of the longer-running shows that we used to watch in the past! Between work, school, and the sea of personal and professional relationships that you have to maintain as an adult, it can be hard to find time for a series as long as One Piece or Naruto.
However, Samurai Champloo is only 26 episodes long, with each episode running for about 23 minutes. You could either binge the entire series in a day, or you could watch one episode a day and finish Champloo in a month. Either way, you won’t need a Filler Guide for this anime.
8. It’s Funny As Hell
Series creator Shinichiro Watanabe is one of the most skilled directors in Japan, proven largely by his ability to effortlessly bound between drastically different moods and tones in a single project; when Watanabe wants you to cry, you’re going to cry, as you’ll see later on in this article.
But when Watanabe wants you to laugh, he and his team will crack you up with gut-busting gags and side-splitting humor! Samurai Champloo is, like, 70% comedy, 20% action, and 10% drama for most of the series. This series is one of the funniest animes out there and features plenty of episodes that’ll have you reeling with laughter (looking at you “Baseball Blues!”)
7. The Voice Acting Is Superb
Regardless if you prefer subs or dubs, the voice actors who worked on Samurai Champloo did a phenomenal job bringing their insane characters to life! The Japanese cast for Samurai Champloo features talented VA’s who’ve worked on projects like Gintama, Hellsing, and even One Piece – aka Mugen’s voice actor, Kazuya Nakai!
The English dub of Samurai Champloo features a slew of prolific voice actors such as Kari Wahlgren, Kirk Thorton, and the legendary (and borderline omnipresent) Steven Blum! People are quick to rant and rave about voice acting work that they didn’t like, so we should always give credit when it’s due for a job impeccably done.
6. The Action Scenes Are Amazing
Though that formula that we mentioned earlier generally applies to most episodes of Samurai Champloo, there are plenty of notable exceptions to that trend. Some episodes contain very few fight sequences, while others pour on the action. But whenever a fight breaks out in Samurai Champloo, you can be sure that you’re about to witness something amazing!
Champloo’s battle scenes are not only immaculately choreographed and fun as hell to watch, but they’re also emblematic of the characters’ personalities and mindsets. Mugen fights like the wild, unpredictable vagabond that life’s molded him into, while Jin is precise, methodical, cold, and outwardly dispassionate. And we’d be remiss if we didn’t mention how amazingly well animated the battles are in Samurai Champloo.
5. The Characters Are Unforgettable
Speaking of Samurai Champloo’s characters, we’d also be remiss if we didn’t spend some time gushing over how cool the show’s main cast is! Fuu, Mugen, and Jin are a lovable trio of misfits who you’re bound to connect with on some level; they aren’t out trying to save the world, they’re merely trying to find their way in it. By the series’ end, you’ll remember them as much for their flaws as you will their strengths.
Champloo also features a slew of memorable side and secondary characters – many of which have deep ties to Fuu, Mugen, and Jin’s pasts. But hey, creating memorable characters is another of Shinichiro Watanabe’s strengths – just look at Cowboy Bebop for proof of that claim.
4. The Music Is Genuinely Motivating
Much like Cowboy Bebop, music plays a pivotal role in the Samurai Champloo experience. From the jump, your ears will be blessed with the show’s theme song “Battlecry,” a majestic piece produced by the late Japanese artist Nujabes and that features the talents of fellow Japanese rapper Shing02.
For the end credits theme, Nujabes worked with Japanese singer-songwriter MINMI to create the hauntingly beautiful song “Shiki no Uta.” Nujabes and American producer Fat Jon worked on all of the music featured in Samurai Champloo’s soundtracks. We honestly aren’t exaggerating when we say that this music is life-changing. If you can, we highly suggest checking out the Samurai Champloo Music Record: Departure as soon as humanly possible.
3. It Probably Influenced Your Favorite Anime
These days, there’s no shortage of irreverent animes that feature crazy characters with big personalities and amazing action sequences. While we’re not going to say that Shinichiro Watanabe and Samurai Champloo created those things, we can tell which newer animes have been influenced by Champloo.
Off tops, Kill la Kill and One-Punch Man share many stylistic and tonal similarities with Samurai Champloo; all three of these great projects are funny as hell, brimming with amazing action scenes, and overflowing with lovable, memorable characters.
2. It’ll Break Your Heart
For all of its breath-taking humor and awe-inspiring fight sequences, Samurai Champloo has a lot of heart – which is probably one of the biggest reasons why the show resonates with so many people. Fuu, Mugen, and Jin undergo many genuinely heartbreaking experiences throughout the show’s run – often because of their deep-seated flaws and vices.
We also see these characters lose far more than they gain throughout Samurai Champloo’s run – from physical positions, allies and loved ones, and even abstract concepts like innocence and faith. Watanabe knows how and when to strike specific emotional cords, making for a show that’s best described as a full and well-rounded emotional rollercoaster.
1. It Ends With A Vital Life Lesson
At the start of this article, we got pretty sentimental and began reminiscing more than we honestly intended to. Funnily enough, that somewhat ties into this last bit of praise that we want to give Samurai Champloo. It’s genuinely hard to describe a series as unique and multi-faceted as Champloo is. However, if someone asked us what the show was about, we’d say that “Samurai Champloo is about change” without hesitation.
We refuse to delve into the series’ conclusion too much as we’d run the risk of spoiling a moment that we feel everyone needs to personally experience. However, we’ll say this much – if you’re feeling like you’re at a crossroads in your life, or you’re experiencing thoughts of fear and uncertainty about certain changes in your life, we recommend that you watch Samurai Champloo as soon as possible.