Funimation Flashback: A Look Back at Samurai Champloo

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By Cheyenne Ewulu

Oh, hello! Didn’t see you there! Welcome back to another episode of Funimation Flashback, the series where I, Cheyenne, revisit some of my favorite anime titles from my childhood! So that means anime from the late ’90s through the early ’00s!

But before we jump into today’s topic, be sure to follow Funimation everywhere for more anime content like this! Are you done yet? I’ll wait. Cool! Thanks for the love.

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On today’s episode of Funimation Flashback, we’re bringing it ALL THE WAY back. Like we’re talking Edo-era Japan with this one. We’ll be looking back on one of the dopest anime series to date, Samurai Champloo. I always like to talk about how the soundtrack for this anime is so chill, and how ironic that is since the anime itself is anything BUT chill.

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Picture this: It’s 2004 on a school night, and you stayed up just a bit past your bedtime. You hear your mom or dad’s footsteps downstairs, and you know it’s time to go to bed OR ELSE. But, before you turn the TV off, you catch a glimpse of this badass new anime that shows samurai break-dancing and beatboxing.

You decided to stay up a little longer, with the TV volume turned slightly lower, so you could see what this new show was about. That’s when you discovered the beauty that is Samurai Champloo. Am I right? Or am I right? I feel like we all somewhat had the same childhood.

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For those of you watching this video who haven’t had the chance to dive into this masterpiece just yet, here’s a brief summary for you: After saving skilled swordsmen Mugen and Jin from execution, young Fuu recruits them to be her bodyguards and to join her on her hunt for the mysterious samurai that smells like sunflowers. Sounds like a pretty basic description, but this show is definitely anything but basic.

Let’s talk characters. Mugen, Jin and Fuu aren’t your typical anime protagonists. You have Mugen, the no-good troublemaker; Jin, the calm, cool and collected mature one; and Fuu, the young, fiery one. They’re complete polar opposites, which makes every interaction entertaining to watch.

What I really enjoy about their group dynamic is that there really isn’t one character that outshines the other. While Mugen is my favorite character—I mean, come on, the dude is hilarious—I always found myself enjoying the scenes more when all three of them are together versus when they’re each rolling solo.

Creator Shinichiro Watanabe has the magic touch. I mean, this was his follow-up from his already legendary series Cowboy Bebop. He had big shoes to fill, and I have to say, he didn’t disappoint. I mean—hip-hop culture meets samurais—what more could you want? The show’s unique fusion of cultures definitely helps it stand out among other titles.

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Speaking of hip-hop, the music in this show is still unmatched. The chill, jazzy, lo-fi beats that could be heard throughout each episode pretty much had me hypnotized. This was probably your first introduction to the legendary musicians FORCE OF NATURE, fat jon and, of course, the late Nujabes. I would watch this show a million times more just for the music alone. I mean, because of the soundtrack alone, like I said before, if “chill vibes” were an anime, it would definitely be Samurai Champloo.

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On to the animation. This anime has some of the most well-animated fight scenes I have ever seen in my life. If the music, characters and art weren’t enough to draw you in at first glance, then the fight scenes surely will. The animation is smooth and well-choreographed, which makes the battles in this series super-pleasing to watch.

I could go on forever about why Samurai Champloo is one of the greatest, but why listen to me when you could just go on the Funimation app and, I don’t know…watch it again yourselves? This is definitely an anime that deserves another revisit.