Sunday, November 4, 2012

Samurai Champloo

I should have posted about Samurai Champloo before this because it’s an awesome series.   I don’t even know why I started watching it in the first place because in general I like pretty character styles, and Samurai Champloo is anything but.  But from the first episode I was hooked.   The story is good, but what hooked me was two things:  the sword fights and the perfectly ridiculous elements they interject every so often.  I do love unique anime.

The story follows three individuals, a young woman named Fuu, an upper class wandering samurai with years of sword training named Jin, and a totally unscrupulous, former pirate with no formal sword training named Mugen.  The story starts with Jin wandering into a food shop where Fuu works and Mugen is tormenting a customer, and Jin and Mugen begin fighting.  Despite all Jin’s skill, he cannot beat Mugen's random, totally wild fighting “style”.  During their battle they burn down the shop and kill the customer, who turns out to be the son of an important official.  They are tortured and sentenced to die.  Fuu helps them escape and the three end up going on Fuu’s quest.

Fuu is without family and now without a job thanks to Jin and Mugen.  Her quest is to find her father, with the catch being that she doesn’t remember anything about him other than that he smells like sunflowers.  So Mugen, Jin and Fuu wander across Japan in search of the samurai who smells like sunflowers.   That should tell you something about the series.

The quest takes the three travelers into and out of a variety of escapades, including a baseball  game, working a mine with dead zombies, dealing with religious zealots who grow marijuana, and as they begin to close in on the sunflower samurai,  nearly getting killed by a blind assassin.  Along the way, they become entangled with a bunch of different people and their causes and they face some of their own pasts.  This is one of the things that makes the series so unique and fun to watch – the randomness of a lot of it.  Plus despite the ridiculous aspects there’s often a lesson involved.  The series doesn’t take itself seriously and yet is serious in places.  Mugen and Jin, as expected of two opposites with sword skills, occasionally try to kill each other along the way.

In the end they manage to find Fuu’s father.   Multiple people are out to kill them because Fuu’s father is a Christian and the Shogunate wants them all destroyed.  Despite the odds, the three manage to survive the quest and end up going their separate ways.  Still, none of them died and they part as friends.  You end up feeling like they’ll see each other again.  I really recommend this series.  Everything about it is unique.  

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