I cannot really say that the storyline of Samurai Champloo is the main attraction of the anime, but it is almost never forgotten throughout and this is already a good grade in my books. Most animes these days just leave their storyline in the dust and just rambles on about any other subject it can get its grubby hands on. The story is basically about two completely different samurais that have to accompany a girl on a quest to find a samurai that smells of sunflowers. The story takes many twists and turns as they journey through Japan in search of the sunflower samurai. On their journey they encounter many obstacles, most frequently they get stuck in with the police or some kind of authority figures.
Even though the storyline is not one of the main attractions of the anime, it is one of its strong points, because it does develop and it does wonders for the three main characters as it makes their characters grow and in a way they seem to get closer or more understanding of each other as the story progresses.
Different. That is what the animation represented to me. It had the usual dark scene throughout the anime as many of these genres of anime do, but what sets it apart is how well it fits in with the period of the story, the Edo period which it is set in. I cannot say that the animation is brilliantly done, but it captures the essence of the story. The sharp lines of the features of the characters and the shading done upon their faces give them life in ways other animation styles would never have done. The only downside of the animation is the background detail, which is... minimal to say the least. It seems as if they just stuck some background there that had some correlation with what was going on, but it never really spoils the rest of the brilliant animation work.
The battle scenes in the anime are visually appetizing, movements of the body and the slices and stabs of the sword are fluent and almost made into an art form in Samurai Champloo.
The voice acting of the anime was done very well to put it shortly. Mugen’s voice fitted perfectly with his attitude of being very moody, self- centred and brash. Jin’s voice was also portrayed excellently as it was slow paced and a calculating voice which exemplified the manner in which samurais would speak.
The soundtrack is where the problem is found for my six out of ten rating. The opening soundtrack, Battlecry, which is played throughout the twenty six episodes inadvertently fits well with the different way in which this anime was produced. The closing soundtracks is the main problem for the poor rating, they do not go well with the flow of the story. It would not fit in with the way the story would end, not even once. They are a collection of weird sounds made by people who does not know how to compose music or even play an instrument, let alone sing.
Amazing character development is what makes this anime what it is. As the story progresses you get to know each character, where they came from, why they are the way they are and why they are going where they are going. Mugen’s tragic past is conveyed excellently to the viewer in two episodes in which he re-unites with people from his past. Fuu, the girl travelling with Jin and Mugen, has a rich history and it is presented to the viewer in short snippets to make you feel more connected with her. At first I felt as if the weird combination of characters would clash, but as you move through the story the characters become understanding of each other and they learn to deal with each other’s faults in their own ways.
Even bit part characters that appear for one or two episodes are given a short history so the viewer can understand them for what they are.
In short, a well planned out storyline and well developed characters created an excellent anime. A must watch for viewers who are into samurais and brilliantly done fighting scenes. It will also attract people who can follow a storyline and become attached to characters even if you do not like them.