Samurai Champloo

From Academic Kids

Missing image
Still from the opening sequence of Samurai Champloo
Samurai Champloo (サムライチャンプルー) is an anime title consisting of 26 episodes that began broadcasting on Fuji TV in Japan on May 19, 2004, directed by Shinichiro Watanabe of Cowboy Bebop fame. The show, which is set in the Edo period, is not a true historical title, but features action, adventure, and some comedy blended with an anachronistic hip-hop soundtrack. Its name comes from the Okinawan word, "champuru" (e.g. goya champuru), which means to mix or blend.

What Watanabe started with Cowboy Bebop he now continues with Samurai Champloo. Mixing a genre of anime and a genre of music that one would not think would go together, he implemented a hip-hop theme into the genre of Samurai swordplay (known as Chanbara). This is much like Cowboy Bebop, which combined science fiction with a blues and jazz theme. The score is composed of hip-hop beats by Japanese hip-hop artists Nujabes and Tsutchie among others. The hip-hop influences do not end with just the soundtrack. Characters, costume design, attitudes, and even editing methods reflect hip-hop culture. Some samurai sport Adidas-like stripe patterns on their kimonos, while one of the main characters, Mugen, has a capoeira-esque fighting style that resembles the breakdancers of the 1980s. The show has many other anachronistic elements as well—elements that the show's creators seem to revel in, as evidenced by one title card from the first episode: "This work of fiction is not an accurate historical portrayal. LIKE WE CARE. Now shut up and enjoy the show."

The show revolves around three characters: The brash and lanky vagabond Mugen, the quiet and stoic ronin Jin, and the cute and quick-thinking waitress Fuu. Fuu helps Mugen and Jin escape from a vengeful daimyo and, in exchange, she persuades the two to help her in her search for a mysterious samurai who smells like sunflowers with a coin toss. She will have trouble keeping the two from killing each other, though.

Geneon Entertainment licensed the show for distribution in the United States nearly a full year prior to the show's airing in Japan. This decision was based almost solely on the reputation of its creator, Shinichiro Watanabe. On January 20, 2004, it was revealed that the broadcasting rights were acquired by Cartoon Network, and the series began airing on the Adult Swim block on May 14, 2005, in the 11:30 PM timeslot.

There is also a manga adaptation of Samurai Champloo that debuted in Shonen Ace in August 2004. TOKYOPOP licensed the manga in North America.




Mugen was born in the Ryukyu Islands (currently Okinawa). Rude, lewd, and vulgar, he can be a real pain. Mugen carries only one sword (where a samurai would have two), his clothing is reminiscent of baggy hip-hop styles, and his brown hair stands straight up like an afro. Extremely unorthodox swordsmanship and Capoeria-like movement make him a formidable opponent. He and Jin fight from time to time, but there is a mutual understanding between them. His Japanese is quite rough and "Yanqi", and he is illiterate. Mugen is from Ryukyuu, modern day Okinawa, which was in the Edo Period a separate kingdom with close ties to China. The blue tatoos on his wrists and ankles indicate that he was once in prison. The circumstances of his imprisonment, and whether he escaped or emigrated legally, are never clear (but the latter seems more likely). He is known to have engaged in piracy on at least one occasion.


Jin is the second main character of the show. He and Mugen have sworn to kill each other, but cannot fight until they help Fuu find the "samurai who smells of sunflowers". Since he is of the samurai class, (unlike Mugen), it is legal for him to carry two swords at a time. Jin wears traditional hakama and gi, in indigo blue, with a white diamond crest. (This closely resembles the crest of the great Takeda clan, leading to some fan speculation about his family origins.) He also sports a pair of wire-rimmed glasses, which were very rare and expensive at the time. Jin is an extremely skilled swordsman, using swift and refined orthodox moves of the Mujuushin kenjutsu school. Many people (usually former classmates) wish to kill him because he murdered the school's master, Mariya Enshirou. Jin is extremely devoted to upholding bushido, the code of the samurai--and is in fact named after jin, "benevolence", one of the seven samurai virtues.


Fuu is the leading lady of the show, a young woman of samurai lineage but brought up in poverty. After a not-so-sucessful stint as a teahouse waitress, she saves Mugen and Jin from wrongful execution and forces them to help her on a quest. She is searching for "the samurai who smells of sunflowers"--but never explains what exactly a sunflower smells of or what the man looks like. Mugen and Jin are often reminded of this fact when in a tense situation in which they wish to fight each other, much to their chagrin. It later is revealed that the samurai that smells of sunflowers is Fuu's father, a member of the persecuted Christian minority, who left his wife and child to protect them from reprisal. Without her father around to support them, Fuu and her mother led a difficult life until Fuu's mother died of illness. Fuu wishes to find her father and pummel him as revenge for the suffering he caused her mother.

Cast (Japan)

Cast (English)


Note: There are 2 titles per episode, first is a translation of the Japanese title and the second is the english subtitle. The Japanese title is always in four Chinese characters, which is a classic and poetic style. The English translations, in an attempt to convey this sense of wordplay, make full use of the poetic device alliteration

  1. Storm and Stress - Tempestuous Temperaments
  2. Veritable Pandemonium - Redeye Reprisal
  3. Tacit Understanding (Part 1) - Hellhounds for Hire (Part 1)
  4. Tacit Understanding (Part 2) - Hellhounds for Hire (Part 2)
  5. Utter Indifference - Artistic Anarchy
  6. Redheaded Foreigner - Stranger Searching
  7. Surrounded on all Sides - Risky Racket
  8. Self-Conceit - The Art of Altercation
  9. Evil Spirits - Beatbox Bandits
  10. Fighting Fire with Fire - Lethal Lunacy
  11. Fallen Angels - Gamblers and Gallantry
  12. Learning from the Past - The Disorder Diaries
  13. Dark Night`s Road (Part 1) - Misguided Miscreants (Part 1)
  14. Dark Night`s Road (Part 2) - Misguided Miscreants (Part 2)
  15. Through and Through - Bogus Booty
  16. Idling One`s Life Away (Dream 1) - Lullabies of the Lost (Verse 1)
  17. Idling One`s Life Away (Dream 2) - Lullabies of the Lost (Verse 2)
  18. Pen in One Hand, Sword in the Other - War of the Words
  19. Karma and Retribution - Unholy Union
  20. Generous Elegy (Part 1) - Elegy of Entrapment (Verse 1)
  21. Generous Elegy (Part 2) - Elegy of Entrapment (Verse 2)
  22. Anger Shot Toward Heaven - Cosmic Collisions
  23. Heart and Soul Into the Ball - Baseball Blues
  24. The Circle of Transmigration (Part 1) - Evanescent Encounter (Part 1)
  25. The Circle of Transmigration (Part 2) - Evanescent Encounter (Part 2)
  26. The Circle of Transmigration (Part 3) - Evanescent Encounter (Part 3)

External links

es:Samurai Champloo fr:Samurai Champloo ja:サムライチャンプルー pl:Samurai Champloo


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