Newest Reviews
Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ
Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, A
This is a Hijack
Loved One, The
Jumanji: The Next Level
Krabi 2562
Call of the Wild, The
Diary of a Country Priest
Sea Fever
Throw Down
Grudge, The
Green Man, The
Specialists, The
Romantic Comedy
Going Ape!
Infinite Football
Little Women
Camino Skies
Another Shore
Cry Havoc
Legend of the Stardust Brothers, The
Mystery Team
Westward the Women
Man Who Killed Don Quixote, The
Jojo's Bizarre Adventure
Murder Inferno
Overlanders, The
Can You Keep a Secret?
Women in Revolt
Peanut Butter Falcon, The
Ip Man 4: The Finale
Card, The
Newest Articles
The Golden Age of Colonic Irrigation: Monty Python Series 4 on Blu-ray
Lady of Pleasure: Lola Montes on Blu-ray
Take You to the Gay Bar: Funeral Parade of Roses on Blu-ray
Hit for Ms: Mark Cousins' Women Make Film on Blu-ray
Look Sinister: The 1000 Eyes of Dr. Mabuse on Blu-ray
Star Wars Triple Threat: The Tricky Third Prequel and Sequel
I Can See for Miles: The Man with the X-Ray Eyes on Blu-ray
Too Much Pressure: The Family Way on Blu-ray
The Alan Key: Alan Klein and What a Crazy World on Blu-ray
A Japanese Ghost Story: Kwaidan on Blu-ray
The Zu Gang: Zu Warriors from the Magic Mountain on Blu-ray
Reality TV: The Year of the Sex Olympics on DVD
The Young and the Damned: They Live By Night on Blu-ray
Mind How You Go: The Best of COI on Blu-ray
Der Kommissar's in Town: Babylon Berlin Series 3 on DVD
The End of Civilisation as We Know It: The 50th Anniversary
The Whalebone Box: The Andrew Kotting Interview
Being Human: The Elephant Man on 4K UHD Blu-ray
It's! Monty Python's Flying Circus Series 3 on Blu-ray
Put the Boot In: Villain on Blu-ray
The Children's Film Foundation Bumper Box Vol. 2: Vic Pratt Interview
All the Lonely People: Sunday Bloody Sunday on Blu-ray
Desperate Characters: Beat the Devil on Blu-ray
Chansons d'Amour: Alfie Darling on Blu-ray
Ozploitation Icon: Interview with Roger Ward
  Samurai Champloo Hip-hop swordplay
Year: 2005
Director: Shinichiro Watanabe
Stars: Ayako Kawasumi, Ginpei Sato, Kazuya Nakai, AFRA, Ai Maeda, Aki Haruta, Akiko Takeguchi, Akio Otsuka, Akio Suyama, Bon Ishihara, Daisuke Gori, Eiji Ito, Eiji Maruyama
Genre: Martial Arts, Animated, Weirdo, Historical, AdventureBuy from Amazon
Rating:  8 (from 1 vote)
Review: Set in feudal Japan but with an anachronistic hip-hop vibe, Samurai Champloo concerns Fuu (voiced by Ayako Kawasumi), a downtrodden but gutsy young teahouse waitress who hires two chalk-and-cheese rogue samurai: feral rascal Mugen (Kazuya Nakai) and stoic bishonen Jin (Ginpei Sato) as reluctant bodyguards. Travelling across the country, the bickering trio share an array of lively, picaresque adventures as part of Fuu’s enigmatic search for the “samurai who smells of sunflowers.”

Eagerly anticipated by anime fans, this was the talented Shinichiro Watanabe’s follow-up to his hugely successful retro-Seventies space adventure Cowboy Bebop (1999) and did not disappoint, incorporating a streak of engagingly irreverent humour from his madcap meta-spoof Excel Saga (2000). The high concept here is chanbara (samurai movie) meets hip-hop, a conceit extended beyond the outstanding soundtrack into the style of the anime itself. The action jumps forward and backwards in time accompanied by the sound of vinyl scratches as though a DJ were re-mixing time-and-space before our eyes. Like Cowboy Bebop, the imagery exudes retro-Seventies cool, lifting ideas from vintage acid jazz album covers as much as vintage chanbara movie fare. Yet far from simply a gimmick, the self-consciously anachronistic conceit enables Watanabe to convey how the story’s core ethos to embrace life and live for the moment resonates both in feudal Japan and on the contemporary streets.

Again as with Cowboy Bebop there is a strong outlaw sensibility. Our central protagonists are all rebels in their own way, thumbing their noses at authority and initially maintain a shaky alliance wherein it appears each could abandon the other at any given moment. However, Watanabe underlines that these dishevelled ronin embody the traditional bohachi code far better than the various self-loathing samurai and corrupt officials they meet. Mugen and Jin are hot and cold polar opposites yet embody both sides of the samurai archetype. Meanwhile young Fuu proves the central catalyst. She keeps the boys in line and serves as their nagging conscience. Ably voiced Ayako Kawasumi, Fuu proves among the most engaging heroines in anime. While the plot does not shy away from the fact this period in time was a seriously hard one for women (at one point Fuu is abducted by sex traffickers) she stays feisty and resourceful where others are bleakly resigned to their fate. In a typically surreal anime running gag, Fuu also inexplicably hides a vicious flying squirrel up her sleeve as a concealed weapon.

Lifting story ideas from classic chanbara films, Watanabe segues from edge-of-your seat action into drama and screwball comedy, retaining a pleasing amount of the humanistic ideals found in vintage works by Akira Kurosawa and old Zatoichi films. He concocts an array of suspenseful, often ingenious episodes while slick animation, particularly throughout the dynamic action scenes, leave this among the most energetic anime in recent years. It is worth watching alone for the priceless scene where Mugen yells at a bunch of villains to ignore the time-honoured martial arts movie convention of attacking one by one and just all rush him at once!

Reviewer: Andrew Pragasam


This review has been viewed 920 time(s).

As a member you could Rate this film

Review Comments (0)

Untitled 1

Forgotten your details? Enter email address in Username box and click Reminder. Your details will be emailed to you.

Latest Poll
Which star is the best at shouting?
Arnold Schwarzenegger
Brian Blessed
Tiffany Haddish
Steve Carell
Olivia Colman
Captain Caveman
Sylvester Stallone
Gerard Butler
Samuel L. Jackson
Bipasha Basu

Recent Visitors
Graeme Clark
Enoch Sneed
  Hannah Prosser
Andrew Pragasam
Darren Jones
  Butch Elliot
  Rachel Franke
Paul Smith


Last Updated: