Title card for the anime series
|Anime television series|
|Directed by||Shinichir? Watanabe|
|Produced by||Takatoshi Hamano|
|Written by||Shinji Obara|
Force of Nature
|Original network||Fuji TV|
|Written by||Masaru Gotsubo|
|Published by||Kadokawa Shoten|
|Magazine||Monthly Sh?nen Ace|
Samurai Champloo (Japanese: ? Hepburn: Samurai Chanpur?), stylized as SAMURAI CHAMPLOO, is a Japanese anime series developed by Manglobe. It featured a production team led by director Shinichir? Watanabe, character designer Kazuto Nakazawa and mechanical designer Mahiro Maeda. Samurai Champloo was Watanabe's first directorial effort for an anime television series after the critically acclaimed Cowboy Bebop. It was first broadcast in Japan on Fuji TV on May 20, 2004, and ran for twenty-six episodes until its conclusion on March 19, 2005.
Samurai Champloo is set in an alternate version of Edo-era (1603 to 1868) Japan with an anachronistic, predominantly hip hop, setting. It follows Mugen, an impudent and freedom-loving vagrant swordsman; Jin, a composed and stoic r?nin; and Fuu, a brave girl who asks them to accompany her in her quest across Japan to find the "samurai who smells of sunflowers".
Samurai Champloo has many similarities to Shinichir? Watanabe's other work Cowboy Bebop. Both series are critically acclaimed, focus on mixing genres, follow an episodic narrative design, and use contemporary music.
Samurai Champloo was dubbed in the English language and licensed by Geneon Entertainment for releases in North America. Funimation began licensing the series after Geneon ceased production of its titles. It was also licensed for English releases in the United Kingdom by MVM Films, and in Australia and New Zealand by Madman Entertainment.
A young woman named Fuu is working as a waitress in a tea shop when she is abused by a band of samurai. She is saved by a mysterious rogue named Mugen and a young r?nin named Jin. Mugen attacks Jin after he proves to be a worthy opponent. The pair begin fighting one another and inadvertently cause the death of Shibui Tomonoshina, the magistrate's son. For this crime, they are to be executed. With help from Fuu, they are able to escape execution. In return, Fuu asks them to travel with her to find "the samurai who smells of sunflowers".
According to the director, the series is set during the Edo period, roughly sixty years after the end of the Sengoku period.Samurai Champloo employs a blend of historical Edo-period backdrops with modern styles and references. The show relies on factual events of Edo-era Japan, such as the Shimabara Rebellion ("Unholy Union"; "Evanescent Encounter, Part I"); Dutch exclusivity in an era in which an edict restricted Japanese foreign relations ("Stranger Searching"); ukiyo-e paintings ("Artistic Anarchy"); and fictionalized versions of real-life Edo personalities like Mariya Enshirou and Miyamoto Musashi ("Elegy of Entrapment, Verse 2"). The content and accuracy of the historical content is often distorted via artistic license.
Samurai Champloo contains many scenes and episodes relating to historical occurrences in Japan's Edo period. In episode 5 ("Artistic Anarchy"), Fuu is kidnapped by the famous ukiyo-e painter Hishikawa Moronobu, a figure prominent in the Edo period's art scene. Episode 23 ("Baseball Blues") pits the main characters in a baseball game against Alexander Cartwright and a team of American baseball players trying to declare war on Japan. As for Western influences, the opening of the show as well as many of the soundtracks are influenced by hip hop. In episode 5, Vincent van Gogh is referenced at the end in relation to Hishikawa Moronobu's ukiyo-e paintings. A hip hop singer challenges the main characters in episode 8 ("The Art of Altercation") and uses break dance throughout. In episode 18 ("War of the Words"), graffiti tagging, a culturally Western art form, is performed by characters as an artistic expression and form of writing. The ending of the episode has Mugen writing his name on the roof of Hiroshima Castle, the palace of the daimy? in Edo Japan.
Apart from this trio, other characters tend to appear only once or twice throughout the series.
The episodes of the anime series Samurai Champloo were produced by Manglobe and written and directed by Shinichir? Watanabe. The first episode premiered in Japan on Fuji Television on May 20, 2004, where it ran for 26 episodes until its conclusion on March 19, 2005.
Samurai Champloo is considered to be an example of the popular chanbara film and television genre. Trademarks include the Edo setting, a focus on samurai or other swordsman characters, and lots of thrilling, dramatic fights.Chanbara was used in the early days of Japanese cinema (when government political censorship ran high) as a way of expressing veiled social critiques.
Mugen's character was created by Watanabe during production of Cowboy Bebop: The Movie. He wanted to create an antithesis to the cool and suave Spike Spiegel. Watanabe described Mugen as "young and a little stupid", putting him in stark contrast with the mature characters of Cowboy Bebop. Jin was created as a foil for Mugen to stop the story becoming one-dimensional.
Geneon licensed the show for distribution in North America almost a year prior to the show's airing in Japan. An English dub of the series premiered in the United States on the Adult Swim anime block on May 14, 2005. The version aired was edited and had foul language replaced with sound effects, in addition to cutting out blood and nudity. The final first run of the episodes concluded on March 18, 2006. Samurai Champloo debuted in Canada on December 24, 2006, on the digital station Razer. The series has also aired in the United Kingdom, France, Latin America, Australia, New Zealand, Poland, Mexico, Portugal, Spain and Germany. Funimation has distributed Samurai Champloo for Geneon since they ceased in-house distribution of their titles in 2007. Geneon, in association with Funimation, re-released the entire 26-episode anime series in a box set in June 2009 and on Blu-ray in November 2009. As of November 26, 2010, Funimation has fully licensed the series and once again released the series under the Classics line on May 24, 2011.
The anime series made its return to US television on FUNimation Channel starting March 21, 2011. The series returned to Adult Swim on January 2, 2016, this time part of the revived Toonami block, replacing Michiko & Hatchin.
The episodes use six pieces of theme music. "Battlecry", performed by Nujabes and Shing02, is the opening theme for all twenty six episodes. "? (Shiki no Uta Song of Four Seasons)" by Nujabes and Minmi is the primary ending theme, except for four episodes. Episode 12 uses Minmi's "Who's Theme" as its ending, episode 17 uses "You" by Kazami, 23 uses "Fly" by Tsutchie, and the final episode uses the song "San Francisco" by Midicronica.
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A Samurai Champloo manga debuted in Sh?nen Ace on January 26, 2004, and ended on September 26, 2004.Tokyopop licensed the manga in an English-language release in North America and Madman Entertainment lit for an English release in Australia and New Zealand. It is also licensed for a Portuguese-language and Spanish-language release in Brazil and Spain by Panini. There are 2 volumes in this series. While the manga was technically published first, the anime production is the original production. Therefore the genre Shonen can't be applied to the anime and is only valid for the manga.
Two additional soundtracks followed on September 22, 2004:
Two separate soundtracks were released in 2004 by Geneon Entertainment only in North America. They bear most of the same tracks as the Japanese albums.
Grasshopper Manufacture developed a video game for the PlayStation 2 based on the series entitled Samurai Champloo: Sidetracked; however, the manufacturer has stated that the game has no relation to the events depicted in the show. The soundtrack was composed by Masafumi Takada and Jun Fukuda, while it was written by Goichi Suda. It was released on February 23, 2006, in Japan and on April 11, 2006, in the United States. It received mixed reviews. The game is notable for giving Mugen's distinctive sword a name, "Typhoon Swell"; it was never called by this name in the anime or manga series.
Samurai Champloo received critical acclaim, with many critics and scholars praising the unique blend of genres and influence of music within the series. The ambient soundtrack recorded by artists Fat Jon, Force of Nature, Tsutchie and the late Nujabes received very high critical acclaim, with IGN ranking it among the Top Ten Anime Themes and Soundtracks of All Time. Samurai Champloo was listed at #10, with Cowboy Bebop taking the #1 spot.
A scholastic essay was penned by writer Jiwon Ahn about the series and its relationship to western culture, as well as various television and film genres. The essay was published in the textbook How to Watch Television, and is currently used at the USC School of Cinematic Arts. In her essay, Ahn refers to the series as "a rich text to examine within the analytical framework of auteurism and genre theory."