Samurai Champloo is far and above the best Samurai anime to date. Featuring a blend of classic sword tales spun with a modern hip-hop aesthetic (hence the Champloo reference in the title; Champloo is Okinawan for “something mixed”), this short series was produced under the direction of Shinichiro Watanabe, the man behind the famed anime Cowboy Bebop.
The story of Samurai Champloo centers around a young waitress named Fuu, who is searching for “the samurai who smells of sunflowers.” After saving the lives of two samurai, a rogue named Mugen and his would be opponent, the ronin Jin, Fuu enlists their services to aid in her search.
The animation itself is captivating, with rapid quick sword movements that feel like they pop out of the screen, while the hip hop heavy soundtrack featuring the likes of Nujabes and Fat Jon was a memorable inclusion to say the least.
Suffice it to say, Samurai Champloo is a wholly entertaining juxtaposition of classic Samurai folklore and 2004 era hip hop culture. This show is definitely required viewing for serious anime fans, most of whom will have no trouble burning through its 26 episodes in no time. The episodic story structure and high production values make for an enticing viewing experience, and you won’t be able to stop until you’ve unraveled the mystery of “the samurai who smells of sunflowers.”