Exceptional, but often unbalanced.
bigpileofkyle | Kumamoto Prefecture, Japan | 05/11/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Watching Samurai Champloo is, at times, an uneven experience.
Watanabe brings his audience exactly what they expect: quality. The music is a stellar mix of traditional Japanese folk songs and hip-hop beats. The art is beautiful and the story line is engaging. The characters are interesting and fully developed by the conclusion of the series.
In certain ways Watanabe has improved on Cowboy Bebop. Samurai Champloo leaves no gaps in the lives of the characters or the motives behind their actions. Watanabe fleshes out the story line completely and evenly. The journey of Fuu, Jin, and Mugen moves steadily and the conclusion lasts three episodes; the most important segments of the show take place over more than one episode and have a much more prolonged affect. And unlike Cowboy Bebop, Samurai Champloo effectively introduces elements of past history into its story line: the Satsuma Rebellion and the Tale of Heiki/Genji for example.
However, Samurai Champloo suffers from overflow. No anime in recent memort has provided its audience with side characters of such depth. The villians and friends they meet on their journey feel as real and as significant as Fuu, Jin, and Mugen. But there is simply too many of them and they occupy too many episodes.
Episodes such as "Baseball Blues", "Cosmic Collisions", "Art of Altercation", "Beat Box Bandits", and "War of Words" have too many eccentric characters and are not relevant to the story. They are single episode stories that drag down the flow of progress. A single season show shouldn't feel like it has filler episodes to reach 23 weeks of airplay. In certain cases - these side-stories provide great entertainment. My favorite episode happens to be a single episode story - "Gamblers and Gallantry." But more often than not, the audience may feel like the series is dragging on with extra filler adventures that affect neither the three main characters or the audience to any great degree.
Despite this weakness, I do highly recommend the show. Watanabe does not let his creativity become a distraction nor does he let his refreshing take on the "hip-hop samurai" become a gimmick. Watanabe nails all the core elements of story telling and animation on the head. Just be prepared to watch some filler before you get to the meat.
As a sidenote-do not pass up "Misguided Miscreants" and "Elegy of Entrapment." They are the highlights of Watanabe's work in any show."
Han-Yee Ling | Los Angeles, CA | 05/06/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Wow, so I loved this series in the original japanese, but after watching some of the dubs I have to say, Bang Zoom Entertainment did a pretty bang-up job getting the essence of the series down. I think the chosen voice actors fit the characters really well and that it didn't seem cheaply done or overdone in any way. That's really hard to get down, I think, and as I fan of subs only most of the time, I can't help but commend Bang Zoom for the work they did on this title. I approve."
Hooked From The Start
E. Mendoza | Los Angeles, CA USA | 04/13/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I'm not big on anime, but watching one episode got me hooked. The voices, the animation, the story, the characters and the music all blend so seamlessly that it is a joy to watch Samurai Champloo.
Each and every episode just engrosses you deeper and deeper into the story line leaving you wanting for more."