This anime is the definition of short eloquent perfection. Imagine an anime that is only 26 but gives you everything. The perfect trio, Dynamic characters, great resolution, a beautiful world, and a soundtrack that you’ll still be listening to decades later.
That is Samurai Champloo.
The story is simple a girl is searching for a man who smells like sunflowers. She enlists two very opposing swordsmen to find this man.
It sounds so simple, how could it be that great?
Well, have you heard of Shinichirō Watanabe? He’s a legendary anime director who is known for his cult classics. But though not all of his work does this, some of his key animes have blended music and storytelling. This is one of those.
Champloo is based on the Okinawan word chanpuru, which means mixed together. This show is a blend of Japanese culture and hip-hop, and it’s masterfully done. It’s a fictional Edo-ish period piece. Blending things from multiple cultures and periods because Watanabe didn’t want to have it be founded in reality.
If I’m being honest with you I would say the soundtrack of this has had more influence on the world than any other anime soundtrack. It could easily be said that the popularity of this led to lofi hip-hop and lofi being what it is now. The producer behind the soundtrack was the late great Nujabes(Jun Seba). He is worldwide known to be the grandfather of lofi. He was so complex an artist that he is often categorized under multiple genres hip-hop, nu-jazz, but some simply say lofi. And none of them are wrong.
Why do I love it:
This is one of the few anime that actually affected my musical preferences. Many nerds listen to k-pop,k-rock,j-pop, and j-rock. But although I like them, none of them have had an impact on me musically.
This music inspired me to go beyond what was popular and look further into the works of this artist and others like him. It changed the way I looked at music, the way I thought of instruments, and the way they could be blended to change what I thought a genre should sound like. It sent me down a nu-jazz, nu-hip-hop rabbit hole.
It is rare for anime to be so defined by its music. In fact, the only other anime I know that the music defines it in the same way, if not more, is Carol and Tuesday. Which happens to be another work by Watanabe.
This blending of hip-hop culture and Japanese culture within this anime gives you a unique experience. I would say that this is the most iconic anime soundtrack of all time.
Why aren’t you talking more about the story?
I wouldn’t want to give a thing away, the story is a straight forward beautiful ride. There isn’t more to say about it than I already have. But the reason I love this anime is the impact it had on me. My musical taste has never been the same since. I guess you can call it the echoes of a Battlecry.