“This work of fiction is not an accurate historical portrayal.
LIKE WE CARE. Now shut up and enjoy the show.”
These are the first words you see when you start watching this surprisingly unconventional show. If you tell me it doesn't immediately pique your interest, you're basically Pinocchio.
Samurai Champloo, made by Shinichiro Watanabe, creator of the critically acclaimed “Cowboy Bebop”, is the story of three strangers who meet in a teashop in an alternate version of the Edo period in Japan (1603 to 1863).
You've got Fuu - a cute, clumsy, and slightly annoying 15 year old girl. Next comes in Mugen, a 19 year old brash, rude, impulsive, and utterly bada$$ swordsman. And finally, our third protagonist is Jin, a 20 year old calm and stoic samurai. You see the first embers of their journey when they coincidentally meet at the teashop where Fuu is working. By the end of the episode, the fire of their imminent adventure together is well kindled and burning bright after Fuu helps the two swordsmen out of their own execution (calm down, it's not a spoiler). She then convinces them to act as her bodyguards as she travels across the country in search of the “the samurai who smells of sunflowers”. In between the beginning and the end game, you join them in their zany and farfetched adventures.
Originality-wise, Samurai Champloo is nothing special. The male-female-male trio isn't new; their character types are even further from that, although they fit very well with each other. Even the plotline is a bit predictable. However, it's the sheer strangeness and presentation of the whole story that makes it one of the best things you'll ever watch, with plenty of scenes that will make you laugh, go “what even”, or tug your heartstrings. From Mugen's swordplay style reminiscent of breakdancing, to rapping or beatboxing samurais, to previously-aspiring-swordsmen hooligans trying to draw graffiti on top of Hiroshima Castle and other anachronisms, this piece of art is something to be stapled for the years to come.
If you need more motivation, the fight scenes in this show are - bluntly put - absolutely bomb. The visuals, artwork and animation are top notch with picturesque scenes, sometimes foreboding and then balancing it off nicely with all the sprightly things, the transitions weird but oddly fitting. If THAT somehow doesn't get your attention, the soundtrack is nothing short of amazing and meshes so well with everything that you just (allow me to be Tumblr-like for a moment) can't even. Just a heads up: there are plenty of blood, violence and NSFW scenes.
In the end, regardless of whether you watch anime or even like it, Samurai Champloo is one of the few shows I'd recommend to anyone. After all, who would have thought hip-hop culture, Bohemianism and history would tie in THIS well?
Final note: normally, anime shows tend to have woefully terrible dubs. This is not the case for this show. Go right ahead and watch the dubbed version. It's actually better than the sub.