Samurai Champloo Manga Review

Former waitress Fuu has enlisted the help of two body
guards on her search for ´The Samurai who Smells of Sunflowers.´ Mugen is a free spirited mercenary with a champloo fighting style. Jin, a deadly samurai, seeking a reason to fight. Together they are outrunning the law in a wild journey of hilarious adventures and death battles. 

My Review (Part 1)
No compensation. No plan for finding this samurai.
How did you get these bodyguards to stay?
Samurai Champloo came about in an unusual order. The anime was created before the manga but the manga was released first. Samurai Champloo's beginning almost matches the anime's first episode. Perfect for me since I just watched the series. My mental critique of the anime´s episode one sums up chapter one.The beginning throws the reader into exciting sword scenes but lacks on details about the manga. Fuu somehow ropes the two into being her bodyguards without ever giving a clear picture of what she is searching for. It's difficult to understand just why two fighters would agree to put their lives on the line to find a 'Samurai who smells of sunflowers.' 

The Art
Samurai Champloo exemplifies many excellent manga
styles of the 2000s. The characters are well-drawn in
proportion. The artist has the skill to give movement to a figure without appearing static. You could go on about the many things done 'right' in the drawings. The problem isn't in the skill. Samurai Champloo is well drawn. The issue is how cliche the drawings are.

I´m seeing a blend of Uryuu & Komui & Etc
Jin is the worst victim of this artistic conundrum. Hislook is standard at best. The addition of glasses may have been an attempt to help him stand-out but give him more of a Komui feel (D Gray Man) then anything unique. His look feels half-finished. Maybe a longer ponytail or better bangs or slight fashion change could draw him from fading into bland.

Mugen is the one character who rises above the usual.
He cannot be summed up as a single character
Mugen wins for artist looks in Samurai Champloo
reference because his look is his own. There is a refreshing breeze about him. His wooden clogs, narrow features, crazed hair, and motley mix of fashion feels imaginative in Samurai Champloo. The artist put Mugen's essence into his look and it worked.

Samurai Champloo does have a unique twist to its´ art. In chapter 9 the artist´s brother takes over in Samurai Champloo. Comparing the two I prefer the original artist. The brother has obvious skill in imitating his work. My issue is it comes off more hurried with less detail in the fight scenes. Although I do think the woman are much prettier in the final arc then before. 

The Characters

My Review (Part 2)
The fascination of Samurai Champloo lies in its' main
All time Favorite Character wanted poster
characters rather than suspenseful storyline adventures. To many minor characters with to little explanation leads to more impressive fight scenes than plot lines. I read the manga twice (the second time on where an editor's notes gave me a fascinating perspective on the meaning of the characters. 

The world they live in is a motley mix of Japanese
That awkward moment when you realize you´ve just gotten Japanese
history and culuture totally wrong. 
eras with modern elements laced in. Historically it is 
hardly textbook accurate. The manga is not trying to be. Japan's history is a humorous element which takes Samurai Champloo to an interesting place. They make nonsensical out of the historical similar to moments from Gintama's manga.

The characters remind me of a 'Gone With the Wind'
Mugen questions Jin´s reserved decision to hold off on useless
example. One character symbolizes the values of the
past, one the current time, and one the future of the manga's world.Jin is the traditional samurai facing the end of Japan's samurai era. Jin's fighting style is reminiscent of tradition. He is the 'serious' one, the man facing a crisis of modern era with traditional samurai. Fuu has a more obvious humor than Jin. She is a sign of the times. There are moments where a fiery independent 'modern value' woman emerges. Simultaneously she has a feminine traditional 'damsel in distress' role. Fuu gets frustrated with Jin but her pain-in-the-ass is Mugen. 

Mugen is the one who makes Samurai Champloo rise above a standard Shojen manga. He is the future. No
loyalties to traditional samurai values. He's a mercenary who is not above murdering for a meal.
Hostage situations? Forget that.
Mugen's ways are the humor in Samurai Champloo. Jin and Fuu find themselves in bad situations because of Mugen's random ways. He tries gambling, loses all their money, and pays off his debt with Fuu's hard work. If a damsel-in-distress is rescued by a random guy he doesn't thank them. Attacks them for stealing his 'money opportunity.' Mugen kept me laughing and guessing. I found myself wishing the manga was devoted entirely to him. Fuu and Jin are add-ons in my enjoyment of Samurai Champloo.

I read multiple manga site versions of Samurai Champloo because it´s ending(?) makes no sense. MangaPark declared it ongoing yet Mangareader listed it as complete. The manga itself has a ´the end´ page but no ending. This might just be because the maker animation Studio, Manglobe, responsible for Samurai Champloo closed in 2015. Maybe a new studio will pick up the rights to the series. No plans for it yet but I really hope they do. Samurai Champloo is sorely in need of a true ending.

To the Reader
Samurai Champloo personifies two genres: action and 
comedy. Mugen's completely random style works well to offset Jin's traditional swordsmanship. You get the best of both. If fist beating is more your taste there is plenty of it. Samurai Champloo's second draw is comedy. There is the occasional 'sexual' humor but it is not the only reason this manga amuses you. Example: Mugen sees Fuu crying. He promises to make the guy pay IF Fuu pays. Mugen even has a chart in ryo amounts how much a kick, punch, and kill will set you back.

Samurai Champloo is only ten chapters. Watching the anime then reading the manga gives me a nasty
Do Check Out the Anime!
suspicion why it is. The manga´s great start falls
apart into disjointed single adventure chapters. Samurai Champloo´s anime is where the complete journey unfolds. The manga gets derailed and left to straggle its way to a complete??!!! ending. ¨Neither can live while the other survives¨ sums up the relationship perfectly. Creators tried working both. They ended with a weak manga whose potential got stunted. Hurts to admit the truth but it had to be said.

Final Score: 5.4

Name(s): Samurai Champloo
Author(s): Watanabe Shinichiro
Artist(s): Gotsubo Masaru
Year: 2004
Genre: Action; Adventure; Comedy; Shonen
Chapters: 10
Status: Complete(?)
Anime: YES