Many people agree that Cowboy Bebop has one of the best anime soundtracks of all time. In contrast, Samurai Champloo is an anime that has unique music and deserves more attention than it gets. Following the episodic journey of Mugen, Jin and Fuu, Samurai Champloo has the same director as Cowboy Bebop, but takes a different direction with hip-hop as its focus. This anime is the only one to have featured music from Japanese hip-hop artist Nujabes before he passed away in 2010, and you can clearly hear the passion he poured into the project!
Unique Atmosphere for a Unique Show
Mugen, Jin, and Fuu set off on an unexpected adventure together, a trio of people who are strangers, set apart from the growing changes in their own time period. They encounter dangerous men and women along the way and get into some interesting predicaments. Outside of a few typical shounen tropes, Samurai Champloo is a unique blend of the historical elements of its time and the randomly punctuated moments of hip-hop thrown in throughout. Surprisingly enough, it doesn’t seem that strange until you really think about it! In the same vein, Nujabes’ soundtrack is entirely unique to the show, adding to the elements of hip-hop by pervading each episode. Not many other anime are able to pull off such a random, but perfect, combination!
Themes Never Detract from Plot
Even as the journey of Mugen, Jin, and Fuu moves along haphazardly, the themes of the soundtrack remain consistent to tie the story together. Yet Nujabes’ music never distracts from anything happening to the characters. As any good soundtrack should, the themes of Samurai Champloo enhance the series’ storytelling abilities.
A Blend of Both Main Samurai Characters’ Styles
Mugen and Jin are two entirely different characters, with Mugen being more a blend of rogue samurai nature and hip-hop style, while Jin is a composed, wandering samurai who still follows traditional style. Somehow, the themes from Samurai Champloo manage to become symbolic of both these characters. The unique hip-hop elements of the soundtrack represent Mugen’s strange wildness more, while the overall relaxed nature of the themes represents Jin’s stoic figure. In the same way that these characters end up relying on one another, so too does the series as a whole rely on the music (and vice versa) to make it one cohesive whole.
In Technical Terms…
We also want to touch briefly on the brilliance of the music that Nujabes produced for the show. He worked on many albums before and after, but Samurai Champloo’s soundtrack was among the best work that he collaborated on. He blended hip-hop and elements of jazz into his classic mellow, atmospheric sound to make the music both relaxed yet interesting. He truly was one of the best in his craft, though he was gone far too soon.
Samurai Champloo is definitely going to stick around for years thanks to its soundtrack. Though it was released in 2004, the anime still remains well-loved and rather popular to this day! This is that a testament to the emotional journey of Mugen, Jin, and Fuu, as well as to the gorgeously unique music that helps it to remain as cohesive as it is unique.
What is your favorite theme from Samurai Champloo? Do you agree that the soundtrack deserves more attention? Drop your thoughts in the comments below—let’s hear what you have to say about this classic anime series!