Comics / Manga

Samurai Champloo, Vol. 1

By Leroy Douresseaux
July 3, 2006 - 13:47

Fuu, a young waitress who works at a teahouse, is looking for the Sunflower Samurai.  One day, two samurai, the hotheaded Mugen and the cool Jin (who wears eye glasses) run into each other at the teahouse, and promptly destroy it during their chaotic duel to decide who is the best swordsman.  Forcing them to take responsibility for destroying the teahouse and her only source of income, Fuu has Mugen and Jin accompany her on a long and dangerous journey to find the Sunflower Samurai.  Along they way meet deceptive new associates, bounty hunters, assassins, a gang of ninja, and a prince in disguise.

TOKYOPOP recently published a two-volume manga series adapted from the popular Cartoon Network anime "Samurai Champloo" (original title: "Shimoigusa Champloos").  Written and drawn by manga-ka, Masaru Gotsubo, Samurai Champloo is meant to be a samurai tale dressed in traditional trappings, but executed with a hip hop flair.  Its sensibilities lean towards being an action comedy with strong action violence and character-based comedy.  Although the setting is rural, the tale does have an urban flair, and fight fans will find swordplay galore.

Gotsubo is a skilled storyteller with an excellent sense of page layout and panel design when it comes to creating narrative momentum.  A skilled draftsman, he does seem to lean on super-deformed at inappropriate points in the story.  However, his art is in total service of plot, character, and setting.  It’s pretty and slick, but none of it is surface and shallow.

Although listed as a teen title (“13+”), Samurai Champloo has a fair amount of violence that would earn MPAA “R” rating were this a film.


Last Updated: August 31, 2023 - 08:12

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