Samurai Champloo, an anime series directed by Shinichiro Watanabe and released in 2004, juxtaposes a fictionalized, Edo-era Japan with modern themes, specifically elements of hip hop culture. It follows a Mugen, a vagabond swordsman; Jin, a ronin; and Fuu, a young girl, on a journey to find “the samurai who smells of sunflowers.” Fuu has enlisted Mugen and Jin to help her find this mysterious man and trouble seems to follow them wherever they go. Watanabe, who also directed Cowboy Bebop (set in the future), draws many influences from American culture, mainly things he was exposed to growing up. Anachronistic in nature, this series features rival graffiti gangs, beatboxing thugs, and fictionalized versions of factual events in Japanese history, such as the Shimabara Rebellion and the arrival of American Commodore Matthew C. Perry in order to open up Japan to international trade, among others. And to top it off, the soundtrack itself uses hip hop, mostly from the late Japanese producer/DJ Nujabes who created most of the music for the show.
In this episode here, Stranger Searching, the group join an eating contest and put up their weapons as payment, hoping to win to win them back. They lose to a mysterious stranger and try to figure out how to get them back from him.
– Laurel B.