Champloo and Saiyuki

I finally got around to watching Samurai Champloo. I’d heard that it was great, but I never remember to watch it on Cartoon Network, and I finally got the first disk from Netflix. What a lovely show! Every samurai fight should be backed by bongo drums and jazzy keyboards. If you liked Cowboy Bebop, there is a good chance you’ll like Samurai Champloo, since Shinichiro Watanabe directed both shows. Champloo follows the odd threesome of Mugen (out of control animalistic fighter with occasional breakdancing-like fighting technique), Jin (technically proficient cerebral Samurai), and Fuu (seemingly spacey teahouse girl with a mysterious past) as they quest for Fuu’s mysterious “Samurai who smells like Sunflowers”. It is such a stylish show, after a few minutes you surrender to the whole jazzy hip hop vibe and appreciate all the awesome character interaction and fighting.

It also took me some time to pick up the first volume of the Saiyuki manga by Kazuya Minekura. I’d watched the first few episodes of the anime adaptation, and I found it mildly entertaining but not that great. Mostly I got a kick out of the dissolute priest character Sanzo and his sutra attack.
The plot is a variation of the classic “Journey into the West” story. Minekura’s art is amazingly detailed, the anime really suffers in comparison to the manga. I found the manga entertaining even though I was already familiar with the story. I don’t think I’ll be running out to pick up all of Saiyuki since it is such a long-running series, but I might pick up a volume here and there if I’m in the mood for some fighting/adventure manga. Librarians thinking about adding this to their collections would probably want to put it in an adult or older teen section, as there is plenty of gory violence and evidently it is fashionable for female demons to be topless.