Samurai Champloo

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What Cowboy Bebop did for Jazz music, Samurai Champloo did for Hip Hop. ..... Samurai Champloo is an Anime series created by Bebop's Shinichiro Watanabe and produced by Manglobe (it was their first series). The show is set in a Schizo-Tech version of Edo period Japan, featuring elements of action, adventure and comedy blended with an anachronistic, predominantly hip-hop soundtrack. The animation is extremely dynamic, and the action scenes are a joy to watch. [1]

The series revolves around the journey of three people who happen to meet at a bar brawl one day: the brash and rude vagabond Mugen, the quiet and stoic ronin Jin, and the young, insistent waitress Fuu. At the beginning of the story, Fuu helps Mugen and Jin escape from a vengeful local magistrate, and she persuades them to help her in her search for a mysterious samurai who "smells of sunflowers". Mugen and Jin are much more interested in killing each other, since they each consider the other guy a worthy match, and neither of them particularly cares for Fuu or her plans at all. However, with little else to do and no destination of their own -- and realizing that they can't get rid of Fuu even if they tried -- they tag along, waiting for the right opportunity to have their duel and killing anyone who gets in the way.

Like Cowboy Bebop, Champloo's episodes are often self-contained, and the show has an extensive cast. Apart from the main trio, though, most characters only appear once or twice; rarely more than three times.

The show is unique in that it matches traditional Japanese culture to Hip Hop music with a stylized form of samurai swordplay known as chambara, much in the same way Cowboy Bebop married Science Fiction to Blues and Jeet Kun Do. Champloo's score features hip-hop beats by Japanese hip hop artists such as the late Nujabes, Force of Nature, Tsutchie, and Fat Jon, among others. It also features many traditional Japanese songs, accompanied by shamisen music.

The world of Samurai Champloo is often anachronistic. Characters' costume design, attitudes and editing methods reflect heavily towards international hip-hop culture. Mugen fights in a style that resembles both Capoeira and break-dancing. Also, despite its alleged setting in the Edo period (though difficult to pinpoint due to a mixture of historical events and anachronisms) many of the expressions used by the characters are modern slang or English-influenced.

The show's name comes from the Okinawan word "chanpurū" (e.g. goya champuru), which means to mix or blend. Thus, the title may be translated as "Samurai Remix" or "Samurai Mashup", keeping with the series' blended theme. (Indeed, even the time frame is mashed up, as episodes in the series will freely mention events 200 years apart as if both were current).

Most likely due to the popularity of Cowboy Bebop, it was licensed for North American distribution nearly a year before it even aired in Japan. The show can now be viewed on Hulu and Youtube. (Rated TV-MA)

A two-volume Samurai Champloo manga debuted in Shōnen Ace on August 2004. Tokyopop licensed the manga in an English-language release in North America and Madman Entertainment lit for an English release in Australia and New Zealand.

Tropes used in Samurai Champloo include:


  • Accidental Athlete
  • Airplane Arms: Mugen when trying to catch Yatsuha and get his money's worth.
  • Alliteration: English episode titles use this literary device, Japanese titles are in a traditional aphorism format.
  • Anachronism Stew: And how! There is, in fact, an entire website devoted to cataloging anachronisms in this show.
  • Animal Athlete Loophole: In a baseball game against the Eagleland Navy, ninja Kagemaru is a little shorthanded. Even after conscripting Mugen, Jin and Fuu, he needs five more players. So he gets a really old man (who dies in his first at-bat), Fuu's pet flying squirrel Momo, and a dog. When one of the American sailors objects, the umpire consults a rulebook, and rules that "I can't find anything about dogs in the rulebook. He's good." [2]
  • Anime Accent Absence: Averted. Both the Dutchman in Edo and the corrupt priest in episode 19 have very, very bad Japanese pronunciation.
    • And delightfully, the other Dutchmen actually sound (southern) Dutch rather than German like many 'Dutch' characters in English works of fiction do.
  • Anime First
  • Anti-Villain: Okuru, Sara, and arguably Kohza.
  • Arrogant Kung Fu Guy: Shouryuu
  • Artistic Age: Mugen, Jin, and Fuu are respectively 19, 20, and 15. All of them look at least a few years older, although Fuu certainly acts 15.
    • Justified, perhaps, in the case of Mugen, whose life experiences would probably leave him looking older than he actually is. Perhaps Jin as well, who certainly has the maturity of a much older man.
  • Avenging the Villain: Mariya's students.
  • Awesomeness By Analysis: Mugen, though not overly given to intellectual pursuits, can be an insanely quick study when he wants.
  • Axe Crazy: The three brothers, especially Denkibou. And Mugen.
  • Back-to-Back Badasses: In "Elegy of Entrapment (Verse 1 and 2)", both Jin and Mugen fight Sara with their backs against each other at one point.
    • Likewise, in Mugen and Jin's first fight, Mugen does a flip over Jin's back that temporarily puts them back-to-back.
    • Also, Jin and Mokuro.
  • Badass: Mugen, Jin, Kariya Kagetoki, Sara, etc.
  • Balloon Belly: Mugen, on occasion. With Fuu, it's a case of Balloon Body.
  • Baseball Episode: NINJA BASEBALL!
  • Belligerent Sexual Tension:
    • How fans of Fuugen often justify the pairing; based primarily on their constant arguing/making fun of/insulting each other despite repeatedly rescuing (Mugen, moreso)/crying over (Fuu, obviously) each other. It also helps that there's this gem by Word of God:

Watanabe: "Spike and Mugen aren't very straightforward in expressing themselves. For example, even if there's a girl they like standing right in front of them, they don't pursue her directly - in fact, they do the opposite, they ignore her almost. I think that part is kind of like me. If I was to sum it up, it's kind of like being a little contradictory or rebellious."

    • Entirely canonical example with Mugen and Yatsuha: Mugen spends the entire episode trying to have sex with her, she divides her time between manipulating him through this and beating the crap out of him when he gets too forward. At the very end of the episode, however, she cheerfully tells her brother that she intends to marry him once they're both finished with their respective quests.
  • Between My Legs: The shot when Mugen confronts Shoryuu.
  • Big Damn Heroes: Happens often -- usually Mugen, Jin and/or Momo, given Fuu's outstanding tendency to get herself kidnapped or otherwise in trouble.
    • Jin is a particularly notable example in episode 25.
  • Big Eater: Arguably all three of them, but especially Mugen and Fuu (see Balloon Belly above).
  • Big No: From a minor character in a later episode
  • Big OMG: The priest from episode 19 screams this when he is about to be crushed by, rather fittingly, a giant crucifix.
  • BLAM Episode: The zombie episode. It starts off with Jin and Mugen eating rare mushrooms, and ends with a nuclear explosion and the villain leaping out of his grave. and it is never mentioned again. Of course, the operative word here is mushrooms.
    • The Baseball episode also counts.
  • Blind Seer: Sara shows some characteristics of this, especially when she defeats and nearly kills both Jin and Mugen with her spear skills.
  • Blind Without'Em: Subverted: It turns out Jin's glasses were just for show, much to Mugen's surprise. The fact that he's very attatched to them probably led to this misunderstanding.
  • Blood Knight: Mugen and Shōryū mainly, though Jin and Kariya Kagetoki also show traits.
  • Bloodstained-Glass Windows: Okay, so the church in episodes 25-26 doesn't have any glass windows, and the one in episode 19 has none at all, but they are churches, and people are fighting in them, so...
  • Bodyguard Crush: Fuu seems to idolize both Jin and Mugen at different points in the series. Jin is very protective of Fuu, but whether this is a romantic interest or a brotherly/fatherly interest is difficult to say. His emotional restraint also makes this even more difficult to fathom. On the other hand, brash Mugen is often argued to be in denial of a crush on Fuu; he rushes to her rescue very noticeably in numerous episodes while Jin often sits by or engages a different enemy. This tends to make him a more popular choice for Shipping with Fuu than Jin.
  • Born in the Wrong Century: Kariya Kagetoki and Jin.
  • Bound and Gagged: Happens to Fuu a few times.
  • Break the Cutie: Koza in "Misguided Miscreants" is already broken before the episode begins, because she's been living on a destitute island all her life with no family or friends, only sticking around Mukuro because there was nobody else, and she knows she can't survive on her own. This trope is kicked Up to Eleven as her situation only gets worse. Even after betraying Mugen, after he kills her boyfriend, she begs for him to kill her if he wasn't going to let her join him. He just keeps walking past her without giving her a 2nd glance and leaves her there, all alone.
  • Brick Joke: At the end of the last episode, Fuu reveals that the coin she had flipped had actually landed on heads, meaning Mugen and Jin had been free to fight each other the whole time.
  • Broke Episode: One of the three major episode situations of Samurai Champloo. Usually the responsibility for getting money/food/other necessary items fell on Jin; Mugen and Fuu forced him to pawn his swords at least twice, and his glasses once.
  • But for Me It Was Tuesday: Mugen doesn't remember many of the people who come after him in the series in a rare heroic (sort of) example of this trope.

One Armed Man: I'm not going to let you say you forgot about this arm.
Mugen: Sorry...who are you?

  • Carrying the Antidote: The deranged, revenge-driven Ryujiro in episode two.
  • Character Development: Most prominent in the last arc where it shows how much Mugen, Jin, and Fuu changed since their meeting.
  • Chromatic Arrangement: The three random rappers.
  • Clip Show: Disorder Diaries is about half clip show, with a bit of character development and a bunch of MANZOU THE SAW!
  • Clueless Detective: Manzo the Saw.
  • The Comically Serious: Jin
  • Cool Guns: While the show is set around the time firearms were introduced to Japan they were muskets not the modern semi automatic pistols that appear in the show.
  • Cutlass Between the Teeth: Mugen in one scene when climbing a cliff.
  • Damsel in Distress: Fuu. Given how often she gets in trouble (often being Bound and Gagged) she comes off as rather sensible for hiring two capable body guards.
  • Dance Battler: Mugen may very well be the ultimate example.
  • A Day At the Bizarro: The zombie episode.
  • Defective Detective: Manzou the Saw.
  • Deliberate Injury Gambit: That's how Jin finally manages to defeat Kariya Kagetoki. As Jin's sensei explained, this is the only way to injure opponent much stronger than yourself.
  • Determinator: Mugen, but only when enticed by hot ninja nookie. Jin as well in the very last episode. Okuru definitely counts in Episode 17. He is shot twice by flaming arrows, but instead of falling over and dying, he pulls one of the arrows out of his chest and stabs a soldier to death with it before jumping off a cliff into the waterfall basin. Mugen is convinced he's still alive.
    • Not just when enticed by hot ninja nookie: Mugen survives being stabbed, falling of a cliff, and getting shot and blown up, all at about the same time! And then he pretty much comes back from the dead afterward.
  • Deus Ex Machina: In Episode 9 Mugen and The Unnamed Government Official attempt to escape from Tengu by starting a fire and escaping as they attempt to put it out. They get caught anyway, but during the fight the Tengu's marijuana crops burn up and everyone gets high off the smoke, and by sheer luck, the smoke crosses over to the checkpoint where Jin and Fuu are about to be executed, allowing them to escape.
    • Usually avoided with Momo-san. Although the critter could be a Deus Ex Machina in a lot of situations, it tends to just sit there or run away scared. It only really helps out twice or thrice.
  • Disability Superpower: Sara. With the exception of Kagetoki, she is easily the most dangerous fighter in the series and is only defeated by her deliberately pulling one of her attacks to allow Mugen to kill her
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: In his introductory episode, there are a couple of scenes where it looks/sounds like Manzo the Saw is masturbating, but it turns out to be something innocent (i.e. exercising with his unique weapon). This is probably because he's a parody of Hanzo the Razor, who engaged in some...unique sexual practices.
  • Double Entendre: A conversation during Isaac Kitching's (aka, the guy from Holland's) last scenes goes a little something like this:

Isaac: Maybe one day, I will be able to return to this country, when the people are not so tight-assed!
Mugen: As if anyone's ass is safe with you around!

  • Drugged Lipstick: Hotaru is revealed to be an assassin who uses a special kind of lipstick that becomes toxic when mixed with alcohol. Luckily Mugen figures this out pretty quickly.
  • The Dulcinea Effect: Zigzagged throughout the series.
    • In the first episode, Mugen offers, unprompted, to help Fuu with her teahouse's thug problem... in exchange for food. When said thugs actually threaten to cut off her fingers, Mugen lounges on his table until Fuu promises him an absurd amount of dumplings to save her.
    • However, as early as the second episode, Mugen nearly verges into Always Save the Girl status, barely reacting to the woman who poisoned him until she mentions that Fuu is in danger and killing anyone who gets in between himself and Fuu (including Oniwakamaru, who would have surrendered).
    • Played perfectly straight in the episode eleven with Shino, whom Jin immediately falls in love with.
  • Eagle Land: The baseball episode. The Americans are portrayed as blatantly cheating, violent, murderous thugs who consider the Japanese team to be ignorant savages. When the game dissolves into a beaning match which ends with Mugen as the last man standing, he then yells "Go back to your own damn country!" The narrator then helpfully adds that the Americans went home in shame, with a profound fear of the Japanese people.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: Fuu finally meets her father, in time to see him killed by Kariya, who is in turn killed by Jin. While recovering from their injuries, Mugen admits that he doesn't want to kill Jin anymore, and Jin admits that after spending years as a loner, he was glad to have friends to travel with. Fuu suggests they should meet again sometime, and they all go their separate ways. This is a threeway Crowning Moment of Awesome, Crowning Moment of Heartwarming, and Tear Jerker.
    • Should probably mention that they earned their happy ending by the fact that Fuu was kidnapped and actually BEATEN UP a bit (only time in the show she's injured), Jin nearly dies by severe stab/slash wounds stalling Kariya, and Mugen nearly dies after fighting the three brothers and getting repeatedly stabbed, then shot, then BLOWN UP. They kinda deserved it at that point.
  • Enthusiasm Versus Stoicism: Mugen vs Jin
  • Evasive Fight Thread Episode: Played straight or subverted, depending on the episode.
  • Everything's Deader with Zombies: An episode, which, funny enough, focuses on mushrooms.
  • Evil Counterpart: Mukuro and Kariya Kagetoki, for Mugen and Jin respectively.
  • Expository Hairstyle Change: An example that requires knowledge of Edo-era fashion: Jin's very long bangs/sideburns plus long ponytail are a strange hairstyle for a samurai. Most other samurai in the series either have the short bangs plus ponytail style suitable for teenagers and apprentices or the tonsured style favored by older men, especially bureaucrats. When we start seeing Jin's backstory flashbacks, it becomes clear that he used to have the apprentice style, but stopped cutting it after he became a ronin. His bangs have gone from above his eyebrows to his jawline, suggesting that the time between the flashbacks and the main series timeline is about 3-6 months.
  • Expy: Mugen is an obvious homage to Spike Spiegel, right down to the hairstyle and nihilistic viewpoint. They're also both voiced by Steve Blum in the English dub. Sara is a homage to the blind swordsman Zatoichi. Fuu is based on Ai Hayakawa from the character designer's previous work, Final Fantasy Unlimited -- right down to the hair bun/ponytail hybrid.
  • Field of Blades: Seen in the opening sequence.
  • Fingore: How Mugen counts on the fingers of the daimyo's son in the first episode.
  • Flash Step: Kariya, and briefly Jin. In both cases they're less "almost teleporting" and more "Kitty Pride-ing".
  • Foot Focus: Mugen and Jin both wear traditional Japanese sandals. Many other characters go barefoot. The feet get a lot of camera time.
  • Freudian Trio: Mugen's the Id; Jin's the Superego; Fuu's the Ego.
  • Furry Fandom: Two youths are apparently fighting for Fuu's affections, but it turns out at the end of the episode the cute one with the big brown eyes and upturned nose they were fighting for is Momo, Fuu's pet squirrel!
  • Gainaxing: Fuu gets a moment of this (and a good chunk of Male Gaze) when she smuggles two bombs in the front of her kimono.
  • Gangsta Style: Mukuro
  • Genre Busting: Not to the extent of Cowboy Bebop, but it features at least elements of many genres.
  • Gonk: Once in a while, especially the guy who hits on Fuu while she's making scary faces.
  • Government Conspiracy: Although it isn't discussed much, the driving force behind the series is essentially the shogunate's attempts to drive the Christians, of whom Fuu's father is the leader, out of Japan.
  • Gratuitous English: The song in the closing credits of ep. 26.
    • Hell, even the American baseball players in episode 23. Complete with gratuitous profanity and racial slurs.
  • Gratuitous Italian: A single example in the manga. Immediately lampshaded by Fuu.
  • The Grotesque: Oniwakamaru
  • Heavy Voice: Fuu gets one whenever she gorges herself to bloatation.
  • Henohenomoheji: The baseball catcher doll in episode 23 "Baseball Blues" has a Henohenomeheji on its face.
  • Heroic Comedic Sociopath: Mugen.
  • Hey, It's That Voice!:
    • Steve Blum voices both Mugen and Spike Spiegel, whom Mugen is an Expy of[3].
    • Manzo the Saw shares his voice with Uther the Lightbringer and Kel'Thuzad.
    • Not only that, but Jin's voice actor Kirk Thornton appeared in the same series twice, playing both the first featured bounty head, drug dealer Asimov Solenson, and later on the psychopathic killing machine Mad Pierrot. So in a way this is the third time Mugen and Jin have gone toe-to-toe with one another.
    • Okuru is Solid Snake, in the Japanese version at least.
    • Whilst we're on the Japanese version Jet Black played Manzo the Saw, who himself could be said to be a caricature of Jet Black.
    • And Koichi Yamadera (Spike) played Nagamitsu, the boisterous would-be samurai who wanted to fight Jin but only knew he wore glasses.
    • Beau Billingslea, the American voice for Jet Black, kicks off the series as the primary villain Matsunosuke Shibui. He is promptly slaughtered by a merciless Jin.
    • Vash, why are you holding Fuu at knifepoint? Stop it, it's not like you.[4]
    • Fuu is Haruko??
    • Koizumi, you too? There really are no decent men.
    • Which is even funnier, considering who Tsuruya voices...
  • High-Pressure Blood
  • Hollywood Healing: Jin, and especially Mugen numerous times get very deep cuts, bruised, cough up copious amounts of blood, lose teeth and usually in one episodes' time are just fine. Their numerous injuries are never mentioned or seen in the following episodes, or, in the case of the last episodes, very serious injuries including getting a scythe through your ribs, shot in the kidney, left hand broken, apparently don't last through the ending credits..
  • Honorifics: Seen in the third episode between a Yakuza boss and his former employee.
  • Idiosyncratic Episode Naming: The original Japanese titles are all yojijukugo, four-kanji idioms that have to be translated as a single unit (ex: Episode 24 is Seishiryuten, which translates most closely as "The Circle of Transmigration"). The closest English literary device would be a cliche idiom like "the sound and the fury", but that really misses out on the classically poetic connotations of yojijukugo. The English episode titles try to get some of that poetic mojo back with full-on Beowulf-style alliteration, one of the oldest poetic forms in the English language (ex: Episode 24 becomes "Evanescent Encounter").
  • Implausible Fencing Powers: But they're used tastefully.
  • Informed Attribute: Mugen is frequently referred to as physically ugly and unattractive, but he sure doesn't look it (most of the time).
  • Instrument of Murder: In the first part of "Hellhounds for Hire", Jin is disguised as a woman carrying a shamisen (a traditional Japanese instrument similar to a guitar). When asked to play a song on it, he pulls his katana from the neck, and reveals that he is actually a samurai. He also happened to have smoke bombs hidden in the body of the instrument. Sara's shamisen is a slightly more traditional example of this trope, with a spear serving as the neck and the tuning heads doubling as throwing darts.
  • Jidai Geki
  • Ki Attacks: With a twist: the main characters don't use them (save for Mugen on one single, lucky occasion), and your garden-variety bad guy doesn't, either. Only a handful of villains have them, and they're the toughest mofos in the Champloo universe. An additional twist from the final episode: Jin defeats the most powerful of the ki users not by using the same tactics, but through a very zen kendo move that requires allowing oneself to be run through. Force of will comes out stronger than fancy magic tricks.
  • Knight, Knave, and Squire: Jin is The Knight, a Ronin Samurai who was taught swordsmanship in a dojo, he is chivalrous and only battles worthy opponents considering everyone else beneath his notice. Mugen is The Knave, and is completely self taught, with a battle style that is all over the place, he's a Combat Pragmatist and has a bad attitude, he'll pretty much fight with anyone. Fuu is The Squire, she has pretty much no fighting abilities and often ends up being a Damsel in Distress.
  • The Last DJ: Jin
  • Lemony Narrator: Several episodes have one who makes anachronistic references to the future; all of those narrated by Manzou definitely count.
  • Loads and Loads of Characters: Seventy-three named characters. Many of them only appear once, while the rest crop up in, at most, five episodes.
  • Locked Out of the Loop: Jin and Mugen spend 99% of the series without a clue what Fuu is really looking for. Jin just doesn't care, and Mugen can't bring himself to pay attention. They eventually steal Fuu's diary to get a better idea of what's going on, but that plan fails fairly quickly. Mugen doesn't even realize that Fuu has a pet squirrel until halfway through season 2.
  • Look Behind You!
  • Made of Iron: Jin and Mugen are pretty damn persistent. While they can't entirely shrug off serious injury, Mugen survives being stabbed, falling of a cliff and getting shot. Jin should have drowned twice and survives a freakin' suicide technique.
  • Mama Bear: Sara. Too bad her son is dead.
  • Mistaken for Gay: At one point, an old man comes across Jin in a hot spring. They have a (largely one sided) conversation about fireflies, until the stranger gives a rather weird smile and comments that sometimes the male fireflies can attract other male fireflies instead of females. Jin promptly excuses himself.
  • Mister Danger: Francis Xavier III, who is actually a subversion given that he's actually Japanese but disguised as a European.
  • Motivational Lie: Yatsuha gets Mugen to help her battle ninjas by promising to have sex with him, afterwards she knocks him out.
  • Mr. Fanservice: Jin, when his hair is looseand he is not wearing glasses.
  • Mukokuseki: Thoroughly averted. Several characters' eyebrows even look Japanese.
  • Mushroom Samba: An incident involving a burning field of pot, and maybe the episode where they ate mushrooms and were attacked by zombies, died, and got hit with a nuke. Maybe, because so far no-one has a concrete explanation for what the hell happened. Most believe the mushrooms they ate were bad. It's worth noting that Fuu didn't eat any of the mushrooms.
  • My Life Flashed Before My Eyes: In Episode 14, as Mugen is drowning, he has flashbacks of his hellish childhood in Ryuukyuu, and of Kohza and Mukuro, while a tear jerkingly beautiful song plays in the background. Though technically he does die at this point, he comes back to life through sheer force of will.
  • My Master, Right or Wrong: Many unnamed characters. In a variation, they don't seem sickened by the evilness of their actions. Nevertheless they justify their actions on the basis that a samurai must always follow orders. Jin calls them out on it in the first episode.
  • Myth Arc: Trio's search for samurai who smells of sunflowers.
  • Nakama: The main trio of Jin, Mugen, and Fuu. In some ways, they seem to hate each other. But underneath it all, they're steadfast companions.
  • Narrator: Detective Manzou - a.k.a. "The Saw" - in three episodes.
  • Negative Continuity: The two episodes right before the 3-part finale show everyone getting either severely injured or possibly killed while the finale shows everyone in perfect health.
  • Never Found the Body: Repeatedly. On several occasions, the opponent was Genre Savvy enough not to fall for it either. Oddly enough, it seems to be inversely proportional to actual combat strength. The more powerful enemies seemed to completely fall for it, while relatively weak ones did not.
  • Never Learned to Read: Mugen
  • Ninja: Yatsuha and Kagemaru.
  • No One Could Survive That: Said word for word after the Rope Bridge incident. Probably implied elsewhere.
  • Non-Human Sidekick: Momo the flying squirrel.
  • Not So Different: Jin and Mugen, who are both morally ambiguous Blood Knights. Although at first glance Jin appears to be the Standard Good Guy and Mugen appears to be the Token Evil Teammate, the series quickly establishes that Jin is also cold, irritable, and arrogant (esp. in regards to Mugen) despite his noble bearing and fine words, while by the second episode Mugen is already showing some heroic tendencies and concern for Fuu despite his claims of being a loner and hating everyone. Additionally, both Jin and Mugen enjoy the company of prostitutes, both Jin and Mugen love to fight and never back down from a challenge, both Jin and Mugen become better people as a result of Fuu's quest... the list goes on.
  • Not So Harmless: Ogura Bunta
  • Oh Crap: Mugen, involves explosives. Twice.
  • The Only One Allowed to Defeat You: Jin and Mugen, mutually.
  • Otaku: Isaac
  • Parental Abandonment: All three in various ways: Fuu, literally her parents; Jin, his master; and Mugen, his whole family.
  • Percussive Pickpocket: Shinsuke steals from Fuu in this manner at the beginning of "A Risky Racket".
  • Perma-Stubble: Mugen
  • Pirate: Mugen, formerly. Mukuro and Kohza as well.
  • Platonic Prostitution
  • Plucky Girl: Fuu
  • Pretty Fly for a White Guy: Isaac
  • Prisoner of Zenda Exit: An early episode has an assassin dueling with Jin. After Mugen kills his employer, he tells Jin that there's now no need for him to kill, and gives a We Will Meet Again before calmly walking away.
  • Psycho for Hire: Ryujiro Sasaki; the Three Brothers; Mugen.
  • Purely Aesthetic Era: The series opens with a title card declaring that it is not historically accurate. It then gleefully throws everything it can get its hands on, from hip-hop to baseball, into the Edo period of Japan.
  • The Quiet One: Jin
  • Rain Aura
  • "Reading Is Cool" Aesop: Mugen learns to read in War of the Words.
  • Recap Episode: Episode 12
  • Red Light District
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: Mugen and Jin are classic examples. Mugen is red, Jin is blue--this color-coding extends even to their character flashbacks, with Jin's tinted cool blue and Mugen's burning orange (Fuu's flashbacks are gold or green-tinted). Mugen is associated with fire, Jin is associated with water. In the opening sequence, Mugen is associated with the rooster, Jin is associated with fish.
  • Ridiculously Cute Critter: Momo the flying squirrel.
  • Rock-Paper-Scissors: It's the samurai way of doing things!!
  • Rocks Fall, Everyone Dies: The ending of the completely random zombie episode.
  • Ronin: Jin
  • Rope Bridge: Episode 21
  • Rule of Cool: A lot of the things going on subscribe to this. It. Is. Awesome.
  • Samurai
  • Schizo-Tech: Pretty much the entire premise, really.
  • Series Continuity Error: At the end of the series, Fuu admits that she didn't actually win the coin toss that started the whole journey. However, in episode one, Mugen and Jin clearly look directly at the coin, meaning they should have known that from the beginning.
    • That might have been completely on purpose.
    • Fuu does turn the coin over, but Mugen and Jin look at it before this. Of course, they are immediately distracted by the oncoming guards and they start to run away before either of them can get a really good look, so it's possible that neither noticed whhether the coin was heads or not.
  • Serious Business: Baseball.
  • Shirtless Scene: Several, but Jin's in the last episode is especially memorable.
  • Shout-Out: Lots of 'em.
  • Shrouded in Myth: The Ghost of Yoshitsune. Sort of. It all turned out to be a combination of rumors about Anti-Villain Okuru and Jin (including one about how handsome he is), deliberately spread by Yukimaru.
  • Single-Stroke Battle
  • Sinister Scythe: Umanosuke, leader of the three brothers.
  • Snap Back: All three of the main characters die in an explosion at the end of Episode 22, complete with a resolute "The End." In the remaining four episodes of the series, this is never mentioned again.
  • Stealth Pun: When the illiterate Mugen learns to write, he writes his name with the ∞ symbol. His name means "Infinity" in Japanese.
  • The Stinger: Shige rising from the grave during the end credits of Episode 22.
  • The Stoic: Jin, and how. Sara too, enough to give Jin a run for his money and his life. The Kawara boss as well. The two engage themselves to a very charming conversation in the fourth episode.
  • Surprisingly Good English:
    • The baseball episode (at least for the commanding officers) and the opening song "Battlecry".
    • The commanders in the baseball episode sound like native speakers of American English (or close enough; no worse than a lot of dubs). The one who can speak Japanese does so correctly, but with a hilariously heavy American accent.
    • Also Surprisingly Good Dutch: Though red-haired foreigner Isaac is played by a Japanese voice actor, his lines in Dutch are grammatically correct. The other Dutchmen in the episode are played by native (southern) Dutchmen delivering lines in their own language. (Although the word "opperhoofd" does not means "boss". It means "tribal chief" and is completely wrong in the context of the episode.)
  • Suspiciously Specific Denial: Fuu.

Mugen: You're jealous, aren'tcha?
Fuu: Huh?! Of course I'm not jealous! What in the world would lead you to believe I'm jealous?! Nope! Lone wolf wannabes like Jin with that far-off look of theirs, the kind that doesn't let you know at all what they're thinking, are so not my type. (Mugen rolls over, asleep and snoring, and she grimaces and snaps:) And they snore!!

  • Swipe Your Blade Off
  • Sword Beam: Shoryuu
  • Sword Fight: Inevitably, up to and including many of its subtropes.
    • Flynning was notably averted. It's the speed of the action that adds excitement to the fight scenes, not the amount of movements. The movements used were often very carefully choreographed into the script, making each fight scene very different and unique.
    • Barehanded Blade Block: A subversion, in the 25th episode Mugen kills the first of the three brothers by allowing his claws to go through Mugen's hand in order to deliver the killing blow.
  • Tall, Dark and Snarky: Both Jin and Mugen.
  • Thematic Theme Tune
  • Theme Tune Rap: And it's in perfect English.
  • Thick Line Animation: At times.
  • The Thing That Goes Doink is seen in a few places.
  • Toplessness From the Back: The artist who wants to draw Fuu asks her to lower her kimono collar, invoking this.
  • True Art Is Incomprehensible: In-universe example: Fuu meets a struggling artist named Hishikawa Moronobu (an actual historical figure who helped make the Ukiyo-e art style famous), who can't seem to find a good inspiration for his works. He sees Fuu, and is inspired to create a famous painting called "Backwards Beauty". Fuu said she liked the painting because he gave her very large breasts.

Mugen and Jin: "He did?"

  • Unexplained Recovery: In the third part of the last episode, Kariya apparently kills the Sunflower Samurai's old retainer...who is fine after Mugen and Jin finish off Kariya and the brothers murderous.
  • Victoria's Secret Compartment: Fuu has a pet flying squirrel named Momo who lives in her kimono.
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: The main trio fit pretty comfortably in the Type 2 category, especially Mugen and Jin.
  • What Do You Mean It's Not Awesome?:
    • Learning to read and "Beetle Sumo". While the later at least sounds weird, it's really just two bugs on a rock trying to push each other off. But, you throw in mood lighting and sparks when they push against each other...
    • Baseball. At least FOUR PEOPLE died or were implied to have died during the game. Mugen throws some mean curveballs.
    • Painting Graffiti.
    • Eating Contest. Complete with commentators and asking important existential questions.
  • "You?" Squared: Done repeatedly between Jin and Mugen.
  • You Would Make a Great Model: Subverted. The artist that approaches Fuu in this way is attracted to Fuu but turns out to be harmless.
  • Youkai: The crazed mountain-priests in episode 9 disguise themselves as tengu.
  • Zombie Apocalypse: All Just a Dream.

Notes

  1. Although in some episodes, the quality of animation is noticably lower and the fight scenes are almost entirely skipped.
  2. Fun fact: One of the Americans was named Abner Doubleday, who has a lasting belief that he invented the game.
  3. See Expy entry for more details
  4. For the record, this is episode 7.