Is 2016 turning into the year of the Samurai for Toonami? First Samurai Jack was announced to be coming back with new a season, and now a couple of cut-throat warriors will be joining the action block. Samurai Champloo was pseudo-announced to be joining the lineup starting next year (with the “trailer” that aired last Saturday). While it seemed like a lot of people were happy about this announcement, there were a few who were “underwhelmed” about Samurai Champloo’s return to television. I am a huge fan of this show, and I am surprised at how mixed the reaction seemed to be on social media (from what I could gather). This is without a doubt a phenomenal cult classic released in the U.S., and should be welcomed back to Adult Swim with open arms (not scorn).

It was a pleasant surprise to have Samurai Champloo officially join the Toonami fraternity, when the year changes to 2016. It is a show that absolutely belongs on the action block with everything it brings to the table. With its art style, music, action scenes, and fantastic characters, Samurai Champloo is the kind of show that anime fans would have expected to be on the action block well before now (due to its sheer entertainment value). However, one of the shows’ biggest draw, is the smooth sword fights that will make this series more memorable to watch for first-time viewers (especially if it will be shown in HD).

With this series being an older one, some might think that the animation (especially in fights) will look poorer, compared to what’s already in the lineup. Believe it or not, it’s the art/animation of Samurai Champloo that will entrance viewers once it airs. During fights involving our main characters (Mugen and Jin), it felt like the show’s biggest strength to garner attention. If you think Akame ga Kill’s choreograph in fights look stellar, Samurai Champloo’s is on a whole different level (which is impressive since it was made back in 2004). Viewing the conflicting style of sword battles involving Mugen and Jin (respectively), are some of the most enjoyable fights any anime fan can watch. While some might find samurai fights overly repetitive in other series’, the two swordsmen alternating styles and attack patterns differed enough to make me (and probably other viewers) craving more battles. I didn’t think they were the same fights with different opponents, each struggle was unique and cool to watch. The best way to describe each style is that Jin would plan out everything and be a lot more reserved when he was engaged with any enemy. His counterpart Mugen, moved a lot more unpredictably and break danced while he fought any foe in his path.

However, if you are worried that this show will have too much violence and not enough plot, put your mind at ease. The way fans watch the main cast grow throughout the entire series, was one of the more rewarding conclusions that I have personally seen in any anime. Plus, watching what Fuu’s role turned into as the series progressed was an unexpected and fun treat. There is certainly more to this show than just the sword fights, I just found that to be a main selling point for the series as a whole.

Not to be outdone, the music is the other highly talked about aspect of this series (for good reason). As one of my friends explained it back when we were in high school, “it’s like hip-hop invaded the Edo Period in Japan. Trust me it works”. That sounds like a lot of fun if you are a fan of sick beats and sweet melodies. It’s the kind of style that some might not be familiar with when listening to hip-hop on the radio. Record companies are always trying to find the next radio hit, which is the complete opposite of Samurai Champloo’s soundtrack. I may enjoy Parasyte’s dubstep OST over any music in anime I’ve listen too, but Samurai Champloo’s will always have a special place in my heart (mostly due to how deep it is). It has the kind of soundtrack that you would listen to if you are reading a book or writing an essay. You “vibe” to this soundtrack, as it compliments what you are doing more than trying to force itself to be the focal point of what you are doing. Some might talk about how this is how “real hip-hop” should sound like, but it’s just the kind of music that takes you on a journey like a story. Which is exactly what Samurai Champloo does with its audience.

So on January 2. Samurai Champloo will air at 1:30 a.m., making it the official replacement for Michiko and Hatchin. Apparently that 1:30 time slot will be used for older anime series (or “classics” as Jason DeMarco hinted before), for a little while longer. Like I’ve written before, nostalgia is very popular emotion to trigger, and brining back older shows can benefit the action block in the long run.

While I will always enjoy new anime series joining the lineup (as do many fans), there’s a certain charm with older shows that fans still hold dear. Especially when they get a chance to air during Toonami’s Adult Swim revival. Many 90’s children still hold classics like Sailor Moon, Yu Yu Hakisho, and Rurouni Kenshin as the standard on how animators, authors, and artists can make an amazing franchise (as unfair as that sounds). Nostalgia continues to be a driving force in the entertainment business. This could mean that Toonami might continue to air older shows in its lineup, which is a solid idea for the future. There are many solid older series that fans might of missed (or would love to see again), and gives a show a chance to regain some missed glory. Plus it could bring back older fans to Toonami if shows they remembered when they were younger, return to television. So this could become a trend for the action block, at least for the following year.

What makes this addition even more interesting is how another series made by Manglobe Studios will be airing on the block. I wrote an earlier piece about the financial troubles the studio is facing, and how if this could affect other anime studios in Japan. It’s troubling how a studio that gave Toonami fans shows like Deadman Wonderland and Michiko and Hatchin (and a personal favorite Gangsta.), went “belly up”. So what if Samurai Champloo performs well on Toonami? Maybe it can at least give hope to fans that Manglobe Studios can rebound since their series are well-received stateside. What I mean by that is, if Samurai Champloo receives solid viewing numbers (and rave reviews), maybe the courts can work with Manglobe Studios to get out of bankruptcy at a faster pace (or at least allow the company to continue operations under the court’s supervision).

That’s mostly wishful thinking, but it is possible for Manglobe Studios to get out of bankruptcy after many, many years of litigation. I wouldn’t bet that all of their issues will be dealt with, due to how long court proceedings can be (no matter what country you are in), or if the studio shuts down for good (which is a very real possibility). But it certainly makes me wonder on the future of Manglobe Studios since another of their shows is being aired in the U.S.

I do think Toonami fans are in for a huge treat with Samurai Champloo returning to the action block. The series was made in 2004 and the dub aired back in 2005 on Adult Swim. I was still pretty young when I first saw the series, and re-watched it just to see if I missed anything when I viewed it earlier (spoiler alert, I did). This is a chance for viewers who haven’t been able to get around to watch it, or missed it due to age (or when it aired), to understand why this series is considered a classic by its fans. Plus I’m hoping that the mystery of where the hell is this “Sunflower Samurai”, keeps viewers as interested as I was when I first watched the show. So just as Michiko and Hatchin plot moved forward with the two stars looking for Hachin’s father, expect the same type of story telling devices with Samurai Champloo. Some might consider that a weakness, but the action will mitigate any discord about the overall plot. However, as no show will ever have a perfect approval rating, there will be some who will not like Toonami’s latest addition no matter what the series does.

I just don’t understand the hate that some fans sent in Toonami’s direction with its latest acquisition. Toonami is known for listening to their fans, and this show was “asked for” by many of them (don’t blame Toonami excutives for choosing this series). Sure, the show did air on Adult Swim, so it has been broadcasted to a Western audience before. It just never got the chance to join the ranks of Toonami favorites back when it was on Cartoon Network (Like Cowboy Bebop, Dragon Ball Z, Outlaw Star, etc.). Now with Toonami back on Adult Swim, Samurai Champloo will get a chance to have a larger and more consistent audience than before. That makes me believe that it’s not as well known before, due to when and where it was scheduled on Adult Swim.

Now with Samurai Champloo on Toonami, it will get the recognition it so rightly deserves. Some might want to know what kept this series from airing on Toonami back on Cartoon Network if it was so great? The reason was due to the violence, gore, and language. Shows like this would never have a chance airing from 5-7 on weekdays, and it seemed like a reach to air when Toonami was moved to Saturdays later on. During its Cartoon Network days, Toonami seemed more interested in shows like Naruto, Rave Master, and Zatch Bell. All solid series, but they aren’t the kind of series that target older anime fans. Now has more options of franchise they can air. Thus the door was opened for Samurai Champloo.

*And before anyone asks about how it could have played on Toonami’s midnight run, that block was cancelled before Samurai Champloo was dubbed (2003 to be exact)*

Yet, despite the praise it has received through the years, there were fans who weren’t thrilled about the series returning to television this upcoming year. Some fans were clamoring about how they wanted new series or dub premiere to start the new year, instead of an older show that has been aired before. Critics feel cheated, especially since they feel as if Samurai Champloo is already a Toonami series due to it airing on Adult Swim before. However, the series never did technically air on the action block, and should be welcomed with more support. Just because it’s old, doesn’t mean it isn’t worth the investment (it is a classic).

But the main issue that I believe fans had with the announcement, was that Toonami teased big things coming in the future (although I was pretty happy about its return). As much as I support Samurai Champloo, I wouldn’t put this under a MAJOR change to the lineup (nothing like the influence Samurai Jack could potentially have). I do think this show will hold onto some solid ratings, making it a success for the latest installment for Toonami. However, we are unsure about that, so that might be why the announcement did receive some grief from a few critics. However, I definitely think it’s unfair to be upset about this because others wanted a show like One-Punch Man or Iron-Blooded Orphans to air on Toonami first. It’s a cheap series for the action block that will undoubtedly win over viewers as time moves on.

Since the poll here reached over a hundred participants, I find this to be a creditable diagram on how the Toonami Faithful out there feel about this recent acquisition. Eight out of 10 people want to see this series on the action block, which is a win in many people’s eyes (including mine). While not everyone can be happy no matter what show is announced to join next year, I think Samurai Champloo is a great choice to bring in the new year. Plus, if readers are a fan of Steve Blum, get ready to hear more rugged action goodness from the voice of T.O.M. For all you know, Mugen might become your favorite character he voices! Get ready for some sweet style with both action and music, because it is going to be a wild ride.

C.J Maffris is an editorial writer for Knowing that things come in threes, he’s wondering if another samurai show will join the action block (like Samurai Pizza Cats). Feel free to follow C.J on Twitter @SeaJayMaffris



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