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SAMURAI SHAMPLOO

23 June 2010

Why do I torture myself like this? Out of some misguided desire for closure or sense of finishing what you started, I am slogging through the anime series Samurai Shamploo. This strange blend of faux-historic narrative infused with modern hip-hop sensibilities strikes all the wrong chords.

I don’t really like anything about hip-hop or the whole culture of beatboxing, graffiti and breakdancing that goes with it. Seeing it crossbred with my favourite thing in the world, historic fiction, is something that fills me with dread and loathing. Not because the resulting broth is iconoclastic and strange, no, I tend to like that sort of thing. Offerings such as Dead Leaves and FLCL are often tasty morsels I won’t pass up. It’s really more down-to-earth than that. I simply dislike the theme and think it defiles the historic fiction that it is spread upon like a carpet of creep choking the lush soil of some unsuspecting planet about to be nuked by Protoss.

But even this isn’t necessarily reason enough for me to foulmouth something. To accomplish that, you need to create completely flat characters of no interest that have no arc whatsoever over the course of the entire show. Like Samurai Shamploo. There’s little plot to speak of, and nothing significant ever happens to the characters. The few things that do happen have no effect on them. I couldn’t have suspected a status quo to ever be so quo. At the moment I’m also rewatching The A-Team on DVD and it feels so dynamic and deep in comparison. That’s saying something, really.

Look, I’m not a difficult customer. I understand why other people like Shamploo. If they happen to like the characters (there is a rough charm to the likes of Mugen, though I’ve come across pieces of cardboard with more story to tell than him) and perhaps even like hip-hop (the 80s called, they want their subculture back), the anime will please as vapid entertainment. But for me, it just pushes all the wrong buttons. It’s wrong in so many ways I’m actually surprised and fascinated by those odds.

Not that that should keep me watching. Yet, I do. It’s torture. But I’m almost at the end. I look forward to deleting the damn thing from my hard drive.

Roderick