Raphael Varnado 11/12/10 Characters
“Samurai Champloo” follows the lives of 3 characters on a quest: Mugen, Jin, Fuu. On the surface, these characters seem simple forgettable. But they are quite complex and change over the course of the series.
The first character I will analysis is Mugen. Mugen is a brash, tough-minded 19 year old man. When we first meet the character, he enters a tea shop, he slumps into the nearest seat and points out the waitress to ask for water. The audience sees the character as lazy, relaxed with an rough appearance. A moment later, he is asking for food as payment to take care of some thugs that were acting up in the shop. Mugen shows early on that he is willing to fight for others, just as long the opportunity suits him: in this case free dumplings. In the fight, Mugen shows off his unique fighting style that combines break dancing and swordplay. He is a very skilled swordsman, who quickly takes down opponents. He went even as far as threatening the leader for his strongest swordsman. This situation illustrates how quickly Mugen can rise to violent behavior. He also seems turned on by fighting elite swordsmen, to the point where he forgets his primary objective. Before he met up with Fuu and Jin, all he trusted was his abilities and instincts. He also has an almost natural hatred and distrust for any authority figure, probably rooting from his early days in prison. Over the course of the series, Mugen seems to change. He starts to develop more refined feelings, as if he's starting to tell right from wrong. During the groups travels, he can see the injustice happening around him. He 100% believes that one's life is one's own to shape. It is also worth noting that his name, “Mugen”, means boundless/limitless, which is the way Mugen was: able to do anything and not letting anyone get in his way.
The second character is Jin. He is a quiet, calm, and collected, formally trained samurai swordsman. In every way, you can see he is the complete opposite to Mugen( his foil character). As Mugen wears red depicting his anger and fiery, Jin wears blue illustrating his calm quiet demeanor. Having been trained in a formal setting( a dojo), he follows the 7 virtues of a samurai: justice, courage, compassion, respect honesty, honor, and loyalty. He has undoubted self-confidence in his skill to take down any swordsman, even though his hardest bouts were outside the dojo. As referenced by his bracelet, Jin is on the path of Buddhist enlightenment. At all times during the series, Jin has the same calm demeanor, completely monotoned, and rational. You can see the difference in fighting and non-fighting state. Jin is full of life and passion when he's fighting. When Jin isn't fighting, he's mono-toned, calm, and very submissive to Fuu and Mugen. Over the course of the series, Jin has been able to express himself and open up to Fuu and Mugen. It is revealed that he killed his former master after the master tried to kill Jin in his sleep. A nice little fact, Jin's name is one of the 7 samurai virtues, meaning compassion and generosity.
The last character and the most unknown is Fuu. All that is found out about her is that she's 15 years old, her mother is dead, and her father is missing. She has worked at my jobs since turning 15 and was working at a tea shop when the series started. Fuu does have a sense of justice and will not stand for injustice. Nothing much is learned about Fuu over the course of the series; all we know is that she drives the series forward. She is also the most intelligent character. Her intelligence seems to complement the brawn both Mugen and Jin provide to the group.
In Samurai Champloo, however, the characters are clearly not together for mere convenience; on the contrary, they almost constantly complain about the troubles inflicted by staying together. They seem to be traveling for no reason, and find themselves continuing to do so despite each of them repeatedly threatening to leave. At the end, the reason for continuing to travel together becomes apparent; no matter how individualistic a person is, each and every one can reach out and actually recognize someone as a fellow human being. Each character eventually does exactly this, respecting each other as fellow humans and perhaps even friends.
The characters in Samurai Champloo, even as they gradually begin to trust one another, while remaining fiercely independent to the bitter end. However, by being forced to interact and actually understand their fellow comrades, they are able to gain a deeper wisdom together than they would ever obtain alone. The three travelers of Samurai Champloo are able to look beyond their own lives.