A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that the three central characters in this mature anime series (which is set during Japan's Edo period) deal with plenty of sex, alcohol, and violent, bloody fights. The main character is a 15-year-old girl who is fearful of physical and sexual abuse, is seen taking baths (nothing crucial is revealed), and always has to keep one step ahead of her two male Samurai bodyguards. One of them frequently refers to her as "bitch." The series is geared toward older viewers who can appreciate its production values and the characteristics that set it apart from other shows in the genre.
What's the story?
SAMURAI CHAMPLOO has a huge following with adult anime fans. That's partly due to its unique blending of visuals and characters based on Japan's historic Edo period with modern-day music (mostly hip-hop) and lingo. The main characters (who are on a journey to locate the "samurai with a scent of a sunflower") are also an interesting mix of personalities: a crafty 15-year-old girl, a strong-silent-type samurai, and another who's impatient, obnoxious, and fights in a style that mixes break dancing and martial arts.
Is it any good?
The show's contemporary edge may draw young viewers -- but parents need to know that it's chock full of profanity, sex, drinking to the point of belligerence, violence, fear, and degradation of women. But despite these red flags, certain elements of the show separate it from others in the genre. The Edo period is a fascinating backdrop and actually meshes remarkably well with modern-day personality types, music, and lingo. Plus, the historic setting offers the opportunity for some cultural exposure. In one episode, for example, 15-year-old Fuu (voiced by Kari Wahlgren) is attracted to an Ukiyo-e (a kind of Japanese woodblock painting) artist, and many images of real woodblock prints (most depicting sex scenes...) are shown.
Director Shinichiro Watanabe's use of real Japanese hip-hop artists for the score complements the show's fighting style and the protagonists' personalities. But there's a reason the show is part of Cartoon Network's Adult Swim lineup: The main messages about working together as a team and learning from your journey toward a goal are lost amid all the profanity, violence, and sex.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the series' high levels of violence, sex, and alcohol. Do these elements enhance or distract from the main plot and messages? Families can also discuss how the three very different main characters work together (albeit sometimes grudgingly) as a team. Despite her fear, how is Fuu portrayed as a strong female character? What does she have in common with other female anime characters? What sets her apart? Parents can also talk to kids about the Edo period of Japanese history. What characterizes it? Why does it make a colorful backdrop for an anime series?