Seeing as how this was Watanabe’s first effort after COWBOY BEBOP, and it also shares a couple VO actors, it fits to draw a little (just a little!) ongoing comparison between the shows. And the biggest point I want to compare and contrast about, all ready, concerns the relative pluses and minuses of doing one-off episodes or extended arcs in a serial like this.
BEBOP had such a solid premise - - bounty hunters in outer space. BAM! It could easily set-up good standalone adventures. I’d always roll my eyes whenever it even hinted about bogging that fun down with the “mythology” episodes concerning Vicious. Those parts were so disinteresting, they brought the series down to “75% good” score (with the less-than-inspiring 25% being clearly partitioned off.)
We’re only three episodes in SAMURAI CHAMPLOO, so it’s maybe a little early to make conclusions (snap judgment on the internet? Noooooo...) but I’m already feeling like my preference is going to be reversed on this series. I already want these assorted sword-swinging situations to start coming together in some significant way - - and I don’t know if this multi-part arc's going to be going toward that.
I can totally dig how the crew wants to play this fast and loose and focus on just the cool stuff instead of slowing things down for any explanations. However, so far, the big difference is that the whole set-up of Fuu saving Mugen and Jin so they can hunt down this “samurai who smells of sunflowers.” It was hopped over a little too quickly in the first episode, and it's not as "modular" as Bebop was for putting our heroes into any situation.
The whole gag where the guys ditch Fuu seemed like it would’ve felt a lot funnier if we’d seen them working together as more of a unit already. Instead, we’ve gotten a handful of one-off bad guys who don’t seem to relate to this larger mission, so it’s like trying to change steps before you’ve even established a base rhythm. (Or something. You get the idea.)
I’m, of course, totally prepared to eat my words about all of this as the show unfolds.
Watch this episode, "Hellhounds for Hire, Part 1” below and decide for yourself, then read my comments on the previous episode here.