Monday, May 29, 2006

Samurai Champloo, v. 1 & 2

by Masaru Gotsubo, created by Manglobe
Published in the U.S. by Tokyopop

Slugline: Does trouble find them, or do they find trouble? Jin, Fuu and Mugen are (at least nominally) searching for the "sunflower samurai."

Comedy is harder than drama, and translating comedy into another language has got to be even tougher. There's slapstick to be had, and that's almost universal, but the translators here have succeeded in bringing the verbal comedy to English -- with a little help from margin notes. Samurai Champloo combines tight pacing, snarky dialog, a sketchy but succinct art style and a surprisingly large body count into a series of funny stories.

Mugen is the lazeabout, Jin is the calm-cool-and-collected type, and Fuu is the industrious, practical girl of the group. They're finding their way across a non-specific historical Japan supposedly in search of a sunflower-scented samurai but mostly getting in trouble and trying to find their next meal. Maybe in a few volumes the plot will kick in, but it'll be a fun ride in the meantime.

In volume 2, their journey continues and they find adventure and/or trouble and/or dinner by battling local bad guys, spoofing and riffing on manga and pop culture as they go.

These manga made me laugh, and anyone who knows me can tell you I'm a tough audience when it comes to comedy.

- Miranda

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