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  • Alternative Character Interpretation:
    • Is Mugen's and Fuu's bickering Belligerent Sexual Tension or just companions getting on each other's nerves?
    • Also Kohza, whose exact motives aren't revealed. Money, companionship, both? Or was she just confused?
  • Awesome Music: With Nujabes' involvement in the soundtrack, it's no surprise. There's also the haunting song that Sara sings as part of her traveling performer act, and the one by Ikue Asazaki that plays over Mugen's flashbacks to his youth with Koza and Mukuro.
  • Bizarro Episode:
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    • The zombie episode ("Cosmic Collisions"). It starts off with Jin and Mugen eating rare mushrooms, and ends with a nuclear explosion and the villain leaping out of his grave, and it is never mentioned again. The operative word here is mushroom.
    • The Baseball episode ("Baseball Blues"), as the bizarre plot involves the gang playing baseball against a bunch of Americans intending to invade.
    • Episode 9 ("Beatbox Bandits"), at least towards the end, where the conflict is resolved... by a burning field of weed, which gets the anatagonists all chummy with each other while completely forgetting about whatever they were supposed to do.
  • Complete Monster: The bloodthirsty pirate Mukuro raided a ship for gold, while ordering all of the sailors aboard murdered. Corrupting Mugen into becoming hired muscle, Mukuro later abandons Mugen on a cargo ship after he himself makes off with the goods. Slaughtering an entire village with his gang, Mukuro keeps the young men alive to use in the raid of a gold-bearing government vessel. During the raid, Mukuro uses his followers as Cannon Fodder for his trap, before trying to use explosives to kill friend and foe alike, just so he can keep all the gold. Even his own family is not safe from Mukuro, who killed his mother and constantly abuses his sister.
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  • Crazy Awesome: Mugen's nonsensical style of fighting works perfectly for him, and is pretty damn impressive to watch.
  • Ear Worm: Several. Nujabes' "battlecry" (the opening theme), MINMI's "Shiki no Uta" (the closing theme), tsutchie's "pretending to…" and "sincerely", Nujabes' "mystline" and FORCE OF NATURE's "vagrancy" are some select choices. Nujabes' "Counting Stars", which concludes "Gamblers and Gallantry", appears only on a compilation for his record label and not on the soundtracks, making it one of the most sought after songs of the show. Many Champloo fans have even stated that they thought the worst of hip hop music before this series came along and changed their minds about the entire genre.
  • Ensemble Dark Horse: Several characters are quite popular despite their brief appearances and are prone to crop up in fanfiction. This includes Sara (due to her intense arc), Yatsuha (due to her hilarious appearance and manipulation of Mugen, whom she's shipped with), Yukimaru (a significant figure from Jin's life, also often shipped), and Shino (due bringing out Jin's softer and more romantic side in her bittersweet appearance, again frequently shipped).
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  • Evil Is Sexy: Hotaru, a very attractive antagonist who successfully gets Mugen's attention and nearly manages to poison him by seducing him.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight: In a world full of dangerous swordfighters, Fuu is... decidedly not one of them. A little over a year later, however, her Japanese voice actor would go on to play one of the most famous swordswomen in all of anime. Her English voice actor would follow suit five years later.
  • Ho Yay:
    • Actually played straight (no pun intended) by the Dutchman, who comes from a sect that believes enlightenment can be obtained through homosexuality.
    • The Jin/Yukimaru subtext. Even though Jin has sex with women on multiple occasions and actually falls in love with a sex worker in one episode, he appears to be emotionally affected by Yukimaru's reappearance, who is essentially upset because Jin didn't take him with him. Given the Edo period's lax attitude towards bisexuality, it's entirely possible that they were, in fact, lovers.
    • Mugen and Jin, bordering on Foe Yay. One such example is the very first episode, when Mugen dreams of Jin being naked in a bathtub during their fight, and he doesn't fail to point out "his dong hanging out" when he recalls the dream to him.
  • Iron Woobie: Mugen. The "Misguided Miscreants" two-parter revealing his backstory gives him plenty of reasons to feel sorry for himself, on top of being betrayed by his childhood friend/possible love interest and nearly dying. But at any point does he let it get him down? No. He lets it make him angry. The man simply does not give a fuck.
    Mugen: "I don't give a rat's ass about going to hell. I guess it's because I feel like I'm already there."
  • Jerkass Woobie:
    • Mugen, who is rude a good chunk of the time. Despite that, he doesn't remember having any parents and appears to have lead a life of crime since young. In particular is him being once tricked into a life of piracy in the past by Mukuro who betrayed him.
    • Fuu. As bossy as she may be, her mother died a year ago and the two were abandoned by her father (aka the Sunflower Samurai), hence why she's so desperate to find him. And by the end of the series, said father's sick, revealed to have left in order to save his family from Christian persecution, and dies at the hands of Kariya, leaving Fuu overwhelmed.
  • Moral Event Horizon: Umanosuke chased down Fuu, molested her, knocked her out, then tied her to a cross and beat her in the semi-final episode.
  • Nightmare Fuel:
    • The zombie episode, especially the credit ending which includes a Jump Scare.
    • Episode 15 "Bogus Booty".
      • The way the counterfeiter was going to torture the secret police. It involved molten gold and a funnel. Truth in Television in case you were wondering.
      • The beginning of the episode, which pans in on a dark, mist-shrouded forest. A young man, clearly terrified and running for his life, pursued by ninjas from what seem to be several different clans working in tandem. There’s no music, either tense or cheerful, and the ninjas clearly aren’t all human, especially the ones with yellow eyes and glowing red fingernails.
  • Nightmare Retardant: The zombie episode, while still frightening, loses a fair bit of its edge when you realize that they were most likely just having a very, very bad trip.
  • One True Threesome: The main three, due to their Vitriolic Best Buds dynamic, especially with Fuu quite possibly having feelings for both guys, and Jin and Mugen admitting at the end that they consider each other their first friends.
  • Reconstruction: There are those who see Samurai Champloo as a reconstruction of the Jidai Geki genre.
  • Some Anvils Need to Be Dropped: A recurring theme in the series is the criticism of Japan's historic and government supported xenophobia,so much so that it forms a large part of the overarching arc with the Sunflower Samurai. "Stranger Searching" deals with the hostility to foreigners. "Lullabies of the Lost" deals with the the persecution of the Ainu and how they're killed for preventable and flimsy reasons. "Unholy Union" and Fuu's arc deal with the crackdown on Japanese Christians.
  • Stoic Woobie: The ever-so-stoic Jin, who killed his kendo master (his one parental figure) prior to the story.
  • Superlative Dubbing: The English and French dubs have been very well received, the latter being considered the best French anime dub EVER, especially considering France's history of dubbing anime in general REALLY BADLY.
  • Unintentionally Unsympathetic:
    • "Hellhounds for Hire" involves a yakuza gang trying to take over a town by cheating the residents at dice. While the gang is Obviously Evil, it's kind of hard to feel bad when all the residents know that they're cheating, and all they have to do to stop their take over is to NOT GAMBLE WITH THEM!
    • "Artistic Anarchy" involves a different yakuza gang involved in human trafficking. The episode ends with the leader, the quirky old man revealed to be the boss and he's taken to jail, his exit met with a dignity and a feeling of sorrow from his underlings and wife with even the narrative giving him a somber tone. It's jarringly unfitting for a man who sold dozens of women into sexual slavery overseas, not to mention the other gang members aren't arrested.
  • What an Idiot!: Mugen gets called an idiot and a fool by many viewers for actually trusting Mukuro again.

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