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Samurai Champloo Doujinshi: image reviews and recommendations

(For those as ignorant of Japanese as I am; the story as told by the pictures)
==20 titles reviewed as of July 2008.==




"Saimin presents 'Hyakunen no Kodoku' (One Hundred Years of Solitude)"

16 pages, black and white with gloss full-color cover.
G-rated, no sexual or violent content.



This is totally charming, and I recommend it unreservedly. The art is just beautiful, expressive, graceful and light, with spot-on character renditions; the stories (there are three) are short and seem quite clever even without being able to read them. My favorite is the second one, wherein Mugen apparently contemplates a career as a dog-walker (in true anachronistic Champloo style, he pulls the number to call about the job off a bulletin board) but can't think of anything to do with a dog after walking it except roast it! My best guess for the first one is that Mugen picks up a sheet of paper with some sort of curse written on it, which quickly passes from one to the next of them, ending with Fuu, and there's a short one with Jin trying to coax Mugen to eat something which looks like a popsicle; considering Mugen's appetite, his refusal makes me seriously question what it's made of!

This is fine for all ages with no objectionable content of any kind, and is drawn by the finest Champloo fan-artist I've yet seen. Absolutely three stars: get it any way you can find it.

I got my copy on eBay, but it might turn up elsewhere, or you could just enjoy her website: Saimin
(absolutely the most beautiful fan art of Jin you will see anywhere)



"Saimin presents 'Love is Egoism' "

16 pages, black and white with full color cover.
G-rated, no sexual or violent content.



Another comic-drama beauty from Saimin, this one following the travels of Yukimaru ("I am the avenger!") as he follows just one step behind our trio, leading up to his confrontation with Jin in "Lullabies of the Lost"--and determined to outdo everything Jin did on the way. We see him at the site of the eating contest; getting his fortune told by Oryuu; and even being offered the same pair of, erm, less-than-appealing prostitutes that Jin and Mugen passed over at the Kyoto brothel (if I'm reading this correctly, he thinks that he'd sooner spend the night with space aliens). We don't see his battle with Jin here, the scene passes from the brothel to Jin and Fuu praying for him. But even without the words of the story, this one is worth it for the grace and beauty of Saimin's art and the interesting (and amusing--it's very funny!) focus on a secondary character who many people will enjoy seeing more of. Definitely three stars.

Again, Saimin's contact info:
website: Saimin
(--it's well worth checking her site daily, there's almost always something new)




"Honno"

2 volumes, each 16 pages,black and white with full color covers.
G-rated, no sexual or violent content.



These are simple enjoyable doujinshi. The Jin volume contains two stories, the first one being just a Jin/Mugen extended sword battle in a bamboo grove, which looks as if it was great fun to draw; the art is a little crude but high-energy--shows American comic-book influence I'd say--and ends with Mugen getting a kiss (in silhouette) from Jin at sword's-point. The second story is very short but also fun, guessing at what would have happened if Moronobu had wanted to paint Jin's portrait instead of Fuu's; Moronobu's much happier with the results than Jin is!

The Mugen volume also has two stories: the first one has Jin sitting by the sleeping Mugen while he recovers from his injuries of the "Misguided Miscreants" arc. Jin slaps a mosquito off his face, waking him, and when Mugen returns to his dream of that story's events Jin is involved in a slightly different way than in reality. Again, the art is simple and a bit rough but gets its story told effectively. The second story is another Jin/Mugen fight vignette.


Nothing brilliant, but a good part of any collection.
Artist (or art circle) is given as "Numbers"; no contact info. (See Yaoi Doujinshi page for review of their more recent "Gongojoudo".)



"Battle Cry"
26 pages, black and white with gloss full-color cover.
G-rated, no sexual or violent content.


Appealing little doujin with four stories (I think) in a range of art styles. Most of them seem to be funny: one of them apparently has Jin earning dinner money by posing for a ukiyo-e artist (it's amusing that everyone who takes on this subject draws essentially the same "bare back/looking over shoulder" pose =)--Mugen and Fuu seem to be offended, but are struck silent when Jin holds up the bag containing his wages. =).

The most interesting and serious story here has a battered Yukimaru--black eye, cut lip, bruises, looks like he lost a fistfight--being cared for by Jin, who bathes his face and talks to him but resists his attempt to make the expression of concern into something more (draws away when Yuki tries to take hold of his hand). Man, I'd love to read this one: the art style is dramatic, the facial expressions are very subtle and it looks like an excellent J/Y character piece.

Web site: Mr. FullSwing. (Some beautiful art here.)




"Jyuu (Beast)"

16 pages, black and white with textured cover
PG-rated (one nude bondage shot), no sexual or violent content.



Entertaining doujin which appears to be largely about Mugen's massive crush on Jin and his unsuccessful attempts to get to him; lots of fan-service poses of Jin bathing, Jin in bondage, Jin looking pretty with a sword. (You don't hear me arguing with any of this. =) --If I'm not mistaken, one of the stories wonders--or this may be Mugen's little fantasy--what might have happened if Mugen had been shopping for company the night Jin posed as a geisha at the yakuza brothel!

Clean, graceful, very manga-ish art, light-hearted vibe, overall a very enjoyable piece of work. Definitely one for the Jin fangirl's collection. By the always-enjoyable "Anoyoroshi" (Rei Itidou); see review of sahn's NOT-all-ages-rated "Easy Come Easy Go" on the Yaoi Doujinshi page.



"Samurai Syndrome"
28 pages, black and white with textured two-color covers.
G-rated, no sexual or violent content.


A touching doujin about Fuu's bad dream that both her yojimbo will leave her. Jin --also having trouble sleeping--comments how Fuu also smells of sunflower, "just like" the samurai she fears she never will be able to find. Jin also tells her that they may just happen upon the guy without much ado, probably trying to ease her anxiety. The moment passes quickly, and Jin is about to retire for the night while Fuu, interpreting Jin's gesture rightly as an attempt to comfort her, has a moment of appreciation. Jin asks "Doushite?" --"Why?/"What for?"--noticing Fuu's momentary lapse, shaking her back to reality and follow Jin back inside. (All the while, Mugen is actually awake and feeling isolated/bored but also a bit amused.) The art is extremely pretty, graceful and full of feeling--the best fanart of Fuu I have yet seen, with some wonderful face studies--and the little moment of Jin-Fuu tenderness is completely sweet and believable, While Mugen pretends to sleep through it all.

--Kinda nice to see that the doujin world isn't all about Mugen nailing Jin.=)

The art circle's name is Hideaway, and the artist, Kosanji. ---Many, many thanks to ryu_kk009 for all this. =)



"Fuyu-iro Soleil" (Winter Sun)
28 pages, black and white with textured two-color covers.
G-rated, no sexual or violent content; several discreet Jin/Mugen smooches. =)


A wonderful story in which Jin is missing and Mugen searches for him. Fuu apparently blames him for chasing Jin out with his earlier rude behavior; he pretends he doesn't really care, but he looks until he finds him, in a gambling den, late that night. Jin is annoyed at being tracked down, and they trade some harsh words; Mugen does a "fine, whatever" shrug and walks off. Jin looks slightly troubled, apparently reading the hurt feelings in Mugen's tone (--and you know this is good art when I, who read not a word of Japanese, can tell exactly what just happened!). Then he finds the portrait of him which Mugen commissioned from a street artist to help in his search, stares at it in wide surprise (it's pretty =), catches the departing Mugen and confronts him with it; he blushes; Jin gravely and gently gives him a kiss, and Mugen, still blushing, hauls him off by the arm, probably grumbling that Fuu must think they're both dead by now. And Fuu doesn't know what to think when they walk in holding hands.

The second and third stories are short vignettes: in one, Fuu in a schoolgirl uniform, taking off in a rush over Jin's apparent protests (with apron and kitchen utensils!) that she shouldn't skip breakfast, which Mugen settles in his own way; in the other, Fuu trails down the hall in her nightgown, dragging a toy bunny, and finds the two of them in bed together, whereupon there is much embarrassment and throwing of toys.--To top it off there's a very nice drawing of Jin and Mugen in formal kimono and, um, Jin in a bunny suit. (--and he still looks dignified.)

I love this one. Shounen-ai at its finest. The best character writing, I'd say (allowing for the shounen-ness), and some of the best art in any Champloo doujin I've seen, fine and subtle, with such nuanced, expressive faces and body language, and an open, innocent quality in Jin's face that I haven't seen any other artist capture; you can see it on the cover. (They even get his little smile right.) --A complete gem, one of the ten best things in this whole stack; a definite buy for any Champloo doujinshi collection and a must-have for the Jin fangirl.

Credited to Tsukiru--much more beautiful Champloo fanart at that link, don't miss it.
I'm already in line for the next one. =)



(I'd like to apologize to anyone who I misled about the content of Jetmonster's Bojou Romantica. It's only just become clear to me that my review was based on a severely edited advance copy, and that the final version is much more sexually explicit and violent. I am truly sorry.)


"Nue to Hana"
28 pages, black and white with full-color covers.
PG-rated for nudity and strangeness, but no explicit sexual or violent content.


A strange, beautiful doujin with strong Art Nouveau and Beardsley influences (or so it looks to me), laced with harpy-deathbird and creeping vine imagery. Impossible to describe, but fascinating, sensual, and absolutely gorgeous. The title refers to a creature of Chinese legend: Nue (its Chinese character is made up of two parts each meaning Night and Bird) is an "imaginary bird of old" (according to kaedecoyo's note). Artist/circle is Real Adapter. (beautiful art at this website!)




"Garaku"
("Odds and Ends" or "Bits and Pieces")
24 pages, black and white with two-color covers.
All ages.


2006 work from the gifted Real Adapter, this one is three pieces/stories: a comedy in which bunny-Fuu tries to entice the attention of Mr. Fox and Mr. Wolf (guess who's which!) and morphs into Demon Bunny Fuu when they seem doubtful; a symbolic piece filled with elemental imagery; and one based on Thee Michelle Gun Elephant song "He Got The Sun". Stunningly beautiful art as in "Nue to Hana" above--I've never seen such intense style in any other doujin-ka's work.


"Fundari Kettari"
("Misfortunes Come All at Once"
or "It Never Rains but It Pours")
28 pages, black and white with full-color covers.
All ages.


2005 work from Real Adapter, this one is straight-out comedy: a single long story in which Mugen is transformed into a child by eating some strange spotted mushrooms. Kid Mugen is cute but just as unholy a terror as his older self, and Fuu and Jin are run ragged babysitting the little hellion. Fall-down-laughing funny but with the same strangeness and intricacy as other RA work, this is unique and priceless.


"Rosutoho Murasodo"
16 pages, black and white with full-color covers.
G-rated, no sexual or violent content.




Sweet, low-key Mugen story, in which he apparently thinks a lot about Fuu and how she reminds him of Kohza, back when those two were still close; Jin looks on, with a sort of affectionate thoughtfulness. I haven't seen anything like this before, almost a Mugen romance, very gentle and nostalgic. It's nice to see people consider these established relationships in a different light. The art is clean and straightforward: some proportions are a bit odd, but the faces are nicely expressive, and it's overall a very likeable piece of work.

I'm sorry I don't know who drew or wrote it, because they deserve credit; I'll be looking for more work by her/him/them.





"Samurai Logic (Kijitoraya)"
20 pages, black and white with full-color covers.
G-rated, no sexual or violent content.


A total charmer, with simply beautiful character art. In the first story, Mugen gets a nip from Momo and goes in all-out vengeful pursuit of the squirrel, which gets a little slashy (but still G-rated) when it decides to hide in Jin's kimono. =) In the second, Mugen comes into some cash and is headed for the red-light district, only to be collared by Fuu, who seems to be delivering her usual "what've they got that I haven't got" line; Mugen considers the babes of his recent acquaintance (great panel of Budou-kiba and Yatsuha!) and gives a reply that has Fuu steaming. Jin gives her a thoughtful look, and next thing we see, Fuu is presenting a tall, slender geisha for Mugen's consideration. But--if I read this right--their scheme backfires, as Mugen apparently thinks even this "lady" has more in the chest department than Fuu! Fuu, furious, rips open Jin's formal kimono (it is Jin, of course, in his episode 3 geisha drag) to show Mugen "she's" a man, and his stunned expression is priceless-- as is Jin's dismay when Mugen goes on looking him over anyway! Mugen seals his fate by (I feel pretty sure) deciding that Jin still makes a better woman than Fuu does, and the story ends with Mugen and Fuu in a pitched brawl while Jin sighs and carefully rearranges his disarrayed kimono. What more can I say: totally delectable. =)

--Great, great stuff, very funny; excellent, graceful, expressive art with particularly fine faces and expressions.
By Akitsugu Fujino, 2005-06-26; I would buy any Champloo work by this circle in a heartbeat, and hope there is more.
[FLAT] and [monari]



"(Chau Kabotani and Chauchau-honpo Present)"
16 pages, black and white with gloss full-color covers.
G-rated, no sexual or violent content whatever.




(Subtitle: "Fanarts and Short Comic Book"). --OK, now here we have cuteness, and I mean kawaii-to-the-max. If you're a person who thinks the terms "Samurai Champloo" and "cute" should never occur in the same sentence, you won't like this at all, but I think it's pretty much adorable. Some full-page portraits--including one of the three as modern schoolkids, and one of Jin sitting in formal costume that I just love--and several short, humorous stories, including the only appearance of episode 5's Isaac in any doujin I've seen so far (and he seems to have said something interesting about Jin...). All drawn in a smooth, accomplished, wide-eyed-shoujo style. Anyone who likes the Anoyoroshi doujinshi should definitely check this one out.

Website: Kabochau.




"Beyond My Grasp"

24 pages, black and white with gloss full-color, gold-stamped cover.
PG-rated, one kiss, no sexual or violent content.



Two stories, of which the second one is really interesting: set during episodes 13/14, it subtly suggests that Mugen was sexually abused by Mukuro in his youth, and then brings him back to the cabin the three are sharing with a bleeding gash in his leg (all we see of the cause is him running along the ridge of a rooftop, clutching a probably-stolen-something, while men yell at him from the street). Jin notes the wound; Mugen dismisses it, but Jin won't be dismissed, and insists on washing and bandaging the leg. (Mugen pretends indifference, but flinches and sweats in silence.) I'm not sure what happens at the end--Jin seems very amused by something which makes Mugen yell at him and crack him in the back of the head as he leaves--but after Jin is gone, Mugen runs his fingers over the bandage, looking at it thoughtfully. A nice, quiet little moment between them. (Bit of micro-trivia: this is the first time I've seen Mugen's earrings drawn with modern-style French hooks. Anachronistic, of course, but gee, it's nice to see them actually attached to his ears by SOMEthing.)

By Marita Yuzo/AM7:30(Jet Jesso), 2005-05-04.(--There is beautiful Champloo fan art at that link, don't miss it.)



"Ji Jiyaposu"
16 pages, black and white with full-color covers.
G-rated, no sexual or violent content.




A nice, simple little pair of stories, one of which has Fuu and Mugen apparently arguing about Jin's absence, and then uncomfortable about the argument; and one of which is an Episode 13/14 sequence with a little Jin/Mugen twist (using the "tear of rain" frame...). The art is clear and simple, a little rough, but with good storytelling sense. Also has a great pencil portrait of Jin and Mugen, and you have to love these covers of J&M in modern dress.





"Megane" (Glasses)

24 pages, black and white with neat metallic-gold and pink covers.
G-rated, no sexual or violent content.


A series of Jin vignettes (as you probably guessed from the title =), the featured one involving a challenge from a bespectacled blonde stranger, and one in which Fuu & Mugen conspire to break Jin's glasses just to see, it seems, what'll happen... There's also a very cute page involving Jin, Mugen and a sunflower that has the nicest art in here; but the art of the primary story is also excellent, very clean and stylish, a nice comic-book style. The cover alone puts it in any Jin lover's collection.

credited to Momo Udari.






"ExThese"

24 pages, black and white with gloss full-color cover.
G-rated, no sexual content, offscreen violence.


You can't help but love a doujin that starts with the following sequence: Mugen, sword drawn, faces off against four opposing samurai. Judging by his smirk he thinks his chances are pretty good, but Jin apparently doesn't agree. He reaches into his sleeve, pulls out a grenade (yup, a grenade) and tosses it into the fray (which is drawn like a cartoon brawl with fists, swords and shoes emerging from a dust cloud). And a moment later, Mugen emerges from the dust to yell at him... and did I mention that Jin is wearing what seems to be a high-tech surveillance or listening headset while this happens (as he is on the cover)?

I can't get any sense whatever of what happens in the rest of this story, which is a conversation between Mugen, Jin and one of the opposing samurai, but the artwork is very nice (our old friends from Akatsuki/Akiba Circle), and they get points from me for creative use of anachronism very much in the spirit of the series.

Dated 2005-08-12.
Website: Akiba.




"Kedamono (Animal Version Book)"
24 pages, black and white with neat textured full-color covers.
G-rated, no sexual or violent content.


Anoyoroshi takes on the popular animal style in which all the characters are drawn as nekos (cat-people) and kitsune (fox-people). As usual Mugen pursues Jin while Jin looks sad and distant; Jin and Yukimaru (w00t! more Yuki-chan!) also re-enact their cliff duel from #16 with Jin in fox-form and Yuki as an angry catboy, which looks remarkably apt on him. Simple and cute.

"Anoyoroshi" is as always Rei Itidou.






"Burai no Kokoroe"
20 pages, black and white /red and white; elaborate metallic covers with adhesive overlay.
G-rated, no sexual or violent content.


The fancy covers and unusually realistic art style make this one stand out. It's really striking, and the art has great energy and character, particularly in the main story when something untoward happens because Jin took off his glasses...something different, worth a look.

By "Jesus Master" (Mari Sakaki)





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