If “Cowboy Bebop” serves a genre-defying blend of western, noir, and jazz influences, director Shinichiro Watanabe’s follow-up anime series “Samurai Champloo” combines hip-hop with feudal Japan. Wandering figures Mugen and Jin form an unlikely friendship, despite Mugen being an irascible crook and Jin being a stoic samurai, with Mugen pursued by the villainous Toube, a violent figure from his past. As Mugen has his final showdown with Toube in the series finale, Jin takes on the cold, calculating assassin Kariya Kagetoki in a fierce sword fight.
Toube and Kagetoki offer a contrast in the types of antagonists across “Samurai Champloo,” with Toube bitterly personal and relying on explosive tricks while Kagetoki is as reserved and analytical as Jin. A pair of gorgeously rendered sequences, from Mugen barely escaping Toube’s suicide bomb attack to Jin drawing from his mentor’s teaching to face Kagetoki, these dual duels feel like the true culmination of “Samurai Champloo.” If “Cowboy Bebop” ends in melancholy, “Samurai Champloo” ends with understated serenity following its violent chaos and does so effectively.