(fun, exciting, and original -- just try not to compare it to Cowboy Bebop; recommended)
I'm not sure why, but for some reason Shinichiro Watanabe -- the director of Samurai Champloo (as well as Cowboy Bebop and Macross Plus) -- is really good at mixing genres. Not everyone can pull it off, but when he does it, it's always fun to watch.
I wonder if it has anything to do with the fact that he is not a big anime fan. That's not to say that he doesn't appreciate anime (his favorite is Lupin III), it's just that he is more into live action films. That's what he said during that panel discussion a while ago anyway. He grew up on watching tons of American and Japanese films. The only reason he got into anime instead of live action filmmaking was because he heard that anime was "easier". So, again, I wonder if that is what makes his style seem so different from other directors.
Regardless, Samurai Champloo was was a great show. The characters were cool, and the fighting was a blast to watch. Mugen's fighting style has been compared to breakdancing and -- although the director hadn't heard about it until after the series was complete -- many fans apparently thought that his style was based on capoeira which is an kind of African martial arts. Whatever the case, Mugen's moves were so unpredicatable and wild, while still seeming somewhat plausible; and that's a big part of what made it so fun to watch.
Jin's fighting was just the opposite (the "wild" part, not the "fun to watch" part). It was clean and crisp, and although I'm sure Watanabe just developed it in order to balance out Mugen's style, it still had an appeal all its own. Both the characters' attitudes reflected their fighting styles, so even when they weren't fighting and were just ripping on one another verbally, it was almost just as fun.
All in all I had a good time watching it. The only downside was that I was constantly comparing it to Cowboy Bebop. And that isn't fair because -- although Mugen and Spike share some similarities -- it's a totally different story.
As a final note, I just want to say that my wife -- who is not an anime fan -- liked it too. So even non-otakus might want to check it out to see just how cool the show is.
Oh yeah... one final final note. This was the last series I needed to wrap up before I was able to start watching new series! Thank God! I really don't think I ever want to make that "deal" again, if for no other reason than it creates such a huge frigging backlog of titles to watch. Can you say "anime viewing marathon"?