I can’t say I was expecting this. ‘Shiki No Uta’, the ending theme song for Shinichiro Watanabe’s legendary hip-hop tinged samurai adventure series Samurai Champloo, got a new re-recording from the song’s original vocalist Minmi. One key difference between the 2019 version, officially titled ‘Shiki No Uta Tribute to Samurai Champloo’, is that it’s sung in English! The lyrics were taken from a fan-cover artist who goes by Sapphire, which I imagine is a pretty big honor. Samurai Champloo is 15 years old now and I’m thrilled to see it being celebrated in this way, but even if you’ve never seen this series you need to hear the song.
Produced by the incredibly influential late Nujabes, who was in charge of the entire soundtrack for Champloo as well as being indirectly responsible for the ‘lofi hip-hop beats to study/chill to’ trend, off the bat you know this song’s going to be good. However, it’s not just good; a bold claim, but ‘Shiki No Uta’ is arguably his magnum opus. I’ve seen more than one ‘Top 50 anime endings ever’ video on YouTube that listed this at number one, and it’s definitely been my personal favorite ending song for 15 years now.
In the past, I’ve even called the original ‘Shiki No Uta’ my favorite Japanese song period – anime or not. I’m not sure my opinion on that has even changed all these years later. That said, this new version does do the original some justice. Minmi sounds great, and while her command of English isn’t perfect her emotional and beautiful deep voice comes across as well as it ever did. I’m not sure who handled this re-recording and new arrangement, which seemingly uses more live instrumentation than the original, but it sounds pretty good too! A little more relaxed than the original cut, but still pretty none the less.
‘Shiki No Uta Tribute To Samurai Champloo’ is available for streaming now.