Samurai 7 is a great anime adaptation of Akira Kurosawa's classic 1954 film "Seven Samurai". In Gonzo's adaptation the original story of class-based struggle is transplanted into a futuristic world that conveniently resembles feudal Japan. Though in this pseudo-futuristic anime world samurai's can slice through giant mecca, chop bullets in half, and deflect laser blasts with Jedi-esq reflexes. All of which, makes for epic battle sequences where bows and swords square off against laser cannons and mechanized samurai.
Settings aside, however, the story is remarkably true to the Akira Kurosawa masterpiece. With both stories starting when a poor farming village gets tired of being persecuted by a band of dishonored samurai who roam around the countryside extorting rice from farmers. Then in an attempt to free themselves from this vicious cycle of extortion the villagers decided to fight back and send three villagers to the city to hire samurai willing to be their guardians in exchange for meager offerings of rice. Granted like all good stories, Samurai 7 isn't that simple as the villagers find that most samurai are insulted by the offer and quickly refuse. Eventually, however, the villagers manage to recruit seven samurai all of whom enlist for reasons beyond the trivial offerings. All of this sets the stage with ample back story, foreshadowed character development, and a story of class-based struggles that comes together to form an excellent story that's absolutely worth watching.
Also, for true fans of Akira Kurosawa's "Seven Samurai" I should mention that this story does extend Kurosawa's original tale with a bit of poetic licenses. So I would encourage those fans to actually watch this piece as well because while Samurai 7 is based on Kurosawa's work it is actually a well managed update that does a good job of extending the original story without corrupting the original core points and themes.
Like most Gonzo pieces Samurai 7 gets extremely high marks for production quality. The characters are well drawn and blend nicely into both CGI and hand drawn backgrounds. In addition, there are scenes that are absolutely breath taking and the battle sequences are both well drawn and visually compelling. All in all, very high marks for Gonzo here as the work was very well done.
What really distinguishes Samurai 7's score is the way that Gonzo blends traditional Japanese instruments, modern music, and sound effects together to create a dynamic score that's a symbolic audio bridge between Kurosawa's 1954 classic and this modern adaptation. Probably the best example of this is the closing theme which has a very JPOP sound yet still leverages the traditional Japanese Taiko drums in the background. That said, throughout the series the Koto (a traditional string instrument) and Taiko drums can be heard in perfect harmony with a modern orchestra. All in all, a very complex, but complimentary ensemble that the viewer should really pay attention to as it does a great job of incorporating very traditional Japanese musical elements into a very modern score.
Given the fact that the story was based on a classic that all film buffs have likely seen this was an area where it would have been easy to mess up. However, I have to admit despite the futuristic pseudo-Japan setting the characters, I felt, were actually better explained in this story. As Gonzo dedicated significant amounts of time to telling the back stories of each of the samurai and fully unveiling their individual motives for joining the mission which, in my opinion, was something Kurosawa's original three-hour epic was a little weak on. That said, the characters are still very true to Kurosawa's original molds and fit well into this futuristic world. All in all, the characters and their underlying back story were nicely unfolded in this modern adaptation.
Honestly, this has been one of the most enjoyable pieces that I've watched this year and I really rank it behind only Elfen Lied and put it on par with Basilisk. In addition, I should note that I'm often critical of these pseudo-futuristic world settings as that's often a license for storytellers to re-invent the laws of physics in order to bend it to the whims of a loophole filled plot. Thankfully, that wasn't the case here. In fact, I found myself drawn into the story and readily accepting this world and the new powers the samurai were granted because of the way everything was setup. Regardless though I have to say that Samurai 7 is a real must see for anime fans and anyone who enjoyed Akira Kurosawa's original masterpiece.
Also for those interested in owning the series I really have to say the box set that FUNimation put together after all the DVD's were released is really something worth owning. It comes with seven DVDs and a fold out case that comes packaged with a beautiful box and seven small guidebooks. In truth this was one of the best packaging jobs I've seen for an anime series and would almost recommend it on aesthetic value alone.
Secret Santa Review! Happy New Year to All!
Granted I know this is a bit late, but better late than never I suppose. Also this is my first review so please bear with me!
Based on the film ‘Seven Samurai” by Akira Kurosawa, the anime Samurai 7 takes things in a slightly different approach and adds a huge sci-fi factor. I have never seen the original film, but after watching the anime I’d really like to. The plot is pretty straight forward; find samurai to defend the village. There are just enough twists and turns to keep the plot interesting though. The story isn’t the main point though as the characters and actions are what took the spotlight for me.
Animation - 8/10
The animation is per Gonzo and here they do a really good job, though it’s not their strongest effort. The characters are off model sometimes and the CGI for me did take a little getting used to it. The CGI however for the mechanical samurai bandits was fairly nice after growing accustomed. The character design for the main characters and world/ setting design are all very well done for the most part. Some of the side or incidental characters did have some weird looks to them, but it didn’t really bother me that much. The action scenes, and there are quite a few are animated very fluidly for the most part.
Sound - 8/10
The background music and side effects where done very nicely. The background music definitely captured the essence of the time period, despite it taking place in a sci-fi setting it has that old school samurai era/action flick feel to it all. The opening theme, though not overly spectacular is pretty good as well and I liked the animation for it. The ending theme is a bit slower, and I didn’t like it as much as the opening, but it was still a nice listen. The voice acting in the Japanese version was also done very nicely and my standout favorites were Romi Park as Katsushiro and Kuwata Kong as Kikuchiyo.
Characters – 8.5/10
This is where the series truly shines. We have a hodgepodge of different personalities with varying backstories and abilities. Much of the cast is fleshed out and it was fun watching them play off one another and learning to work as a team. The side cast is also pretty well put together with Rikichi being my absolute favorite from the side cast. Some don’t receive as much development as the others, but the one who I found stood out from the crowd as far as development went, and my personal favorite was Katsushiro. He learned the most and grew the most. I would have liked more backstory or development for a few of the main samurai as we never really got to learn how or why they became samurai and they didn’t show much in the way of development. Kanbe is a cool character but why did he become a samurai? Kikuchiyo aka ‘Nunky’ was a very funny character and we did get some insight into his backstory, but he never develops passed a funny and bumbling archetype. However I liked all of the characters aside from the villain Ukyo, which I guess is what was intended.
Overall - 8.5/10
Overall I had a lot of fun watching Samurai 7 and it is now a new high favorite. The characters and the action really made this one into something special and the entertainment factor is extremely high in this series. The aesthetics via the animation and voice acting really helped boost my enjoyment as well. If you’re looking for a fun and heartfelt show with a lot of depth, some great action scenes and good characters, though a bit lacking on the story front than look no further.
Critic’s Log - Earthdate: January 18, 2014. Review #77 : Samurai 7
Well, 2013 has come and gone and now it’s time for me to continue into the new year of 2014. I have been a bit busy as of lately but now I would like to continue my duty of reviewing anime as a hobby that I love doing. I may have written quite a number of reviews during 2013 and one of my resolutions this year is to write my 100th Anime Review (excluding the supplemental reviews I wrote alongside some animes.) I know the whole New Years Resolution thing is kind of pointless to bring up in this situation. Oh well. I will start off my 2014 run of reviews with Samurai 7!
A small village is being persecuted by a group of robbers who return in every harvest to seize the village's crops that the farmers worked hard to maintain the crops. Faced with starvation, the villagers and farmers set out a mission to find and recruit some samurai to defend them. With no pay to offer except rice, and knowing full well that only unfortunate samurai would even consider accepting such an deal, the villagers and farmers can only hope that their saviours will appear before the rice is ready for harvest.
To be technical, this is a Studio Gonzo production and that can’t be very good news. I can tell you 3 reasons why.
1. Gonzo has great visuals during scenes that are portrayed as a spectacle
2. Gonzo uses 3D animation that does not blend well with the 2D animation at all.
3. The quality of animation is inconsistent at times with a show made by Gonzo.
They are also known for having infamous anime adaptations of certain mangas, but this is not an adaptation of a manga, this is an adaptation of a movie that was made 50 years before this anime was made. I will get to that at some point in this review. I know I may upset some people when I say this, the animation isn’t really too terrible in this anime. The character designs are good despite it being unbearably inconsistent and the action scenes are pretty cool and flashy even though it is so over-the-top. The inconsistency is what really hurts the show and it is so painfully obvious too. If I am not mistaken, the 7th episode has some of the worst animation in the show and this goes on for 8 minutes or so. The inconsistency even comes in the middle of an episode at some parts of the show and it is really unbearable at times. The visuals are often lazy as well whether it’s repeated background animation cels or really terrible lighting effects which is in the show and it looks awful. Even though the animation is the weakest aspect of Samurai 7, I still gave my full attention towards this anime.
The music is done by Eitetsu Hayashi and Kaoru Wada. The soundtrack actually compliments this anime pretty well despite it being an adaptation to a movie which its soundtrack was entirely different which I do not intend on comparing this anime with it’s source material since it is very pointless to even think of such a thing. My only complaint is that there is a specific tune that constantly is played whenever a grave danger arises in the plot. This specific tune even sounds like it came from InuYasha. I even did my research and discovered that Kaoru Wada actually did compose the soundtrack to InuYasha. The soundtrack mostly compliments Samurai 7 but I feel the track that I think is overused sounds like Wada-san recycled a theme from InuYasha called “Attack”. Either look this song up at your own leisure or watch Samurai 7 and InuYasha back to back and hear for yourself. This is my only complaint about the soundtrack to Samurai 7 but at least it mostly compliments the show well. The opening theme is actually kind of catchy and so is the closing theme songs. They may be forgettable outside the show but I can’t deny that when you are watching Samurai 7, this one is quite catchy to watch with the visuals. The closing theme’s visuals don’t show much but the song’s ok. Like I said, the soundtrack is good, but not award-winning.
When it comes to voice acting, I should say that anime purists are going to win this contest. This is an anime about Samurai. This anime is rich with Japanese culture, settings, and politics. So in most respects, it would be extremely fitting to watch this Subtitled. Even though this may be the ideal choice, I will leave this up to the viewer. Masaki Terasoma sounds great as a leader with his role as Kambei. Tetsu Inada is also good as Gorobei. Tohru Kusano is decent as Shichiroji. Junju Inukai is alright as Heihachi, and Shinichiro Miki is great as Kyuzo even though it is a bit of a typecast. When it comes to the Japanese cast, Kong Kuwata does deserve special praise for his vocal portrayal of Kikuchiyo. In the film that it is based on, Kikuchiyo was played by a very well-known Japanese actor known as Toshiro Mifune. Kuwata-san portrays Kikuchiyo with some similar energy and spirit that Mifune-san was known for in his roles. The late Toshiro Mifune was regarded as a great Japanese actor. I’ve only seen a couple of Japanese films that he starred in and I can tell that he is no amatuer. The only voice I felt was a bit off was Romi Park as Katsushiro and that is a damn shame. She is not a bad seiyuu but she did overact on this one and I can’t say the end result stands out well. Fumiko Orikasa is not too bad as Kirara. Takehito Koyasu is also not too bad as Ukyo. There aren’t really any standout extras in the Subbed Version, but the casting is mostly pretty good. As for the English Dub, R.Bruce Elliot is good enough in the Dub as Kambei. Bob Carter is terrific as Gorobei. Duncan Brennan is alright as Shichiroji. Sean Michael Teague on the other hand is an interesting choice as Katsushiro. He does not overact too much, but he does sound a little over-aged for the character. But since Katsushiro is a young man, this gives the dub the advantage over the Subbed Version on Katsushiro. As for extras, J. Michael Tatum is great as Rikichi and I am under the impression this was during his early days. So there’s the standout performances in the dub. The only ok voices are Greg Ayres as Heihachi and Luci Christian as Komachi. As for what I think are the more questionable casting choices, There is Sonny Strait as Kyuzo. It’s not a terrible performance but it does sound very one-noted and it could have been done a little better. Then there’s Colleen Clickenbeard as Kirara. The performance is great, here’s the problem...SHE SOUNDS OVER-AGED THAN SHE APPEARS! But there is one character whose voice doesn’t really fit too well in the dub is Chris Sabat as Kikuchiyo. Now Chris Sabat does get Kikuchiyo’s passion and energy in the show, what he lacks unlike the seiyuu that played him is the wild attitude that was close to the actor that originally played Kikuchiyo. Chris Sabat was not terrible with this role but I sort of felt the voice didn’t fit too well. Anthony Bowling seemed like he had fun playing as Ukyo. Too bad he hardly gets bigger roles before or since. In terms of comparison, I actually prefer the Subbed version on this one, but I can’t say the Dub was terrible at all. In fact, it was actually good. One noticeable difference is some dialogue which that is due to screen adapting which isn’t a big issue in Anime dubs. You may notice the Japanese honorifics used in the dub and this may sound awkward at first when watching this anime in English but it doesn’t bother me. Now the interesting thing is that the bandits are called “Nobuseri”, where in the official subtitles, Nobuseri is said in Japanese whenever the word “Bandit” is spoken. The dub does have the characters mostly saying “Nobuseri” most of the time, but I may have heard the word “bandit” at some areas in the dub. You could say there is a slight inconsistency regarding this, but this is not to get too worked up over. Christopher Bevins does have a decent dub as the ADR director for Samurai 7. If you plan on watching this anime and don’t know which version to go for, then go with whatever version that floats your boat. But if you want a more fitting experience, go with the Subtitled Version.
When it comes to characters, the characters are distinct in appearance and even personality. This is not really the case with the movie Seven Samurai. This anime is an adaptation after all and it took some liberties with the character designs. Kambei does look cool in the anime while in the movie he appears as a bald man. Katsushiro is also a young man in the anime but not as likable as in the movie where even though the character in both this anime and movie are not “Marty Stus” Katsushiro was a good character for the majority of the anime until later on where he was a bit unlikeable which I won’t give away why but it’s there. Gorobei is cool in the anime and a happy one in the movie. Shichiroji appears to be younger than the Shichiroji in the movie. Heihachi is much younger than the character in the movie and I actually liked his personality which surprisingly stays true to the character, it is a little too different in comparison. Kyuzo on the other hand has some changes. For one, in the anime he does join very late in the anime’s plot where in the movie he initially declined the offer to be recruited and then changed his mind. As far as the movie’s plot is concerned, he was on his own which in the anime he was a bodyguard. The character that got the biggest facelift was Kikuchiyo. He is a mechanical samurai unlike any other character in the movie it represents. I know this was to tie in with the Nobuseri but I am sorry. I hated the mechanical Kikuchiyo character concept, but this is quickly forgiven since the mechanical Kikuchiyo is a lot of fun where in the movie, Toshiro Mifune had way, way, WAY too much fun playing as Kikuchiyo in the movie and it shows. The human Kikuchiyo from the movie was very energetic, really funny, and was very passionate whether it is in battle or whatever else he does. Kikuchiyo is a memorable character in the anime appearance wise, but in regards to Toshiro Mifune, Kikuchiyo was an iconic performance in both his career and Japanese cinema. Kirara is a good character in the show and Komachi is an alright character as well. Rikichi is not a bad character but his character arc in the movie was a lot more effective. There are some ok characters and there are some characters that add nothing to the story. Ukyo on the other hand is a show-stealer even though the only “bad guys” in the film it represents were “bandits”, just bandits led by a leader of the bandits. Ukyo is a decent character but not a phenomenal villain. The show has a good Main 7 characters and some of the supporting characters are alright. Surprisingly, the characters are not boring. The only problem with the majority of characters is the character development and Katsushiro really had development problems in the show’s course. This could be a problem with some viewers but that’s where I get to my main issue with Samurai 7.
The plot of Samurai 7 does stay true to the spirit of the movie despite a lot of liberties taken with the original source material it represents. The first third is (in a way) faithful to the movie, the second third does drag a lot and the middle portion is its own thing which has more politics unlike the film. The last third stays true to the spirit of the movie. Another thing that Gonzo took liberties while making this anime is by changing the settings big time. This may be questionable to some and I can’t say they were smart choices. Like the movie, this anime is a tale of courage and hope. It is a likely fact that this anime will not have as great a legacy as the movie that this anime represents. Now when I review an anime, I hardly talk about the manga that is the source material to a majority of animes. Since this is an adaptation of a movie, I will actually mention quite a bit about the movie that this anime is based on. Akira Kurosawa was a respected Japanese filmmaker who I think really films his movies very well and he was a master of his craft. Kurosawa-san is also known for being visionary as a filmmaker and even though this is a film about samurai, he even showed the humanity of some of the characters he puts into these films. Seven Samurai is highly regarded as Akira Kurosawa’s masterpiece and is also even regarded as one of the greatest movies ever made by prestiged and respected film critics and even film buffs like myself. I will have to see this movie a number of times to see if it deserves to be regarded that highly. Now if you plan on seeing Samurai 7, you may want to see Akira Kurosawa’s movie first but it isn’t completely necessary. Watching this anime first make it a little easier to follow since despite some complexities. If you actually saw the movie first, you may be greatly disappointed with this anime. There is one thing to keep in mind that I see in this anime. I never saw Samurai 7 to be a remake to Seven Samurai, I see Samurai 7 to be a tribute to Akira Kurosawa’s masterpiece despite not having the same kind of legacy that Kurosawa-san left behind. His spirit may live on like a leaf in the wind, but at least his vision never fades with his films.
Samurai 7 is available by Funimation. the film Seven Samurai by Akira Kurosawa is available by The Criterion Collection. A Western-genre remake known as The Magnificent Seven which is directed by John Sturges is available by MGM.
With all that said, Samurai 7 is a tribute to Akira Kurosawa’s samurai masterpiece. It does have a good variety of characters that stays true to the spirit of the movie, and it has a soundtrack that compliments the show well despite some repetitiveness in it. The story is not bad for a tribute but it is a bit slow and lacks some depth. What Samurai 7 suffers with is its animation as well as some painfully inconsistent moments. The 3D animation mostly doesn’t work and some effects look awful. It is still an ok watch as a whole. Whether you don’t like this anime or not, you will probably appreciate Akira Kurosawa’s Samurai epic even more.
I give Samurai 7... a 6.7 out of 10, it is DECENT.
Feel free to leave a comment.
I know that everything is above a 6 but I would not waste your time with this one. It seemed way to pointless in the end, very unsatisfying.
Story: The story was alright, it kept me interested for the most part. They were always somewhere new or doing something important. So I give it an 8 for being solid. HOWEVER, its rather annoying that the ending was so damn blazay. It seems like no one can end an anime in any kind of good way. frustrating to say the least.
Animation: needless to say, nothing special will be found here in terms of animation.
Sound: some of the voice actors were legit as hell, some were lame as hell, the rest were pretty solid. the soundtrack was comprised of like 3 songs though, or thats what it seemed like.
Characters: Ergo Proxy, Wolf's rain, Samurai 7. These anime all have a special place with me as different. Not in a bad way, they have a strange environment and story and it really made me want to watch more. However all of them had one major problem. Either their plot, or characters became too difficult to understand. The situations became so . . . "complex", if you can even call it that, that it was hard to follow what the message or goal was. In Samurai 7 it was the characters. In particular Katsushiro, Kanbei, and Kirara. The relationship between them became weird, then strange, then impossible, and completely hopless. I think the character building between these characters was the most important part and by the end of the anime it was just a massive trainwreck. This gets a 7 because of the other awesome characters, there were some pretty damn good ones, and they really made it worth watching, but it could have been much better had they focused on the right characters to build up.
Summary: The epic fail in the character building between the 3 characters that needed it really ruined it for me. Everything else was fine, but it gets a 6, this anime left me with an empty hole when it was all done. Everything they did seemed pointless and all the hype about Kanbei was just dumb. He made more mistakes then most, they made it seem like he was always right, when I found that much of what he did and said didnt really make sense. Some characters that needed to die didnt and some that didnt need to die did. Some characters made mistakes for the wrong reasons and then never made amends for it. And frickin Kirara done f*cked up. So for those reasons I would not recommend Samurai 7, too much pointlessness and emptiness in the end.
First, let me influence you on the movie directed by Akira Kurosawa in 1957. The plot is described as that it follows the story of a village of farmers that hire seven master less samurai (ronin) to combat bandits who will return after the harvest to steal their crops. The movie itself is being heralded as “one of the most influential films ever made” by many critics and audiences worldwide, especially since there was a western that was inspired by it called “The Magnificent Seven”, which many people have said that I need to see.
My opinion on the movie that it was a fascinating title that I think anybody who is into film should check out, although I only saw it once mostly to know what I’m getting into and what I gotten to, it’s something that I would highly recommended although the pace felt slow to me, but for me being new to the movie and if I see it again, it wouldn’t feel as long.
Now the anime still has some of the elements in the original film but it also has the elements of steampunk and/or the mecha genre added in there to give it more of a futuristic look. There is also a change that a Mikumari (or water maiden) named Kirara & her little sister Komachi (who isn’t in the original movie) led the search to find those samurai, as in the farmers in the show were too much of being pussies, especially one character who I will mention later, they send a water maiden and a little girl into the city to find samurai.
The samurai in name are Kanbei, the first samurai recruited by the villagers and the leader, described as a wise samurai who has survived many battles, though he feels no joy from them; Katsushirō Okamoto, a young and inexperienced samurai who wishes to be Kanbei's student, calling him sensei almost from their first meeting. Gorōbei Katayama, a skilled samurai who has made his living since the wars' end by entertaining people on the city streets and also knows Kanbei by reputation. Shichirōji, Kambei's former lieutenant, which he joins him again. Heihachi Hayashida, genial samurai who wishes to avoid fighting as much as possible and prefers to eat rice instead and man, that guy really likes rice so much. Kikuchiyo is a would-be samurai (right down to the false noble birth certificate) who eventually proves his worth but in the series, he is a cyborg with a mechanized exoskeleton and then there’s Kyuzo, a silent and mysterious swordsman who declined the offer once but later joins them.
The initial cast of samurai isn’t exactly developed but they don’t stray away from the movie, with the exception of Kikuchiyo being a cyborg, and they basically play their roles perfectly.
Some characters in the original film that doesn’t have a larger role there is actually some integrated more into the plot like Rikichi, who also led the search for samurai in the anime and shares the painful secret about his wife. His wife (who is named Sanae) does actually appear there more than in the movie. However, the character of Shino is greatly mishandled as she was the pivotal female role in the movie, but Kirara took that role right out of her hands, especially being Katsushirō’s love interest since Shino was the one in the movie.
The antagonists are more well-known in the anime than the movie but really, they are never that memorable, pretty easy to forget, and also not worth talking about.
Oh yeah, Shino’s father, Manzo, is the biggest cowardly weenie out of all the farmers out there, considering the fact he tried to sell out the samurai to the same people that wants to harvest their food and/or take their women and children. I get he wants to protect his daughter but he is doing a piss-poor job on it.
Now into the animation, which was made by studio GONZO…………oi. Okay, remember when JesuOtaku said about GONZO’s animation that when it’s good, it’s good and when it’s bad, it is HORRID?
Yeah, she knows what she was talking about.
A few times the clashing between 2D and 3D effects can be jarring a bit but not a complete turn-off. Some of the fighting animation is actually well-done and made but when they run out of their ¥32,500,000 ($300,000USD) budget, the laziness ensues and man, does it look awful, mostly trying to imitate the surrealism take on Studio 4°C and most of Madhouse shows. They are not those companies and they really should have tried harder on the animation. The background music for the first few episodes is very movie-inspired with the usage of Japanese musical instruments although I had a very Inuyasha vibe to the score, but then again, the same guy Kaoru Wada, also compose the score to that show as well. The opening and ending theme songs aren’t really much to talk about, they’re just either forgettable and/or not much to care about.
FINAL VERDICT: For fans of the movie, you might find this unfulfilling but I don’t think you’ll straight hate this but more likely to think that it was a completely different beast than the original work. As for fans of general anime, it’s nothing special to herald at but you won’t get bored with most episodes as they do pack a lot of action in them and never feels slow and since this show is now airing on Toonami and if you hadn’t already seen it, I would suggest giving it a chance before you switch off.
So, Samurai 7 actually gets some different ratings today. 7/10 – Watchable (in general) 6/10 – Vanilla (for the fans) THE MOVIE - FIRST CLASS