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.
STORY: Samurai 7 tells the story of a village named Kanna. Every year during the harvest a group of bandits come and steal away almost all of the rice that had been harvested that year. Not only that, the bandits are becoming more demanding, now taking women and children in addition to rice.
The elder of Kanna Village has decided that to protect the village they must hire samurai to fight against the bandits. However, the village has no money and thus must find samurai willing to protect the village for a payment of rice. Three members of the village leave to attempt to recruit samurai. They travel to the city and search for samurai willing to work, and after finding several samurai and having a few encounters with the local government they return to Kanna village to prepare defenses against the bandits.
WARNING SPOILERS BELOW!!!!!!!
The samurai train the villagers in the use of bows, building walls, and construct a giant ballista to defend the village against the bandits. After successfully defeating the bandits, the samurai then launch an attack upon the capital to defeat a power-hungry ruler who has recently risen to power as Emperor. After heavy casualties for the samurai, and the near-destruction of Kanna village, the capital is finally defeated.
ANIMATION: The animation in this anime is superb...SOMETIMES. The creator blended the CGI really well....but it did kind of fall off in the middle.
SOUND: The voice acting is extremely well done....both in the dub and the original Japanese. The music is perfect for this genre.
CHARACTERS: The Characters in this anime are awesome.
Kambei is a wise samurai who has survived many battles, though he feels no joy from them. Many of his friends have died in those battles. He constantly lives in the shadow of his painful and violent past, rejecting Kirara after stating that his heart is dried up. He leads the group during their battles and usually plans strategy.
katshiro is a young and inexperienced samurai who wishes to be Kambei's student, calling him sensei almost from their first meeting. He idolizes the principles of bushido. He promises to protect Kirara no matter what, and seems to be attracted to her. He grows stronger and more skillful throughout the series, eventually becoming a worthy student of Kambei; and he also comes to terms with killing enemies, after reacting in shock the first time.
Gorobei is a skilled samurai who has made his living since the wars' end by entertaining people on the city streets. He is also a veteran of the Great War, so he knows Kambei by reputation. He is very skilled at dodging blows and can pluck arrows and darts from the air. He often makes light of rather serious or dangerous situations. He is also quite smart, in his own unique way. He is the first to be killed. To him, all the world was a stage and the people, merely players. He will be well remembered after his curtain call.
Shiroji in the Great War with Kambei, and is often referred to as "Kambei's old wife." ("Mate" in the English series) He temporarily leaves behind his successful post-war business at the Firefly Inn, and with it, his beautiful girlfriend/fiance, to join Kambei in battle once again. He has a prosthetic left hand which has a grappling hook capability with his index finger. His girlfriend, Yukino, has nicknamed him Momotaro, from the traditional Japanese tale, because she found him, badly injured after a battle, floating down a river inside a capsule reminiscent of a peach.
Kikuchiyo is a cyborg with a mechanized exoskeleton. He is originally a peasant until becoming a samurai to help others. He is often looked upon as a clown or a bother, as he gets angry easily and often causes trouble with his loud noise and clumsy ways. He is accepted as the seventh samurai after revealing he was also a farmer, like the peasants of Kanna. He carries the largest of the swords, which also acts as a chainsaw. He is fiercely loyal to Kambei, and, when given recognition, he returns favors fourfold. He is well liked by the villagers, especially by little Komachi, who asks him to become her husband when she grows up, a request that he accepts in return for her keeping his fake family tree. He is the last to be killed, he died protecting Kanna from the crashing capital.
Hayashida Heihachi is a genial samurai who wishes to avoid fighting as much as possible and prefers to eat rice instead. During the Great War, he took a position as a combat engineer, which kept him off the front lines but also used his mechanical skills. He is discovered chopping wood in exchange for food or devices that interest him. He is most helpful within the group as their mechanic, and orchestrates the construction of medieval-type weapons. However, he harbors a deep hatred for traitors as he was one himself, which resulted in his whole unit being killed. He is crushed by a huge iron bar. Before dying, he shouts out: "I'll be in the rice" or "Find me in the rice". Within the series, he talks about the old tradition of the "seven rice kami" inside every grain of rice.
Kyuzo is originally a nearly silent, mysterious bodyguard for Ayamaro. In that role, he fights with Kambei, and he later joins the group with the stated intent of saving Kambei's life so that he can later fight Kambei to the death. Kyuzo is an incredibly skilled fighter, wielding double blades that fit into one sheath on his back. He's accidentally killed by Katsushiro when Katsushiro used a gun to protect Kambei because his sword was broken.
Kirara is a mikumari (water maiden, a village priestess) of Kanna. She decides to go to help find the samurai to bring back to her village, and she admits that she also wanted to see something of the outside world. She possesses a dowsing crystal on a necklace which allows her to detect the flow of groundwater and to read others' hearts. She falls in love with Kambei, though he rejects her.
Komachi is Kirara's little sister, who follows along with her and Rikichi to see the city as well as help locate the samurai. She likes the boisterous Kikuchiyo and asks him to marry her when she grows up. After the death of Kikuchiyo, Komachi is seen with her sister's dowsing necklace hinting that she inherited her position as the Mikumari of her village.
Rikichi is a peasant of Kanna, who travels with Kirara to locate the samurai. He can be often rash because of his hatred for the bandits. He blames himself for the loss of his wife, Sanae, who has given herself up to the bandits to save the village. Kambei promises to rescue Sanae, and Rikichi is eventually reunited with her.
OVERALL: Samurai 7 is a truely great series. I highly recomend it to any anime fan.
Overall the character were great, each was equally important. The fights didn't take lots of episodes. The soundtrack was magnificent, it make it more dramatic. The story......... genius.
Alternate titles include: Badass 7, The Seven Badasses, The Magnificent 7 Badasses, Seven Badass Samurai and Seven Samurai. Other titles include most (If not all) the following: "7" or "Seven", either/both "Samurai" and "Badass".
Straight up, I've never seen The Seven Samurai or The Magnificent Seven. But from what I've seen here, they're probably filled with awesome badassery.
And you know what? That's justified in the first three minutes of the first episode. I'm not going to explain it, as that'll take away some of the fun but it's definitely one of the coolest scenes I've seen in anything that relates even remotely to samurai. The fights continue to drive the point home, as when the sword swings, the body count rises and style ensues. They are good at what they do, and it shows; every battle is fast and furious, slicing and rending in a cacophony of destruction. But it isn't all about samurai and swords, as there are the mecha with swords. Robots (Or drones, can't really call these one samurai) roughly the size of a human to literal samurai mecha the size of the stuff you see in Gundam. But this is an era with guns, which... sometimes lose to katana. It's not historically accurate in that aspect, but it doesn't need to be.
If there isn't a fight going on then there is most likely some story progression going on (Some fights do advance the story; bonus!). And by story progression, I mean some slow story progression. This is especially for the first few episodes where the samurai are being gathered. I personally didn't mind it, as I loved the setting of mecha/technology fused with feudal samurai. As well as I don't mind the actual process of it all. It's bound to get on a few people's nerves, but it does pick up. Past that, the story kept it's hold on me.
Feudal Japan fused with machine technology makes for a great setting, and Samurai 7 does that justice. Mechanical samurai roam the streets, bandits are the same (And the bandit leader looked particularly cool) and even the humans don't shirk of style. But the seven samurai in particular look stylish, and their swords (And spear) having different styles is a nice touch. Just had a bit of a problem with a few of the CGI scenes and a few other scenes in particular, which didn't look as good as the other scenes (For both CGI and non-CGI in comparison to their respective designs and not as a whole). Overall, loved the design, the look of the characters, the style of everything and the scenery. One last thing on animation; there's that title card in the middle of the anime, for a break I guess, which got me every time.
When I get an anime based in the samurai era, I expect some music that fits the era and that's what's given. It's brilliant and yet not overwhelming, which helps to immerse the viewer into the anime. The OP I enjoyed greatly and the EP as well, it's not hard rock and not entirely like the background music but it works. As well as the voices, which were pretty great.
I loved the characters in this series, and not just for the badassery of the seven. Everybody has a purpose and it's just fun to see them in action and how some of them change throughout the series, specifically Katsushiro. He's the most innocent of the seven and to see him kill a man or machine for the first time is truly shocking. That's no spoiler, as they all kill things, but that first kill is truly something. Otherwise, loved the comedic banter between Kikuchiyo and Komachi and oddly enough, Ukyo. I didn't like him much at first, but he grew on me.
I'm a fan of samurai and action, and even slow-paced stuff at times. Samurai 7 does those three genres great justice, and most likely does justice to it's source material. It's filled with hope and sadness; action and chaos. Showing that war is hell and that it can change hearts and minds, not simply fighting with the body but with the spirit and ideals.
NO SPOILER REVIEW.
THIS IS A REVIEW AND IT DOES NOT CONTAIN THE SYNOPSIS ALREADY CONTAINED ON THE MAIN PAGE.
None of this is copypasta, this is my actual review.Also, comments are welcome as far as helpful, not helpful etc, do not flame me or disrespect me. I spent my time writing this to help others.)
And lastly, if you dont like my review. WRITE YOR OWN!
Although I still doubt the necessity of the bandits being mech I think without thier presense some of the other characters and setting would be lacking. This is probably one of the only things I did not care for in this anime. I just think seeing sword on sword action is more appealing personally. But the fact that the main antagonist is are gigantic mech's makes the story pretty remarkable. The plot is well deveoloped and the characters are all involved throughout.
There is 80% standard animation to 20% CGI ratio within the anime series which really adds to the anime and isn't overdone. The fight senes are pretty amazing and the characters are dressed and move well. There was only maybe one or two episodes that seemed to have an animation substitute and it's pretty obvious.
From the complete series dvd collection I watched some of the sounds when the character was facing away from the 'camera' were very quiet at some points and slightly hard to hear over backround music/ambience.
Other than that the sound effects are awesome. The voices are done well and completely match the characters and help you get absorbed into the anime as a whole.
The balance of personalities in this series is pretty remarkable. Everyone has a role and purpose. The diversity between all of the characters adds to the appeal. The storyline and character development all ties in nicely to motives of characters as well as thier personalities.
The series is worth watching.
I hope this helps some of you without including spoilers because this is my first ever review that I wrote and it's kind of nervewrecking for me and I tend to overthink, but I wanted to try it out. Regardless, this anime is pretty awesome and you should watch it.
"But you don't have to take my word for it" -LeVar Burton, The Reading Rainbow Guy