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.
- Animated by studio GONZO, which means crap on a CGI stick. These guys are terrible.
- Directed by Takizawa Toshifumi, who is a a bit famous for his work on the original Votoms, but has otherwise produced nothing of interest.
- Based on the homonymous film y Akira Korosawa, and thank goodness he is not around anymore to see what they did with his work.
The first arc is the same as in the movie. Peasants asking for help from non-greedy samurais to protect their village from being looted by bandits. The themes are how honor is a lot more important than money (sparkling rice in the show) and how the peasants are spineless wimps who have to stop asking others to help them and aid in the solution of their problem. Differences include:
- The world is not the feudal Japan but a semi-industrialized, futuristic land. This makes the story a lot catchier as all those flashy machines are a lot more interesting to watching only trees and meadows. Plus, it makes the gap between rich and poor a lot bigger.
-Instead of human bandits, there are huge mecha. This is not a complete difference, as the original story featured a gun, which was a lot more deadly than the samurais’ swords.
-The end of the first story gives space for more story, and the conclusion of the movie is taken to the end of the third arc.
The second arc is about the merchant’s son becoming the emperor’s successor. This arc is low on action and plot and aims to show how the rich are treating the poor and scheme amongst each other. It also shows how the world is rapidly changing and how folklore traditions and honorable samurais give their place to profit-centered machinery and laser-carrying mecha. High on intrigue, low on interest, very boring.
The third arc is the conclusive battle between authority and honor. Very high on action, there is some romance included and the conclusion is almost the same as in the movie.
This series was successful at making me feel the same excitement I had with the original. The unrealistic battles and the middle ark though were overall very weak in atmosphere and drama; they damaged the whole script conciderably.
The setting is depicted in quite the fantastic way. Cloths, buildings and vehicles are detailed, artistic and lushly. 3D models and lightning/shadowing effects create a dreamy world. The CGs of the mecha are of course very bad because GONZO made them. They move in very robotic ways… and I mean that in a negative way.
Voice acting was generally fitting with the characters and I found no real problems with it. Music themes are a combination of traditional Japanese music with westernized action elements. During summaries and peaceful times, the first kind of music is played to build up some atmosphere. During battle scenes, the second kind takes over. It is a worthwhile attempt, if you don’t mind the sudden changes in the origin of the musical tones.
Action scenes and camera angles are very Hollywood-made. That means that they are very well made but are also unrealistic. I mean, a few humans with swords defeating armies of huge, laser-armed mecha is unbelievable, no matter how much you try to reason it. But they are awesome if you are still young and will not disappoint those who like epic battles. Other than that, the GONZO effect ruins most of the fun.
There wasn’t much character development in the movie and there is not much here, either. When it comes to the samurais, this is rather acceptable, as they are supposed to be strong, determined and seasoned enough to have stopped needing any further maturing. We can even say that they stayed true to their beliefs and didn’t gave up when the new emperor tried to make them join him and become robots. So, it’s not as if their personality was never challenged. It’s reasonable to expect flowing personality from immature teenage characters in anime; but here they already were middle-aged from the beginning; and so they were stabilized.
The young ones, Kirara (the peasant priestess) and Katsushiro (the samurai in training), on the other hand, do mature. They both feel love, disappointment and taste the cruelness of the world for the first time. And so, they are very unstable with their emotions, as expected.
Plus, all characters look, act, talk and think differently, so none are without personality. Some have a very weak presence but even that is true in real life. So generally, good characters, without much philosophical questioning of their motives.
Overall, the series was ok. A lot more complicating and action-based than the movie but not so concrete or realistic. The slow-paced plot and the excessively unrealistic battles ruined a lot of its appeal for me, but there was still enough to enjoy. Compared to the total crap GONZO has made over the years, this is quite the watchable show if your expectations are not very high.
Samurais are cool. Mechas are also cool. Deflecting bullets/lasers is cool. Oh and samurai being equally matched against mechas is also very cool.
That is what the production team thought when they decided to adapt 7 Samurai into anime, unfortunately they thought that they also had to transform it into something entirely different.
Itching for some samurai action? Watch Sword of the Stranger instead, it's 1h 38 min long and a way better experience and use of your time.
What really killed Samurai 7 was the pacing, beginning was super slow and ending felt rushed, otherwise the show had some interesting ideas and concepts (like mechanical samurai and shikibito) too bad the show does nothing with said content.
Story is decent, hoped more character deveopement less running around.
Animation was intersting, at times there's some excellent animation, but 90% of the time it's just decent.
Sound is good, some traditional Japanese tunes and some newer ones too.
Characters fell to the way side, Ayamaro became an interesting person towards the end, the 4 interesting member out of the 7 die and generally everytime there was a character who could have had more, the show moves on quickly.
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