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MapleRose's Samurai 7 Tv Review

Samurai 7

Samurai 7 tv Review

Story & Characters

This anime is based on Akira Kurosawa's 1954 movie Seven Samurai. As I have not seen the film, I will not compare the plot or characters of the anime to the movie, nor comment on the adaptation.

Plot
It had been some years after the great war. Samurai who have lost their way have become bandits (called "Nobuseri"), and they regularly attack farming villagers to take their precious rice harvest. The farmers, unable to defend themselves, are forced to bow their heads. One village named Kanna Village, are sick of the bandits and the terror they brought, send 3 representatives to the city to look for samurai who are willing to protect the village. But because they have no money, they would pay the samurai with rice. So Kirara the water priestess, her little sister Komachi, and Rikichi, a man who has a personal grudge against the bandits, set off to search for 7 samurai who would protect their village.

That is the premise of the first part of the series, the search for the 7 men who would band together. The journey is not easy, as they have to work to convince the samurai to join a fight without glory or recognition, and would only be paid by rice.

Once they have found the 7 men, the second part of the series narrates the fight between Kanna village and the samurai against the bandits and those who back up the bandits. Later on, we find out that the government itself is connected to the bandits. And there's discourse in the government itself, as an ambitious prince, who is somehow connected to Kanna village, rises up as Emperor and sets out to change their world one village at a time.

On the surface it seems the story is about samurai versus bandits. But there's also an element of samurai versus villagers/farmers. Although they are working together against a common enemy, they stuggle to understand each others' feelings and beliefs. The samurai are willing to do anything to win, including sacrificing part of the village to protect the main village. They do not understand the fear and weaknesses of the farmers and their fragile trust in the samurai. The farmers, although revere the samurai as their saviours, do not understand nor agree with some of their tactics when it means sacrificing parts of their livelyhood, and are even willing to betray the samurai if it means protecting themselves. As the battle goes on however, the farmers and samurai come to a better understanding of each other.

The plot is essentially divided into 3 parts. Although there are connections and subtle hints from one part to another, I felt the transitions were rather sudden, especially with the last two parts, and the subplot of what goes on in the capital. It seems a bit unrelated at first, and probably could be done more smoothly between the parts. But within the parts themselves, the plot flow is good. Overall, the pace is set so that you can easily follow, and the story is interesting and action-filled enough to keep you at the edge of your seat, with some moments of sadness and contemplation as well as humour to mix it up.

Setting
I feel the setting is an important aspect of this anime. Samurai 7 is set in a futuristic world, yet it has a medieval Japan feel to it. It's futurisitic because the bandits turned themselves into these floating/hovering meccha-type machines. The capital is a gigantic hovering fortress decked with luxuries Emperors usually have. And they use semi-modern weapons like guns and cannons (though some are more like muskets rather than modern guns). At the same time, it feels medieval because of the feudal hierachial government system, and samurai use traditional swords to fight. Also the settlement, houses, and various parts of the city feels historic, as do people's clothing and transportation (you never see motorized cars or planes, only wooden boats, wagons and carriages).

The city itself is quite unique. Unlike normal cities, this city uses layers to create hierchy. At the very top layer lives the lord, who is of merchant backgroun, who overlooks the city. The middle grounds are for common people, used mostly for trading. Then there's an underground part of the city where it's almost always night time for more shady types of business, and provides a hideout place for the group.

This mix of the futuristic and medieval creates a unique world which, strangely, is quite pleasant. I didn't feel any misgivings about it, nor does it feel weird or out of place, because it's meshed together quite nicely.

The only strange and unbelievable aspect I find is the way fights are carried out. Samurai fight with mere swords, and bandits fight with guns and cannons. You'd think the samurai would never win right? Yet these normal-looking swords are able to cut through the metal shells of the bandits as effortlessly as a knife going through soft butter. These swords are almost magical in how they can half meccha so easily.

Characters
The 7 samurai are all very much different, perhaps representing different sides of a person. There's the stoic Kambei who acts as the leader of the group), the optimistic Heihachi who acts as their mechanic, the inexperienced yet noble Katsushiro who admires Kambei and wants to become his disciple, the loyal Shichiroji who was Kambei's right-hand man in the great war, the silent and cold Kyuzo who has skills matching Kambei's, the lighthearted and sharp Gorobei who takes charge as second in command, and the rash and easily angered Kikuchiyo who turned himself into a robot much like the bandits. The 7 samurai work well together as a team, even if they disagree with each other sometimes.

Kirara is the village priestess. She wants to help the village any way that she can, and is not afraid to pull some dangerous stunts to achieve it. Yet there's only so much she could do, and she is frustrated at that. Her little sister Komachi provides comic relief to the series, yet she is perceptive in the way children can be.

Ukyo is the spoiled heir to the merchant lord of the city. At first he seems clueless and carefree, but later on, shows his cunning and calculating side.

The characters are special and likable in their own way, and depending on which type of character you like, you're almost certain to find someone you like in Samurai 7.

Rating: 8

Art

Character Design
Main characters are distinct-looking characters, sometimes with exagerrated features, almost caricture-esque to emphasize physical and character traits. The costumes fits the time period set up in the story, with somewhat traditional Japanese clothing for the nobles and commoners. The only complaint I'd have is that the farmers wear such bright blue and red clothes, you'd think they'd wear something darker since they work in the fields all day. Maybe it's an artistic decision, because it looks pretty eye-pleasing.

Background Art
The background art is average, not too shabby, but nothing really stands out. The floating castles/fortresses and the bandit machines are CGed in 3D with shiny effects. While artistically speaking, they are CGed well enough, with lots of attention to detail and texture, they don't really fit with the rest of the 2D stuff. It's my personal opinion that 3D models and 2D animation should rarely, if ever, mix. But if you're into the sort of shiny stuff, then there's enough eyecandy for you.

The colour palette creates a stark contrast between the settings. In urban places, everything is brown, grey, and drab, giving the feeling of developing industrial cities. The place below the city uses darker colours, and always seems to be night time, giving the underground idea. Rural areas like Kanna village uses bright vivid greens and blues and yellows to show the untainted peaceful countryside. When there's intense fighting or suspense, the palette changes to pastel tans and whites to create the mist. The different colours in different settings is a subtle device to set the appropriate mood and atmosphere for the story.

Animation
I really like the animation here, especially in the action scenes. The movements are smooth and clean, no stylistic shortcuts are taken. The only complaint is the animation in the ease of which swords can cut through metal, but again, that may be a exaggeration on purpose. Overall, the quality is top-notch (as expected from a cost of approx. $300,000 USD per episode).

Rating: 9

Sound

Music
The opening song "Unlimited" by Nanase Aikawa provides an uplifting start that gets you ready for the series. The closing song "Fuhen" by Rin is softer and slighly melancholic. Both songs has that traditional Japanese feel to them, and are nice songs on their own. The background themes, although not as memorable as some other animes, fit well with the theme of the anime in that they have this traditional Japanese feel to them. And the background music for fighting scenes is quite nice

Voices
All the voices are well-suited to their characters, though most don't really stand out too much. One exception is Ukyo. Takehito Koyasu did a good job portraying Ukyo's strange and somewhat twisted character, sounding carefree one moment and devious the next, then to spoiled and just plain scared and desperate. Another exceptional voice is Kuwata Kong as Kikuchiyo, who did an excellent job portraying Kikuchiyo's rash and humourous, yet noble and loyal personality, especially in his speech to reconcile the farmers and the samurai.

Rating: 8

Presentation

I did enjoy this anime. Once again, GONZO did a good job in adapting something and make it special on its own. I was mostly impressed with the setting: the way the futuristic and medieval are meshed together in such a unique way. The story itself is enjoyable and suspenseful, other than the slight gap between two subplots. The characters are for the most part, likable, though not the most memorable for me in anime.

If you like samurai and meccha with lots of action, you'll like this anime.

Rating: 8

Final Verdict

8.17 (good)

Reviewed by MapleRose, Aug 13, 2007

Comments

  1. Kukuru Dec 06, 2007

    Nice review MapleRose! You've certainly captured my interest for the series - hehe I think it shall be added to my ever growing list (and I wonder ever completable OX) of anime to watch!

  2. ealpha-scorpio May 01, 2008

    Wow! You've done another great job MapleRose :) It's hard to find such detailed review about anime these days. What I like about this review most, was the aesthetic evaluation of its Art. You have a very good eye for colors and details. I am really amazed at how you dived so deep to bring out all distinct characteristics of its Characters, Background and Animation. Oh...about the farmers red and blue clothing. You're right! I had, as well, noticed that Japanese farmers rarely wore colorful cloths. In the past they mostly wore gray, blue and white if I'm correct. You expect to see these Red & Blue colors in Mediterranean and European farmers dressing. I also guess they wanted to make a drastic contrast between cold -mostly green and blue- rural landscape and farmers bright clothing. Anyhow, they did look presentable and eye catching.

    What else I like about your review? :hmpf: The setting description. :) It was incredible :D I mean it, honestly, you explained it very well. Why? Because I had watched this anime a long time ago, and while I was reading your review all those description fit well with I had in my mind about the overall scenario -and, well, had forgotten during time. :) It's tempted me to go back and watch it once again. And yeah, the ending song is already humming in my head :)

    Keep up the great work :)

  3. beryl0402 Mar 16, 2009

    thanks for the review!

  4. pigmypuff Jun 03, 2009

    why it canceled show in my country?

  5. yuyuppi Jun 23, 2009

    it's good anime

  6. SchRita Aug 24, 2009

    Thanks for the review!

  7. nainoi Sep 13, 2009

    nice review

  8. SchRita Oct 31, 2009

    Thanks for the review!

  9. Weskalia Dec 08, 2010

    Samurai 7, one of the best anime I've seen. It was adapted from one of the greatest movie of all time so it's natural to become one of the most acclaimed.

    The anime is not all about fighting, but it also shows the way of the warrior, manhood and the relationship of the classes, making it one of the few but best samurai anime. These factors alone make it far exceed those nonsensical action garbage using samurai as an excuse they show nowaday.

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