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Set in an alternate feudal Japan where mechas and giant airships are a common thing for humans to see. With in this time period is a small village that gets raided by bandits during every harvest season. The villagers can't take it anymore, so they decided to send out some volunteers to the city to recruit some samurai to help defend their land. In exchange for defense, the samurai that get hired for the job will receive rice for free of charge. Since the village is too poor to offer any money, the only samurai who would accept their proposal would be the kind who are down on their luck. Will the villagers find any samurai who would help free them from being robbed by bandits? Written by
After hearing about this series, I had my doubts. Lucas himself attempted to lend some homage to the great Kurosawa through his "Star Wars" series but still can not reach the point where his movies, while enjoyable, can not reach that point. After seeing this series itself, I still feel like this follows the same legacy.
Following the traditional anachronisms of most anime, "Samurai 7" is a similar tale of peasants looking for protection from bandits after a great war has left many of these warriors unemployed and under-appreciated. The anachronism comes in the form of the cities, and most of the samurai, as being mostly mechanical creatures. While there are those who still are no different from a man and a sword, civilization is a post-apocalyptic mishmash that will make you think "Blade Runner" (in this case "Battle Angel Alita" may be more appropriate). The idea of technology's creep into Japanese society and tradition is shown through how impressive technology is shown. Even samurai, namely those that became bandits, are giant living automatons that were once flesh and blood but gave up their values to embrace modernism. Other changes include a love interest angle that feels as unnecessary as Episode II's, but unlike the fore-mentioned title, adds an interesting dynamic to the title; a female protagonist and her comedy relief sister that adds something to Kikuchiyo (again, unnecessary since Kikuchiyo is a great character, but who can really compete against a role that praised Mifune?); and an ambitious merchant prince that helps continue the theme of the destruction of tradition for modernism.
The animation is good and bad. The early episodes involve a lot of decent work, but through rehashed cels; perhaps this was appropriate. There is a particular episode that had completely terrifying frames (for reference, it is when Kambei finds his old companion). This thankfully changes after those early episodes and stays remarkably sharp, peaking in the final episodes.
In the end, you'll end up with something that is interesting but not entirely up to Kurosawa's status. It's entertaining, the plot offers something different, and the characters are very enjoyable. If you're a fan of the original movie, then expect to feel a little disappointed. If you can get past this, though, then you'll probably appreciate this offshoot of a classic.
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