At first I was skeptical about the transference of the story to some sort of fantasy future. The city setting is impressive while similar to futuristic cities seen in other anime. The film "Metropolis" is one. In fact the whole production is of the highest quality in terms of art direction. This is one good looking anime series. The music and soundtrack are really good also. But it would be meaningless if the story and the characters didn't have something to offer the viewer. And something they do. While not in league with the strong characters of a "Cowboy Bebop" or other top animes, Samurai 7 has a well thought out and developed crew. The story is paced for a full series so your memories of the film have to be tempered. There is a new sub-plot and a number of invented incidents. The whole production has the integrity of the Zatoichi film series and other classic samurai dramas.
The creators of this series do experiment at some points with mixed results. One early episode seems to have been done entirely by an artist from the "Fooly Coolly" series. The expressionistic loose art style works and doesn't work at the same time. There are some other anime concessions (beautiful girls, mega destruction) but overall it doesn't hurt the series.
Some notes on the US DVD release: The video quality is excellent but the sound and translation are a mixed bag. The dubbed track is different compared to the subtitle track. A lot of dialog is dumbed down or changes the original intent of the Japanese writers. I recommend avoiding the English track for this reason although the voice actors are very well cast and do an excellent job. The sound mix is sloppy at times. With episodes 5 - 8, the Japanese track has the sound effects turned way down, giant crashes sound like small drops, but the English track has the music and sound effects overpowering the vocal track.