The Nihon Review - Anime Reviews & Editorials

Samurai 7

Title: Samurai 7
Genre: Action
Company: Gonzo
Format: 26 episodes
Dates: 12 Jun 2004 – 25 Dec 2004

Synopsis: In a far future closely resembling the Japanese middle ages, the village of Kanna is threatened by bandits who rob them of their food, hardly leaving them enough to survive. To fight the bandits, the villagers decide to hire samurai to protect them. Seven warriors answer their call for help and come to protect Kanna, but little do they know that their bravery has attracted unwanted political attention…

The Highlights
Theme: True to the spirit of Kurosawa‘s movie.
Animation: Top-notch CGI, great cinematography.
Artwork: Quality varies.
Characters: Annoying sidekick characters.
Plot: Romance subplot handled badly.

Kurosawa Akira‘s legendary epic Seven Samurai has made history as one of the most influencing Japanese productions ever. A timeless tribute to the virtues of the samurai class and at the same time an exciting adventure movie full of action, it is widely perceived to be the masterpiece of Japan’s most famous director. Can an anime series full of 50-foot-tall mechas, floating airships and flashing laser weapons really live up to that legacy?

Surprisingly, Samurai 7 does a great job of capturing the mood of its predecessor even though the setting is so different. Large parts of the dialogue were taken directly from the script of the old movie, and fans of Seven Samurai will find it easy to recognize the story they love. While essentially only the first half of the series revolves around the original plot, what comes after that is no less powerful, always remaining true to its main statement: while samurai are born to wage war, they also can never truly win.

On the technical side, Samurai 7 doesn’t disappoint either, and the beautiful CGI sequences are what makes it shine. Literally hundreds of mecha soldiers going to war, huge airships firing at one another, massive explosion – this series has it all. All of these action sequences not only look great, they are also choreographed masterfully. Rarely are battles in anime depicted so dynamically, and even the smaller hand-to-hand engagements literally burst with excitement. That’s the way to direct an action series.

Unfortunately, when the action dies down, the artwork of Samurai 7 all too often gets sloppy and sketchy. Obviously, two different teams of artists and animators were working at this series, and one of them wasn’t up to par with the other. Put bluntly, parts of the series just look cheap in comparison with the rest. Also, while the plot of Samurai 7 is great, a few of the characters are very irritating. One small female role from Seven Samurai was made part of the main cast for this series, and it just feels out of place. There are also a few “sidekick characters” accompanying the major heroes and villains, none of which existed in Seven Samurai, and literally all of them are nothing but annoying.

Finally, there is a romantic subplot that appears both in Seven Samurai and Samurai 7, only that the latter doesn’t even come close to matching the strength of the original. This has a lot to do with the change in the female part of the romance, but also with the very different outcome of it. Apparently, the script didn’t know what to make of the entire situation and decided to make absolutely nothing of it.

Samurai 7 is a great action series that tries hard to live up to the legacy of one of the best movies ever and succeeds on almost all levels. A clumsy romance plot and a few unnecessary changes from the original characters are the only things that really bring it down, and if you can overlook the occasionally lacking artwork, this is the next thing to watch. At 26 episodes, it’s a guarantee for a long time of entertainment.

The Rating: 8

Reviewed by: Taleweaver

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