Akira Kurosawa’s Samurai 7 Box Set

Ebby

Samurai 7 is a reinterpretation of Akira Kurosawa’s classic movie Seven Samurai, set in a world which is both futuristic and ancient. Rural farming villages are under siege by giant, robotic Nobuseri bandits that take their rice, women and if they don’t comply their lives. Desperate and no longer able to tolerate life under the thumb of the Nobuseri the tiny village of Kanna decides to fight back the only way they know how. With only rice to give as payment they set out to hire ronin, samurai without masters, to defend their village.

imageWith the village elders blessing, the water priestess Kiara, her little sister Komachi and a villager who lost his wife to the Nobuseri, Rikichi, set off to the city in search of Samurai. Finding samurai willing to work for rice proves to be more arduous than anticipated for the rural threesome. To make matters worse the beautiful water priestess, Kiara, catches the eye of Ukyo a powerful merchant’s son and he’ll stop at nothing to have her. Despite the danger and distraction of Ukyo and his powerful allies the trio finally finds Kambei, a battle tested, gritty samurai made in the image of a classic Clint Eastwood character, to accept the challenge of defending Kanna against the powerful Nobuseri. Together, Kambei and the trio, assemble a crew of experienced samurai and a couple of samurai wannabes – Heihachi, the young spiritual samurai that chops wood with his sword and has a penchant for mechanics, Gorobei, the weathered samurai that loves to entertain and seems to find enjoyment in courting death, Katsushiro, a young whelp with a strong desire to be samurai who looks to Kambei as his sensei and last but certainly not least, Kikuchiyo, the samurai wannabe that changed himself from a farmer into a machine so that one day he might be able to protect his village. The group of eight leaves the city being hunted by sword wielding guards and mercenaries after an imperial envoy to the emperor is found murdered by a samurai sword.

imageA quick stop at the Fire Fly Inn introduces us to the next samurai up to the challenge of Killing Nobuseri – Shichiroji, Kambe’s old wing man from the great war .The samurai find refuge from the hunt in the strange cavernous world of the Guardians. The Guardians are trading partners with the emperor through the Nobuseri. Kambei and the others discover the strange and complex relationship involving the villager’s stolen rice and energy cells used to power the city and the Capital. The guardians use displaced villagers to help harvest their special food source. Through the villagers Kambei finds out that the stolen women are being kept in the Capital. There are now two missions that Kambei has committed himself to, freeing the villagers from the reign of terror inflicted upon them by the Nobuseri and freeing the women from captivity in The Capital. After leaving the Guardians cave we meet our 7th and final Samurai willing to step up to the challenge – Kyuzo, an incredibly skilled, dark samurai with only one thing on his mind … killing Kambei. From here our mismatched band of ronin samurai go on to not only defeat the Nobuseri and free the kidnapped women from the capital but to bring down the powerful and corrupt energy hungry elite that are controlling the world.

imageSamurai 7 is a great series. As someone newly introduced to anime I found this series arresting in its intensity. The story is strong and the plot moves along at a brisk pace. It alternates between the serious business of war and battle with comic relief mainly provided by Kikuchiyu and a subtle love triangle between Kambei, Katsushiro and Kiara underneath it all. While I found the antics of Kikuchiyu really annoying in the beginning by the end of the series he had fully won me over. The characters are well developed though I thought that Gorobei and Shichroji could have used a little more detail. What makes this anime stand out so much to me is that they seamlessly marry sci-fi to classic ancient fantasy and don’t have to stop and explain it all. The fight scenes are insane battles of modern weapons versus the samurai and his sword or in my favorite character Kyuzo’s case his two swords. Samurai 7 at its core takes the modern problems of powerful entities controlling energy, commerce, the military and the justice system and cuts them all down to size with the ancient samurai way of bushido and sword.

Art director Hiromasa Ogura and art producer Nobutaka Kasama did a great job of animating this film. Once again, the use of old and new combines to make a seamless whole. There are great panoramic scenes that rival the cinematography of feature films. The art style is old but the use of light is amazing. I was truly dazzled by the detail of this series.

Kaoru Wada moved me as musical director. Wada’s use of ancient Japanese taiko drums set the mood for the Samurai to take care of business. The solemn drumming is stark against the detailed artwork. Using ancient instruments Kaoru creates a poignant haunting sound track that is a rich addition to an already impressive anime series.

In addition to getting a great piece of entertainment, the Samurai 7 box set includes 7 booklets, one for each disc of the series. The booklets have great sketch art, poetry and interviews with the creative team behind the series. On the actual discs there is a mix of commentary, animated shorts called Mr. Stain on Junk Alley and trailers for different anime.

Like anything else in life Samurai 7 isn’t perfect. I’m sure underneath all of my glowing accolades there is a flaw or two. In the end it doesn’t matter because this series just rocks that much. I’m not ashamed to give it a ten out of ten and even if I’m not an expert on anime I know good when I see it. The only thing that truly disappointed me about the series was that it had to end.

Entertainment: 10
Samurai 7 is a classic story that is well executed with plenty of samurai sword slashing versus crazy evil robot humanoid action.

Technical: 9.5
The Samurai 7 series feels epic in scope because of it beautiful panoramic cinematography, amazing use of light and use of ancient Japanese taiko drums that pulls everything together for an amazing viewing experience.

Overall: 9.5

DVD Features: Full Series, English & Japanese languages, English Subtitles

DVD Extras: 7 Art Booklets

You may also like