Anime: Samurai Seven, Disc 2
The second installment of the Anime recreation of Akira Kurosawa’s classic epic Seven Samurai doesn’t let up at all. It continues with the same spot-on retelling of the original. The characters share the same traits, the heroes and villains share the same fates. But there are a couple of changes. The setting is no longer in rustic post-feudal Japan. Now it’s a quasi-post-apocalyptic setting, and the Bandits are no longer simply samurai, but mechanical constructs built on the bodies of these samurai to make them the ultimate weapon. That is, of course with the exception of the story’s lead hero who has not forsaken his humanity, and is all the stronger for it.
Episode 5: The Drifter
The group has found themselves in trouble, with the city’s guards searching for them. The have not given up, however, and continue their search. They hear word of a humble samurai, who has been working for his keep in the city. Heihachi happily joins the group to help defend his passion: rice.
Episode 6: The Fool
An imperial envoy has been murdered, as a result the Magistrate has ordered the arrest of every Samurai in the city. The farmers are concerned, but Kambei believes this to be a boon. The party must make an escape from the city, however, as their presence is given away by Kikuchiyo’s escape from jail. Kiku manages to redeem himself in their escape, but is lost in the struggle.
Episode 7: The Friend
On their way back to the village, the Samurai find themselves under the care of Kambei’s dear friend Shichiroji. He has given up the way of the Samurai, but seeing an opportunity to relive the glory of his past, he follows Kambei to spill their blood in the field. Meanwhile Kikuchiyo stumbles into the haven of the Firefly house, where the group has sought refuge for the night, bringing with him the Samurai Hunters.
Episode 8: The Guardians
The group has escaped the grasp of the Samurai Hunters but they have found themselves now under the omnipresent gaze of the Guardians. These subterranean creatures are obscure beings. Nobody but the villagers in their underground lair know anything about them. The group must now find their way through the Guardian’s den without bringing down their wrath.
This volume of the Samurai 7 series is slightly further from the original than the first disc. The story delves a bit more into the differences, and allows some extra development of the new characters, and a little bit of distinction for those that have been changed(such as Kikuchiyo.) The artistic style is stunning, as before, except one episode, which though I still love the style(it is like that of Eternal Family) which doesn’t seem to fit as well with the series, and doesn’t flow with the rest of the episodes.
The voices continue to impress me, as I tend to hate the English dubs, but this series has done an incredible job of filling the roles appropriately. I think that Heihachi’s voice over was particularly fitting, with the almost childish innocence.
The DVD came with the same type of insert as the first. It includes interviews, sketches, even poems about the story. It’s really an incredible addition. This with the features of the DVD itself and the stunning audio and visual effects really stack up. My one complaint is one episode where the art direction seemed to change. It was “The Friend” episode, and though the art style wasn’t bad in itself, it stood out a bit from the rest of the series.
There was absolutely incredible story telling going on with this DVD. Whoever was in charge really knew how to put it all together. I found my self with a tear in my eye in some of the more touching scenes, and on the edge of my seat when the Samurai would do battle. Hands down, this is incredible.
The only qualm I had about this volume of Samurai 7 was the one episode mentioned above. I thought that the style was not as fitting for the series as the style used elsewhere. It seems that they thought the same, since it switched back immediately. This did, however, detract ever so slightly from the experience.
Episodes: The Drifter, The Fool, The Friend, The Guardians
Extras: Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound, Widescreen 16:9, Textless Opening and Closing Songs, and Character Profiles