2 of 11 people found this review helpful
26 of 26 episodes seen
Overall Rating: 10
Opening sequence: 8/10
Ending sequence: 7/10
My Age Rating: AA: Nothing objectionable, though violent everything is moderate.
Samurai 7 is based on an old classic movie called The Seven Samurai however I found this incarnation to be of greater interest due to its length and how such length allowed it to explore and delve more into the series’ themes. It truly is a fascinating series and while it is based on a movie it is not to say that they are overly similar, they are very different and I expect fans of one will dislike the other, unless they are able to put aside their elitism and enjoy the work for what it is.
The story is centered around a village of farmers who are being mercilessly attacked by bandits and decide to hire 7 samurai to defend themselves. But this rather moderate setting soon evolves into a truly epic stage that involves political revolutions, war and the fate an empire. I truly appreciate the story’s ability to deal with relatively small problems and fully explore their worth and then move on to events of a far larger scale and present them just as equally masterful, all the while concentrating on trivial yet interesting elements throughout.
Samurai 7 made a perfect blend of several elements no one would have ever thought to put together: It used a classic story and added mecha to it, it also gave a traditional samurai feel but in a somewhat sci-fi setting. With this same ability they blended humor, war and character interactions throughout making for a series that possesses all the required elements.
The characters were really well written and had just the right amount of exposure as well. Each one was given enough time to develop through the story and each character was unique and interesting. Each of the 7 samurai had his own personality and were not copies of the same stereotypical warrior type, and even the villagers managed to be more than just background characters with no purpose than to be there, which would have happened in many other series.
The characters have also different relations between each of them which is always taken into consideration, their relationships and how they evolve seems genuine for the simple fact that they are not merely interacting to take up screen time and give us explanations, they really do have different and sometimes subtle relations with each other which changes and evolves as they travel together.
One of the best traits of the characters is that they are human, they commit mistakes, make the wrong choices, try their best but ultimately end up as burden… The characters aren’t all conveniently expert or masters at what they are suppose to be, some of them are learning and new to fighting and other characters who have no particularly useful skills try their hardest to help. As these characters progress you see a realistic portrayal of what might happen if they were indeed in those situations, with the most obvious being the young samurai who is still learning, his path becoming more rocky and difficult after he takes his first life. Other characters are enemies to the main group at first but then some of them were acting out of obligation for their master, as honor demands, others had no choice to protect the ones they care about that are often being used as hostages by the bandits and even the most evil character, Ukyo, had a background that made you kind of understand why he did what he did. So it’s actually really hard to hate a character by saying “Evil bastard.” Though regardless of Ukyo’s past you’ll still pretty much hate him. This was my favorite part of this show, you start to make a portrait of a character in your head, decide she’s a traitor and should be killed now before she causes the group’s downfall, but then you find out her reasons and you actually start to care for said character.
The series made a magnificent portrait of life back in ancient Japan, even though it did happen in the future. It showed the plight of the farmers and the common people as the abusive government and rampant bandits steal from them and leave them with almost nothing to survive. Depicted how war had changed the era and how the remnants of that era, the samurai, were now no longer needed and had become a problem for society in many ways, thus showing us how even the samurai, proud and powerful, had their share of misfortune to deal with, trying to fit into an age of merchants. The way it presented the treatment of women at the time was very realistic without going overboard. Women were kidnapped and sold to the capital and forced into a life of servitude and sexual slavery. But what made this aspect stand more than other series who deal with it is how they didn’t use it to show us a lot of useless sex scenes or throw fanservice our way under the guise of dealing with the theme; they showed the situation as it is, with the horrors of the kidnappings being shown and by showing how those who have lost people they care about to these kidnappings deal with it. Their rendition of the events, made by showing both the effected party and the reactions of their families, was enough to bring tears to my eyes at times.
Off course that is what this series those best, properly delivering its elements with emotional impact and realism. Take the farmer’s struggle for example: a bunch of farmer trying to save their rice. Useless to say in any other series I would have seen that as nothing but the setting for the good stuff and this part of the series would have been something that I really don’t care about. But the director made the farmers and their plight seem so real, made us feel it, that I had no choice but to care as to whether they would succeed or not.
The art style and the graphics were simply great, different and interesting. The action was the best I’ve seen in almost any anime with only a few cases of repeated animation hindering that judgment.
In the end, Samurai 7 is a great samurai series, a great war series, a truly epic tale and even a good mecha series. I recommend it highly to any fan who can enjoy a story that as some depths to it.