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Akira Kurosawa's Samurai 7 - Vol. 1: Search for the Seven

1 rating: 5.0
A movie directed by Toshifumi Takizawa

Based on Japanese filmmaker Akira Kurosawa's legendary martial-arts epic SEVEN SAMURAI, the action-packed anime series SAMURAI 7 offers an anachronistic spin on the film's famous parable of vigilante justice. This time around, the story takes … see full wiki

Director: Toshifumi Takizawa
Release Date: 2005
MPAA Rating: Unrated
1 review about Akira Kurosawa's Samurai 7 - Vol. 1: Search...

Kambei Shimada

  • Nov 25, 2006
Pros: Everything - does that cover not rock your socks off?

Cons: I'll be good once I get the names straight.

The Bottom Line: Yay for a new, fresh anime series!

Plot Details: This opinion reveals minor details about the movie's plot.

There was a point in time not long ago when I mentioned I was ODing on Fear Street books. The day after I reviewed The Cheater I cracked. I couldn’t take it anymore. I couldn’t go to bed at 10 or 12 pm and endure yet another crappy night’s sleep. So I stayed up…and up, and up, until around 2 am and when I was finally ready to slip into bed I put on the first episode of this, Samurai 7, and fell asleep after watching it, having a decent night’s sleep for once in a long while, even if I still had weird dreams. Much better.

After that I’d begun a new regime; stay up until I feel like I want to go to sleep and then dazedly enjoy an episode before floating off to dreamland, as much as dreamland sucks these days (but at least I’m not tossing and turning). I’ve had this series for quite some time now. I just haven’t gotten around to watching the whole thing. I first heard about Samurai 7 when I was still at college where we get the Independent Film Channel and they began broadcasting the English version. Sweet – I’m always up for new anime. But sadly I graduated before the series was even half over. Hence, I had to get the rest of it myself. Besides, how else would I be able to compare English and Japanese versions?

All right, enough of my weird history and down to the anime. The series is based it off of Akira Kurosawa’s 1954 movie Shichinin no samurai, or Seven Samurai (where do you think we got The Magnificent Seven from?). Even though it’s got the same names, and same plot, right off the bat you can tell it’s going to be interesting. Why? Samurai + futuristic machines + everyday peasants = seriously weird yet awesome combination. I so do love samurai. So let’s have it, shall we?

Episode 1: Slash! Long ago there was a big war, samurai were hired to fight for each side, but that war has long since been finished. Samurai are hungry, jobless, and some go so far as to turn into thieves, operating as machines and stealing rice and sometimes women from the peasants in the fields far outside any cities. One village in particular has had just about enough of this thievery and decides to hire samurai from the city in order to fight the thieves. Kirara, a water priestess volunteers to go into the city to use her skills and special water crystal to seek out worthy samurai, joined by her young sister Komachi and friend Rikichi. But all they have to offer the samurai is rice – hopefully it will be enough.

Episode 2: Eat! Even though the young samurai Katsushiro is helping Kirara and the others, her water crystal does not react to him – but it does to the skilled veteran Kambei. Except Kambei has issues, and it’s going to take some doing to get him to agree. Meanwhile the son of the rich merchant that controls the city, Ukyo, has decided he wants Kirara for his own. His decision will be the cause of many troubles and fights to come.

Episode 3: You Must Be Kidding! So far on the team is Katsushiro and Kikuchiyo and an order from a certain someone who’s decided seven samurai will be the right number to fight the thieves. Perhaps the performing samurai named Gorobei will agree to help them – and it looks like they’re going to need his help before they even leave the city.

Episode 4: Let’s Go! It appears Ukyo hasn’t forgotten about Kirara. Or perhaps it’s his father Maro who’s sent in the bad guys. Kirara is lucky she’s got all these samurai around her. They make for good bodyguards. Speaking of good samurai bodyguards, Kyuzo, Maro’s bodyguard, has heard of the skilled samurai around Kirara, one in particular has caught his interest and he decides to test his skills…

Story I’m excited about this series. I was excited about it when I first saw it. Why is that? Initially because of the plot and animation. Let’s start with plot – though it is based on another idea, it’s been modified so much that it takes on a life of its own. I haven’t ever seen the original movie, but I’m tempted to. I doubt that there were anything involving machine samurai and impressive water crystals though. Everything, to me, is original simply because I’ve never encountered it before. Sure, a big fighting machine isn’t new to me (or any anime fan for that matter), but the setting and fact that samurai with nothing but sheer skill have to defeat these gigantic bandits – well that just has fun times written all over it. Futuristic, yes, but I don’t even assume that it has to be here on Earth in the future. In fact I don’t even think of it in those terms. I just go with it.

The differences in the characters add to the story. Every samurai they pick up has his own personality and style. Of course, you knew they would because that’s going to make things interesting. The fact that Kikuchiyo has issues being accepted as an actual samurai makes for amusement, and I love how the little girl Komachi has taken such a liking to him. She’s really cute and doesn’t have that annoying little girl voice that so many other anime characters have. The cute interaction between Kirara and Katsushiro has me thinking and hoping for more in the future, but I’ll have to be patient right now.

Animation I love everything about it. Detail, coloring, background, everything. Just as every character has their unique personality, they each have their own style and differences. Kirara and the other two peasants have their distinctive red and blue outfits, which makes them really stand out amidst the rest of the city’s populace, which is fairly drab. I think so far I like Kambei’s look the best, with the hair and the tiny beard, gloves and white flowing outfit with patches of black here and there. The merchants make for an interesting group too simply because of the makeup use. Katsushiro comes in as a close second for looks because of his outfit and mostly his green hair. It matches his eyes. Haha. I have to make a final mention of Kyuzo, who reminds me of a mix of Mushin and Jin from Samurai Champloo, only with blonde hair. Can’t wait for more.

Voices I have very few problems with either the English or Japanese version. I saw the first six episodes in English first and then just recently had the pleasure of watching it with subtitles. Kambei took a little getting use to even from the start in English, but I don’t mind him in the least now. Kikuchiyo was the same way. For those of you keeping track, Christopher Sabat acts as the voice for the extravagant Kikuchiyo. One character I took an immediate liking to was the English Heihachi, who sounded familiar but I realize I don’t know him, and I prefer the Japanese Komachi just a bit over the English one. She’s so cute.

The big changes I would make, is that I like Ukyo much better in Japanese than in English, and Katsushiro in English better than Japanese. Catch all that? See, Japanese Ukyo is much more masculine than the English version and I think it works much better that way. Japanese Katsushiro is much more feminine (in fact, since he’s fairly young, he is voiced by a woman – Romi Paku to be precise, who voiced Ed in Fullmetal Alchemist) than the English version. There’s nothing I can do but listen in, but as I’m fairly well mixed on the voices all around, I can’t really pick a favorite version just yet. That’s not so bad though, because it means that both versions are very well done. Dialogue isn’t changed any sort of drastic amount either, and that is always a high point.

Music For those of you familiar with Inuyasha, the name Kaoru Wada should ring a bell. It seems by now that Kaoru Wada’s style deals a lot with drums and flutes with the occasional brass for effect. I remember thinking, “This sounds familiar…” when it first started out. Then I finally noticed the name and it all made sense. But it’s not totally Inuyasha and it works out very well with the series so I don’t even really notice. The opening song is "Unlimited" by Nanase Aikawa, fast and sung by a female. It’s a very good opening song and sets the right tone for the series. The ending song is “Fuhen” by Rin. It’s slower, still sung by a female, and let me just say this – the first time I heard this song I wanted it. If you know me, you know this happens from time to time, and this was one of those songs I had to put on my MP3 player and play over and over again while wishing I knew enough Japanese to keep up and sing along. The instrumentation is great, using a lot of instruments I simply don’t know the names of. It makes for a good wind-down song after anything that’s happened in the show.

Overall If you haven’t noticed by now, I already love the show. I look forward to what is going to happen next and have a feeling I’m going to be all kinds of sad once I hit the 26th episode. The only problems I’ve encountered was trying to keep up with everyone’s name. They aren’t used all that often save a few, and it seems like everyone has a name that starts with a K. Without subtitles it’s a little hard to decipher some names – like Kikuchiyo. But if you stick with it long enough you’ll eventually start to remember who is who. Aside from that – it’s time to watch the second volume.

P.S. Any Warnings? Naturally there is going to be fighting, violence, and the occasional killing. It’s a samurai show and if you don’t expect such things from people wielding swords, uh, I don’t know what planet you’re on. There is some swearing, but not much, a harem in one spot, but it’s a heckuva lot better than turning on something like CSI where the first thing you see on the show is someone brutally murdered and then cops cracking jokes about it. Whatever.


The Series
Samurai 7 – Vol. 2: Escape from the Merchants
Samurai 7 – Vol. 3: From Farm to Fortress
Samurai 7 – Vol. 4: The Battle for Kanna
Samurai 7 – Vol. 5: Empire in Flux
Samurai 7 – Vol. 6: Broken Alliance
Samurai 7 – Vol. 7: Guardians of the Rice


Viewing Format: DVD

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"Kambei Shimada"
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