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Akira Kurosawa's Samurai 7 - Vol. 5: Empire in Flux

1 rating: 5.0
A movie

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

Tags: Movies, Anime
Release Date: 2004
MPAA Rating: Unrated
1 review about Akira Kurosawa's Samurai 7 - Vol. 5: Empire...

Gorobei Katayama

  • Nov 25, 2006
Rating:
+5
Pros: What's not to like?

Cons: Oh yeah, that's right, Katsushiro is getting stupid.

The Bottom Line: Will Katsushiro ever learn what it is to be a samurai?

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

A quick note before you begin reading – this is volume 5 of a 7 volume series. You’re going to ruin your appetite if you start here. Even by just reading this review, so don’t say I didn’t warn you. In fact, you’ll just feel confused. Besides, there won’t even be seven samurai running around. That’s right – go back five spaces and roll again.

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?). But even though it’s based off of an older movie, it’s all redone in a futuristic setting where samurai have amazing skills, machines roam aboard, and anything goes. Gorgeous.

The Story High Water Priestess Kirara, her sister Komachi, and friend Rikichi have traveled to the city in order to seek out samurai. As peasants who grow rice, nasty Bandits who used to be samurai, but are now more machine, constantly steal the rice and sometimes even the women. So Kirara’s village hires samurai for protection. What began as a simple quest turned into a long journey, a war against the Bandits, and now there’s a new journey to take.

Episode 17: Cut! Everyone reflects on the present and the past and how they came to be where they are now. Sort of a recap episode, though it seems Ukyo is up to something, and at the end a few samurai make some big decisions.

Episode 18: Evade! Ukyo furthers his plans and Kambei finds a way into the Capital. It is there he finds Rikichi’s wife, Sanae, and several other women that have been kidnapped to the Capital. His plans of rescue go awry when Sanae makes a surprise move.

Episode 19: Disobey! Ukyo arrives in the Capital, and Katsushiro, Kikuchiyo, and the others are on their way. It would seem Ukyo is more special than we thought – but that doesn’t make him any less conniving. Guess he wasn’t as weak as I’d thought. What’s he got up his sleeve?

Episode 20: Change! Ukyo’s completed his little exam and now has more power in his fist than ever before. Katsushiro, Kikuchiyo, Kirara, and Komachi formulate plans to save Kambei, and if they don’t, he’s going to meet a very messy end – or is he?

What’s Up?
Ok, if you read the review that included episode 7, you will probably remember me wacking out over the sudden dive in the animation. Animation aggrevation as zenmachado calls it. Well guess what? Yep. It’s back. In episode 17. Except the weird part is that it comes and goes. The flashbacks are in the exact form they were the first time, and there are some spots in the actual episode that are normal, or at least good enough that they don’t bother me at all. But there are other places that it just starts looking ugly again. It’s as though half the animators suddenly went on vacation and left the area open for less than worthy animation. It’s very odd.

The same thing happens in episode 18, except it’s even more random. Almost like the good animators had a few not-so-great animators doing a piece here and there. Such as every time Ukyo’s father is shown. Strange indeed. Other than all that, things have taken turns that were more interesting than anything ever before. I never expected Ukyo to take on such a big part – or to be so smart. I like it when things go off the map.

Animation Aside from the weird lapses in #17 and #18, all is well. The bandits are their computer generated selves and the rest of the animation is fabulous. I hope there aren’t any more weird bits of sloppy animation – there’s no need for it and it’s just annoying. I like it the way it normally is – clear, skilled, and with actual grades of color. And it looks like Katsushiro is grown up a little – as least in his face. It’s a nice touch considering that would normally happen to someone who’s never killed before. He needed it anyway. Gives him even more character.

Voices Either version works for me. I have random twitches with one version versus another, but overall they’re both very pleasing. There are some notable voices on each side, for those of you who pay attention to the voice actors (such as Christopher Sabat and Sonny Strait for the English version, and Romi Paku in the Japanese version). Otherwise, everything will be up to you to decide.

Music Kaoru Wada, master of the music for Inuyasha, is responsible for this series as well. Though similar in sound and instrument use, it fits the series very well, with appropriate pieces in specific spots, and doesn’t even remind me of Inuyasha unless I’m actively thinking about it.

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. The instrumentation is great, using a lot of instruments I don’t know the names of, though I’m sure they’ve all originated in Japan, certain flutes and strings and such. It makes for a good wind-down song after anything that’s happened in the show. Both songs have been steady throughout the series. The last episode may have something different, but that has yet to be seen.

Any Warnings? Fighting, violence, and the occasional killing. This means blood, explosions, and death. It’s a samurai show and if you don’t expect such things from people wielding swords and huge machines with guns, uh, I guess you don’t know samurai or mechas very well – if at all. There is some swearing, but not much. That’s essentially it.

Final Thoughts I was always wondering how this series was going to develop after the whole village vs. the bandits fight. Now I know – and I look forward to it even more. It’s a very sticky situation everyone has gotten themselves in, and one tiny little misstep could take out everyone.

NT

Samura 7 Volumes
Samurai 7 – Vol. 1: Search for the Seven
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. 6: Broken Alliance
Samurai 7 – Vol. 7: Guardians of the Rice

Recommended:
Yes

Viewing Format: DVD

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