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Lunch » Tags » Movies » Reviews » Akira Kurosawa's Samurai 7 - Vol. 2: Escape from the Merchants » User review

Katsushiro Okamoto

  • Nov 25, 2006
Rating:
+5
Pros: Still oh-so-interesting

Cons: Aberrant episode #7

The Bottom Line: Powers of Gonzo and Funimation - unite!

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

A quick note before you begin reading – this is volume 2 of a 7 volume series. You won’t know anything by starting here and risk possible spoilers by doing so. I recommend you go start at the beginning (after all, it only makes sense to do so).

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. Sweet.

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 is willing to hire other samurai for protection. What began as a simple quest has gained them five samurai and a whole list of new problems.

Episode 5: Lame! The search for a total of seven samurai continues. They hear of a generous samurai who chopped wood for a small teashop for just one cup of tea. Sounds like someone they could use. However, Kambei’s little fight with Kyuzo intrigues Maro’s other bodyguard and now he wants a shot at Kambei and the others.

Episode 6: Leave It To Me! Because of an ugly incident that happened in the house of the merchant Maro in the last episode, samurai all over the city are now getting arrested. That includes the samurai who’ve agreed to help Kirara. Now they’re on the run, but their escape plan may cost them a life.

Episode 7: Cure! Suddenly the group enters a small town and meets up with someone close to Kambei’s heart. But the samurai hunters are still after them…

Episode 8: Anger! Surrounded by Shikimoribito, Rikichi can do nothing but break down when bandits show up to do business with the strange people. We learn a few things about him and a certain samurai gets himself into trouble yet again.

What’s Up?
Episode 7 scared the hell out of me. Why? The animation suddenly took a drastic turn for the worse. The style was completely different with a sloppy, haphazard look to it. Details disappeared, lines weren’t smooth, and it was, well, ugly. I’ve seen the style before and I’ve never cared for it, and for it suddenly to appear here after 6 episodes of pure joy just took me for a loop. I just don’t get why it changed like that – lack of funds? Change in animators? No idea. I was pretty much in shock the entire episode and it took some time before I realized something else.

What the hell is going on? Suddenly everyone is in another village – or a city. Or something. I assume they walked there…but they looked like they were hiding out in a city before they got there. The appearance of another character that they thought was dead (or at least gave that impression) doesn’t surprise them – actually it was like they expected it. And then Ukyo suddenly shows up along with Kyuzo and Hyoogo (the other bodyguard) looking for Kirara. It was so abrupt it made no sense. How were they able to follow them? Why is Ukyo there because the chase was after just samurai –how does he know this is the group with Kirara? Everything moved very fast at a very weird pace, and I sat there half praying the next episode would go back to the way things were or I was going to get very upset about this whole series.

Lucky for me they did, but it’s almost as if whoever was working on the next episode had no choice but to deal with whatever #6 brought in. We are shown the Shikimoribito, who remind me of that creepy gas-mask kid in Doctor Who. In short – they’re weird and no one knows who/what they are. I guess we’re not meant to understand everything in this series but I’m a bit confused and I doubt that’s what viewers want to be. The only saving grace is that the animation went normal and I can hope that things will get straightened out.

Animation Aside from the weird turn episode 7 temporarily took, everything is still excellent. Details are back, colors are clear-cut, and that’s very good considering the detail #8 demanded.

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. And who would have thought that Sonny Strait, Krillin of DBZ, would be the voice of Kyuzo? One character I took an immediate liking to was the English Heihachi, and I prefer the Japanese Komachi just a bit over the English one. She’s still really cute.

The big changes I still want to make is to fix up English Ukyo, who is more feminine by far than the Japanese Ukyo. On the flip side, Japanese Katsushiro is much more feminine (voiced by Romi Paku, known for being the voice of Ed in Fullmetal Alchemist) than the English version, and I wish he wasn’t. Otherwise I’m fairly well mixed on the voices all around, and still haven’t picked a favorite version just yet. That’s not a bad thing 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. In fact, I’ve taken quite a liking to the little piece that is played at the end of every episode when they showcase the “Next Time…” clips. The opening song is “Unlimited” by Nanase Aikawa, a fast female singer. 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. I’m pretty certain that these songs are going to remain the same throughout the entire series.

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. That’s essentially it.

Final Thoughts Still lovin’ the show. Looking forward to the next volume, ohyeah! Oh, and by the way, Kambei’s name is actually Kanbee, but for some reason I guess they decided to go with what it “sounded” like rather than how it’s actually spelled (even though I think they could have just left it alone – or at the very least just spelled it Kanbei. That “m” simply does not exist by itself in Japanese unless hanging out with another one).

NT

The Series
Samurai 7 – Vol. 1: Search for the Seven
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

Recommended:
Yes

Viewing Format: DVD

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About the reviewer
Nicole ()
Ranked #166
Age: 27 Currently: Freelancing my butt off and querying my other novel, Blood for Wolves. Who likes seriously factured fairy tales? =D      Like books? Then take it from a real, live … more
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About this movie

Wiki

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 place in a futuristic feudal society ravaged by years of brutal warfare, where the lawless bandits terrorizing the rural countryside are a terrifying mutant amalgam of man and machine. One particularly poverty-stricken village decides to battle the mechanical menace by hiring a band of nomadic samurai for protection, resulting in a ragtag assemblage of masterful swordsmen with their fair share of personality quirks. This second volume continues the anime series with four more episodes.
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Details

Director: Toshifumi Takizawa
Release Date: 2005
MPAA Rating: Unrated
DVD Release Date: FUNimation Entertainment, Ltd. (August 28, 2007)
Runtime: 1hr 45min
First to Review

"Katsushiro Okamoto"
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