Studio/Creator: Gonzo/Akira Kurosawa (wrote original movie)
Distributor: FUNimation, also streams on Hulu
Suggested Age: 13+
No. of Episodes: 26
My Rating: 7.5/10
Summary: This is a sci-fi version of Akira Kurosawa’s legendary epic Seven Samurai. In this version, a group of bandits called the Nobuseri are threatening a small farming village. They send their priestess, Kirara, a consort, and her little sister to recruit samurai to defend their village.
Review: Before I go any further, I want to stress that before I watched this series, I had not seen the original movie. In fact, I didn’t see the movie until I was two episodes away from finishing the anime. So, don’t expect me to bring up the movie too much. Going into this, my sole purpose was to see if someone could watch this anime without having watched the original movie.
I first want to talk about what I liked. After I watched both versions, I saw that the anime expanded on the story quite a bit. We got a good bit of character development on the samurai (even more than the movie did, and that was a long movie!), as well as Kirara. You even get to see some characterization of the bandits. I liked this especially after I watched the movie because the movie tells you next to nothing about them. The show was paced just right, allowing you to see each character’s defining traits and arcs. My favorite characters were Kambei, Katsuhiro, and of course Kikuchiyo. Kambei is the leader of the samurai and we can see that he is a compassionate and cunning person. We also see that he has something of a dark past. Katsuhiro is a young man eager to become apprenticed to Kambei but he is initially refused. What really made me like this character was his persistence in proving himself to Kambei. Kikuchiyo is a brash cyborg who’s not afraid to put the other warriors in their place and to show them that he is worthy of fighting at their side, even if they doubt his expertise. He was a funny character and I liked his bravado.
On to the cons. My biggest problem is the animation. To be honest, I really like Studio Gonzo most of the time. They can wow you with the CGI shots very easily, and this anime is no exception. That all changed with episode seven. For a whole eight minutes, the animation went off-model and looked TERRIBLE! To put this into perspective, the average episode of an anime runs at about twenty-four minutes. Eight minutes is about one third of an episode. That is just unacceptable, especially from the same studio that made Last Exile and the “Second Renaissance” shorts in The Animatrix. This really cut down how much I could enjoy this series. However, I will say that the expansion on the movie’s story was a great surprise. For these reasons, I still recommend this, even with these imperfections.
Sub/Dub: The dub is pretty good. Christopher Sabat, who you may recognize as Vegeta (as well as several others) in Dragonball Z, is enjoyably hammy as Kikuchiyo, while R. Bruce Elliot does a great job of Kambei’s compassion.
Music/Score: The music has a great stirring feel throughout. I kinda liked the opening, but the lyrics for the closing really made that song great.
Violence: 7/10–about what I’d expect for a samurai story.
Religion: 1/10–Kirara is described as a water priestess and uses a magical crystal to test the spirit of each samurai. However it’s shown that it’s not as reliable because quite a few times a few of the samurai pass its test.
Trivia: George Lucas has said that Kurosawa’s movies were a big influence on his Star Wars movies.