I am a big fan of tracking down source material. When I hear an adaptation or remake is coming out often will go out and read some of the original work to see how it stacks up. That being said I actually haven’t taken the time to watch the original “Samurai Seven.” I really need to though as I keep getting told its an incredible film. Still with all the hype about how its such a great film, how would an anime adaptation of such a film stack up?
After their village is continuously ransacked by bandits, the villagers decide they must fight back. A young water priestess named Kirara, along with her sister, Komachi, and the farmer, Rikichi, ventures into the city to find Samurai, mighty warriors from the previous war to aid them in their blight. the three set off to the city. There they witness the skills of Shimada Kambei, who after some convincing agrees to help them in their blight. He insists he will need a team of seven to take down the bandits. He finds and recruits Katsuhiro the student, Gorobei the performer, Shichiroji the veteran, Heihachi the Mechanic, Kyuzo the assasin, and Kikuchiyo the cyborg to aid him in his quest to defend the village.
The series presents an interesting world to say the least. It has giant robots, cyborg samurai, and flying ships, but still has people living in poverty and conducting business like an ancient society. It ranges somewhere between Steampunk and Cyberpunk but I’m really not sure where it would be. The Samurai are trying their best to survive after apparently no longer being needed after fighting the war which is shown in flashback through the series. They are entertaining to say the least but some times they seem like they could go just a bit farther with their development to help ensure they were memorable.
Many may point to this film and insist that it has the “Gonzo Effect.” For those who don’t know this term refers to the studio creators Gonzo and how they were infamous for making shows with an extremely strong start but would lose focus in their story telling or art quality by the end of the series. While I would admit I have seen series that this rule applies to I feel that Samurai 7 is spared from it. Not that I believe the Gonzo effect doesn’t exist. I witnessed it first hand watching “Speed Grapher” and if I had been reminded of this effect earlier I would have made mention of it in my Burst Angel review. Samurai 7 keeps its consistency all the way through. Probably because of the high expectations given its source material.
This anime is serviceable and has some good moments to it and even had a mainstream run on TV, running on the relaunched Toonami back in August of 2012. Sadly, the series is another show that falls into the “good, not great category.” Sure their are some good characters to love and an interesting world presented for viewer but its not enough to make sure that its carves itself into the halls of anime history and place it high in fan’s “All time greatest series lists.” Maybe in the honorable mention category. If you feel I’m being too harsh, feel free to check out http://www.myanimelist.com where the series is currently ranked #1152 at the time of this entry. Sorry might Samurai, but your time has truly come to an end.
There are many shows out there that start with one concept or genre and then do a huge turn into a completely different genre all together. This is a hit or miss strategy as sometimes you find yourself already enjoying the kind of story that was first being told and this new direction feels unnatural and makes you question if you really enjoy the show anymore. Believe it or not, there are times when adding a giant robot to the recipe is not the best idea.
Shun Ukiya is a boy with a very special gift. He is a gatekeeper, one who is able to create and channel the energy from Gates which allows a person to have extreme powers. Shun’s power, the power of Wind, allows him to defeated the sunglass wearing creatures known as Invaders and save his childhood friend Ruriko Ikusawa, who happens to control the Gate of Life. Recruited by the special group known as A.E.G.I.S. (Alien Exterminating Global Intercept System), who uses the powers of these Gatekeepers to fight against the Invaders, Shun works towards fighting for the smiles of tomorrow.
The different characters with their different gate powers are the real draw of this series. Like I said, Shun has the wind gate that allows him to shoot wind energy, and Ruriko uses a bow to send her life energy hurling towards the enemy, but the series also introduces Reiko (Gate of Illisions), Feng Fei Leng (Gate of Flame), and Megumi (Gate of Walls). Basically the show builds off the team using these powers to take down the enemy while at the same time discovering where they come from and dealing with personal problems. Standard stuff really.
Even though this show technically qualifies for the blog with the giant monsters that the Invaders form on a regular basis but it also does have a robot in it. The robot is one of the more interesting aspects of the show as it has an engine in it that allows the driver to increase their Gate power, but also has a steering wheel for its controls. I know steering wheels as controls is nothing new but it doesn’t come up as often as you would think it would. I thought it was cool at least.
People are quick to accuse this series of suffering from the “Gonzo effect” but I quickly disagree. The “Gonzo effect” for who are not aware is a trend associated by Studio Gonzo who became infamous of having great episodes to start the series but by the end of the series there is a distinct drop in the art quality. I personally feel that this series doesn’t suffer from said effect and stays at a decent quality for the entire series. Had the podcast that reminded me of this affliction (Anime World Order. Check them as they do really good discussion on Anime) mentioned it sooner, I would have introduced the concept of the Gonzo Effect during my Burst Angel review. That show had a glaring drop in quality an story telling after the first episode.
I remember loving this series back in the day and grabbing every new DVD as soon as it came out. As I look back though I realize that despite how much I enjoyed it I haven’t gone back once to rewatch it. It wasn’t really a bad series. It was entertaining to watch the characters use their Gate powers to defeat the different Invader creatures of the week that would often form together around a red suited invader and form some giant monstrosity that would tear apart the city. Its another show with a formula but sadly it doesn’t add enough to it in order to make it more than just a fun ride. You watch it, you may get a favorite character or two and that’s it. Heck there isn’t even really that much merchandise for you to track down if you find yourself becoming a die hard fan of it. This was a good series that sadly became forgotten by the fans but I really can’t chastise them for forgetting it. Gate closed.
P.S. I know this was based off a video game, but I never really tried to track it down or play it to make a comparison. This is a review for the anime by itself.