By now you probably realize that I am a pretty big fan of the anime genre. I don't watch as much now as I used to because my husband is not such a big fan. But I still run into a good series every now and again. Samurai 7 would be one of those good series. Its based on the Japanese black and white movie Seven Samurai (as is the Magnificent 7 and a Bug's Life), which is one of my favorite films and one of the best films I have ever seen. The anime has the same basic story line as Seven Samurai, but has a few added characters and a few added plot lines. The characters are well developed, the fighting scenes are cool, and the anime itself is nicely drawn.
As in the movie Seven Samurai, the anime begins with some peasants who are being intimidated by bandits who steal their women and their rice. Only in the anime, the bandits are large machines. The machines are the Nobuseri, men who replaced their bodies with machines during the last Great War. Since that war, merchants and the Nobuseri have ruled the land, terrorizing the peasants as the Nobuseri destroy any village that does not offer up its women and rice. And starving the Samurai for there is no longer work or respect for the noble Samurai that lost the last Great War.
One village, Kanna, decides to fight back. Their water priestess, Kirara travels to the city to hire Samurai to defend the village, but she only has rice to offer as payment. Can she find Samurai willing to work for peasants for only rice? And can they save the village from the Nobuseri?
The characters in this anime are fleshed out really well, although their names are hard to follow, each character is easy to identify by his or her look and to follow. We get to know some background about each Samurai and even some of the villagers. They all seem like real people instead of weird caricatures. All of the characters from the original movie are in the anime including the important villagers and the Samurai. And you have some added characters like Kirara and her sister who play an important role in the anime, but were not in the original movie. The merchants who also play a role in the anime are not present in the original film. This adds some extra storyline and depth to the anime that is not found in the film, which allows it to be stretched comfortably across 7 parts without seeming boring or too slow.
I especially like Kirara, who is a strong female character. She has a strong desire to save her village, and later in the series she falls in love with the young samurai, Katsushiro, and desires to help cleanse him of the blood she had lain on his hands by asking him to help her village.
I also like Kambei the old wise samurai; he becomes the teacher of Katsushiro and the first real samurai to agree to help the villagers. Kikuchiyo, the farmer samurai, is also a machine samurai and is quite funny. The other samurai include the entertainer samurai, Gorobei, the engineer samurai, Heihachi, Kambei’s old wife (war buddy), Shichiroji, and the mysterious and aloof Kyuzo, who only helps because he cannot allow anyone else to kill Kambei but himself.
The fight scenes are nicely done, they are fun to watch and very fast paced, and with the Nobuseri being machines there are plenty of explosions. The plot also moves well. The series is short enough that the episodes don't drag; something happens in each episode that furthers the plot.
This anime is also nicely drawn, I like the look of the characters, and the look of the backgrounds (cities, village, rice patties and such) while it is not the prettiest anime I have watched it is neither the ugliest. I was very satisfied with the quality of the animation in this series. The characters are all drawn uniquely, with different looks and different clothing (although I have noticed and inconsistency with Kirara's clothing in disc 4 where in one frame she is wearing her normal clothes and in another she is wearing her white priestess robe).
As far as the voicing for the anime goes the English voices are well done, but the translation is not. The meanings of the words are changed just enough to create some odd conversational moments that left me going, What? So after the first part I opted to listen to the Japanese voicing, which I also like, and read the subtitles whose translation was better.
I haven't noticed the music much in this anime, although I do like the opening and closing themes.
Overall I have thoroughly enjoyed this anime, and if you like anime about samurai or just an anime that is nicely done then you should enjoy this anime.