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Samurai 7
Samurai7.png
The seven recruited samurai
サムライセブン
(Samurai Sebun)
Genre Adventure, Fantasy, Mecha, Chanbara
TV anime
Director Toshifumi Takizawa
Studio Gonzo
Network Japan Animax
Original run June 12, 2004December 25, 2004
Episodes 26 (List of episodes)
Anime and Manga Portal

Samurai 7 (サムライセブン Samurai Sebun?) is a 2004 Japanese anime series, produced by Gonzo and based on Akira Kurosawa's highly regarded 1954 movie Seven Samurai. The series was directed by Toshifumi Takizawa and its music was composed by Kaoru Wada and Eitetsu Hayashi. There are 26 episodes, each costing around ¥32,500,000 ($300,000USD) to produce.[citation needed]

The series premiered across Japan on the anime satellite television network, Animax, as an exclusive high definition CS-PPV broadcast, and was also later aired by the network across its other respective networks worldwide, including Southeast Asia, South Asia, Latin America and other regions. FUNimation has acquired the dubbing rights for the North American release. It is airing in America through the Independent Film Channel (using FUNimation's dub) since April 2006 and in high definition on Dish Networks Animania HD channel (also using FUNimation's dub). It has also been broadcast across Canada by specialty channel Razer and across Hong Kong by TVB Jade.

Contents

Plot

Samurai 7 tells the story of a village named Kanna. Every year during the harvest a group of bandits come and steal away almost all of the rice that had been harvested that year. Not only that, the bandits are becoming more demanding, now taking women and children in addition to rice.

The elder of Kanna Village has decided that to protect the village they must hire samurai to fight against the bandits. However, the village has no money and thus must find samurai willing to protect the village for a payment of rice. Three members of the village leave to attempt to recruit samurai. They travel to the city and search for samurai willing to work, and after finding several samurai and having a few encounters with the local government they return to Kanna village to prepare defenses against the bandits.

The samurai train the villagers in the use of bows, building walls, and construct a giant ballista to defend the village against the bandits. After successfully defeating the bandits, the samurai then launch an attack upon the capital to defeat a power-hungry ruler who has recently risen to power as Emperor. After heavy casualties for the samurai, and the near-destruction of Kanna village, the capital is finally defeated.

Characters

Samurai

  • Shimada Kambei (カンベエ?) is a wise samurai who has survived many battles, though he feels no joy from them. Many of his friends have died in those battles. He constantly lives in the shadow of his painful and violent past, rejecting Kirara after stating that his heart is dried up. He leads the group during their battles and usually plans strategy. Voiced by: Masaki Terasoma (Japanese), R. Bruce Elliott (English)
  • Okamoto Katsushiro (カツシロウ?) is a young and inexperienced samurai who wishes to be Kambei's student, calling him sensei almost from their first meeting. He idolizes the principles of bushido. He promises to protect Kirara no matter what, and seems to be attracted to her. He grows stronger and more skillful throughout the series, eventually becoming a worthy student of Kambei; and he also comes to terms with killing enemies, after reacting in shock the first time. Voiced by: Romi Paku (Japanese), Sean Michael Teague (English)
  • Katayama Gorobei (ゴロベエ?) is a skilled samurai who has made his living since the wars' end by entertaining people on the city streets. He is also a veteran of the Great War, so he knows Kambei by reputation. He is very skilled at dodging blows and can pluck arrows and darts from the air. He often makes light of rather serious or dangerous situations. He is also quite smart, in his own unique way. He is the first to be killed. To him, all the world was a stage and the people, merely players. He will be well remembered after his curtain call.Voiced by: Tetsu Inada (Japanese), Bob Carter (English)
  • Shichiroji (シチロージ?) initially fought side by side in the Great War with Kambei, and is often referred to as "Kambei's old wife." ("Mate" in the English series) He temporarily leaves behind his successful post-war business at the Firefly Inn, and with it, his beautiful girlfriend/fiance, to join Kambei in battle once again. He has a prosthetic left hand which has a grappling hook capability with his index finger. His girlfriend, Yukino, has nicknamed him Momotaro, from the traditional Japanese tale, because she found him, badly injured after a battle, floating down a river inside a capsule reminiscent of a peach. Voiced by: Tohru Kusano (Japanese), Duncan Brannan (English)
  • Kikuchiyo (キクチヨ?) is a cyborg with a mechanized exoskeleton. He is originally a peasant until becoming a samurai to help others. He is often looked upon as a clown or a bother, as he gets angry easily and often causes trouble with his loud noise and clumsy ways. He is accepted as the seventh samurai after revealing he was also a farmer, like the peasants of Kanna. He carries the largest of the swords, which also acts as a chainsaw. He is fiercely loyal to Kambei, and, when given recognition, he returns favors fourfold. He is well liked by the villagers, especially by little Komachi, who asks him to become her husband when she grows up, a request that he accepts in return for her keeping his fake family tree. He is the last to be killed, he died protecting Kanna from the crashing capital. Voiced by: Kong Kuwata (Japanese), Christopher Sabat (English)
  • Hayashida Heihachi (ヘイハチ?) is a genial samurai who wishes to avoid fighting as much as possible and prefers to eat rice instead. During the Great War, he took a position as a combat engineer, which kept him off the front lines but also used his mechanical skills. He is discovered chopping wood in exchange for food or devices that interest him. He is most helpful within the group as their mechanic, and orchestrates the construction of medieval-type weapons. However, he harbors a deep hatred for traitors as he was one himself, which resulted in his whole unit being killed. He is crushed by a huge iron bar. Before dying, he shouts out: "I'll be in the rice" or "Find me in the rice". Within the series, he talks about the old tradition of the "seven rice kami" inside every grain of rice. Voiced by: Junji Inukai (Japanese), Greg Ayres (English)
  • Kyuzo (キュウゾウ?) is originally a nearly silent, mysterious bodyguard for Ayamaro. In that role, he fights with Kambei, and he later joins the group with the stated intent of saving Kambei's life so that he can later fight Kambei to the death. Kyuzo is an incredibly skilled fighter, wielding double blades that fit into one sheath on his back. He's accidentally killed by Katsushiro when Katsushiro used a gun to protect Kambei because his sword was broken. Voiced by: Shinichiro Miki (Japanese), Sonny Strait (English)

Villagers

  • Kirara (キララ?) is a mikumari (water maiden, a village priestess) of Kanna. She decides to go to help find the samurai to bring back to her village, and she admits that she also wanted to see something of the outside world. She possesses a dowsing crystal on a necklace which allows her to detect the flow of groundwater and to read others' hearts. She falls in love with Kambei, though he rejects her. Voiced by: Fumiko Orikasa (Japanese), Colleen Clinkenbeard (English)
  • Komachi (コマチ?) is Kirara's little sister, who follows along with her and Rikichi to see the city as well as help locate the samurai. She likes the boisterous Kikuchiyo and asks him to marry her when she grows up. After the death of Kikuchiyo, Komachi is seen with her sister's dowsing necklace hinting that she inherited her position as the Mikumari of her village. Voiced by: Chiwa Saito (Japanese), Luci Christian (English)
  • Rikichi (リキチ?) is a peasant of Kanna, who travels with Kirara to locate the samurai. He can be often rash because of his hatred for the bandits. He blames himself for the loss of his wife, Sanae, who has given herself up to the bandits to save the village. Kambei promises to rescue Sanae, and Rikichi is eventually reunited with her. Voiced by: Tadahisa Saizen (Japanese), J. Michael Tatum (English)

Antagonists

  • Ukyo (ウキョウ?) is the adopted heir to Ayamaro. His shielded and pampered lifestyle leaves him with a self-centered yet playful attitude on life, which is really a cover for a rather calculating, manipulative and cruel personality. He is later revealed to be one of the clones of Amanushi (アマヌシ?), the emperor, that were created in an attempt to make a successor. After surviving a three-day ordeal of constant questioning, Ukyo is proclaimed heir to the throne. He then murders the emperor to succeed him and launches a plan to pit the villagers, samurai and bandits against one another to consolidate his control. Voiced by: Takehito Koyasu (Japanese), Anthony Bowling (English)
  • The Nobuseri (野伏せり?), or bandits, are former samurai who have converted their bodies into large fighting machines during the previous war. They rob farming villages of their rice, and occasionally women and children for the capital. Ukyo later orders the court physician to remove the bandits's souls, so they will be nothing more than mindless machines, accepting orders only from the emperor.

Episodes

Cover art to Samurai 7 Volume 1 DVD.

Differences/similarities with the Seven Samurai film

The main difference is the steampunk setting, as the series features mecha, a flying castle and other futuristic elements (the seven samurai still simply use katana, and display superhuman feats such as cutting battleships in half). Notably, Kikuchiyo (the once-peasant samurai) has a mechanised body; his severed extremities (including his head) can usually be repaired and reattached.

As far as the plot is concerned, the biggest difference with the film is the extension of the action before and after the defense of the village from the bandits (the series, of course, is several times longer than the film). This introduces a complex political aspect to the intrigue, linking the fight for the village to the rise and fall of Ukyo as the country's leader. This is an important stride from the film, where the battle is of no significance or glory. The way the main battle is fought also changes; while still being in stages, the bandits are not let in the village in small groups by the samurai; rather the attacks (in much larger numbers) are started by the bandits with the samurai and village retaliating with defenses. Furthermore, the women of the village are taken to the capital to be sold in this series, while in the original they are kept and used by the bandits as prostitutes. In addition, Ukyo, Amanushi, Kirara and Komachi are unique characters to the anime. In the original film there is no love triangle or priestess; the role of the main farmer's daughter (who falls in love with Katsushiro) is divided in the anime among Kirara and another minor farmer's daughter, with some alterations.

On the other hand, the roles of the samurai are close to those in the film, keeping most of the dynamics between them similar. Notably, the same four samurai (Gorobei, Kikuchiyo, Heihachi and Kyuzo) die in the battles. Three of them die in the final battle, an unusual pattern for an anime, since most anime have their characters die off in different battles and not at the same time.

A minor note: In the movie the samurai's names are written in kanji, while in the anime, they are written in katakana.

Theme songs

  • Opening: "Unlimited" by Nanase Aikawa
  • Closing: "Fuhen" (Ubiquity) by Rin'
  • Opening NHK TV Version: "Justice" by Coming Century (V6)
  • Closing NHK TV Version: "Niji Musubi" (Tying Rainbow) by Rin'

External links








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