Samurai 7 Vol. #1 (also w/box) - Mania.com



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Info:

  • Audio Rating: A-
  • Video Rating: A-
  • Packaging Rating: A
  • Menus Rating: B-
  • Extras Rating: B-
  • Age Rating: 13 & Up
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: FUNimation Entertainment, Ltd.
  • MSRP: 29.98/49.98
  • Running time: 100
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Samurai 7

Samurai 7 Vol. #1 (also w/box)

By Justin Rich     September 08, 2005
Release Date: August 23, 2005


Samurai 7 Vol. #1 (also w/box)
© FUNimation Entertainment, Ltd.


What They Say
Based on the legendary Akira Kurosawa classic epic feature film, Seven Samurai. Set in a futuristic world that has just witnessed the end of a massive war, scores of villages are terrorized by Nobuseri bandits. But the Nobuseri are no normal bandits. They were once Samurai, who during the war integrated their living cells with machines to become dangerous weapons now appearing more machine than man. Absolute power corrupts, and their reign of terror is increasing its hold on the countryside.

But one group of villagers has had enough, deciding to hire samurai to protect their village. Kirara is a young priestess who travels to the city seeking out protection. One by one, she encounters brave samurai that the war has left behind. These men of skill and valor are each unique and not without their quirks. But can they come together as one to defend the helpless village? With its futuristic but rustic atmosphere, well-developed characters and incredible CG animation and high production value from the GONZO Digimation, Samurai 7 is poised to be an instant classic.

The Review!
Akira Kurosawa's Seven Samurai is transformed by Gonzo into an anime adaptation.

Audio:
For this viewing session I began with the 5.1 Japanese track. The music is constant as well as the continual gunfire and explosions makes great us of the surround sound. I also listened to FUNimation's English dub too to listen to their 5.1 as well. Great balance amongst the speaker setup, which lead to great sword collisions from behind during all the fight scenes.

Video:
Samurai 7 is one of the latest Gonzo series airing in Summer of 2004 till Christmas of 2004 so the transfer is 16:9 widescreen. Animation is sharp and crisp with beautiful combination of hand drawn and computer like most Gonzo shows. There is no bleeding in the animation making the background scenery and the characters come out vibrant and lifelike. The steam punk city is a sharp contrast to the docile farming village with beautiful swaying rows of rice. Battle scenes are fluent and color holds up well, especially in the fast paced fight between Kyuzo and Kambei.

Packaging:
FUNimation continues to use the clear keepcases like they used for Fullmetal Alchemist and Burst Angel, which is great especially when including reversible covers. The first side is a watercolorlike painting of Kambei with his hand on his sword and Akira Kurosawa's Samurai 7 right about his sword. To mark the volume is a one in a diamond below the u of Samurai with FUNimation and Gonzo's symbols on the bottom left corner. On the back is eight screen caps and episode listings. The reverse cover is another watercolor of Kambei slicing through a bandit. The disc also includes a thirty page booklet with character sketches and staff interviews from Gonzo on the resurrection of the Seven Samurai.

LE: The Limited Edition contains a soundly constructed cardboard box with an exact replica of the Kambei cover art on the front. The box is the size of a hardback novel and contains four sketchbooks for each of the episodes.

Menu:
There is thirty second sound clip with a nice war era type feel to it. In the upper right corner is a picture of Kambei with his hair blowing to the left, with play, episodes, audio and extras directly below him. The main problem with the menu is the curser blends into the background making it hard at sometimes to figure out what option you are on, even though response is quite quick if you can tell where the curser is located at.

Extras:
This disc contains four character profiles: Kambei, Katsushiro, Komachi and the Water Priestess Kirara. It also has the promotional video that Gonzo put out before the series originally aired in June of 2004. This disc also contains textless songs of both the opening "Unlimited" by Nanase Aikawa and the closing "Fuhun" by Rin. The highlight of the special features is a two minute color image gallery, for the image go in chronological order for the first four episodes on this disc ending with Kambei and Kyuzo. There is also trailers for Samurai 7, Gunslinger Girl, Burst Angel, Fruits Basket and a still picture tease for DBZ movie 12 Fusion Reborn.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers) The series opens up with a fantastic battle sequence in space during the war, with Kambei slicing battle ships in half with his sword while mecha samurai battle each other relentlessly. Gorgeous visual effects definitely start this series off on the right foot. Then we shift to the present where after the war some of the samurai turned themselves into robotic bandits who have enslaved the small villages into giving them most of their crop after the ears of rice bend. To stop this year's plundering the village sends the water priestess, her sister and another villager to hire samurai to protect the village and free them of their serfdom.

The city is bigger and more dangerous though than the three are expecting, as their important rice is stolen by a starving man. Fortunately, the noble Katsushiro is walking through and thwarts the thief. But, the crystal says his lack of battle experience makes him far too green to take up this job. So the continue forward to find Katsushiro once again trying to help, but this time a shopkeeper's child has been kidnapped. He says he'll do it, but the robot samurai Kikuchiyo steps in to save the kid cutting the shop in half and exposing the villain. The samurai is strapped with dynamite and holding a torch to light them with. Through the crowd comes a mysterious man who first cuts of Kikuchiyo's head and then with no effort disarms the samurai saving the kid. The water priestess's crystal has spoken for this man must be the one to lead their village to freedom.

The mysterious samurai turns out to be Kambei a great warrior of the war, but he refuses both Kirara's request to lead them and Katsushiro's to become his sensei. Trouble is increasing for Kirara for has become the object of the magistrate's oversexed son, who wants her at all cost. When Katsushiro and Kirara split up to find more samurai for the cause Ukyo makes his move and captures her to take him back to "paradise." Katsushiro finds Kirara's lost crystal that and he returns to their camp, where he finds that Komachi had recruited Kikuchiyo to their mission. The two of them catch up to Ukyo's carriage and fight to rescue Kirara. Katsushiro is easily overmatched, Kikuchiyo has hands completely full and Kirara who is fleeing for he life dives off a broken bridge relying in only Kambei to save her from certain death. He free falls after her and using a combination of an elevator and his sword saves Kirara.

Kikuchiyo's creator/mechanic Mesamune shows up just in time to fix Kikuchiyo after the battle with Ukyo's men had ended. As the three of them are heading back into town the come along Gorobe a samurai who is working as an entertainer who can catch arrows shot directly at his head with his bare hands, which he does as Katsushiros arrow is plucked out of mid air. Kambei says to Kirara that seven samurai are needed and Mesamune suggests Gorobe, and he passes Kambei's test. Then Ukyo's men attack and Kambei and Gorobe kill both with great skill and grace.

During the battle Kikuchiyo in all his clumsiness destroys their hideout forcing them to move into Mesamune's home for the time being. Katsushiro and Kirara go into town to use the fountain to see how far the rice has bent, and make themselves an easy target for Kyuzo to follow them. Kyuzo the lethal two sword samurai tracks them till it leads to Kambei who is waiting for them also. Kambei and Kyuzo's battle is by far the highlight of this volume with speed, acrobatics and impressive sword play. Kambei capture's Kyuzo's hand and says that he cannot defeat him, and then turns his back to return to his mission. But, when the war with the bandits is over his has promised Kyuzo his rematch. Even though Kyuzo is in the employ of the magistrate he doesn't stab Kambei the back due to his samurai code. For now Kyuzo will turn and walk away.

In Summary:
Kirara's mission to save the people of her village from robotic bandits is progressing nicely as she has heroically found the leader of their samurai team in Kambei. Along with Kambei the samurai team is up to four leaving three more to be recruited before heading back to save the village. This remake by Gonzo is high on both style as well as pacing through this first volume. Being a huge fan of the Seven Samurai I was worried how a change of time and the adding of mecha would effect this story, but I will admit the first volume caught me hook, line and sinker and I'm dying to find out whether this ride will follow the original or will go in it's own direction.

Features
Japanese 5.1 Language,English 5.1 Language,English Subtitles,Textless Songs,Promotional Video,Character Profiles

Review Equipment
Sony SAVA D9000 Dual Stack DTS w/ 5 Disc Changer in stack 1 and subwoofer in stack 2 Tv is Sony 57" widescreen rear-projection HDTV Model #KPD 57WS550

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