Samurai 7 is based on the Japanese film Seven Samurai (Shinchinin no Samurai), produced by the legendary film director Akira Kurosawa, the difference being that Samurai 7 takes the period action and drama of Seven Samurai and throws it into a into a mix of science-fiction, diesel-punk, and historical-ish timeline that feels like the anime Last Exile exploded somewhere inside it. And Last Exile is weird. The amazing thing is that even though I don’t normally like this odd combination of setting pieces, the story isn’t hindered by it. In fact, all these odd elements seem to make the characters and their struggles seem more intense.
The series focuses on a small village of farmers who are raided by bandits after every harvest. They lose huge portions of their crop and even have members of their village kidnapped. Now the village is at it’s breaking point. The people are poor and starving, so they decide to hire ronin to fight for them in exchange for rice. Now, during this period of time there are many samurai remaining from a great war. Many are jobless and/or thugs. Nevertheless, the villagers search for seven samurai to protect them. The samurai they find are not what they expect and they have no idea how big of a fight they are really asking for.
Samurai 7 is one of my favorite shows that I would consider a classic. The anime just feels like an epic. The characters are memorable and the setting is really well established. The story is amazing. It is one of my favorite anime stories, because it carries a serious side, but doesn’t take itself too seriously. It intentionally establishes a vast amount of depth and it doesn’t quit until it fulfills what it set out to do.
If I have any complaints, they would be that I dislike Empire in the series. I wish this was played more realistically. I also struggle with the villagers’ personas. They seem a bit forced to me. That being said, I still really like the show. It is a bit dated, but it is a wonderful example of how a strong story can carry an anime into being a show that really effects it’s viewers. I really appreciate the depth of character that the show manages to achieve, so much so that I have studied it to learn how to do that in my own stories.
I recommend this show to nearly anyone. If you like epic stories like Gurren Lagann, Cowboy Bebop, Blast of Tempest, or Noein then you will really appreciate this show. I also recommend it to fans of the Last Exile franchise; parts of it will seem oddly familiar. I also highly recommend it to people who are interested in studying anime from a more technical or academic style. I have never seen an anime quite like this one, and I really appreciate the painstaking depth the creators managed to pour into it. And finally, if you are interested in starting to watch more classic anime, this is a great place to start.