October 14, 2009

Samurai 7 #13: The Attack

2004 episode
directed by Toshifumi Takizawa and Yoshikata Nitta
written by Atsuhiro Tomioka
based on the film SEVEN SAMURAI by Akira Kurosawa, Shinobu Hashimoto, Hideo Oguni

(1954 film)


After days of preparation - building fortifications, mapping out strategies, and training the villagers in archery - it all begins as the hulking, mechanical bandits appear on the horizon ... in far greater numbers than everyone was expecting. Time to break out that half-mile-long crossbow Heihachi's been building.

It's yet another great episode, allowing the change in setting and technology to alter the samurai's strategy without losing any of the depth and build-up Kurosawa handled so well. I was wondering how that giant crossbow would end up playing into events, and its use makes for one hell of a rich, unforgettable sequence.

Another great addition to the story comes in the form of Rikichi. He's largely presented as he was in the original film, as the first farmer willing to fight in the name of the wife he lost to the bandits, but they take it a little deeper this time around. Here, he not only starts getting sword lessons from the boisterous, cybernetic samurai Kikuchiyo, but actually breaks down and begs to learn where he himself can get his body replaced by machines, so as to better cut down the bandits who haunt his life and village. It's a great thread, and opens up a bit of regret on Kikuchiyo's part.

I have a few problems this time around, but I guess they're somewhat consistent with the setting, so it's likely just my personal opinion. First, after the villagers shoot down their first wave of bandits, they all break down with the realization that they've just killed people. I can understand that reaction from some of them, but it shouldn't be so uniform. Plus, they didn't have to kill a man up close like Katsushiro. All they did was fire a bunch of arrows at flying metal trash bins and watch them explode.

Secondly, why don't the women get to fight? I know, I know, this fits the backwater society of the village, but it also raises the question of why all the women are so beautiful and soft. In the original film, as in reality, the women were right alongside the men in the rice paddies, and had builds representing the equal labor. Here, they're all gorgeous and smooth. What I'm saying is A) they should look like they do just as much labor around town as they do, and B) that would leave them just as capable at swinging spears and shooting arrows as the dudes.

I'm not trying to get on a high horse of feminism here, but these bits just don't add up in the end. It's not a glaring flaw, though, and, those bits aside, it's still a fantastic episode as everyone rallies together and the battle finally begins.

(series trailer)


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1 comment:

Anthony Williams said...

I can absolutely see both your points. The stuff with the farmers getting emotional over their first kills seems a bit heavy handed. One or two expressing their grief would've worked much better.

The second point is well taken. A few soft beauties sure, but this isn't a courtly society. It's agrarian and thus you would have many woman as hard as the conditions around them.

I think the idea of them not fighting is consistent with those types of cultures, but in desperate times a sword for every capable hand would seem to make sense and it would've provided some nice side plots as they debated this issue.