October 27, 2009

Samurai 7 #16: The Storm

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

(1954 film)

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As the early morning sky is drowned out by a raging storm, the bandits make their move. Despite their strength and intelligence and skill, not even the samurai could have planned for an assault from multiple fronts by enemies with the unanticipated arms of grenades and napalm.

What follows is the ultimate battle. Kambei leads the charge. Kyuzo tries to keep him alive for their pending duel. Gorobei tries to slice a bullet from the air. Heihachi supervises the farmers' meagre munitions. Kikuchiyo fights so hard that he shatters his massive sword. Katsushiro dashes from place to place, taking down the enemy as he spreads orders. Rikichi and several other farmers try to make use of one of the massive enemy guns. And Kirara uses the powers of her pendant to see and explain the horrific sounds to the women and children who are hidden away.

There truly is some spectacular stuff in here, and I fully applaud the creative team for realizing that the film's strategy of funnelling the bandits into a disposable line simply wouldn't work this time around, and coming up with a plan of attack that's intelligently vulnerable for both sides. My one gripe is a bit in the middle where we cut through each of the samurai as their ferocious fighting plays out in slow-mo to a soundtrack of little more than their heavy breathing. It's an interesting idea and could have been a very poetic image, but they never fully animated it, leaving it choppy and awkward.

But that's my only complaint. It's a fantastic episode as our heroes lose that gloss of perfection in the face of devastating odds. Come next episode, the samurai will no longer stand at seven.

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1 comment:

Anthony Williams said...

It's a bit cliché but I love the aesthetic of the storm coming during a siege [Helm's Deep in "The Two Towers", the end battle of "The 13th warrior"].


Does the weather play a role in the battle plans?