November 11, 2009

Samurai 7 #20: The Execution

2004 episode
directed by Toshifumi Takizawa and Jiro Fujimoto
written by Atsuhiro Tomioka and Natsuko Takahashi
based on the film SEVEN SAMURAI by Akira Kurosawa, Shinobu Hashimoto, Hideo Oguni

(1954 film)


The old emperor is dead. His cloned offspring, the sadistic Ukyo, is guilty of the crime and now declares himself emperor. Long live the emperor.

In the beginning of the series, Ukyo started off as little more than a reckless playboy goof who snobbed his way around town in typical aristocratic fashion, so it's been fascinating to see the change he's taken to an astonishingly intelligent and shrewd politician, albeit with the same smirk and strut as always. I'm still trying to figure out if he has an endgame, but he seems to be of the belief that if the people are happy, he's happy, so it's just a question of how to do so in a way he can control. He's already off to an interesting start, telling the bandits to keep doing what they're doing, after having just ordered samurai to each village to follow our heroes' example.

But, alas, Ukyo's still got the head of Kambei, the former leader of our samurai, on the chopping block because he needs somebody to take the fall for the crime that lead him to the feet of his late "father" in the first place. But Kambei's already got his fingers on a handy little hair-pin ...

And coming from another direction is the unlikely duo of Katsushiro and Kikuchiyo. They make a fantastic pair, with Katsushiro shedding the youthful uncertainty of earlier and becoming the focused planner Kambei was teaching him to be, and Kikuchiyo still rumbling through situations in his boisterous, temperamental way.

Though mostly setup for what will likely be a fantastic final arc, this was yet another excellent episode as all new dynamics and ideas fall into place. Oh, and we finally learn what all that stolen rice was for, putting the final touches on the deep cycle this society has sunken into.

(series trailer)


(official website)
(anime news network)
(internet movie database)

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