November 17, 2009

Samurai 7 #25: The Last Battle

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)


Last battle, indeed. Everything comes to a head as Ukyo's mechanical swarm cuts loose, the villagers open up with their stolen guns, and the samurai soar into the fray. I won't go into too much detail, except to say that I was surprised at how quick things went. That's not a complaint, not at all, because the way the samurai pull together a strategy on the fly is believable, as is Ukyo realizing that his army of lobotomized machines just doesn't quite cut it without the minds of former samurai driving their gigantic bodies.

It's all marvelously executed with each character getting their chance to shine. As you knew would happen, we do lose some heroes during this fray, but I won't spoil who or how, only to say one is heroic and brave, and the other is sudden and shocking, bringing the ongoing arc of his killer full circle.

Elsewhere, I haven't taken the time till now to mention Tessai, the steely-eyed bodyguard of Emperor Ukyo, largely because he's ridden along with the plot instead of driving it. Here, though, we see that all his little moments of tense cautioning and strategy are truly the signs of a significant warrior as he finally gets to cut loose against our heroes, all while still puffing away at his little Popeye pipe.

But then there's the guns. We know they are a part of this society but have largely only seen brief use of huge cannons that most mere mortals can't even lift. That concept fits nicely into a world where swordplay is still dominant, but things have changed. Now we see soldiers laden with small machine guns, with no explanation for where they suddenly came from or why they hadn't been used before. It's a confusing slip on the part of the creative team, especially since one is featured in a rather key dramatic moment.

But, while a head-scratcher, it isn't enough to kill the first half of what promises to be a fantastic finale.

(series trailer)


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

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