September 1, 2009

Samurai 7 #4: The Loner

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

(1954 film)


Kyuzo, the potential fifth member of the group, is introduced this episode, and he's every bit the steely-eyed professional of the original film. Barely saying a word, his dual-sword action gives even the skilled Kambei a run for his money. But there's a twist! Instead of being a wondering ronin the group randomly comes across, he's a samurai in the service of Ayamaro, the uncaring magistrate of the city and father to perverse Ukyo, and is actually tasked with doing what various groups of hired blades have been unable to do: kill our heroes.

It really is an interesting spin on the character, and Shinichiro Miki delivers his few line in a perfectly clipped tone, but the visual design of the character feels off, with designer clothes, supermodel good looks, and a ridiculous scabbard that, in reality, would be cumbersome and ineffective.

But that's about it. It's an otherwise fine episode with some beautifully crafted action sequences, good bonding between our lead cast as their dynamics settle into place, some good exploration of class politics through the slimy dealings of Ukyo, and a few good laughs thanks to Kikuchiyo's boisterous recklessness.

I wish I could say more, but this episode was lean and too the point, effectively setting up a nice dynamic between Kyuzo and Kambei that will be very interesting to explore down the road.

(series trailer)


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

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