September 9, 2009

Samurai 7 #7: The Friend

2004 episode
directed by Toshifumi Takizawa and Hiroyuki Okuno
written by Atsuhiro Tomioka and Shuichi Koyama
based on the film SEVEN SAMURAI by Akira Kurosawa, Shinobu Hashimoto, Hideo Oguni

(1954 film)


Still pursued by the magistrate's son, Ukyo, and his armed police force, our heroes duck into the shady depth of the city's red light district. Right up front, things go a little off as the first few minutes are animated in a loose, lanky style reminiscent of Peter Chung. It's still well done, but glaring in the face of the clean style typically seen in this series.

But it's worth it as we meet the seventh potential member of our group. Kambei's "old wife", Shichiroji (Tohru Kusano) is a calm, dedicated man who served under the noble samurai in the great war. Renouncing his warrior status, he fell in love with a geisha and now lives a peaceful life as bodyguard of her inn. It's an interesting character with a romance that raises questions about bridging classes, something I'm sure will play out well down the road, and I like how he's the only one of the group who no longer has his sword.

It's not a perfect episode, being a little simplistic in it's plot, not playing up the dynamic of the team enough, and dropping the annoying Ukyo once again onto the front lines. Hell, even the class exploration of the red light district, declaring independence until the ruling merchants pay for blades to be drawn, could've been explore a bit more. But I still liked it. Uneven in both content and delivery, and the weakest episode so far, but still stronger than half the anime out there. And the antics of Kikuchiyo are always good for a laugh.

(series trailer)


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

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