Samurai 7
Volume 1 - Search for the Seven

Starring (voice): Fumiko Orikasa, Takehito Koyasu and Masaki Terasoma
RRP: 19.99
Certificate: 12
Available 06 February 2006

Set in a futuristic world that has just witnessed the end of a massive war, scores of villages are terrorised by Nobuseri bandits. But the Nobuseri are no normal bandits. They were once Samurai, who during the war integrated their living cells with machines to become dangerous weapons now appearing more machine than man. Absolute power corrupts, and their reign of terror is increasing its hold on the countryside. But one group of villagers has had enough deciding to hire samurai to protect their village. Kirara is a young priestess who travels to the city seeking out protection. One by one, she encounters brave samurai that the war has left behind. These men of skill and valour are each unique and not without their quirks. But can they come together as one to defend the helpless village?...

Samurai 7 is futuristic sci-fi anime update of Akira Kurosawa's timeless classic, Seven Samurai. Produced by Studio Gonzo (Gantz; Burst Angel), Samurai 7 as a 26-part action-packed series about a small band of heroes and their battle to defend a small farming village against an onslaught of giant, flying mecha-warrior robots.

The Master: The story begins in a futuristic world ravaged by a war that, after countless years, has finally come to pass. But the end of the conflict is merely the beginning of the suffering for the peaceful farming village of Kanna. Without a war to fight, scores of disenfranchised samurai warriors, known as Nobuseri, have become bandits, looting and pillaging the countryside in a constant reign of terror. Having integrated their living cells with machines in order to become the ultimate fighting weapons, the Nobuseri have become an awesome, almost unbeatable force. Burdened by repeated assaults on their homes and fearing that the only thing left to lose is their lives, the villagers of Kanna decide to make one last stand against the Nobuseri by hiring their own band of samurai fighters to protect them. The task of seeking out these potential saviours falls to three young volunteers: the hot-blooded, heartbroken Rikichi; Kirara, the village's beautiful Water Priestess; and Komachi, Kirara's precocious little sister. The trio sets out on a journey to the nearby city of Kogakyo, where they cross paths with a fledgling samurai named Katsushiro and a highly experienced and skilled fighter named Kambei, one of the key figures who fought for the losing side in the Great War.

The Pupil: When Ukyo, the son of the ruler of the city, kidnaps Kirara it is up to Rikichi and Komachi to save her. They recruit the young, green-haired samurai Katsushiro as well as the tall, mechanised samurai Kikuchiyo. Together, the four set out to save Kirara.

The Entertainer: After Kirara is rescued from Ukyo's abduction, Kambei decides to help them in their quest to free their villagers from misery. Meanwhile, Katsushiro and Kikuchiyo start heading back to the base. They come across Gorobei, a street entertainer. He persuades Katsushiro to take part in a little street entertainment. All Katsushiro has to do is fire an arrow at Gorobei's forehead. Can this entertainer really pluck the projectile out of the air before it pierces his skull? Meanwhile Ayamaro, Ukyo's powerful father, sends assassins after the samurai.

The Loner: Kambei and Gorobei have no trouble defeating the assassins sent by Ayamaro. Angered, Ayamaro sends his most feared bodyguards, and fellow samurai, after them. Now Kambei is faced with the mighty two-sword wielding Kyuzo who is much more skilled in combat than Kambei.

This first release in the series takes a little time to warm up. And, by the end of this DVD, the seven Samurai are still not all present and correct. But, to be honest, it's good to see that we are introduced to each new samurai in proper fashion - instead of hastily gathering all seven over a few episodes.

Comic relief comes in the form of Kikuchiyo. Unlike the original Seven Samurai, where Kikuchiyo was the main character, here he is demoted to a wanna-be samurai who is part machine, and quite a bit of a bumbler (the anime equivalent of Bernard Breslaw).

Extras include character profiles, a 5 minute promo video, textless opening and closing titles, and trailers.

Anime fans will not be disappointed by this funny, and intelligent release.

Nick Smithson

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