Samurai 7 is the re-imagining of Akira Kurosawa's classic Seven Samurai. Set on a future Earth, a small village is beset bythe Nobuseri bandits (in this case giant war machines) who take their grain, and slay all opposition. In a desperate bid for freedom, the village elder sends a party to the nearby city, lead by the water-priestess Kirara, to find a Samurai to defend the village. No easy task given they can only pay for their intended champion's services with grain.
The story opens with Gonzo's standard CGI efforts, which are incredible. The imagination and professional polish this studio have made their trademark simply envelop you, and as an opening gambit, it's stunning. Things soon revert to more traditional looking fare, but the figures on screen are never less than sharp and attractive.
Design is a blend of traditional styles and futiristic surroundings. Clothing for the most part is simple and functional, but the cities use modern materials and look like the set of Bladerunner in places. The floating palaces, in particular, are amazing to look at - a blend of traditional Japanese architecture and futuristic spaceship technology, they dominate whatever scene they appear in. Samurai walk the street in traditional garb, but a closer look often reveals enhancements, like cyborg eyes or extendable limbs. Samurai with cybernetic enhancements have been done before, most recently in MVM's Ninja Scroll, but it still looks entertaining even if we have seen it before.
The characters themselves all have their quirks, and once the impressive visual effects have lost their sheen, it's left to them to carry the story. Happily, each of the samurai we meet have enough charisma to merit further viewing. Kirara's little sister Komachi is often used as the story's charming and affable narrator, and her observations are always entertaining. In short, action junkies and adventure fans have much to admire here.
As the series progresses, it manages to maintain pace, but never really excels in any one area. Fights are always entertaining, palace intrigue is rife, and apart from a couple of badly animated episodes (which look massively out of place with the rest of the series) its a solid tale. Sadly, it's easily forgotten by the end, and you probably won't watch it through a second time.
The impending box-set is the best way to pick this series up, as ever.