Tuesday, 12 March 2013

Completed: Samurai 7

Long story will probably be long, i'll mark when the actual review starts with Bold.

So, first off this story may contain a few minor spoilers because you can't really talk about the story without spoiling stuff.

First personal stories.

Everyone knows that The magnificent 7 is a Western (litterally) remake of 7 Samurai (shinichi no Samurai).

My family has quite a few connections to The magnificent 7 which have nothing to do with each other.

First of all my father was named after Steve McQueen. Okay may be a bit of a stretch but considering he was one of the main actors in Magnificent 7 it's just kinda fun.
My Father was also good friends with the director's son, i'm not exactly sure how they met but they would always go see each other when the chance came up.

however i don't think that compairs to my own personal connection to Magnificent 7.
A long time ago there was a bring your kids to work day thing... my dad couldn't bring me to his work cause it was unsafe so i went to see where mom worked.... it was a little sci-fi/fantasy/modern day TV show that got cancelled after 4 or 5 episodes in North America.
However the day i went there we got to go to set and see a scene play out and see how all the cameras work and how the editors work and because at the time i wanted to be a director he let me sit in his chair and yell action and cut.
The scene was between Eli Wallach, Arnold Vosloo and Ryan Merryman.
Eli Wallach played Calvera in the Magnificent Seven and by a crazy technicality i was able to direct him.... something that even if i had continued my pursuit of being a director i probably would never have gotten the chance to do.
yes... all i did was yell action and cut... still to a 13 year old kid that's more then enough.

STILL despite all those connections... i will admit... while the story is really good.... it still puts me to sleep without fail every time.... i don't know why...


Kana Village is being harassed by Bandits but they've had enough. They send a few people to go to a large town and recruit Samurai to teach them how to defend themselves and hopefully even defeat the bandits. It's tricky but eventually they find one and then he informs them that they will need 7 in total to complete the task.

You have probably come across that story before, it's such a universal story line that is was also used in films like A Bugs life or as i mentioned before Magnificent 7... Hell back in the day imagine how culturally different japan and america were... yet somehow shinichi no samurai translated perfectly into a western... i've heard that there was probably cross influences so Akira Kurosawa was influenced by American films and then the reverse happened.... i don't know i just know that to create a film like that is rare.

how does the anime compair?
... um... it's long.... really long...
long isn't bad but it does throw off the pacing.... the middle seems to drag a bit but then by the last episode some characters are somehow magically master samurai now.... did i miss something?

But it was done by Gonzo so it must be pretty right?
well.... some episodes are really lovely... the character designs are all different and well done and i'm never stuck wondering "who is that again?"
other episodes get kinda... floaty... Gonzo will tend to do these high paced action scenes with really dramatic camera angles but honestly terrible art.... at low frame rates no less.... it was odd when the intro changed they must have spent all heir budget on that cause that first episode with the new intro looks Ugly.

but yeah i did enjoy it overall... it's poorly paced but still glad i finally sat down and finished watching it.

The Good: 
anytime you have many main characters you expect a core few and the rest to get pushed off to the side... this doesn't really happen... all the samurai get their chance to shine, all (except one now that i think about it) get to explain their motives for why they are that kind of samurai... and no saying "i wanna kill him" is not good enough....

The music is pretty, the second version of the intro song animation is very nice to look at and other then a few songs that are used too much most of the music suits the theme and feel of the show.

The characters feel real... also great job showing Stockholm syndrome

Not all the main Characters survive, i love when shows do this cause then i actually worry for characters.

things looks like they are going one way as far as pairing up characters and in the end it doesn't really... again... nice seeing a show that doesn't throw in random romance just for the sake of it and just leaves it as a girlish crush.

The unsure how to categorize:
The dvds, at least the ones i have come in a set of 7 disks.... i love this cause that means each samurai gets a cover and that is something i think is done well.
however this means it costs more and the last two volumes only have 3 eps on them... so kinda a bummer... however i bought it years ago so i'm sure theres some flimsy funimation thinapck out there.... more on that later.

The Not so good: 
I don't know why but Funimation DVDs have some of the worse programming and more awkward dvd layouts i have ever seen...
unlike Solty Rei the sound is mixed a little better but still some of the voices get drowned out by the music.
The menu itself you can hardly tell whats selected cause its barely any brighter.
the show would randomly hiccup in intros/endings/midpoints and switch the japanese characters... not a big deal other then it seemed to throw off the lipsinc.
but i should make clear that these are problems with the DVD... not the show... maybe their newer copies don't do this.... i doubt it though.

The bad:
This show thinks you are a moron.
the structure of each episode ...
Prelude - tells you what happened in the previous episode
episode (which is almost guaranteed to reuse animation from previous episodes... hell one episode has a huge fight montage that loops at least 2 times... maybe even 3) 
Preview - spoils next episode.
Recap - tells you everything that happened in the episode... you know... just incase you missed it.

i can think of certain scenes that you see 6 or 7 times before the show ends... yeah... i saw that... i remember it.... why are you showing me again? but then it can't even take the time to show when a certain character became a badass?

It's just so repetitive and that makes it frustrating to watch.

still it's not a bad show... not life changing but i'm not upset for having seen it... if you are curious i'm pretty sure it's part of the netflix library so you should check it out and make your own opinion

so it looks like the only other DVD series i own that i haven't sat through once already is paranoia agent....
oh hey look Escaflowne i haven't watched that in a while!

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