I’ve seen Akira Kurosawa’s film, 7 Samurai. The second that I saw there was an anime dedicated to it (and supplied with the voice acting talents of Chris Sabat as Kikuchiyo) I had to see it for myself. In what I would call a very honest and original ode to Kurosawa, this 26 episode anime series follows the classic tale of the mighty vs. the meek. I saw this film quite a while ago in my film appreciation class and found it to be quite cinematic for its time (1954 in fact). With great characters and a good helping of action, nothing could be wrong with this film and anime classic.
The basic plot of Samurai 7 is that of David vs. Goliath. In a small rice village named Kanna, field workers and peasants must fulfill quotas of rice production to be paid to the bandits. These bandits are former
The cast of Samurai 7.
humans who have encased themselves in the wave of the future. In these new Gundam like bodies, the bandits hold sway over the lives of the peasants and demand rice in exchange for the peasants lives. And yet, despite their payment, the bandits take women to the imperium to become slaves.
After years of this slavery and menial servitude, the peasants decide to secretly do something about it. The village elder sends Komachi (Luci Christian), Rikichi (J. Michael Tatum), and Kirara (Colleen Clinkenbeard), the village’s water maiden. With her divining skills, the three peasants seek out the help of human samurai to fight the samurai encased in metal. Over the course of the show, 7 samurai are recruited in order to defend the rights of the lowly peasants of Kanna. Within this plot comes another plot (NOT INCEPTION B.S.) unlike the Kurosawa film. With an imperial plot by the merchants of the city, the 7 samurai must find the strength to fight off multiple enemies.
That's a legit battle right there.
What I really loved about this anime was the character designs of the 7 samurai. Shimada Kanbei (Robert Bruce Elliott) is the leader of the clan of samurai, wielding the most power. His brusque attitude can come off as disconnected, but he always has the goal in mind to help the peasants in any way he can. Okamoto Katsushiro (Sean Michael Teague) is the timid member of the group with a hidden power that is not revealed until the opportune moment. He also provides the majority of the love interest in the story for Kirara, although it becomes convoluted towards the end. Katayama Gorobei (Bob Carter) provides the easy, laid back man of wisdom with a protective attitude. Shichiroji (Duncan Brannan) plays the right hand man to Kanbei’s leadership in an almost transparent role. He never contradicts or creates any conflict with Kanbei, as I sort of expected. Kikuchiyo (Christopher R. Sabat) plays the outcast of the group as the robotic samurai, out to prove his worth to the humans around him. He plays a great comedic element in the show and provides an endearing character who, despite his buffoonery, inspires hope. Hayashida Heihachi (Greg Ayres) is the quiet, well to do good guy who only wants a good living and nothing more. And Kyuzo (Sonny Strait) plays the no nonsense badass turncoat. Great characters all around.
No words for this awesomeness.
And the animation was, I thought phenomenal. Interesting fact. To produce each individual episode, 32,500,000 Yen, ($300,000) were spent on each episode. The fluent switch between animation styles and the fighting scenes really stood out to me. The robotic digital animations were well coordinated with the samurai fights and the picturesque backdrops of different areas of the world created by Toshifumi Takizawa was a sight to behold. AND THE MUSIC. The keyed up traditional Japanese music with every fight scene and the melancholy tones of the peasant workers were just as good as the music from Kurosawa’s film. Funimation did a fantastic job with the dub and it all came together for a good two weeks worth of watching this on Hulu. I gotta hand it to Hulu, but they stream some quality looking entertainment. So hands off to all those involved with Samurai 7 and hell, how about it for Hulu? Best anime I watched in 2012 so far. 9.4 out of 10.
Will they be saved? Watch to find out!
2 Comments | tags: 1954, 23 episode anime, 7 Samurai, Akira Kurosawa, amazing score, anime version, badass, bandits, big budget, Bob Carter, bumbling comedic element, Chris Sabat, Christopher R. Sabat, cinematic, classic tale, Colleen Clinkenbeard, David vs Goliath, digital animation, dubbed, Duncan Brannan, Funimation, good quality streaming, great characters, Greg Ayres, Gundam like suits, Hayashida Heihaci, hidden power, honest and original, Hulu, imperium, J. Michael Tatum, Kanna, Katayama Gorobei, Kikuchiyo, Kirara, Komachi, Kyuzo, leader, love interest, Luci Christian, merchants, Okamoto Katsushiro, peasants, phenomenal animation, rice village, right hand man, Rikichi, Robert Bruce Ellliott, robotic samurai, samurai, Samurai 7, Sean Michael Teague, Shichiroji, Shimada Kanbei, shounen anime, slavery, Sonny Strait, soundtrack, Toshifumi Takizawa, turncoat, water maiden | posted in Anime/ T.V.
I need to say this right now about the original Neon Genesis Evangelion. This is hard to watch. It’s harder to watch dubbed, at least, from my experience it is. I feel the director/writer Hideaki Anno said it best about the show. “It’s strange that ‘Evangelion’ has become such a hit – all the characters are so sick!” And to me, that’s not “sick” in a good way. These characters, to put it better, suck. The main characters of this anime somehow don’t develop as the show progresses. And their back stories and personalities are just as bad. I don’t mean to put down a classic anime, but this show had problems from its inception.
Okay, basic plot. Shinji Ikari, in the first episode, comes to Tokyo-3. He’s there because his father asked him
Shinji. Pouting and whining with no comfort from Rei.
to come. This sounds odd you say? Well it is. Shinji has not seen his father for years, basically they became estranged after his mother’s death. (And Shinji’s father was implicated… sort of… not really… I’m not sure…) His father, one of the creators of N.E.R.V., has created these “machines” known as Evangelions. EVA’s for short. And these machine’s soul purpose are to destroy Angels. These Angels have been hitting the Earth for the past 15 years. Known as 2nd impact, this Angel that comes to Earth is defeated, but not before major devastation is wrought. And because of the 2nd impact, Earth has been changed and N.E.R.V. and a coalition of countries have been tasked with defending the Earth.
Evangelion. A cast to hate due to their "sick"ness.
And it doesn’t stop there. Just wait til the last 2 episodes. Either it will bore you or fascinate you. Either/or, it will confuse you. In typical mecha WTF fashion, this show will confuse you. And/or frustrate you with its characters. First of all, scum of the Earth #1 is Shinji’s father, Gendo Ikari. He neglects his son, and then doesn’t care if he lives or dies. Quite the father figure. There’s Asuka Langley Soryu, the most annoying German/Japanese girl on the planet. If she’s not berating Shinji with insults and back-handed comments, she’s most likely speaking terrible German (That voice actress has no idea what German is.) And she hates her life. Basically. So that’s another strike against her, among countless strikes. Rei Ayanami is another classically boring character that is hard to comprehend. Her monotone voice (it’s explained) mixed with emotionless conversation makes her scenes hard to watch. Misato Katsuragi is a whorish female major with nothing more to do than worry about others and become promiscuously unsavory. Quite the combo, including a ridiculously sloppy apartment.
And those are just to name a few. And, as I said, the one bane of this show is that none of these characters change throughout the entire anime. Not a one. They all remain in their own worlds of self pity and pettiness until the end. And if that’s what other people got from this show, I’m sure that is also portrayed across the board, subbed or dubbed. I watched the dubbed and pretty much regretted it. It being a 1995 anime, precursor to the golden age of voice actors going on now, these voice actors are hired more for their voices than their acting skills. I will give credit to 2 though. Kyle Sturdivant does a great Greg Ayres impression without even knowing it as Kaworu Nagisa (can’t explain, too far in). And Aaron Krohn does a great job as Ryoji Kagi, Misato’s love interest and all around stud. Everyone else was most likely just in it for the chance to “attempt” to voice act. I’m not quite sure.
The EVAs are cool, I just don't know what to say about the show...
Other than that, I would give the show in total a 5.2 out of 10. The concept, above all, is actually very interesting. I have a soft spot for mecha anime, and this is considered one of the best and most original. It is a classic. But I’m not sure it suits everyone’s taste. And that’s why they re-did the ending and added the movies for a different perspective on Neon Genesis Evangelion. The comments on symbolism and religion are quite prominent. But not until the end. The psychological/philosophical musings became redundant, as it seemed they were just lines to fill time more than actual reevaluations of the meaning of life. But I am interested to see the takes that were made after the original. So we’ll just have to wait a while and see what’s in store. And I’ll make sure to make a review to fill in all my “fans” with. But seriously, if you view my blog weekly/daily, why not subsribe? It’d let me know what people wanna see me review and what people’s interests are. Thanks for reading always, it’s a real treat inviting you to The Abyss.
2 Comments | tags: 1995, 2nd Impact, Aaron Krohn, acting skills, angels, Anime, Asuka Langley Soryu, back stories, berating, blog, boring, characters, classic anime, confusing, daily, director, dubbed, Earth, emotionless, ending, EVA, Evangelion, EVAs, fans, fascinate, father, frustrating, Gendo Ikari, German, golden age of voice actors, Greg Ayres, hard to watch, hates life, Hideaki Anno, insults, interesting concept, Japanese, Kaworu Nagisa, Kyle Sturdivant, last episodes, love interest, machines, meaning of life, mecha, Misato Katsuragi, monotone, mother's death, movies, musings, neglect, Neon Genesis Evangelion, NERV, no development, original, personalities, petty, philosophical, promiscuous, psychological, Rei Ayanami, religion, Ryoji Kagi, scum of the Earth, self pity, Shinji Ikari, sick, sloppy, son, stud, subbed, suck, symbolism, The Abyss, Tokyo-3, voices, weekly, whore, writer, WTF | posted in Anime/ T.V.
So recently, as I’ve been constantly doing, I watched another anime. It’s one of my girlfriend’s favorite, and I thought, hey, sure, why not? Yes, it was Ouran High School Host Club, and I was a bit confused at first. But if she hadn’t prepared me already for what was going to happen with School Rumble, I would’ve been lost beyond belief. And I wouldn’t have enjoyed it as much as I did.
So here’s the story. I feel it only holds constant for a few episodes and then the rest of the show is left to its own devices. But, I digress. Haruhi Fujioka, (Caitlin Glass) is a “commoner” student, allowed to attend Ouran Academy, a very well to do school full of the social and economic elite. Through her merit, Haruhi is allowed to attend, finds the Host Club, and embarks on an endless list of shenanigans that left me laughing with confusion. (The initial plot is that Haruhi breaks a vase that is quite expensive that the Host Club owns.)
First impressions. This show is quite homoerotic. The Hitachiin twins, (Voiced by Todd Haberkorn and Greg Ayres) Hikaru and Kaoru, give off the distinct impression of homosexual taboo incest. Played up to attract more girls, granted, but still rather hard to swallow. The comedy in this show is quite ridiculous, typical of anime, I find. (i.e. weird comic faces, strange noises, etc.) But over time, I find it to be quite funny. I always laugh when Tamaki (Vic Mignogna) mopes in a corner after facing some sort of ridicule. The comedy when it comes to Haruhi’s commoner status is hilarious, especially when the Host Club visits her at home and at the trading expo.
OH, AND DID I FORGET ONE VERY IMPORTANT THING?!?!? Haruhi, to pay back her debt to the Host Club, must dress as a boy. And although nobody else can apparently tell, she has short hair as some girls do, and is voiced by Caitlin Glass. Oh well, it’s a nice comment on the role of gender. There are a few episodes concerned with Tamaki’s and the twins’ feelings towards Haruhi, and the discovery of Haruhi’s gender by others, but it all works out in the end. Trust me.
One thing that stands out to me about this show is the all-star American cast that voices the members of the Host Club. As I already mentioned, Caitlin Glass does a great job as Haruhi, the gender bender. Vic Mignogna, who I had the pleasure of meeting a week ago, is incredible as always as the flamboyant Tamaki. Along with the twins to round out these powerhouses, we have J. Michael Tatum as the money-crunching Kyoya, who in the end, becomes my favorite character. Honey is done fantastically by Luci Christian, a voice she also uses for Tenma from School Rumble. And last, but not least, Travis Willingham creates an amazing dynamic character with his “Hmm’s” and “Ahhh’s” and “Ahem’s” as Mori, Honey’s “protector.”
And if it wasn’t good enough, the guest appearances by voice actors like Aaron Dismuke, Christopher Sabat, (AMAZING) and Brina Palencia, it makes for an episode by episode guest star that is hard to top for any show. Yes, I quite enjoy voice actors and love following their bodies of work.
The humor’s great, the voice acting is superb, and the guys are metrosexual. What more could you ask for from an anime? Definitely 8 out of 10.
Leave a comment | tags: Aaron Dismuke, Brina Palencia, Caitlin Glass, Christopher Sabat, commoner students, economic elite, girls dressed as boys, Greg Ayres, Haruhi Fujioka, Hikaru, Hitachiin twins, homeoerotic, homosexual taboo incest, Honey, J. Michael Tatum, Kaoru, Kyoya, Luci Christian, metrosexual guys, Mori, Ouran Academy, Ouran High School Host Club, ridiculous anime comedy, role of gender, School Rumble, shenanigans, social elite, Tamaki Suoh, Tenma, Todd Haberkorn, Travis Willingham, Vic Mignogna | posted in Anime/ T.V.