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.
Let me first start off by saying that the wikipedia description of this show really doesn’t describe what I actually witnessed in this show about wind and fire and earth powers (water was sadly left out). I must say that for an anime, straight out of Japan to pale in comparison to the Nickelodeon version of a similar show, is sad. But this show has achieved the impossible. And yet, this gives a lot of props to Avatar: The Last Airbender and the amazing creators behind it. It was a worthwhile show. But that’s not the point.
Let me kick something at you. “Kazuma Kannagi was considered useless within his family because he could not use “Enjutsu” (Blaze Technique), the power to control flames. When he was defeated by Ayano Kannagi, one of his very distant relatives, in a bout to decide
If only it were truly like this...
who would wield “Enraiha” (Blaze Lightning Supremacy), a sword that was wielded by the family heir, he was banished from the family. Four years later, he returns as a master of “Fūjutsu” (Wind Technique), the power to control wind, and with a new name: Kazuma Yagami. Soon after his return, he is reunited with Ayano and his younger brother, Ren, who is also gifted in Enjutsu. Soon, however, Kannagi family members are killed and the murder weapon is revealed to be Fūjutsu. Now Kazuma has to fight his family to prove that he is not the murderer and follow a series of adventures with Ayano.”
Okay, that is the bare bones plot… of the first 6 episodes. This show may start here, but it ends in a different dimension entirely. Thanks for not ruining the plot in your summary, Wikipedia, but you sure as Hell didn’t clue me in as to where this show was headed.
Stranger things have happened in this show.
And from that description alone, I got a different vision of what I thought this show would be. I was envisioning samurai fire sword wielders. Dynasty warriors shit. Real harcore fights. The reality? Modern day Tokyo with some decent fight scenes and not a whole lot about really redeeming himself with that murder on his hands. Nice.
That’s not to say that Kazuma Yagami (Robert McCollum) wasn’t a compelling character. He is by far one of the most compelling characters I’ve encountered in anime. Cast out by his family because of his differences at a young age, Kazuma must make his way in the real world with no real support. And he doesn’t just lay down and die. Oh no. He gets up, makes a pact with the Wind Gods, and comes back to lay waste to his family. Not actually kill them, but bleed them dry of their money by becoming hired help. And at every turn, Kazuma consistently tells the entire Konnagi family to go shove it. He truly doesn’t care if they live or die. Pretty much up until the last episode. You can’t deny that a character with those emotions shouldn’t be messed up. Well he isn’t, and he gets the job done when, with most other characters, he would sit down and cry about his dilemma. Job well done, Kazuma.
But back to the plot. After this little 6 or 7 episode arc of catching his framed killers, Kazuma and Ayano Kannagi (Cherami Leigh) go on random adventures that don’t come together into a coherent end that begins to form in episode 17 of 24. Yes, as small sections the first season and beginning of the second season seem
I bet you anything he's about to cry.
interesting. But when you see the leapfrog style of the entire anime, it almost seems senseless.
Other than that glaring problem, most of the voice acting in the english dub just doesn’t hold up. I know I really should’ve just watched this dubbed, but I wanted to give what I thought was going to be a decent anime a try. This anime that was neither here nor there in genre really took me for a loop. Wow. Cherami Leigh became an annoying time bomb, who, as in most shounen, couldn’t do a damn thing for herself. Ren (Josh Grelle) became a provincial crybaby over his big bro Kazuma, and most other voice actors fell by the wayside with their sub par performances.
I think that reason I’m tied up about this show is that it was so weak in plot, characters, and direction. It wasn’t what I expected and it showed. There’s a whole episode about perverts and panty shots for god sakes. I didn’t mind it for the comic relief, but a lot of this show, even in its most serious moments, came of as just plain comic and sad. I sadly give what I thought was going to be The Last Airbender, 4.1 out of 10.
I think this sums up everything about this show… And it’s not even good subbed…
With the new circuit of conventions on the East Coast comes a new batch of cosplays to plan. And what caught my eye this summer, as my girlfriend suggested was Sosuke Aizen, main antagonist of the hit shounen series (still running) Bleach from Japan. (As all anime are usually from there.) Not knowing a thing about the character I would attempt to portray, I thought, heck, let me take a stab at watching some Bleach. I had no idea what was in store for me for the next 5 weeks. With incredibly long battle scenes of at least 2-3 episodes in length, filler SEASONS and the occaisonal humorous episode, this show throws a lot at you in what I feel is a reasonably paced amount of time. And the more you watch, the more you feel for certain characters and the more you feel like talking about it all the time (I wish I had a Bleach buddy to discuss the finer things with…). With such a cult following (very similar to Naruto) Bleach has become a staple I feel any anime fan should at least tune into every once in a while.
Ichigo and Rukia. Strange love twisted relationship?
So I’m not going to delve to deeply into the story, so I’ll keep it restricted to the first couple of seasons. I already ruined one spoiler for you, so I hope it doesn’t deter you from watching at all. Ichigo Kurosaki is a typical 15 year old high schooler. Well, almost. He has the ability to see spirits that haven’t crossed over and he doesn’t really know why. But this hypersensitive awareness to the Other has caused him a bit of trouble. Which turns into a lot of trouble. That he may inevitably face for the rest of his life.
One day, while walking home from school (insert whistling skip here), Ichigo encounters something he’s never seen before. (Which, based on how often it happens in his hometown of Karakura Town, I’m surprised he hasn’t seen it before…) Rukia Kuchiki, a black robed Shinigami Soul Reaper is battling what appears to be a skull-masked monster. After a few episodes, in her weakened state, she can no longer battle and lends almost all of her power to Ichigo. In a sudden flash and transformation, Ichigo is transformed into a Soul Reaper himself and embarks on countless adventures of struggle and strife.
Due to Ichigo’s acquirement of Rukia’s powers, Rukia is taken prisoner by her brother Byakuya Kuchiki and Renji Abari, and sentenced to death. Ichigo and his friends, Orihime Inoue, Yatsutora Sado, and Uryu Ishida, must all band together and reach the Soul Society, afterworld in which the 13 Court Guard Squads reign supreme over all souls and the dealings with the Hollows. (Hollows end up being a main form of opponent of Ichigo in the first and successive seasons, just in different forms.)
Ichigo fights to save Rukia!
After coming to and entering the Soul Society’s inner chamber, known as the Seireitei, Ichigo and Co. must battle hordes of Soul Reapers, both weak and powerful. Beginning his own path to strength, it is with and against the Soul Society and the Court Guard Squads that Ichigo finds his place in such a new world. With new enemies and challenges that seem to pop up out of nowhere as the seasons go, it may seem (as Ichigo’s voice actor said reluctantly, yet happily, that the show may never end, but at least he’ll continue to get paid for it.)
An immense amount of badasses.
All-in-all, with such an expansive cast with so many characters, this show is unbelievably immense in its scope and plot. And it’s mainly due to the writing and characters behind it. Although many fans may think the show should’ve ended long ago, I’ll have to see once I get farther (I’m on episode 212.). But there needs to be a lot of credit given to the vocal cast of this show. This show, although it would be just fine subbed, may credit it’s American fan base success to Johnny Yong Bosch, voice of Ichigo Kurosaki, our hero. With his deeply troubled teen facing a whole lot of changes in life way beyond that of anyone else due to its mythical quality, Bosch adds an at times playful yet at most times serious voice to a complex character.
Seeing as there are so many characters, I can’t really give credit to all those who lends their great voices to the show. So, for starters, Derek Stephen Prince is owed some credit for his snarky, unabashed portrayal of Uryu Ishida, the
I enjoy this fan pic. (Uryu Ishida)
last of the Quincies. And, although he may not speak much, Jamieson Price gives a greatly underappreciated voice as Yatsutora Sado, the deeply softspoken Hispanic wonder. Gin Ichimaru, voiced by Doug Erholtz, is another voice that stood out to me with its snake-like charm and venomous words as another worthy opponent. Karen Strassman gave a semi-heartbreaking performance as Momo Hinamori, the lieutenant of Sosuke Aizen (voiced by Kyle Herbert), a woman in love with duty and the will to follow. Byakuya Kuchiki is amazingly voiced by a badass, Dan Woren. His I-don’t-give-a-shit attitude really shines through with that heart of gold underneath with
Byakuya Kuchiki, how fantastic
Woren’s voice. David Lodge, a voice actor I’m not that familiar with, adds a new voice I haven’t heard before with the grave undertones of Kenpachi Zaraki. And last but certainly not least comes Liam O’Brien. His amazingly recognizable voice lends itself perfectly to the soft spoken Jushiro Ukitake. And that’s only to name a few. After a while, characters voices become synonymous with the character portrayed on screen in perfect sychronization.
Now, the animation is the good and bad thing about this show. As it progresses, through the past few years, it has gotten better. It’s never been completely terrible, but I admire and try to find anime that have a more fluid style to their action scenes. This show has improved, but I find there are more stationary shots dealing with dialogue and explosions than actual fluid swordfights. Although a part of this show deals with powers and sword attacks not in the short term, there is an element of strategy among the characters I can admire.
Something to look forward to in Bleach.
Apart from being in the top 10 longest running anime, it would be nice to see this show concluded in a way that won’t have been conceived out of a sense of pressure due to its length. I would rather have a harmonious ending with all the seasons fitting together in what becomes a well planned final battle between the characters that matter. Also, I wouldn’t mind if some of the main good guys perished every once in a while, it seems like (with most anime of this style) that no main characters ever die. It might add an element of drama not before captured in this show. Just a thought.