michael dworkis looks at the series based on the Kurasawa classic …
It is a tale of a small village, Kanna, oppressed by the evil imperial magistrate. Every year their crops are stolen by giant mechanized samurai called Nobuseri. These humans were once noble warriors, but after a great war they sold out to the Emperor and transferred their souls into these giant robot beings to claim ultimate power and wealth. They steal rice and food from the villagers and even kidnap women and children to intimidate the men to keep harvesting.
The elder of the village has had enough, sending out Kirara, a water priestess to find seven samurai to fight the bandits on their behalf. They find Katsushiro, and young man who has yet to see battle, but claims to be a skilled samurai. Kirara and her party tell him they have no money and will only be able to offer food for payment. Although her water crystal does not signal him to be one of the seven needed, Katsushiro volunteers to help find other samurai. After many rejections from samurai who prefer wealth and glory, they find a great samurai who fought in the Great War. Kirara approaches Kanbei, who explains that he no longer wishes to fight wars. However, after Kirara is kidnapped by the Ukyo, the main villain of the series, Kanbei agrees to help. Together with Gorobei who was a samurai-turned entertainer, a cyborg named Kikuchiyo, Kyuzo the former magistrate bodyguard, Shichiroji a friend of Kanbei who also fought in the Great War, and a skilled samurai and engineer named Heihachi; they selflessly volunteer to protect Kanna from the bandits.
Word of the samurai gets back to the magistrate, who order the samurai to be killed, and the village razed. The samurai are too much for the initial assault, and soon a full-scale war occurs.
Funimation brought us a story which is superbly well paced. Each samurai is given the time to tell his story and each character is able to develop and in the case of Katsushiro, mature into a warrior. The progression of each battle, the build to what becomes a war of epic scale is done with the grace of a storytelling master. There are some episodes which are mostly dialogue, but unlike other shows, the dialogue is important to remember when information becomes clearer in future episodes. The different approaches and behaviors of each of the samurai contribute to the team becoming a cohesive unit who works seamlessly. The villagers are portrayed as cowards, and rightfully so. The residents have been bullied by the Nobuseri for years, only after recent events do they muster up the courage to hire samurai, and in-turn allow to be trained by the heroic samurai to fight back.
This series is a tale of honor. Ukyo, the main antagonist of Samurai 7 is a spoiled brat who regards people as his playthings. His childish behavior is soon revealed to be a disguised ploy in order for him to use trickery and deceit to quickly take over as the Emperor. He is no ordinary boy. This tale has a futuristic tone, but the plot is relatable to any time period. That makes this a great series. There are giant robots and flying mechanized cities, but the well-told story gives it a feeling of reality and one can always relate to the tale of the oppressed peasants fighting back against a larger bully.
It is important to note this anime series is based off the famous 1954 Japanese film, Seven Samurai. The plot is essentially the same, a poor village hires samurai to protect them from thieving bandits. The difference, this film takes place 1587, and no, there is no tech from the future here.
People die. Not all seven of the samurai survive. This is a real tale of war. This story does not end with everyone going back to their homes. Samurai 7 is probably one of the best anime I have seen.