Not so Secret Santa: Samurai 7
It was really hard for me to choose between Samurai 7 and tomorrow's anime on which was "better". Both are actually scored the same but one did it slightly more for me than the other. The Not so Secret Santa Project hasn't had a moment like this before! Joe Animated was skeptical when he choose this anime for me but it totally payed off!
Every year in Kanna village during harvest time, a group of bandits come and basically steal almost all of the rice. Barely leaving enough for the villagers to survive on. To make matters worse, the bandits are becoming more and more demanding as the years go by. The village elder has had enough! They must hire samurai to protect the village. Hiring samurai is expensive though so they must find ones that will work for nothing but rice. Three villagers set out on a journey to find some samurai that will work for them in the capital. But a bigger problem lies waiting in the capital as well.
Samurai 7 feels like combination of Gintama, Last Exile, Samurai Champloo, and Ninja Scroll. Which when you think about it is a weird mix. But it works! It looks most like Last Exile with its dark and grainy tone but that's because GONZO did both shows. This kind of look works very for these kind of shows honestly. They are beautiful but in a very different way that most people expect when viewing anime. Listening to the OP again now I realize that I completely skipped it every time because it was pretty bland for my tastes. The series had a recap at the beginning of every episode too so that didn't help the OP very much either. I had to go and check the files to see if it matched the YouTube one. That's how forgettable it was! The ED though I enjoyed that a lot. I think I really like that instrument that makes that twangy noise or something. The show is dubbed too and decently done might I add. My Santa Project this year has had good luck with dubbing it seems!
In this futuristic yet feudal era after the Great War some samurai have become mechanical, some now wield guns, some hold true to the old ways. This new world that they fight to survive in has changed greatly with the addition of machines. Mecha make their way into this show which is quite odd at first and honestly you never really do get use to them. All the scenes in this show that have the mecha around are just weird. While they are full of action it just seems silly at the same time. I do really appreciate the mecha however even if they gave me a few chuckles during some pretty serious moments. The mecha are probably my only complaint of this show actually. The pacing was a little off for the first half but once the second bit started it made you completely forget all about that.
If there's one thing to choose as being the best of this show it has to be the characters. The 7 samurai themselves: Kambei, the grumpy but wisest samurai, Katsushiro, the young buck, Gorobei, a performer, Shichiroji, a war buddy of Kambei's who now lives a peaceful life at the Firefly Inn, Kikuchiyo, a cyborg samurai, Heihachi, a mechanic, and Kyuzou, a silent but deadly samurai with a score to settle with Kambei. They are an amazingly interesting bunch that grow together greatly throughout the series. There isn't one that I dislike and I don't think I can choose a favourite... Probably Gorobei followed by Shichiroji if I really had to choose. It's amazing that Kikuchiyo as annoying as he was found his way into my heart.
All of the "side" characters are terrific as well. I say side because almost everyone has a huge roll in the show. Kirara, the water priestess, Komachi, her little sister, and Rikichi, a fellow villager, are the three that leave the village to find the samurai. Their bond is quite strong and they too grow together as they work to save their village. Komachi was annoying at times but it's rare for a little sister character not to be hyper and bouncy in these kind of shows especially since she hung out with Kikuchiyo all the time.
Ukyo is the main "villain" of the series depending on your point of view. That's another beautiful thing about this show. No one is out right a good guy or a bad guy. Depending on how you view things of course. Sympathetic characters on the bad side of the coin have always been of great interest to me. He actually reminds me of Dio from Last Exile a great deal.
So yeah I loved this show a great deal. Ended up marathoning it in 2 days. The bf even approved! I would recommend this show to anyone that loves great character development. Helps if they like samurai in a 'futuristic' setting too.
* Story 8/10
* Animation 9/10
* Sound 8/10
* Characters 10/10
* Overall 9/10