Samurai 7 Viridian Collection
DVD | Box Set
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Based on the legendary Akira Kurosawa classic epic feature film, Seven Samurai. Set in a futuristic world that has just witnessed the end of a massive war, scores of villages are terrorized by Nobuseri bandits. But the Nobuseri are no normal bandits. They were once Samurai, who during the war integrated their living cells with machines to become dangerous weapons now appearing more machine than man. Absolute power corrupts, and their reign of terror is increasing its hold on the countryside. But one group of villagers has had enough, deciding to hire samurai to protect their village. Kirara is a young priestess who travels to the city seeking out protection. One by one, she encounters brave samurai that the war has left behind. These men of skill and valor are each unique and not without their quirks. But can they come together as one to defend the helpless village?
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FIRST, CONTENT ISSUES FOR PARENTS:
This anime completely strays from any such use of fanservice (the term often used these days to mean "lite sexual material" such as say, major cleavage, beyond-normal-tight-fitting and short-cut clothing meant to be sexually appealing, etc.). Also, there is maybe one or two instances of the use of the word "Damn". There is humor, but none of it crude. In fact, this film is generally quite a bit more conservative than the 1954 original that it was based upon. The only two things that I should raise to be fair are these: 1) the female lead wears very conservative looking clothes, but it does bare her midriff, and her skirt is mid-thigh length (some people may not like it). There is also a slit in her skirt on the right side. The thing about this outfit is that it looks very conservative and the animators do not even raise a single finger to try and exploit the fanservice "opportunities" they could have had with that. The skirt doesn't even fly up. If anything, they use it to differentiate her as a countryside girl from those of the imperial city...the old primitive versus refined gambit. 2) There is one bath house scene where the female lead and a major supporting female character are conversing about serious matters. However, again, the animators do not "exploit" this. In fact, the room is filled with the steam, all you see is either the shoulder up or one instance of the back torso (you don't see "hind-quarters", nor are their "full-frontal displays"). Anyways, there are tons of legal streaming sites you can preview the series if you really want to play safe and see for yourself (and I mean legal as in the site actually procured the license to stream the show). Hands nad arms and stuff do get chopped off, though. But it's not gratuitous violence and most of the enemies are robotic mechs. Not much blood neither...mostly oil and diesel haha. Ultimately, I would say this is a show for teens 16 and older because a lot of the themes discussed and addressed are very serious, and would go over younger kids who are more into the action of things. It does have good discussion value for sure :-)
As I said before, this anime both loosely and tightly follows the it's predecessor. Basically, it takes all the characters (with their actual demeanors and nuances) and carries them into a steampunk type world. What this series does do to improve beyond the the original is this, while keeping to the same exact plot, they have embellished beautifully. The were able to add more "players" to the field, really elaborate on the world and environment. The best part was that, it actually greatly defined the characters. Unlike the original, you really got to spend time with many of the characters' philosophies, history, and purposes.
BUT, like the original, this remake is just as ambient and slow. There are many action sequences (and they are very very very beautifully done), but the focus are on the internal struggles and relationships of the characters. It's also mainly about philosophies on warrior-hood and a good, fleshed out narrative. In fact, one of many things you realize when watching even the fight sequences are that the sword can either be a mere tool of destruction or the soul of a samurai. So if you are wanting the next "hack n slash", I would say go elsewhere...but if you are the thinking type that enjoys a story, this can be a good pick for you. This show sprinkles a decent bunch of humor...but again, it's focus is not mere entertainment, but to raise and answer questions.
THE PACKAGE: Well, Funimation distributors created "The Viridian Collection" for a key reason. They realized that many anime were expensive, both the individual volumes as well as the usual boxed set. So what they did was to strip many of the "extra and unnecessary" things plus find a stable but cheaper form of packaging. And that's what you have here. This particular complete-series edition is part of "The Viridian Collection". The discs are safely and securely packaged in their own individual slim plastic cases (2 to a case at most), and the cases themselves are gathered together in a safe cardboard box/sleeve about the size of 2.5 standard DVD cases. Unfortunately many of the typical DVD extras might not have been included (I don't know this for sure because, for this series, I only dealt with The Viridian Collection) but you still get the typical Director Actor Commentary, Promo vid and image gallery, & textless songs and character profiles. Also, you still have the option of subs and dubs. I watched both and the dubbing is actually pretty good. If you are a person that thrives on extra features, then I suggest looking into Funimation's individual volumes or non-Viridian sets, first to see if there are extras you want. But if you are like me where it's the story and show that matter most, this is a great and affordable deal.
ALL IN ALL:
This is a good and thought provoking look into the Japanese perspective of Bushido. The world is beautifully crafted and the characters wonderfully developed and expanded on. I will say this though, because of the nature of the show, it is very dependent on your mood. I can't watch this back to back, but only once every so often. What I mean is, you really need to want to watch it in order to enjoy it. It's not candy you can pop into your mouth anytime...but a steak that needs to be savored and desired to enjoy. So, if you want light and passive entertainment...I don't think this is the best choice. But if you are ready for a feast of storytelling and active thinking, this is a brilliant piece.
One thing I really respect about this anime is that it has -weight-; this anime has messages to give, but it gives them subtly and meaningfully without forcing them - it presents them as they are, and asks you to decide for yourself. Everyone is three-dimensional and interesting, and the overarching story is engaging enough that you'll find yourself caring about everyone involved and awaiting the outcome to each decision. Characters -will- die during this anime, and you're going to be worrying about that throughout the whole thing - will your favorite die? Who that you care about won't make it to the end? Not everyone will. This lends weight to everything that happens, unlike with so many things.
I think this anime is worth watching for -anyone- because it's character-driven, but if you're an anime fan, this is a must-own, period.
The reason I finally got the complete set, even after getting many of the individual DVDs was it was cheaper to buy the whole set, getting all the DVDs, then it was getting the last three DVDs to complete my collection. The advantage is the fact that the Complete Set costs less then most single DVDs. The only sad part is the individual discs each came with a booklet of interviews and information. And the Complete Set did not come with any extra material. On the other hand it will take up less space than buying all seven discs. But you only get one commentary no matter which way you collect the series. In other words, the DVDs are the same, with all the same photo galleries, character profiles, and trailers.
So I had to drop a star. When you put out a complete set it should have extras the other DVDs don't. At least I think so.