I just thought I'd throw in a few thoughts about this show, since I haven't said much lately and don't have much else to say. Cartoon Network started airing this several weeks ago during their Saturday night anime block. I watched the first episode, then looked it up on Netflix and found that I had already added it to my streaming queue some time ago when I was browsing through the anime stuff, so I quit watching it on CN and just watched the whole series through on Netflix.
Samurai 7 is another take on the Seven Samurai story. I must admit here that I've never seen the original movie. I did record it a long time ago so I could watch it at any time, but the 3 3/4 hour length throws me. There's no way I could sit through any movie that long all at once. I still want to see it, but I'll have to go it in three or four shots.
Anyway, if you've at least seen The Magnificent Seven, then you know the basic plot. A village of rice farmers are constantly getting robbed of their rice by bandits, so the villagers decide to send a team of their people out to try and hire some samurai to protect them--and the only thing they can pay the samurai with is all the rice they can eat. They eventually find a team of seven samurai who are willing to take the job, mostly because they're just nice guys (except for one of them, possibly). Like I said, I haven't seen the original movie, but the thing that sets this apart from The Magnificent Seven is that after the initial conflict of the samurai protecting the village, there begins a sort of cultural spill-over that eventually effects the entire country.
One thing that I like about it is that the samurai don't do all the fighting. They spend a great deal of their preparation time teaching the villagers to fight--and that makes all the difference. Also, the giant ballistae that the little steampunk-looking guy (far left) builds are just awesome.
And since this is anime, there are some twists. The overall setting is that of feudal Japan, but there are science fiction elements (very advanced technology) and even some medium-level steampunkish elements all mixed in. The series runs 26 episodes, but there is plenty of political intrigue and backstabbery throughout.
The sci-fi elements run toward mecha (giant "robot" fighting machines which are piloted by a human operator), but fortunately the mecha elements don't take over the story--if they had, I wouldn't have watched it. Other "advanced" technology deals with a floating city which apparently runs on DC power (giant power cells), cloning, and various bits & pieces dealing with combat which are left over from a huge war that happened in their recent history. The war is, by the way, briefly explained a couple of times so you can sort of understand how things got to be the way they are.
For example, the big red guy in the center of the graphic up there is a mechanized man. He was someone who didn't have formal samurai training, but wanted to be able to fight effectively, so he had himself turned into this big mechanical thing. How this was done is never explained, but apparently there is still a core of a human body inside this suit, because he still has to eat, but he has greatly enhanced strength over a normal human (see the sword he carries). During times of extreme effort he'll blow a cloud of exhaust out of a pipe on the right side of his "helmet" (or head, I don't know).
The leader of the group (second from right above, in white) is an anti-hero worthy of a spaghetti western. The others are a mixture of experienced and non-experienced samurai (and one samurai wanna-be--the young guy on the far right). The blonde-haired guy wearing red is a sort of enigma who may be a good guy or may be something else.
I don't want to say anything else, lest I spoil it, but I will say that there are some heart-breaking deaths before the end.
So...the final word: I think this is a good show. I gave it four stars on Netflix--as a base of reference I gave Trigun and Bleach five stars. A good story, and worth watching if you can. You might be able to stream it from the Funimation website.
Here's the opening theme, because why not? Actually the second opening. There are two, but the first one was used for only the first few episodes, and this is a "clean" version (no credits to clutter it up). They both use the same music.