Monday, April 06, 2009

Samurai 7, vol. 1

Original Story by Akira Kurosawa and Manga by Mizutaka Suhou
Published in the US by Del Rey

Slugline: A classic story written down for the shonen crowd

In the far future, after a war that raged across the solar system, the samurai that helped end it are left without a purpose with some having been reduced to pillaging to survive. One village, afraid of what will happen when the bandits return when the crops are ready, decides to hire samurai to defend them. Katsushiro is a young man pretending to be a samurai, equipped with a powerful sword, and he decides to help when he runs across the villagers' representatives that are recruiting the samurai. Katsushiro is eventually revealed as being an impostor, but manages to convince six samurai to join with him to defend the village. On the way to the village they meet and defeat an group of the bandits, but not before the bandits manage to send word to their leader that the village is getting samurai defenders. The battle also reveals aspects of the various motivations and personalities that are driving the samurai to help defend this village.

Samurai 7 is quite upfront of it's inspiration, Akira Kurosawa's famous movie The Seven Samurai, though this version of the story is set in a science fiction future. But the biggest changes to the story are not because of the change of setting but are the result of a radical shift in the tone of the story. The original version had a dark tone, with samurai hired because they are hungry and the fear of the villagers of the samurai that they have to rely on being very palatable. In comparison, what we have here is a tone that would not be out of place for any shonen story, in that they are looking for true samurai who have brave and kind hearts. That is just one example of tone shift that I think does no credit for the manga, and I think misses the point of adapting The Seven Samurai. That being said, after the first 2/3 of the manga being all touchy-feely, they managed to make up for it by blowing stuff up pretty. For many sins can be forgiven for good action scenes. But if you are looking for something that has the same emotional impact and resonance as the original movie The Seven Samurai, it hasn't made it's presence known here in this manga.

Samurai 7, vol. 1 is also available from Right Stuf, Intl., an online retailer specializing in anime and manga


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