Samurai 7, an Anime Adaptation of Akira Kurosawa’s Seven Samurai

Aki­ra Kuro­sawa’s Sev­en Samu­rai (1954) might be over three hours long but you nev­er feel bored. The action scenes nev­er fail to thrill and the char­ac­ters are so well devel­oped that you gen­uine­ly grieve when they die. The epic is so bril­liant­ly real­ized that it’s no sur­prise that film­mak­ers every­where took note. In The Mag­nif­i­cent Sev­en (1960), a direct remake of Sev­en Samu­rai, Hol­ly­wood swapped out katanas for six-shoot­ers and recast the movie as a West­ern. Oth­er films from The Guns of Navar­ro to the Bol­ly­wood block­buster Sholay to even Pixar’s A Bug’s Life have drawn heav­i­ly from Kurosawa’s mas­ter­piece.

Add to this list Toshi­fu­mi Tak­iza­wa’s 26-episode ani­mat­ed TV series Samu­rai 7. The set up is iden­ti­cal to the orig­i­nal — mas­ter­less samu­rais are hired to pro­tect a vil­lage from a ruth­less gang of ban­dits — and many of the char­ac­ters in the ani­mat­ed series have the same names as char­ac­ters in the orig­i­nal film. But the total run­ning time of the TV show is three times longer than that of Kurosawa’s film, so Tak­iza­wa took a few lib­er­ties.

The show’s open­ing scene, for instance, fea­tures a mas­sive inter­stel­lar bat­tle involv­ing lasers and space­ships. There’s a rust­ing, ele­phan­tine mega­lopo­lis straight out of Blade Run­ner. And also there are robots. The ban­dits, as it turns out, are more metal­lic than human, and Kikuchiyo, who was played bril­liant­ly as a drunk­en wild man by Toshi­ro Mifu­ne, is in this iter­a­tion a grumpy, poor­ly-con­struct­ed cyborg who wields a chain­saw-like sword. The series even has Kirara, a cow-eyed teenaged priest­ess who sports a midriff-bar­ing kimono.

Either the sto­ry ele­ments above sound com­plete­ly pre­pos­ter­ous or total­ly awe­some. If you’re in the for­mer cat­e­go­ry, you can watch the trail­er for Kurosawa’s film below. If you’re in the lat­ter cat­e­go­ry – and the show is a lot of fun – then you can watch episode 1 above, and catch the rest on Youtube.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Aki­ra Kurosawa’s List of His 100 Favorite Movies

How Aki­ra Kuro­sawa Used Move­ment to Tell His Sto­ries: A Video Essay

Aki­ra Kuro­sawa & Fran­cis Ford Cop­po­la Star in Japan­ese Whisky Com­mer­cials (1980)

Jonathan Crow is a Los Ange­les-based writer and film­mak­er whose work has appeared in Yahoo!, The Hol­ly­wood Reporter, and oth­er pub­li­ca­tions. You can fol­low him at @jonccrow. And check out his blog Veep­to­pus, fea­tur­ing lots of pic­tures of vice pres­i­dents with octo­pus­es on their heads.  The Veep­to­pus store is here.

by | Permalink | Comments (0) |

Sup­port Open Cul­ture

We’re hop­ing to rely on our loy­al read­ers rather than errat­ic ads. To sup­port Open Cul­ture’s edu­ca­tion­al mis­sion, please con­sid­er mak­ing a dona­tion. We accept Pay­Pal, Ven­mo (@openculture), Patre­on and Cryp­to! Please find all options here. We thank you!

Leave a Reply

Open Culture was founded by Dan Colman.