First, we saw Wind, a breath of heart (which makes you wonder just who thinks up all these titles). It starts off with a young boy and girl near the seaside, promising they'll meet again later (seems like the girl is moving away). The boy gives her his harmonica and promises to marry her when they are grown up... Then Makoto, the main character wakes up -- he is late for school!
OK, so it's like you expect. Having just seen Da Capo, this seemed all a big deja-vu for us. However, there are some refreshing details: Makoto still remembers the promise, he meets the girl again in the first episode, and he doesn't seem to have an unhealthy fixation on his younger sister.
We also checked out the second episode, and it continues quite normally. Comic relief is provided by Makoto's classmate, the loud-mouthed Tsutomu -- voice acting is top notch and the character designs are attractive. Animation is so-so, but the mixing of the CGI backgrounds with the cell-animation is very ugly.
We are cautiously positive about this one -- though I heard that the OVA is much, much better. I'll have to look for that one, then.
Next was Samurai 7. A farming village is threatened by roving gangs of bandit-samurai, who take their rice each year after the harvest. The peasants are left to struggle, with the threat of brutal retaliation from the bandits hanging over their heads if they don't pay their tribute. But one day, the people of a village decide that enough is enough -- they send their young priestess out to hire hungry samurai to protect their village against the bandits.
Sound familiar? It should -- it's the plot of Kurosawa Akira's movie "The Seven Samurai". However, this is not a straight anime-adaptation of the landmark movie. The samurai pilot steam-powered mecha, you see... There are huge battles fought out in the sky, and the city the priestess visits in search of her samurai is a sprawling Steampunk metropolis.
Beautiful designs, beautiful animation. You can see that the animators treat their subject with care and attention, and have the budget to do so. Definately a must-see!