On an earth-like planet, a war has been waged. Warriors on both sides have changed their bodies cybernetically, turning into giant mecha. But after the war, there is little work for the warriors who have specialised in fighting... The 'unmodified' samurai find a place in society as bodyguards, but the large mecha have to resort to banditry in order to survive.
When villages have harvested their rice, the bandits come to steal it all away. Any resistance is met with lethal force: there are coutnless tales of villages who try to resist the bandits, or who try to hide some of their crops for them -- all those villages don't exist anymore.
One village decides to hire samurai to protect them against the bandits. Their priestess, Kirara, sets off towards the city, to hire samurai for 'all the rice they can eat'. Of course, at first things don't work out very well: the peasants are overwhelmed by life in the city, and when Kirara catches the eye of Ukyo, the good-for-nothing son of the local ruler, things start to heat up...
Through various trials and tribulations, the gang leaves the city to go on their way to the village.
They meet cybernetically enhanced engineers, who still possess the secret of electricity. They supply both the capital and the bandits -- they need the rice the bandits bring them in order to survive.
And when they get to the village, some of the other villagers aren't so hot on the idea of actually fighting. It takes quite a bit of persuasion to organise the villagers -- but when they do get organised (with a little bit of prodding here and there), they show the bandits what they are made of!
But when Ukyo grabs power at the capital, things heat up again. The bandits were in the service of the capital all along: taking rice from the villagers to fill the stockpiles of the capital, so that the scheming courtiers could ensure their own safety.
The samurai's job isn't over before the capital is taken down...
This anime is based on Akira Kurosawa's Seven Samurai, but goes on where the movie ends. I'm not sure that this is the most satisfactory conclusion of the story: after the climatic battle against the bandits, the series falters for a few episodes and has trouble picking up the pace again.
The series looks gorgeous (though there are some scenes that are obviously farmed out to another animation studio -- suddenly all the characters look different!), and the blend of cell-animation and CGI is nicely done. The animation is smooth and detailed. The fight scenes do a good job to convey the movements and the actions of the combatants.
The music is nice, but didn't jump out to me (though that doesn't mean much apparently: I said the same thing about the Gankutsuou OST, while that is pretty nice music when listened to on it's own).
Voice acting is excellent. Whether it is Rikichi's accent or Kikuchiyo's bravoura, the actors manage to really bring out the character they are portraying.
- Great re-telling of a classic story with an interesting twist;
- Characterisation is excellent;
- Animation is top notch.
- Drags along in the middle of the series.
All in all, this is a must-see series. I'll give it a 8.5.