by Mizutaka Suhou; original story by Akira Kurosawa; adapted by Yoko Kubo
published by Del Rey Manga; $10.99 US
Since reading Pluto, I’ve discovered that manga adaptations can bring something new to the table. Just because the story is inspired by something else doesn’t mean it’ll be derivative or unoriginal.
Unfortunately, that’s not the case with Samurai 7, a science fiction manga based on the classic film The Seven Samurai.
The premise starts with an interstellar war wherein men with swords fight giant robots … successfully! It’s silly. It feels like the author just wanted to draw this stuff and so took someone else’s much better story to justify it. A rice-growing village will be attacked by a spaceship once the harvest comes in, so a couple of peasants come to town to recruit hungry samurai (since they can only pay in food) to protect them. They wind up with a cocky youngster, a cyborg head without a body, a leader who got most of his men killed, a big dumb guy, and others.
Surprisingly, most of the book is talking, not action. There’s one big rescue scene, in which a child is saved from a kidnapping, but I would have thought that a book about warriors and robots would have had more scenes of excitement. The book ends with the fighters just reaching the village, after another action scene in which they face down a ship. Artistically, it looks like the characters have wandered in from other, different stories.
If you already know the source material, this will likely provide nothing but a couple of cheap laughs. If you don’t, this is a pale, pointless imitation. (A complimentary copy for this review was provided by the publisher.)