Kanna Village has been successfully defended from the bandits, but for Kanbe, this is not enough- he wants to attack the problem at its source. After instructing the other samurai to stay behind and start rebuilding the village, Kanbe undertakes a bold mission to infiltrate the capital and come face to face with the Emperor himself, but when the merchant Ukyo begins setting his own plans in motion, Kanbe’s allies realise they cannot afford to leave him to complete his task alone.
When Samurai 7 first began, the technological elements that Gonzo had added to the story felt somewhat unnecessary, but now that the task of protecting Kanna village has been completed, it finally begins to have some relevance beyond providing a wealth of mechanical opponents for our heroes to carve up. Now, the focus of the series has shifted to this world’s airborne capital, home to an emperor who has harnessed the benefits of all the technological advancements his world has to offer.
Unfortunately, this change of pace is something of a mixed blessing; whilst it certainly breathes fresh life into a series that never seemed able to last the full run of 26 episodes, it also feels a little unnatural to have sci-fi based concepts suddenly thrown to the forefront. Worse yet, by the end of the volume, it becomes clear that these elements are not going to be used to weave anything particularly intelligent- instead, everything is in place for a rather standard showdown between our heroes and a rather shallow and uninspiring villain.
One thing Samurai 7 has always had a problem with is maintaining consistent character development for its somewhat overstretched cast, and unfortunately, this volume is no exception. Whilst there are still a few character-based moments for the leads, far too much of this volume is devoted to minor characters, some of whom bring so little to the screen that they would have done better to have been written out a long time ago.
Visually, the series seems to either be running towards the end of its budget or saving it up for a spectacular finale; flashbacks are relied upon heavily in some episodes, whilst the general standard of drawing now seems rougher and more simplistic than ever before. The CG elements, such as the capital city and the airborne flotilla that surround it, are reasonably solid, however, and there are some well executed, if brief, action scenes.
Although it must be commended for expanding the scope of the series beyond the defence of a single volume, Samurai 7’s change of direction proves to come with its own set of problems that ensure that it cannot be entirely successful. Just as with the previous volume, it at least provides a measure of light entertainment, but it is clear by now that the series can never aspire to anything beyond that.