Well, I was wondering when that “Scarlet Samurai’s” face turn was going to come. It’s hard not to telegraph that sort of twist when the character’s standing with your band of heroes in the promo art for the series. I do like how the guy’s switching of camps really just comes down to some sort of intellectual ennui. Rather than him particularly sympathizing with the samurai and their cause, he just finds them to be more stimulating company than the evil schmucks he’s work with. Or perhaps he considers the bandits to be lesser opponents - - in a very Akuma/Toguro way - - and simply wants to get close enough to one worthy opponent in sight to make sure he’ll get to kill them before anybody else does.
Whichever it is, his inclusion in the team is a welcome one, because the Samurai 7 really are exhibiting a legitimately diverse range of personalities, now. It’s incredibly rare to come across adventure fiction where you can honestly say that the characters would all handle one scenario differently according to their very distinct attitudes. The fact that there is such a range of philosophies here is part of the reason I’m vibing on the series so much.
Getting back to what I was saying earlier about predictability and unpredictability... I really appreciate how this show’s spinning farther and farther away from the plot of SEVEN SAMURAI. Don’t get me wrong, that flick’s an indisputable classic, but - - much like Nick so eloquently explicated in his last column - - the prospect of note-for-note recitation of plot in a remake is utterly boring. While early on, I suspected that I’d be able to call all the shots here, I get the sense now that all bets are off. There are going to be some familiar threads, certainly, but all this intrigue with the merchants’ co-opting (and possibly even usurping?) the bandits’ scheme is setting up something that’ll be inherently unfamiliar.
Sam and I are actually going to take Nick’s lead and do a Vice Pit sometime soon about remakes. Part of my contention is that a lot of times, correctly or incorrectly, the motivation for remakes stems from the creators’ desire to go back and make their story more cohesive when they can see it in full and aren’t having to put it together on the run. I won’t be so bold as to suggest that I like SAMURAI 7 more - - not yet, anyway - - but it does have an edge so far of being able to take what you hoped to see out of that iconic premise and do a develop it more with the benefits of space and technology. You can take or leave the mecha, maybe, but I’m liking how all of the samurai here have louder and more rounded personalities than the mostly stoic line-up of the original.