Following the Kurosawa family’s failed legal challenge to both block the movie’s release and then to have the title forcibly changed, it looks like we will be seeing a new “adaption” of the classic Japanese-Western “Seven Samurai” coming to the screen soon. The embattled Tochigi-based Studio Waisetsu has staked its future on the success of the movie.
Shooting for the film, featuring seven schoolgirls in the titular roles, was wrapped up in rural Tottori on the weekend. And, whilst the legal side of proceedings (don’t call it a “new version” or “remake” – the legally acceptable word is “adaption”) was almost a movie in itself, the location work went very smoothly.
With the controversy surrounding the project, Director Innou Hidai was eager for the opportunity to set the record straight. “What’s the problem? They are seven in number and they are trained in the noble art of sword fighting,” he explained. “If people are going to focus on trivial things like gender and wardrobe, then what chance does a filmmaker have?
“Ayase Haruka starred in a version of Zatoichi. Where were the naysayers then? Sure, the concept of a timeslip appearing is novel, and the girls just happening to be all carrying the same kind of beverage and also the same kind of snacks could be considered unlikely, but there are always Buy 6 – Get 1 Free specials going around. Convenience stores purposely place a discounted snack at the front of a store. So, it isn’t impossible.”
Veteran movie critic Oppai Yuganda expressed his disgust at the undisguised cash-grab. “It looks like a product placement pile-on. The girls are carrying a plethora of bathroom products. They’ve got hair gel, lipstick, foundation, deodorant, and frangers. There’s always a product of some sort in the frame, so the audience are treated as consumers rather than patrons throughout the movie. Any thoughts that this is a work of art, to be savored and admired, evaporate quickly.
“Japanese film makers need to ask themselves if they are making film as art, or just a 90 minute advertisement. While I’ll always applaud local cinematic productions, more often than not I find myself merely giving a token golf clap. We all know there’s a big bucket of federal arts cash for local production, and there is even more money handed out if you put the right products in the stars’ hands. It’s just sad when the cash is always allocated to friends, or friends of friends. Personally, I worry when porn production quality is surpassing that of supposedly serious drama.”
Another critic, or film reviewer as he requested that we call him, Mogura Tebayai, was scathing, “The bandits aren’t bad, are they? Oh, they’ve got moustaches and poor personal hygiene. They chew and spit tobacco. They use foul language. But, they have seven hot teenage girls whom they take prisoner, yet no harm comes to these girls at all. Tokyo offices and subway trains are actually more dangerous places for young women.”
Despite the one star review, Tebayai admitted to investing his life’s savings in the film. “This kind of stuff is a license to print money. Don’t look at the storyline. Look at the visual content in its most simple form. You’ve got seven 18-year-old babes with swords running around in cute uniforms. The weaboos around the world are going to go nuts for this. Just the income from DVD sales in France ought to be enough to pay off my house.”