Monday, May 22, 2017

Top 10 Fictional Heptads

See the previous lists in the series:

I will be closing this series of lists on small-sized ensembles with one for heptads or septets – i.e. seven-member teams.

Honorable Mentions: The League of Evil Exes (Scott Pilgrim vs. the World), The Humunculi (Full Metal Alchemist Brotherhood), The Ant Hill Mob (Wacky Races, The Perils of Penelope Pitstop), The Shichibukai (One Piece)

In Yu Yu Hakusho a.k.a. Ghost Fighter, ex-Spirit Detective Shinobu Sensui formed the Sensui Seven to help him in his vision of letting the human world be overrun with demons.  Understandably, current Spirit Detective Yusuke and the rest of Team Urameshi set off to stop them.

Aside from Sensui a.k.a. Dark Angel, the team is made up of Itsuki a.k.a. Gatekeeper, who has dimensional powers; Sadao Makihara a.k.a. Gourmet, who devour others to gain their powers; Tsukihito Amanuma a.k.a. Gamemaster, who can bring video games to life; Kaname Hagiri a.k.a. Sniper, who can make projectiles out of erasers, pebbles, knives, and other objects; Kiyoshi Mitarai a.k.a. Seaman, who can summon water monsters, and later switches sides, joining Yusuke’s group; and Minoru Kamiya a.k.a., who can manipulate biological chemistries.

Probably the most popular “seven” in fiction.  My favorite version is, of course, from Disney’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs – the ones whose names reflect their personalities and who enthusiastically sing and whistle “Heigh Ho” while at work.  Adorable.

The eponymous characters of the anime The Seven Deadly Sins were the most powerful order of Holy Knights in the Kingdom of Liones.  They disbanded after being accused of overthrowing the kingdom, but have soon begun reuniting ten years later to aid the young princess Elizabeth in liberating the kingdom from the oppressive rule of the Holy Knights, and to stop an evil plot that would release powerful ancient demons into the world.

Fushigi Yuugi is an anime about a junior high school student named Miaka who discovers a mysterious book and gets magically sucked into its world.  There, she learns that she is the Priestess of the celestial god Suzaku, and she must gather its seven Celestial Warriors – the martial artist Tamahome, the swordsman emperor Hotohori, the super-strong cross-dresser Nuriko, the magician monk Chichiri (my personal favorite), the flame-casting bandit Tasuki, the healer Mitsukake, and the boy genius Chiriko.

The Authority is a superhero team composed of anti-heroes ready to do whatever it takes – even if it involves killing or breaking an ethical standard – in order to save the day.  The seven fascinating founding members of the team are:
-- Team leader Jenny Sparks.  “The Spirit of the Twentieth Century.”  She has the ability control electricity as well as transform into it.  She was born at the dawn of the century, stopped aging at 19 years old, and would die once the century ended.  As a Century Baby, her purpose was to influence the key events of the century, which led her to interact with various historical figures through the years.
-- Apollo.  As a Superman-analogue, he absorbs solar energy and possesses powers like super-strength, super-speed, invulnerability, flight, and heat vision.
-- Midnighter.  A Batman-analogue.  However, unlike Batman, he has superpowers, including moderate superhuman strength, speed, and endurance, and a healing factor.  He also can predict or simulate a battle before it unfolds, and thus, he is able to calculate and orchestrate the outcome he prefers.  Another interesting characteristic of his is a secondary, auxiliary heart.
-- Jack Hawksmoor.  As the “God of Cities”, he’s nourished by urban pollution and he can’t survive outside of urban environments for long.  His wide range of powers are defined by whatever city he’s in, and is psychically linked to it.  His power is proportionate to the population and development of that city, and he gets weaker when it gets damaged.  He can also travel between cities and communicate to embodiments of them, as if they are conscious beings.
-- The Doctor.  A shaman that has the collective, accumulated powers of all the shamans that came before him.
-- The Engineer.  A scientist who replaced her blood with nanotechnology, making her a techno-organic creature that can create whatever she imagines.
-- Swift.  A Hawkgirl-analogue.

The protagonists of the fantasy horror novel It by Stephen King are seven kids – six boys and one girl – who band together to form the “Losers’ Club.”  They are brought together by two common things about themselves: 1.) They are all social misfits; and 2.) they have had separate encounters with “It”, a monster that either takes the form of their greatest fears or as “Pennywise”, a mysterious, child-abducting, murderous clown.

What makes this ensemble so awesome is that they – despite being young, weak, and terrified – are able to take on an extremely powerful ancient evil with just the strength of their friendship.  Yep, this might be a cliché, but the Losers’ Club has one of the most intimate (if you have read the book, you would know the extent of their “intimacy”), tight-knit friendships in fiction.  The novel has this striking quote about their friendship: “Maybe there aren't any such things as good or bad friends – maybe there are just friends, people who stand by you when you're hurt and who help you feel not so lonely.  Maybe they're always worth being scared for, and hoping for, and living for.  Maybe worth dying for, too, if that's what has to be.  No good friends.  No bad friends.  Only people you want, need to be with; people who build their houses in your heart.”

Can’t wait for the It movie.

The classic Japanese film Seven Samurai tells the story of seven ronin who are hired by a farming village to fight off an upcoming horde of bandits.  It’s a terrific tale featuring a cool ensemble concept.  All of which are wonderfully duplicated in… 

The Magnificent Seven is an American remake of Seven Samurai.  The plot is basically the same; but instead of samurai, it has gunslingers, and instead of being set during the Sengoku Period, it’s set during the Wild West.  The transposition is seamless.
The original 1960 movie is better, but the 2016 remake’s characters are more colorful, well-realized, and interesting.  Still, I’ll let the two versions share this spot.

The Vongola Famiglia has always been the most powerful Mafia Famiglia in the world.  But next in line for the position of Vongola Boss, Tsuna Sawada, is reluctant of taking the title.  Still, whether he likes it or not, his determined “tutor”, Reborn, has been continually training and equipping him for the role, including assembling a formidable “inner circle” of Guardians for him, which are made up of friends and former foes – the explosives expert and aspiring right-hand man Hayato Gokudera; the baseball-loving swordsman Takeshi Yamamoto; the boxer Ryohei Sasagawa; the stoic, battle-hungry Kyoya Hibari, the strongest Guardian; the toddler Lambo, who summons his future self to fight in his stead; and the illusionist Mukoro Rokudo, who has to possess his disciple Chrome Dokuro’s body whenever his services are required since he’s all locked up in the Vendicare Prison.

For me, the best incarnation of the Justice League in all medium – comics, film, TV – is the DC Animated Universe (a.k.a. Timmverse) version, as shown in the early 2000’s Justice League.  Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, Martian Manhunter, the Flash (Wally West), Green Lantern (John Stewart), and Hawkgirl proved to be a superb, definitive Justice League roster.  Though I enjoyed that the team expanded into an army in Justice League Unlimited – allowing more DC superheroes to be featured and explored in animated form – I actually enjoyed the dynamic of the original seven more.

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