Written By: Artur Galvao
*Warning* Biased opinions will be found in this review because of nostalgic reasons.
Remember when I said that as kid I only watched anime like DBZ, Yu-Gi-Oh!, and Pokémon. Well, there is another show I watched profusely and the was Saint Seiya. Over the years, I’ve noticed that Saint Seiya does not get the recognition nor the audience it desires. The first episode aired in October 11, 1986 and the show exploded in Japan and Latin America (mainly in Brazil) but struggled to find any footing in North America. For example, only 64 episodes out of 114 (or 73 if you only want to count the Sanctuary episodes) were dubbed in English. The anime is divided into arcs, similarly to Kurumada’s original manga. The first is the “Sanctuary arc”, which starts on episode 1 and ends on episode 73, followed by the “Asgard arc” (episodes 74–99). The Asgard storyline did not exist in the manga and was created specifically for the anime. The third arc, the “Poseidon arc” (episodes 100–114), concluded the anime, leaving the final part of the manga without an animated adaptation. I was disappointed that they could not even finish the arc that they were currently in. Now, perhaps I can explain the reason but it requires a little bit of a history lesson into Anime’s transition to the United States.
One of the biggest anime successes was DBZ, mainly due to the rise of accessible internet in the house hold and its emphasis in high speed marshal arts action. Knowing the latter could explain that, by the time the show got past the gatekeepers of the American market, it was simply too old. The original TV series ran in Japan from 1986 to 1989. While TV broadcasters in other markets picked it up and adapted it to enormous success, American interests never took the bait. Perhaps they considered it too bloody, or too visually out-there. Either way I’m done discussing the injustices that fell upon this show in the west. Lastly, this review not involve any of the other Saint Seiya sequel or spin-off, just the original.
Since I know that many people that might be reading this review that haven’t even heard of the show I’ll keep the synopsis brief and non-spoiler. Saint Seiya deals with five mystical warriors called the “Saints” (or “Knights” in some adaptations) who fight wearing sacred armors named “Cloths,” the designs of which derive from the various constellations the characters have adopted as their destined guardian symbols, and empowered by a mystical energy called “Cosmo.” The Saints have sworn to defend the reincarnation of the Greek goddess Athena in her battle against other Olympian gods who want to dominate Earth. The story feels epic and grandiose like other Shounen Anime but once you become engrossed in the narrative, you realize that the plot is more personal and character driven. Although, the main story is overarching, every character has their personal motivations for being present in the narrative. This is important because the characters feel real and genuine, not just constructed by writers established to service the plot.
Now for the characters, this show contains a lot of them and I realistically cannot go through all of them but I will analyze the main character and my personal favorite. First the protagonist, Pegasus Seiya or simply known as just Seiya. He is one of the eighty-eight Saints of Athena and serves loyally at her side. Seiya draws his superhuman powers from Cosmo, the energy of the Big Bang that lingers inside each being and which connects a Saint to his constellation and Cloth. At the start of the series, Seiya is thirteen years old. His main objective is to find his older sister Seika, who disappeared when he was sent to Greece. As Seiya starts fighting alongside the other Bronze Saints, albeit reluctantly at first, his motivations shift to the protection of Athena. Seiya tends to be the most immature of the Saints, as he frequently jokes and is unconcerned about the consequences of his actions. He brings the levity to a very serious series which, at times, is in desperate need of humor.
Now, onto my favourite character in the show, Dragon Shiryū. Out of all five main characters, Shiryū is known as the calmest and most collected. His sheer physical strength is the greatest of the Bronze Saints, except for Phoenix Ikki. This is reflected in his ability to win numerous battles without his Dragon Cloth. Despite his personality, one of the main reasons I enjoy his chanter is his design (picture above). It is a sleek and overall cool design with a vibrant green colour to top it all. Also, that might be a borderline better explanation than the one I had when I was a kid which was; my favorite is green and his cloth is green, thus he is my favorite character.
The animation might be old but it still holds up. However, the show would benefit from what I like to call the “brotherhood” effect. This is where they reboot the series, but follow the source materiel more closely with better animation. One thing about the animation that can get nerve-racking is that a character will pose then finally do a flashy attack while standing in place, all with the same stock animation seen in each episode. This can get tiresome and cheesy but I enjoy the nostalgic factor of the show and I find myself saying some of the moves out loud alongside the characters. I must say that the animation for the special moves are well drawn. However, the spectacle of the show is the “Cloths” which are visually astounding to look at. From a pure aesthetic perspective, I adore Phoenix Ikki’s, Andromeda Shun’s and Cygnus Hyoga’s designs. All look magnificent and stand out from the rest in the show.
As for the music, holy shit it’s beautiful to listen to. From the opening theme to the end of the episode you will be humming the majority of the tracks. The opening of the show is defiantly in my Top 5 openings of all time for two reasons. The first begin nostalgic reasons and the second being that at the end of each episode, I would want to start anew just because I want to re-listen to the opening (I’ll link the opening below).
Artur’s Rating – 7.9/10