Saint Seiya returns with a new series that takes us back to the 18th century.
What They Say:
The Crusades. The battles that take place every 200 or so years between the Goddess Athena and Hades, the Lord of the Underworld. In an 18th century European country town, just as the Crusade is dawning, live Tenma and Alone. They have completely different personalities but are the best of friends. One day, Alone meets a woman named Pandora. From that day, the cogs of fate are set into motion.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Saint Seiya hasn't had a whole lot of luck in the US before as we saw the original series released by ADV Films through a sublicense from DiC Entertainment, which put a badly edited and dubbed version out for TV broadcast. ADV Films released both the dual language uncut vesion as well as the dub only version, but thankfully I only saw the bilingual release. It wasn't an easy series to get into at first as it took quite a few episodes before it finally started to come together for me and turned into a really engaging and fun show to watch. Sadly, just as it was really reaching a strong point, the license didn't go any further and the whole thing wasn't profitable enough to continue on with and we've never seen any more of the original. And now Crunchyroll steps into the scene with the special Lost Canvas OVA series by hitting up the first thirteen episodes just before starting up the new ones.
Having missed a significant chunk of what's gone on before, I'm leaping into this pretty much with a clean slate at this point like many people likely are. The show takes us back to the 18th century where we're introduced to the characters of Tenma and Alone, two young men living in Europe who find themselves becoming fast friends after an incident with some ruffians. Unsurprisingly, the two are pretty different in personalities but that's how some of the best friendships come about. Seeing the bond that's forged between the two is a relatively quick thing at the start as the show wants to move on to the larger world as well, as it shifts to focusing on Alone as he's doing his best to paint truly beautiful images for the church and is sent off to the mountain nearby to climb it in order to find the true colors. There's an interesting bit of dialogue about that with one of his elders as it says a lot about perceptions.
This is all downhill for Alone though as he's happily painting there amongst the ruins that exist only to find a woman striding in who calls herself Pandora. The meeting is a fated one as she talks about how he has the purest soul in the world and that that is exactly what's needed for her king to use in order to return to the world. It's a dark and powerful sequence from the moment she walks onto the screen and serves as the catalyst that changes Alone. The event doesn't go unnoticed though as Tenma, off in the countryside, senses that something has happened and is now aware that a change has occurred. The painting of their bonding in that way is definitely welcome since it reinforces just how closely the two are tied.
The revival of Hades certainly isn't something that will go unnoticed and even more so since there is a Gold Saint in the area, a man who can utilize the special golden armor that gives him more than a fighting chance against those that serve Hades. As he gets closer to where Alone is, we see the changes in Alone becoming far more pronounced. There's a new edge of confidence to him but also some real issues, such as when his necklace falls off from him and someone else tries to touch it, causing him to practically bite their head off. It turns into a strain for the relationship between the two young men since Tenma has viewed his job as protecting Alone and he can feel that something has definitely changed in him, but circumstances keep him from really following through on it.
While we get a good bit on Alone's transformation and role, we do get a very good sequence for Tenma a well as he tries to break down the damn that has formed that is threatening the town. With the Gold Saint watching on, he sees just what it is that makes the kid so special and it's a great moment where you see the kind of bravery that Tenma has but the folly that comes with it as well. Even more importantly, I think it shows off the Gold Saint in a very good light while highlighting the kinds of people he's drawn to. Both he and Tenma have a great moment here visually and with the atmosphere overall. Similar to the arrival of Pandora for Alone, he's the catalyst for Tenma that talks to him about becoming a Saint for Athena.
Saint Seiya: Lost Canvas does a very solid job of introducing the two main characters of the series. We see the bond they share as young men but also the very different paths their lives will take. It harkens back to anime of old, both in style and pacing, but with the right dashes of modern animation and storytelling to help it. I loved that it had its big moments but it had a much larger share of the smaller moments, the tension and threatening feeling of dark clouds coming. It wasn't trying to be over the top but it has a low level of malice that's palpable which will define it as the realities come out. Shifting the story back to the 18th century helps to make the show one you can watch without having seen anything from before, but it also offers plenty to those who have to see events from a different angle that adds to the overall narrative. I'm excited to see where it will all go.
Japanese 2.0 Language, English Subtitles
Sony KDS-R70XBR2 70" LCoS 1080P HDTV, Dell 10.1 Netbook via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.