Saint Seiya Vol. #01 (also w/box) (of 12) (Mania.com)
Review Date: Tuesday, October 14, 2003
Release Date: Tuesday, October 21, 2003
What They Say
The cosmos is bound together by an incomprehensible web of strength, power and-some would even say-magic. And only by a select few may these forces be harnessed! Seiya is a mortal from Japan who has been trained and has excelled. The time has now come for him to test his skills in battle and to claim the sacred cloth: cloth that will change the order of the universe; armor that will earn Seiya a place in the cosmos; cloth that will establish his rank among the Saints. Through a series of tournaments and trials, Seiya must not only defeat some of the most powerful fighters ever to set foot in the ring, but he must also defeat the demons within himself... Long live the Saints! Long live Saint Seiya!
The collector's edition includes the DVD and custom series art box which holds the first five volumes of the series.
With over one hundred and fourteen episodes from its original run in 1986, Saint Seiya is a show that even today continues to produce new material.
For our primary viewing session, we listened to this show in its original language of Japanese. With it being such an older show, we weren’t surprised to get an effectively mono mix through the stereo encoding it received. Just about every feels center channel based and overall it sounds decent. The dialogue suffers from a bit of muffling to it and some of the higher end sounds get a touch scratchy at times, but it’s nothing that really screams out badly. It’s simply a product of its time.
Originally airing back in 1986, the transfer for Saint Seiya here comes across quite well. There’s a fair bit of grain throughout the episodes but it’s mostly noticeable during the darker sequences or when there is a lot of dark blue on the screen. Colors are varied and look good but obviously lack the vividness from more recent shows. The transfer is thankfully free of problems like cross coloration and aliasing, but the tradeoff comes in the form of some nicks and other bits of dirt on the print.
With the first volume, there is definitely the old school feel to the cover artwork. With a shot of Seiya in his Saint armor, he’s set against the backdrop of the galaxy. The show uses the new logo and nicely lists both the episode numbers and the disc volume. The back cover has a few shots from the show itself and some backdrop artwork to fill things out a bit. The summary provides a look at the premise of the show, which is almost useful to read prior to watching the first episode. Episode numbers and titles are listed and the usual array of production information. The box of technical information is squished down a bit here to fit in but is still quite useful. The insert replicates the front cover while lacking the corporate logos and the reverse side has the episode numbers and titles.
With the first volume, a disc + box variation was also offered. The box is of the soft variety, similar to the original Evangelion Perfect Collection box set and is set to hold the first four volumes, which I’ll presume contains the initial arc storyline. The box itself has some good artwork to it, with one of the side panels showing off most of the Saint’s set against their emblem while the other has a really nice shot of the Pegasus fighting against the dragon in white, also set against the emblem. The spine uses the character artwork from the first volume’s DVD cover.
The menu layout is strikingly similar to the cover, which means we get another shot of Seiya in his Saint armor while the opening song plays along. Selections are lined along the bottom, though there isn’t any individual scene selection, just individual episodes. Access times are nice and fast and the menus load quickly.
The included extras are minimal though not entirely unexpected again considering the age. Since there is no textless version of the opening sequence available, we get the original Japanese version here without any of the English credits. There’s also a nice multi-page segment that deals with some of the mythology that the show dabbles in, such as talking about the Pegasus, dragon and others.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Saint Seiya is one of those long time shows that fans have asked for years to be picked up but always seemed to be in the category of “will never happen” for a variety of issues. With its age and the number of episodes, the chances always felt less than slim for it. But with the change in attitudes over the past few years and the ability to get it on the air, Saint Seiya has finally made it into English.
And not just one form either. For the purposes of dealing with two distinct markets, ADV and DiC worked to create an uncut dub and a TV broadcast version so that each market can have its needs met. The TV broadcast version also gets to come to home video under the title of Knights of the Zodiac, but the reviews on this site will focus pretty much just on the uncut bilingual Saint Seiya releases. Basically, I see the Knights of the Zodiac version as a good way for people to check out the show before going for the real goods.
My previous experience with Saint Seiya is pretty much zero, having not seen any character designs or plot information outside of the single trailer on another disc. The most I had known about it was that it’s hugely popular in the Spanish speaking markets and there’s close to a million websites devoted to it. With this first volume, I’ve found that it introduces the tournament concept with a Greek flavored setting. And we all know how much I love tournament shows.
The series focuses around a young man named Seiya. We’re introduced to him as he fights a hand to hand battle with a monstrously sized opponent in the ruins of some Greek landscape. Though Japanese born, he’s spent the past six years here undergoing training to be able to fight and be the best there is there. His goal is to attain victory through the competition that will allow him to lay claim to the Sacred Cloth. Victory will grant him the massive case that it’s enclosed in and grant him the title of Saint, making him one of the more powerful men in the world.
As we learn at the beginning, when times of evil are upon the world of man, those from the past known as Saints will resurface in new forms and will bring justice of sorts to the world. Taking place in “present” day, we see that the world is indeed full of evil again and the Saints have been resurfacing for some time. In fact, Seiya is the last one apparently, as all the rest have moved on to where the Galactic Wars are taking place. This is a massive tournament set up by a goddess like woman named Saori. The ring is set with all the containers of the various sacred cloths from all the Saints who have arrived. Each of the fighters involved are there to attain the gold container that has the ultimate sacred cloth.
When Seiya actually gets here, he proves to be disinterested in the entire tournament concept, regardless of how they try to sell him on it. His main goal, now that he’s got some serious power on his side, is to search for his missing sister. Saori tries to use the foundations powerful networks as a tool he can use to find her instead of simply wandering the world, but even then he rebuffs her and heads off after an encounter with one of the other fighters.
It’s only when he’s confronted by a young woman he knows from Japan, one that obviously has a huge crush on him, that he realizes Saori is his best bet in trying to find his sister by using the networks they own. Reluctantly, he enters into the tournament and eyes the golden container and the sacred cloth inside. From there, his battles with the other Saints begins, as he and the others show off their various powers and abilities. For the remaining four episodes here, it pretty much follows the standards of a tournament anime series.
One of the more interesting aspects to the series as opposed to a number of other more current tournament shows is that they (at least so far) aren’t dealing with demons or other twisted creatures to fight in the tournament, but rather other Saints. With all the Greek styled mythology around it, there’s an intriguing aura to the design and the battles. The downside is that we get some of the usual repetitive moments when the various characters perform their special moves and we see their representative form behind them. It doesn’t take long before you get tired of seeing the Pegasus appear behind Seiya.
With the older materials being used here and the lack of textless versions, ADV does the end credits in the way I wish they’d do them for all their shows. The end credits play with the Japanese text and subtitled lyrics, the next episode preview plays and then a black screen comes up and the translated credits roll by. If I could have this on all releases I’d be happy beyond words. With each of those sections in their own chapter, it’s set up pretty much in my dream mode.
With the first five episodes of the series and only one hundred and nine more to go, I find myself mildly interested in seeing where it goes. I’m hoping it’s not all tournament style and that things move on from there, but the way the show opens is so choppy and awkward that it’s difficult to tell what else there might be to the show. I definitely like the Greek aspect to it and hope that it gets explored more as it progresses and the characters get a chance to grow.
Japanese Language,English Language,English Subtitles,Original Opening,Mythology Text
Panasonic PT50LC13 50" LCD RP HDTV, Panasonic RP-82 Progressive Scan codefree DVD player, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Monster component cable and Sony speakers.
Mania Grade: C+
Audio Rating: B
Video Rating: B-
Packaging Rating: B
Menus Rating: B
Extras Rating: B
Age Rating: 15 & Up
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: ADV Films
Running time: 125
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Saint Seiya