Saint Seiya Vol. #02 (of 12) (Mania.com)
Review Date: Saturday, December 27, 2003
Release Date: Tuesday, December 02, 2003
What They Say
The battle of the Saints continues. Saint Seiya and Saint Shiryu are locked in an epic struggle that shall test both their strength and will to survive. One of the two will die - the other will not be so lucky.
Unicorn and Andromeda are slated to go head-to-head in the next battle. It will pit Saint Jabu's fierce competitiveness against the miraculous wonders of Saint Shun's Nebula Chain.
But, looming in the dark corners of the arena, a long lost figure waits for his moment to return. Not a soul in the audience or a Saint in the ring will be safe from his pledge of vengeance.
The series continues to get into its groove with a tease of more tournament episodes and then abruptly shifts gears into a larger story arc.
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.
Going with a similar theme for this volume to past ones, Shiryu gets the cover with his full armor set on and looking striking 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.
The menu layout is strikingly similar to the cover, which means we get another shot of Shiryu 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.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
After the introductory episodes of Saint Seiya, I was afraid of getting into another series of length that looked to be heavy on the tournament aspect of things. While there are some shows that I like with that theme to it, they are a very small percentage of what’s actually out there. From what I had heard after the first volume, the tournament aspect is actually a very small part of things and to, of course, give it time.
With the second set of five episodes, bringing us to ten out of the one hundred and fourteen made, it does shift out of the tournament mode rather abruptly and sets about to a new storyline while also providing some very useful bits of back story to help flesh out the why of things here. While I don’t expect the first couple of episodes of a series to give away all or even any of its secrets, I don’t like it when some of the basics you need to understand the worldview aren’t presented. This volume corrects a lot of that.
While starting off with Seiya recovering in the hospital from his match with Shiryu and a few of the kids with him, the focus shifts back to the tournament very quickly as we get to see two Saints line up to find in the second round. Andromeda and Unicorn, aka Shun and Abu, set into the ring with the goal of becoming the winner as each desires the Gold Cloth for their own reasons. The fight is rather violent and filled with bloody moments as Jabu gets the crap kicked out of him, but there’s some other element that’s causing problems with the match. Shun’s chains continue to pull in their own direction to indicate something evil this way comes.
The fight ends up being interrupted eventually as out of one of the Cloth containers rises Phoenix, better known to the group as Ikki. He’s the last of the ten Saints to return and he has come back with a vengeance, intent upon inflicting pain and death upon all of them while retrieving the Gold Cloth for himself. His arrival brings plenty of chaos to the proceedings, not only because of the disruption to the fight but the revelation (to the viewer and audience at least) that Phoenix aka Ikki is actually Shun’s older brother. Ikki even insists that Shun will be the first to die as he berates him for still being weak.
Ikki’s arrival provides the perfect opportunity to provide some flashback material, which means we go back six years in time and see the training that all the kids are getting in order to become proper Saints and participate in the Galactic Wars. This is an important segment since it has each of them randomly being given locations to go to where they will train for the next six years. Where it becomes important is that we see how Ikki looks out for the weaker Shun so much that he takes Shun’s place in going to the Queen Death Island since Shun would never survive.
Ikki’s time training there has obviously changed him. As he makes his way through the tournament grounds, he causes the Gold Cloth container to open and reveal its prize, Taking the golden armor with him as his Black Saints and the other warriors he’s brought with him from the Island obstruct the other Saints, they break out of the grounds and the course of the story shifts focus now. With several Saints still not fully here, those able to such as Seiya, Shun and the others, chase after their foes and try to reclaim as much of the armor as possible.
Moving away from the tournament, we start to see more of a team focus as the Saints that try to track down the armor pieces work together against their foes, including what looks to be their mirror twins in the form of the Big Four of the Black Saints. Ikki is set to bring about his absolute rule for both the heavens and the earth and his requirement for that is at least the prize of the Gold Cloth. With only part of that in his hands now, the stage is set for some fierce battles between the two sides, particularly as more Saints move into the picture and the changes in people like Saori start to take place, bringing more a sense of camaraderie into the group.
The change in direction is definitely a good one, particularly after the bland taste left by the first volume mixed in with the strangeness of the Greek mythology tied to the mysterious Galactic Wars tournament and the way it all seemed so normal to people but little was really explained. Much is still a mystery, but the shift is a positive thing and the characters are gaining something of a personality – even Seiya is becoming likable and not just an arrogant pup stereotype.
While the first volume still hasn’t won me over, this set of episodes has provided more promise and interest in the series than the first five by a sizeable margin. While I still expect plenty of repetitive animation shots and the corny lines for fight sequences, the Black Saints and the plans of Ikki should provide for an engaging story arc to bring the other characters around and up to an interesting level.
Japanese 2.0 Language,English 2.0 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 Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.
Mania Grade: B-
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