Saint Seiya Vol. #05 (also w/artbox) (of 12) (Mania.com)

By:Chris Beveridge
Review Date: Saturday, April 24, 2004
Release Date: Tuesday, April 06, 2004



What They Say
The battle for the fate of the cosmos has begun! The sinister Ares has overthrown his brother and appointed himself Pope of Sanctuary. Using his evil mind-control powers, Ares has built a legion of vile assassins including several Silver Saints. All have orders?not only must they capture the Golden Cloth, but they also have to kill Seiya and the rest of the Bronze Saints. It's time to take the battle to the bad guys. The Bronze Saints attack! But not for long. The Silver Saints are strong and overpower our heroes, putting both the boys and the safety of the world in grave danger. Shina hunts down Seiya, Soari gets kidnapped and two of the Bronze Saints will not be able to continue. Hampered with injury, aching with loss and perilously undermanned, the Bronze Saints will surely fail if they do not get some help. And quickly, at that.

The Review!
The stakes rise up in these episodes and the battles get tougher as the opponents from higher classes begin to arrive and there's a fair number of revelations along the way as well.

Audio:
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.

Video:
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.

Packaging:
Going with a similar theme for this volume to past ones, one of the Silver Saints gets the main cover this time and he gets a very expansive galaxy shot for his background. 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.

Menu:
The menu layout is strikingly similar to the cover, which means we get another shot of Silver Saint 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.

Extras:
The included extras are minimal though not entirely unexpected again considering the age. There's a textless version of the opening and ending sequences. There's also a nice multi-page segment that goes over the mythology of the ancient Greeks.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
With the five episodes per volume count, each volume of Saint Seiya seems to cover an immense amount of ground when you sit back and really think about it at the end of each volume. And with the last volume and now this one, the show is really moving along at a good clip and the storyline is getting more and more interesting. With the revelations the last time around about the new Pope and his plans, everything goes into effect with this volume.

A good amount of time is spent with Hyouga up in Siberia where he's dealing with his former master who is now apparently on the side of evil. The Sanctuary folks have managed to take the entire community that's there and used them to start building a massive pyramid that will serve as a base for the Pope and hopefully appease him on some level as well. For Hyouga, he's got to not only try and get through to his former master and free him from whatever hold he thinks he may be under but also to save everyone he's ever known from being worked to death in the bitter cold. The time spent with Hyouga here is rather good since we get to flashback to when he first started receiving training from his master and the methods used to teach him how to master his cosmos. Of course, the teachings all come back to being important in the present (as well as a cheap way of using some of the same animation to save a few frames), but there's some good heart and emotion to their fight as well as those of the villagers he's trying to save.

Another area that receives from interesting attention is when Phaeton decides to try and flush out the Saints and cause them more trouble directly. To do this, he goes for the truly obvious stunt of burning down Saori's grandfathers' mansion, hoping to draw them to the scene. Just about everyone resists but the idiot Tatsumi who takes off in a chopper there. Since everyone has split up to deal with issues, Saori is now protected only by Shun. With Tatsumi captured, he's beaten up till he spills the beans on their hidden location, which lets them go there to retrieve the remaining Gold Cloth piece. Phaeton has a good plan though in that he intends to use the Flame Saint to take down the arrogant little Bronze Saints. For Phaeton though, things invariably go wrong and his attacks on Shun only serve to revive Ikki from the seeming grave and return him to his brother in the proper mind set.

Where this volume really stands out as it plays along is when Seiya returns home to Japan to settle down for a bit but ends up coming across not just one but three of the more powerful Silver Saints. He's initially dealing with Lizard Misty, who has arrived with Marin, on orders from the Pope to kill Seiya and all the other Bronze Saints. Lizard Misty is prime proof that the Japanese just love the sound of English words. This particular Saint is boastful of never being hit by an opponent and basically never losing. So yes, his character design is that of a rather effeminate man. With the Silver Saints being mostly of Greek origin, since there's animosity from them about the previous Pope's gathering of Saints from outside of Greece, you have to wonder just how many Greek men look like Lizard Misty. Ok, ok, bad train of thought.

Over the course of the battles between Seiya and the Silver Saints, there are some great action sequences and the continual use of Seiya's cosmos that shows just how powerful he is becoming. There are also some interesting revelations about his past as well as delving deep into the real history of what's going on during this onset of evil. Saori in particular makes out well from the revelations, but it wasn't too surprising all told to see her rise to the position she has been, especially as she's continued to grow and avoid the rap as a spoiled girl with gobs of money.

In Summary:
Now that we're twenty-five episodes into the series, basically a quarter of the way through plus a few more, the series is really starting to grow on me. The opening arc was pretty bad and didn't set the stage well for what was to come nor really made it all that interesting. But as the show has moved and evolved and the larger plot for this particular arc has come to light, I've been enjoying it more and more. There are of course the usual problems for a show of this time, from the somewhat simplistic moments to the repetitive animation sequences throughout that helped them get the show done quickly and within budget. While there is a lot of time taken to go through the fights and the dialogue around it, it doesn't feel as dragged out as some other series of a similar nature, like Samurai Troopers. There are times I wish it'd move along a bit faster, but it's outweighed by the wishes for them to spend some more time doing pure exposition to help fill in the blanks of the world.

Saint Seiya's become a title I'm looking forward to seeing more of and with the recent price drop combined with the high episode count, hopefully there will be more people to talk about it with as well.

Features
Japanese Language,English Language,English Subtitles,The Mythology of Saint Seiya,Clean Opening,Clean Closing

Review Equipment
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: 13 & Up
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: ADV Films
MSRP: 19.98/24.98
Running time: 125
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Saint Seiya