Saint Seiya Vol. #07 (of 12) (Mania.com)

By:Chris Beveridge
Review Date: Sunday, June 20, 2004
Release Date: Tuesday, June 29, 2004



What They Say
Just when Seiya and the other Bronze Saints are seemingly destined for a most gruesome demise, Ikki makes another triumphant return. Meanwhile, Shiryu has gone back to the Five Ancient Peaks to visit his old mentor in hopes the brave Saint's eyesight may be restored. The absence of Shiryu and Ikki combined with Seiya's devastating injuries leaves Saori and the Bronze Saints in precarious territory. The evil overlord of Sanctuary seizes this opportunity to unleash a new bread of hideous terror. Can the Bronze Saints survive!

The Review!
Saint Seiya moves forward again by finishing out the storyline from the past volume while then settling down to focus on some real character driven episodes.

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:
Again moving away from the single character covers, something I thought they'd be able to milk easily for twelve volumes or more, this one goes for a split shot of Ohko and Shiryu which fits really nicely for this volume. The artwork even looks pretty slick here and not as cartoonish as some of the earlier volumes did. 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 cast shot tightened up a bit and in the corner with some more vibrant colors 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)
Saint Seiya continues to grow on me with each volume but it still has some of the trappings of its time that continue to annoy me. The main one is that some of the smaller arcs within the larger storyline tend to run longer than they should. Or rather, the fights run longer than they should and continue to carry things along. While we've got five episodes here, I'm pretty sure it could have been done in three and still had just as good a set of fights. But that's just me.

This volume continues on with the fight between the last of the Silver Saints that have come to steal away Saori from the Bronze Saints. With Seiya, Hyouga and Shun coming to her defense, there are some good fights to be had here between the two sides. Shun gets a challenge in one of the Silver Saints as he has a ball and chain that's similarly powered to his own Nebula Chain while the other has a spinning disc gimmick that plays up a boomerang aspect. Surprisingly, even though these two Saints feel pretty cheesy and weak compared to some of the others we've seen, they manage to get the upper hand against the Bronze Saints and end up leaving Saori defenseless.

This allows for a Cool Moment of the show. Just when you think Saori's going to be nabbed, Ikki in his phoenix mode comes floating down into the valley and his Cosmos is so overwhelmingly strong that it completely throws off the Silver Saints. They're unsure of him at first once he lands but they quickly write him off since he's a Bronze Saint and they just wiped the floor up with three of them. Ikki's revelation of where he comes from through sends a bit of concern into them but like any of the other Silver Saints, they're not too swift and they launch into an attack on him. Ikki finally gets to cut loose since he's fighting Saints who don't have to carry the series and we get some rather good stuff. Ikki in particular needed some screen time as the good guy doing some damage, something he really hasn't had all that much of since he switched over. Add in an entire episode where he goes to the Death Queen Island and we get more of what he went through and this volume does some great stuff for him.

The really good stuff in my mind for this volume involved following Shiryu home to the mountains where his master and Shunrei live. Ever since his loss of sight, the man is obviously pained by his inability to perform the way he has in the past. His return to the mountains where he first trained hasn't worked in calming his soul; if anything, it's only served to enrage him more and cause frustration. Shunrei and the master continue to watch from a distance, though Shunrei appears more concerned than he does over this. That, of course, is the norm of a master. Shiryu's attempts to figure out what to do since his return ends up boiling to the surface at the end of things however, causing him to push at those closest to him.

Before anything can really get out of hand with this though, part of Shiryu's past comes back in the form of fellow student Ohko. Shiryu and Ohko both studied under the same master in their youth but the two were always in conflict with each other. Ohko always believed that their master favored Shiryu over him so he overcompensated and often tried to abuse Shiryu with his abilities. It eventually got so bad that the master informed Ohko that he was no longer a student of his and sent him on his way to try and figure out the true strength of a man. When Ohko learns of Shiryu being back in the mountains, he comes out of wherever it is he's been hiding to deal with him. Ohko's nothing like the Saints but is still quite strong and powerful, enough so to give Shiryu a real challenge when not wearing his armor.

With a chance to prove himself once more, he takes it and challenges Shiryu to a fight. Even though Shiryu accepts, Ohko finds that much of what made Shiryu who he was isn't there anymore, resulting in a lackluster fight with someone who should be much stronger. Ohko even tells him as much, ending the fight early since it's not a real challenge. This revelation, when Shiryu actually processes it, only serves to beat him down more mentally as he realizes just how low he's sunk since becoming blind. These episodes do a great job of weaving past and present together and letting us see not only the kind of training that Shiryu went through but the way it's shaped him over the years. The differences between Ohko and Shiryu are blatantly obvious, but that's sort of the point with a series like this. But even as flawed as Ohko is, he becomes a very easy character to become attached to and almost start to root for. His flaws are simple and the path he chose is wrong, but just the little time we deal with him you want to see him find the right way.

In Summary:
While the larger plot with Sanctuary is for the most part put to the side after dealing with the Silver Saints at the start of this volume, it's done so with the objective of giving some much needed character depth and background for characters that really needed it. Shiryu's story in the end wins out for me as being the most interesting element of this volume and being the most interesting character in general. The inclusion of Ohko to the tale only served to elevate things, especially since they went with the classic dragon vs. tiger piece. Saint Seiya continues to be an interesting show, not one of the most fascinating things I've ever seen, but one that definitely rose above its first half dozen episodes into something far more interesting and enjoyable.

Features
Japanese 2.0 Language,English 2.0 Language,English Subtitles,Clean opening and closing animation,Mythology behind Saint Seiya

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