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

By:Chris Beveridge
Review Date: Monday, June 06, 2005
Release Date: Tuesday, May 31, 2005



What They Say
With the fire of Virgo about to go out, Seiya and the Saints are burning time! Only six hours remain before Saori succumbs to her wounds. The Saints’ next battle pits them against the Gold Saint Shaka, the so-called “closest man to God!” Ikki’s arrival gives the group a much-needed shot in the arm, but will his cosmos be enough against such a petrifying power?



Meanwhile, in the House of Libra, Hyoga remains frozen in an ice coffin. If the Saints hope to resurrect their brother-in-arms, they’ll have to clear the path ahead. But Scorpio’s venomous Gold Saint Milo has already prepared a nasty sting. No longer able to rely on six senses alone, each Saint must convert his cosmos to the ultimate cosmos!



The Review!
The sixth house and Shaka are the main focus here as the Bronze Saints continue to fight their way for Saori's survival.

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:
While the artwork here definitely looks much more cartoonish than the actual show does, it does keep the focus on the main characters of Shaka as well as Ikki that really make up the episodes here but otherwise doesn't look all that good. 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 the image of Gemini's head is used in the upper righter corner with some 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. As is the case with most ADV releases, our players' language presets were read perfectly.

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 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 gets up to episode sixty here with this volume and crosses fully the halfway mark of the series but we're still knee deep inside the Sanctuary arc where all of our heroes are either dead or frantically trying to survive by racing through the various Houses so that they can save Saori before she dies from the arrow that was shot into her something like fifteen episodes ago. Time takes on a new meaning with series like this as these fights feel like they go on for weeks.

Saint Seiya as a series continues to be fun at this point even though it really is just going through an elongated series of fight sequences where the characters are in turn repeatedly beat down as they progress. They alternate it seems between different adversaries who will be the person to take the punishment while the rest move on and then it happens again in the next House until someone from the previous one comes along to help out, or in an instance like before, Ikki returns from dealing with some of Shaka's lackeys and goes to fight Shaka himself.

The fights with Shaka are amusing, especially right from the start of the volume where the episode title is "Shaka, the Closest Man to God." The humor comes in that this particular line is said practically a half dozen times in the first couple of minutes as everyone is so in awe of him that it must be his title at this point. It unfortunately devalues the power of the character initially because he's already become a joke. With his complacent nature early on and the way he's almost Buddha-like in his pose and mannerisms, he doesn't exude much in the way of real character but his constantly being referenced as "the Closest Man to God" just had me laughing when I shouldn't be.

The material with Shaka does get considerably better as it plays out though and he's just as deadly as some of the previous Gold Saints that are in the various Houses. The return of Ikki to Sanctuary after dealing with Shaka's underlings brings that character to a really good place from where we first him in the series when he was essentially a villain. His arc has been sporadic throughout the series but by this volume he's definitely one that a lot of people cling to as a favorite and its easy to see why. His nature as a villain turned to the right side and fighting with those who he used to fight against makes him interesting and someone who is very different from the rest of the team.

There are some standards of the genre that get applied again here and it's something that's been done in other series and I hated it there as well. With the previous sacrifice that Hyouga went through, it was all poetic and beautifully done and had plenty of meaning to it. Of course, that couldn't really be the end of Hyouga though because there's still another fifty-odd episodes to come. So with an episode title of "Hyouga Comes Back to Life!" I knew exactly what we'd be getting. This is a favorite trick of many writers in this particular genre with the tournaments and fighting aspects and often the character's deaths are hailed as one of the best points in the series. Yu Yu Hakusho went through this as well. To me, the eventual return of the character only devalues their original death and their ongoing existence means that the writer had things done in such a way that they needed that character for something else so they cheapened it themselves by doing what they did. Hyouga's a fun character and I'm glad he's around, but it completely weakens him and what he went through.

In Summary:
In between all of the fights, there's a number of smaller character moments that help flesh things out, such as Shina's outcry about the death of Cassios and her own true feelings about things and more that's going on in Sanctuary. The fights are still the main focus here and there are several houses still left to go through before we get these guys anywhere near the Pope. This volume has some good fight material to it but it also has a few standards of the genre that I continually find to be its weak points, but it manages to balance out for the most part. Over the twelve volumes, the series has definitely changed from what it started out as to what it is now and all for the better.

Features
Japanese 2.0 Language,English 2.0 Language,English Subtitles,Feature on the Saint Seiya mythology,Clean opening animation,Clean closing animation

Review Equipment
Panasonic PT50LC13 50" LCD RP HDTV, Zenith DVB-318 Progressive Scan codefree DVD player via DVI, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, 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
Running time: 125
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Saint Seiya