Escaflowne Vol. #1 (Mania.com)

By:Ibrahim Peasnell
Review Date: Sunday, March 03, 2002
Release Date: Tuesday, October 03, 2000



The Review!
I decided to check out Escaflowne upon hearing rave reviews about this series from speaking to many people in my anime club and also upon reading rave reviews about Escaflowne on the Internet. I went into this series cold, not knowing anything about the characters, plot, villains etc. By the conclusion of the first disk, I am happy that I made this purchase, as this show has turned out to be real winner in my book.

The menus of Escaflowne can be summed up in one word: Awesome. The main menu opens up with many tarot cards floating across the screen in the background. While this is happening in the background, the title of the show is flown in on Escaflowne's sword. After the sword is flown in, a tarot card that in flying in the background comes into view reviling the episode numbers that are featured on this disk. After the tarot card comes into full view, the menu selections come into view as they appear to the right of the tarot card. While the main menu is being builted up, some nice soft music from the show is being played in the background. The scene selection menu on this disk is just as good as the main menu, with a tarot flipping around upon opening this menu. Once the tarot card rotates around, each scene selection can be clicked upon by clicking on one of the corners of the star that is inside the tarot card. While the scene selection menu is playing out, a small segment of music from the song Dance of the Curse can be heard being played in the background.

The extras included on this disk are a credit less opening and three music videos. The titles of the three music videos that are featured on this disk are Tomodachi (Friend), Aoi Hitomi (Blue Eyes), and my personal favourite music video Hikari no Nakae (Into the light).

The trailers that feature on this disk are Gundam Wing, Cowboy Bebop, Blue Submarine #6 and Haunted Junction.

The first episode of Esacflowne deals with the introductions of the two main characters that will feature in this series, Hitomi Kanzaki and Van Fanel. While trying to run a 100 sprint in under eleven seconds, a young youth materializes in front of a surprised Hitomi. However after the appearance of Van, things become even more frantic as a land dragon also materializes out of the blue. After slaying the dragon and talking about the feelings that Van made Hitomi go through while slaying the dragon, the drag energist in Van's hand starts to glow, thus transporting the two of them to Gaea.

The next episode deals with Van's Kingdom, Fanelia. Upon arriving in Fanelia we are introduced to another cast member, Merle. Merle is a cat girl who only wears a t-shirt as her only piece of clothing; Merle also dislikes anybody else getting close to Van. Merle to me seems to be Van's girlfriend but the topic of if she is Van's girlfriend or not hasn't been raised or discussed yet. After Merle's introduction, Van's coronation as King of Fanelia begins. Van's coronation as king of Fanelia doesn't go smoothly, as the coronation is interrupted by an invisible enemy that starts attacking Fanelia.

The third episode of Escaflowne, brings another introduction of another cast member, as Allen Schezar, knight of Asturia is introduced to the viewer. Upon first glance at Allen, Allen to me so far looks like your typical white knight in shining amour type of character. Also in this episode we are given a very brief introduction to the bad guys that will feature in this series, Dilandau, Folken and Emperor Dornkirk. This episode deals with the daily runnings of Allen's castle. However this episode gets interesting as a Zaibach flying fortress shows up in Asturia. Upon the arrival of the flying fortress in Asturia, Dilandau decides to pay a little visit to Allen and company. Also during this episode we are treated to a Guymelef battle sequence between Allen and Van.

The last episode on this disc deals with Dilandau and his troops launching an attack on Allen's castle. Upon spotting Escaflowne dueling with Schizerade, Dilandau and his troops attack Allen's castle. The attack that Zaibach inflicts on Allen's castle is swift, brutal, and effective like the attack that Fanelia received. Allen and company are forced to retreat from Zaibach's advances, as they use the Crusade as their only means of escape. However, Zaibach continues to pursue their adversaries, until one cast member makes a daring decision.

Upon finishing this disk, many things about the show has intrigued me and left a lasting impression on me. During the first episode, the thing that caught by eye in particular in this episode was the visuals of the show. The visuals that are presented in this episode have completely wowed me, as the use of computer CG looks absolutely flawless and stunning. The usage of computer CG for the skin of the land dragon in this episode looks absolutely vibrant, as it is amazingly detailed. The combining of cell animation with computer CG in this episode looks absolutely flawless and beautiful, as the combination of the two elements doesn't deter form the viewing of this show. During the second episode of this disk, the thing that caught my eye in particular was the cinematic use of still images in this episode, when Zaibach are attacking Fanelia. The use of still images during this episode accurately depicts the horror and terror that the Zaibach's Guymelfes inflict on the Fanelia's Melefs. The third episode for me didn't leave much of an impression on me, as this episode continued to advance the plot of the show more. However during this episode, my eye was raised once when I saw the scene where Dilandau is leaving Allen's castle. Upon leaving Allen's castle, Dilandau gives Allen a stare of absolute evil. The stare that is given by Dilandau is something you won't easily forget. The fourth episode for me, freashed out the personality differences that lie between the two villains of the show Folken and Dilandau. During this episode, it is the cool, calm and collected Folken that points out the location to where Allen and company have escaped to, to the bloody thirsty and unthinking Dilandau.

After just seeing four episodes out of this twenty-six episode series, I am very happy and satisfied about purchasing this series. So far Escaflowne to me is a series that combines many genres of anime into a wonderful polished show. With the first disk review now done and out of the way, I look forward to reviewing the rest of the disks, as reviewing the rest of this show is going to be a guilty pleasure.



Review Equipment
PC-DVD Rom, Power DVD 2.5, 15.1" TFT Active Matrix Display and JBL Pro Speakers



Mania Grade: A
Audio Rating: A-
Video Rating: A-
Packaging Rating: A-
Menus Rating: A
Extras Rating: A+
Age Rating: 12 & Up
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: Bandai Entertainment
MSRP: 29.99
Running time: 100
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Escaflowne