Like Captain Harlock and Gundam, Saint Seiya:Knights of the Zodiac is a manga / anime that (almost) needs no introduction. Created by Masami Kuramada and serialised between 1986-1990, the long and complex story tells the adventure of five warriors that wear as armour a magic “cloth” and use the mystical energy of their constellations (“cosmos”) to draw their powers.
These five warriors, also called “Saints” – namely, Seiya (Pegasus), Shiryu (Dragon), Hyōga (Cygnus) Shun (Andromeda) and Ikki (Phoenix) – have sworn to defend the reincarnation of the Greek goddess Athena (Saori) in her battle against other Olympian gods who want to dominate Earth. As in all successful manga / anime, this is just the beginning – a few series linked to Seiya have popped up after the original manga (given their complexity, I’m going to leave it for another moment).
This 2014 movie I’m going to talk about today is the sixth and latest of Seiya’s adaptation for the big screen; it gets back to the origin, when Saori meets with the five young warriors and goes to the Sanctuary.
Two things are immediately evident to someone that has watched the original Seiya anime and the previous movies. First, like the latest Harlock’s movie, 聖闘士星矢 – Legend of Sanctuary is a CGI, 3D- animated movie, even though the graphic seems less fluid than the one I’ve seen in Harlock (which was actually amazing). Also, while the 3D worked rather well for spaceships and space combats, the Saints look less impressive in the 3D rendition, and even the fights look less spectacular. In a word, sticking to the original anime setting seems to be preferable in this specific case.
Second thing, the story has been altered in a substantial way, with characters that change personality traits and even sex (Milo, the Gold Saint of Scorpio, becomes a female in the movie) and others that lose their original complexity (my beloved Saga of Gemini, just to mention one).
To a more in-depth exam, however, these two issues look minor compared to other, more serious faults – for example the fact that, not knowing the original story, it would have been impossible to follow the movie itself, which tries to synthesise the whole Sanctuary story arc of the anime (73 episode) in less than two hours. While this is true for a lot of anime adaptation, in this case the result has been worse and more confused than the usual. Another problem is that some of the key episodes / events have been changed to suit production needs, like, for example, the famous fight between Phoenix Ikki and Virgo Shaka, which has just been deleted, no matter if it served more than a purpose in the original anime / manga.
I could add more, but I prefer leaving at this. Watching it was not such a bad experience all in all – there are still spectacular fights and some good moments – but I would not recommend it to die-hard Seiya’s fans that would probably remain quite disappointed with the experience.
聖闘士星矢 – Legend of Sanctuary premiered in Japan on June 21, 2014 (here for details).
Finally, here a video with all trailers of the movie. Enjoy!