Few manga/anime can compete with Saint-Seiya for complexity of timelines, characters – and beauty. But, unfortunately, one of their late instalments – The Lost Canvas – is not going to be remembered for this last characteristic. And while there are some valuable aspects, the whole series appears more like an ungodly mess that could have been better avoided.
The Lost Canvas is a Saint-Seiya spin-off, not created or even illustrated by Masami Kurumada (and it shows. More about that later), whose 223 chapters have been running from 2006-2011 in the magazine Weekly Shōnen Champion magazine. This Shiori Teshirogi’s creation is also a retelling, running in parallel with Kuramada’s Saint-Seiya: Next Dimension in terms of timeline but with different contents.
The events take place in the 18th century, and focuses on an orphan, Tenma, who becomes one of Athena’s Saints and finds himself fighting his best friend Alone who is (surprise surprise) the reincarnation of Athena’s biggest enemy, the God Hades, and, as it is often the case in Saint-Seiya, her brother.
The animation (both in episodes and OVA) started in 2009, adding a few novelties and expanding on the original materials. Also, in the same period and to make things worse ( as if they were not confused enough), Teshirogi made a spinoff of the spinoff called titled Saint Seiya: The Lost Canvas – The Myth of Hades – Anecdotes [聖闘士星セイントセイヤ THE LOST CANVAS 冥王神話 外伝], which describes the lives of some of the Saints before the events described in the main series.
There are many reasons why I don’t personally like Teshirogi’s The Lost Canvas, and its rather confused storyline is just one (even though it play a role. Seiya is complicated enough without any need of additional details). Another is that she decided to focus on characters – such as Tenma/Pegasus – or some of the Gold Saints – namely, Cancer, Pisces and Taurus – that are among the ones I appreciate the least in the original series. She also changed their personalities – generally putting them under a more positive light – which I found annoying: they had a role as villains, one they were playing well. By comparison, Kuramada’s Next Dimension gives the other main characters – like Shiryu, Shun and the other Gold Saints- an equivalent importance and details, and doesn’t deviate that much from their original personality.
Finally, the aesthetics. Even under this aspect, I can’t say I appreciate Teshirogi’s style. While certainly modern and nearer to how mangas are drawn today, I still prefer Kuramada’s classic style. For more about differences and analogies between the two series, have a look at this (sorry, in Japanese only, but Google Translate can help).