I know, I’m late again, but it is the entire house we are refurbishing! If I could write at the same time as I stripped wallpaper or painted walls, I would! To top it all off, my laptop died yesterday. Posting and writing is difficult on a mobile phone or netbook!
Anyway. My review this week is for an anime I had heard of, but knew nothing about. I was lucky enough to come across The Vision of Escaflowne anime DVD boxset for the bargain price of just £3.50. The pictures on the front looked kinda old fashioned and screamed nineties anime. My favourite anime is from the nineties, so I thought perhaps I might like this one too. I didn’t just like it, I loved it.
Escaflowne tells the story of a young schoolgirl and budding athlete, Hitori, in love with her track mentor, and who reads tarot cards with uncanny precision. She appears to be extremely adept at reading the future and people’s fates so everyone asks for her to read their cards. On the race track one evening, a young man appears before her in a blinding light, followed by an actual dragon. Soon after, she is whisked away to another planet, Gaea, a world from which Earth and the moon can be seen in the sky.
At first glance, it appears to be a soppy coming of age story, as we see Hiroti fall in love with just about everyone she meets. But there is so much more going on in the story that it keeps your attention. I mean, there are dragons for one thing. Men with angelic wings for another. There are even huge Mech Knights powered by the heart of dragons. There is the fact this all takes place on another world where levitating rocks power airships. And, strangely enough, Atlantis is also a key feature. To top it all off, there are two outrageously insane characters vying for the title of Top Batshit Crazy Maniac.
Don’t get me wrong, it is soppy, and cheesy and so lovely it is sickening, but there are more difficult aspects of the story which make it so great. There is a huge war going on between the different cities on Gaea. One city is burned to the ground in the first episode, the city of Fanelia from where the lead male character, Van-the king- comes from. The name of the show is actually the name of the huge Mech Knight which can only be used by the Kings of Fanelia.
The entire world of Gaea is also at the mercy of a fanatical army of powerful mech knights, the Zaibach Empire, which is led by Van’s estranged brother, Folken. So there is extreme sibling rivalry and epic fight scenes throughout. Hitomi’s fate predictions play a large part in attempts to sway the war in favour of other characters.
Van and another male character, Allen, appear to fall for Hitomi and she them, leading to her confusion as to who she loves the most. Therefore there is also a love triangle, which quickly becomes a love-pentagon with the arrival of a princess who loves Allen, and a cat-girl who loves Van.
This all sounds like a confusing mish-mash of ideas, but the story is so well written that there is not confusion other than in Hitomi’s love-struck heart. The characters, even the supporting characters were very well written. Each had a reason to be in the story, each had a background pertinent to the overall anime.
Once again, I found the soundtrack amazing. In fact, it was a complete orchestral score of epicness. No surprise that such amazing sounds were created by Yoko Kanno. Honestly, I think the woman could whistle a tune in the bathroom and it would be epic.
The one thing which grated on me to begin with was the voice of the primary baddie, Dilandau, whose voice sounded squeaky and forced. But, I found out later that there was a very good reason for this and so could forgive the initial brash tones.
There are 26 episodes to Escaflowne and I found myself wanting to watch them all in one sitting. The story demands you watch it as long as you can as each episode leads into the next–no stand alone filler eps in this series.
I also got the movie at the same time for the paltry sum of £1. Although it is very different from the tv series, I still enjoyed it. But I had to view it as a different story–unrelated to the tv series–otherwise it is just confusing. I would say the movie is darker, a little rushed, but is interesting to see the different take on the same story. The endings are different too, and I actually love them both, even though they are bittersweet.
If you can get hold of it and have a spare day or two to sit and watch it, I’d recommend Escaflowne for all its cheesiness, epic fight scenes, and awesome musical score. It is now high up there in my fave animes!
F.R. Donaldson lives in scenic Scotland. She is the author of the psychological sci-fi MALEVOLENCE
Posted on September 5, 2016, in #SundayReview, Frankeh Updates, Updates and tagged Allen, angel, animation, anime, blog, coming of age, Dragon, dragons, Escaflowne, gundam, Hitori, Japanese, maniac, mech, mecha, tv series, Van, War. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.