ADV Films // 1986 // 125 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Sandra Dozier (Retired) // August 19th, 2004
"No one gets close without their approval. But if we don't attack them, they'll keep amassing troops, and this war will never end!" -- Seiya, regarding Sanctuary
Things just keep getting better with Saint Seiya -- the action is in full throttle now, and the Bronze Saints go on the offensive in this collection of episodes. They also have to confront the question of who helped them during their battle with Silver Saint Babel -- the three armored boys who appeared out of nowhere don't hang around long enough to introduce themselves. Saori establishes a new headquarters for them to launch their campaign, and Seiya, Shun, and Shiryu set out for Greece.
Saint Seiya was originally released in Japan in 1986 and immediately earned a huge following. By popular demand, the show extended its originally scheduled run, then spawned a second series and a few stand-alone specials. Fans loved the heavy influence of Greek mythology on the show, the huge cast, the fighting, and the epic drama. This is the simple yet compelling appeal of the show. Whereas Robotech had gorgeous dogfights in space, Saint Seiya is a love song of martial arts and special attacks. With a large cast of characters, there are dozens of stories to satisfy every dramatic whim. There is literally something for everyone -- nobility, evil, brotherhood, betrayal, death, life, love.
In the postapocalyptic world in which they live, children are trained to fight in tournaments to determine status as Saints, with different rankings based on experience and skill. Seiya, the title character, is a Bronze Saint. Along with the other Bronze Saints, he fights for Saori, who (along with her family) ran the tournaments for many years but who has been recently revealed to be the living incarnation of the goddess Athena. If there was ever a reason for the Saints to protect her with their lives, this is it.
They also fight for control of the Golden Armor (also called the Gold Cloth), a legendary suit of armor that grants its wearer tremendous protection and ability in battle. Pope Ares wants it so he can take over the world, and Saori wants it so that doesn't happen.
In this collection of episodes, Shiryu is given a dramatic storyline as he goes up against Silver Saint Perseus Algor, who wields the power of the Medusa Shield, which can turn his victims into pillars of stone -- as Seiya and Shun discover to their cost. Shiryu has to make a terrible sacrifice in order to defeat Algor and return his friends to their mortal forms. The three fighters they met earlier finally reveal themselves, and Ikki makes a solitary decision that affects the future of the team. The final defeat is when Saori is kidnapped, and it seems that they might not be able to go on.
The "Uncut and Original" branding for the DVDs of Saint Seiya refers to the American television release of Knights of the Zodiac, a sanitized version that has new music and a different English language dub and translation. By all accounts, Zodiac is just awful, a fact I do not doubt after hearing the cheesy name alone. Saint Seiya does not rename characters, does not edit fight scenes for gore and violence, has a reasonably faithful dub, and has all original music. This is definitely the version to get for fans.
Video transfer for Volume Six is about as good as can be expected for a series from the late '80s. The colors are somewhat washed out, and the print has fuzz and grain, but it is still completely watchable. The soundtrack suffers a bit from tinniness and scratching in certain parts, and the 2.0 Dolby surround is not very lively, but it is robust and even the smallest grunts and sighs come through clearly. Again, most of the problems are due to the age of the series. Extras include liner notes about mythology and a clean opening sequence. Subtitle/dub settings are slightly different for this release than usual -- the choice is English dub without subtitle, or original Japanese with subtitle (however, subtitling can be turned off or changed to signs-only subtitling via the DVD remote options). It's worth listening to the excellent performances in the original Japanese at least once, despite the sound quality's being mushier than the more recent English dub.
Saint Seiya is a sprawling story that does not rush plot along for the sake of action. This is both a blessing and a curse, since it makes for thorough character development but can sometimes cause lulls in pacing. When the story is not engaging Saints in battle, the focus is on the human relationships between the characters, and this is how fans typically become invested in the series. This can also make the series difficult to get into unless you have seen it from the beginning or watch several episodes and ge ttoknowthecharacters.However, ISaintSeiyaIisoneofthemoreworthystoriestofollow, sinceithasplentyofaction,intrigue,andheart.
Review content copyright © 2004 Sandra Dozier; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2014 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
Studio: ADV Films
* Full Frame
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround (English)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround (Japanese)
* English (signs only)
Running Time: 125 Minutes
Release Year: 1986
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* "Mythology of Amazons" Liner Notes
* Original Japanese Opening