Original Title: Saint Seiya: Knights of the Zodiac
Director: Yoshiharu Ashino*
Genre: Action, Adventure, Animation
Language: Japanese, English
A remake of the original Saint Seiya, from the 80’s, but quite different so far.
Saint Seiya is one of my favorite things since I was around four-years-old, I watched and re-watched the original series and movies, I watched the new series (Saint Seiya Omega), and as an adult, I bought every Gold Saint action figure I could find.
I think there is nothing in the world I dedicated so much of my free time for, but if you want a butt-hurt, entitled-fan review, bashing the series because I was not faithful to the original, you came to the wrong place.
But also don’t expect a blind sheep review, I have no intention in denying the flaws of these series, and there are some major flaws, I have no doubt about it.
Netflix recently released the first six episodes of the first season of Saint Seiya: Knights of the Zodiac. I didn’t watch right when I got the notification because I was watching After Life (2018).
So the night after, I began watching the new Knights of the Zodiac. Unfortunately, it was not available to me in Japanese, I always rather watch things in the original language, even if for the languages I can’t understand.
As a watched it in English, I will use the names of the English version.
It began with the traditional narration, talking about Athena and her Knights, and how they protect the earth and humanity from the Poseidon and Hades, but our story began with Seiya, and since the beginning, there are some major changes from the source material.
A little Seiya is sleeping with her sister Patricia when an army invades their room and tries to kidnap her. The reason they want her is that she can use the cosmos, in this version, the cosmos is something like The Force from the Star Wars universe.
The gold knight Leo Aiolia saves the children, but takes Patricia anyway, leaving Seiya alone in the orphanage.
In the early teenage years, Seiya is discovered by Alman Kido, who tells the story of the moribund Sagittarius Aiolos, with baby Athena (reincarnated) in his arms. Alman raised the girl as his granddaughter, Sienna Kido.
After this encounter and some adventures, Seiya goes to an island where he is trained by the Silver Knight Aquila Marin. In this island, he learns the secrets of the cosmos and fights Cassios for the Pegasus Bronze Armor (I don’t remember if they call it armor or cloth, like I was used to).
Marin then sends her pupil to a tournament organized by Sienna. There he meets some other Bronze Knights, like Dragon Long, Cygnus Magnus, and Andromeda Shaun. The Andromeda Knight in this version is a girl, so she is a Dame (?!).
It is during the tournament, the first real threat reveals itself, stealing the Sagittarius Gold Armor and trying to kill Sienna.
The first thing to notice is the animation style and in this case, it was a style I liked, reminded me a little of the Clone Wars animation. In special, I think Alman Kido had a striking resemblance with Clone Wars’ Count Dooku, with less exaggerated features.
The clothes of every character so far are faithful to the original, with much more detail, of course, and it is looking great. As far as we went, I don’t remember seeing Magnus and Shaun with civilian clothes.
Talking about Shaun, I loved her as a girl, I think it’s perfect and doesn’t change anything for the character. Andromeda was a Princess, the armor/cloth has a feminine designed since the original (anime, not manga), and even has tits.
I thought that would be the thing that would bother the butt-hurt fans the most because you can’t change some character gender without being accused of pushing a liberal social justice warrior agenda, but they complain about every single point, not just the gender swap.
I’m not calling everyone who has a negative opinion of the series an entitled fan, but like with Star Wars, the loudest criticism comes from those who cannot use rational arguments or criticisms.
For example, one of the criticism I read I agree is regarding the score. It’s clear that the current team behind the series, didn’t comprehend the importance of the music to the original, the score of the new series is way, way inferior.
The original score, composed by Seiji Yokoyama, is somber and extremely melancholic, giving that sad and sometimes mystic feeling about the series, being a fundamental aspect of our experience.
The new score is generic, not especial at all, and the only thing that makes it noticeable is because it’s inevitable to compare to the marvelous original music.
The music from the 80’s is more mature, and that links to another weak aspect of The Knights of the Zodiac. The 2019 remake is softer and less gory, and even though I understand the choice, it ends up taking even more weight of the remake.
For example, in the 80’s anime, Seiya cuts off one of Cassios’ ears, and that didn’t happen in the remake. The anime was already a softened version of the manga and now is even more softened with the remake.
To illustrate it even better, let’s use another example, since the manga. During the fight against the Black Knights, when the Black Cygnus is defeated he sends everything they know to his boss. In the manga, he takes off his eye and sends to Phoenix Ikki, in the anime he sends a piece of his elm, in the remake, there is no such scene.
So there we enter in the flaws within the plot. Beginning with the very unnecessary paramilitary villain, Vander Guraad who wants to save the world from the gods using technology. Why does he even exist?
There are more questionable changes to the new plot, but every single one I remember is around this character.
Some problems existed in the original anime and the remake could fix, but they didn’t. The over explanatory scenes, where the other characters explain everything the others are going like the audience is dumb is the main one.
On the other hand, they didn’t include some scenes that were redundant or irrelevant in the original, mainly regarding the tournament battles. Some battles became shorter while others simply disappeared, making the show flow much better.
The remake has more humor, while the original had almost nothing funny. I think is good to have a little more comedy to release the tension, even more, if we consider that they are aiming for a younger audience.
One important thing to say about this six episodes is that this first ordeal with Ikki being an enemy is one of the weakest phases of the story and the things are just setting up, so it is very hard to judge the whole show and its potential future based on this tiny fraction.
From now on the remake has lots of room to grow and every rational and constructive criticism is important to the future of the show. Even though I love the original show, I can see that it is dated and in need of a remake, I just hope that this version gets even better from now on.
This time I will give only a temporary rate, because we only have six episodes so far, 8 Moons.
* 25 June 2019: At first the direction was credited to Eugene Son, the responsible for the story, so we corrected it credit the actual director Yoshiharu Ashino. We thank the Fernando González (@FrixterZuber) who warned us about it on twitter.