The Vision of Escaflowne (1996)

[天空のエスカフローネ]

The Vision of Escaflowne (1996)

Director: Kazuki Akane
Studio: Sunrise
Starring: Maaya Sakamoto, Tomokazu Seki, Shinichiro Miki
Episodes: 26

Synopsis:
An ordinary high school student is transported to the world of Gaea where her hobby of fortune-telling has the power to alter Fate amid a war to claim the lost secrets of Atlantis.

Impressions:
This is perhaps my favorite anime series of all time. I'll readily admit a massive bias in its favor, but I'll try to be as objective as possible for review purposes. The idea of a fantasy mecha series with shoujo elements definitely falls outside the norm and that's a large part of the reason I love it so much. You get the action of a shounen series and the strong character focus of a shoujo series, which is the best of both worlds in my book. Now, that being said, if you happen to particularly favor either shounen or shoujo, then you may not enjoy the show as much. In my case, though, because I like both, this near-perfect fusion of the best qualities of each is simply unparalleled. In keeping with the aforementioned character focus, the principle players in the cast have more depth than many other shows out there and, at least for me, our lead Hitomi is a fine example of how you make a strong female character who isn't an action girl, layered with flaws yet with a strong core appeal. Speaking of Hitomi, the part was the breakout role for Maaya Sakamoto in both her acting and singing career and unlike most cases, she was actually around her character's age when the show was made, which is a nice additional factor. There are plenty of big name seiyuu in the cast and this series was my introduction to a lot of them, such as Tomokazu Seki and Jouji Nakata. I of course can't fail to heap loads and loads of praise on the score by Yoko Kanno and Hajime Mizoguchi. Particular standouts are the main battle theme "Dance of Curse" (with its strong hints of "O Fortuna"), the brooding "Shadow of Doubt", "Epistle" and "Flying Dragon".

Now to look at some potential trouble spots. I'll admit that this particular stage in Noboteru Yuuki's art for character design may be a bit off-putting to some people and if you're like me where character design is a big part of what draws you to a series, it may be a turn-off. Also, as I said before, if you're an exclusive fan of shounen or shoujo, you won't want A) all this sappy romance stuff getting in the way of the mecha action, or B) all the icky blood and violence messing with your romance. Also, the series was originally planned for 39 episodes and some people feel the latter part of the series felt too rushed. That's not how I feel, even paying close attention to pacing on this most recent rewatch, but your mileage may vary on that one. Lastly, if a certain recurring character happens to annoy you (such as Merle), you may be complaining a lot.

All told, even if the above are sticking points for you, I think it's worth a watch at the very least. For me personally, though, the series warrants the highest accolades I can give it. It's the King of the Mountain and I don't see anything dethroning it. There may never be another series quite like it, which is all the more reason to check it out.

Rating:
Treasure It


Gab