I’m sure that if you have been into anime or video games long enough, you have heard the name Saint Seiya. It is a behemoth legacy series that has inspired many of the following generations’ works.
○ You can see similar designs to Saint Seiya in CLAMP, especially in CLAMP’s human proportions, and Rumiko Takahashi’s works, as well as similarities in sister shows such as: Mobile Suit Gundam Wing, Ronin Warriors, and the infamous Mobile Fighter G Gundam. Saint Seiya also became an important staple for fujoshi culture and a benchmark for the shounen fighting genre.
• Something that prevented Saint Seiya from becoming a bigger show to a Western audience, and what I found really interesting about the series is the use of title ancestry. If you don’t know what I’m referring to, an example is the main Saint: Pegasus Seiya. His name is Seiya and his title is Pegasus, before him there was a previous Pegasus Saint named Pegasus Tenma.
○ Also there are other parallels to prequels and sequels such as: Athena Sasha and Athena Saori, Aries Mu and Aries Shion, Virgo Shaka and Virgo Shijima, Pisces Aphrodite and Pisces Albafica, ETC. I’m not including all of the generations and descendants in the examples, but there’s an awesome chart of the them on the Saint Seiya Wiki, if you’re interested.
• The people who inherit the title or name of the Gods or Goddesses, such as Athena, Poseidon, and Hades all get their own Saints to fight for them. So, a Saint Seiya show may contain a large cast.
○ Each of them has an army of Gold Saints (one class out of the three Gold being the strongest and taking the names of astrological signs), as well as the two other classes, Silver and Bronze Saints. So, at minimum, if two Gods are fighting, then they at the very least have twice the amount of astrological signed Golds in their artillery, that would be the twelve signs (Aries, Taurus, Gemini, Cancer, Leo, Virgo, Libra, Scorpio, Sagittarius, Capricorn, Aquarius, and Pisces) times two.
○ Which would be a cast of twenty-four, other than the two Gods themselves and the plethora of Silver and Bronze Saints! That’s a HUGE cast! That’s like Lord of the Rings and Game of Thrones territory!
□ Thinking of how many characters are in Saint Seiya reminds me how daunting it is when I see those enormous crossover pictures for the Precure series that are reminiscent of a Where’s Waldo portrait. Disclaimer: Saint Seiya may not be for you if you don’t want to research hundreds of years of character history. That’s why I’m not into superhero comics, I already have decades worth of anime to catch up with! I mean, just look at the X-Men relationship charts…
• Like many of you could have guessed, even with the 114 episode bulk of the series, the characters are still fairly episodic and rarely get very much screen time. I was disappointed at this, seeing as some of the characters that I really liked, such as, Pisces Aphrodite, Mime, and Siren Sorento, only got one episode or an episode and a half of screen time at most. But, who knows, maybe it’s best that their screen time was short-lived, after all the main characters are almost caricature like in generic anime protagonist behavior. More on that coming up!
○ While I didn’t particularly like this aspect, I understood that the ambition of the series was more a long the lines of, “Let’s see how many cool magical attacks and fight scenes we can fit into this show.” Essentially, the original series was very similar to Yu Yu Hakasho, but with less character emphasis and more of a focus on the atmosphere and stylistic aspects.
• Things I LOVED about Saint Seiya:
○ The designs are really unique. My introduction to Saint Seiya was randomly going to a Mexican thrift store with my Grandma and picking up a OOP booster pack that they were selling for fifty cents. I got a holographic card of Dragon Shiryu, though I had no clue who he was at the time, and loved the design of the armor! I particularly am a fan of the Gold Saints’ designs.
○ The attacks are really cool. Seeing the reveal of the powers easily made the Gold Saints arc the best. Though, from watching and at least sampling every Saint Seiya series, the author really seems to like powers that deprive senses to awaken the sixth sense.
□ It seemed weird and rather frightening to me that that was so commonly used as a power, but Eastern culture does have a connection with Third Eye and Zen mythology, so of course it wouldn’t make as much sense to my overly Westernized mind. The episodes with Virgo Shaka versus Phoenix Ikki in the original series are AMAZING episodes, if you don’t want to make the commitment to watch the whole series, you at least NEED to watch THOSE episodes.
• Things I DIDN’T LIKE in Saint Seiya:
○ Main characters. Much like Inuyasha, or any other long running show, it’s not that you particularly like the main cast, but more like you’re Stockholm-ed into liking them. I feel that way about the Bronze Saints in the original series, oh, do I feel it. Those little fuckers will grow on you spores until their chubby, effeminate faces will somehow seem endearing.
□ It’s like if you’re trapped in an elevator with an obnoxious guy who coughs every three minutes and mumbles, “consternation,” in a really weird and creepy inflection. Well, let’s just say that you’re trapped with said guy in the elevator for a few weeks, and suddenly, you start thinking that annoying quirk was somehow… endearing.
• You have:
□ A frog-faced maiden that you might find pretty sometimes.
□ A generic main character that wears ripped, red skinny jeans and shouts randomly.
□ A generic dragon guy who’s trained by a generic, Chinese prune man.
□ An anti-hero big brother, who acts like an asshole, but actually loves his younger brother.
□ A girl-boy with magical galaxy chains, who’s reserved but secretly powerful.
□ And, a whiny, emo Oedipus motherfucker who flaps his arms like a swan.
□ These little abominations grow on you like fungus on your mother’s ninety year old pear tree or your grandmother’s retainers. Also, I am aware that the ones that I called generic weren’t necessarily generic in their day. You see, I AM a millennial. Seiya is infinitely generic though, no one can deny that. The show is named after the most uninteresting character? Yay? I don’t know. His characterization is like a sunburn on a person’s penis.
○ I don’t know if I’m too young or too old to be comparing characterization to penis burns. Let me preface my next point by saying, yes, I binge watched Saint Seiya. Is it a good idea? No. Long before we had Netflix, Crunchyroll, and Kiss Anime to watch things at our leisure, things were actually aired weekly on television. The original Saint Seiya started airing in 1986.
□ So, as you probably would expect, the episodes aren’t paced to be ingested in large consumption. Weekly television episode pacing means that they are often a) excruciatingly repetitive and b) shounen-style formulaic. I recommend that you watch this show a couple of episodes at a time for more enjoyment.
□ Think about it this way, are you going to enjoy One Piece more if you watch all thousand or something episodes in one month, or will get more out of it if you watch a few episodes a week for a year?
□ An example of this is I love Detective Conan, but I’m only on episode one hundred forty-two, because 1) I’m really busy with life, and 2) I actually want to enjoy it, one murder mystery at a time. If I watch several hundred episodes of something in a week, I’ll feel like killing myself, no matter how much I enjoy something, I’m not going to die over it.
□ You either risk your sanity or your credibility as a nerd/ability to discuss something in a forum. To me, my health is more important. But, if you’re young and fuck it about life then sure!
○ Since I mentioned the accursed shounen formula, I might as well explain what I didn’t like about it. I understand that this series has an excuse for characters not being permanently dead, because of the Greek mythology lore and Cancer Deathmask’s ability, but I still abhor becoming completely apathetic about the Saint Seiya’s characters deaths.
○ I DID like the brutality and spontaneity of how some characters died though, like Hunter x Hunter, it added a sense of realism to their world. Not every death should be romanticized, especially if they’re mythical men who fight to the death. I mean, you don’t read an Arthurian legend and expect any of them to be resurrected, do you? Actually, Fate/stay night is a thing. Never mind!
□ Oh, what? Character A died, don’t worry, their soul is just in the realm of the dead, which is pretty much a place where you can choose to restart the game or recover lost team members.
□ I have a crazy conspiracy theory: what if Saint Seiya really just meant to be a video game all along? I wonder. Speaking of video game logic, Athena Saori gets kidnapped as much as Princess Peach, if not more. This is why Athena Sasha from Lost Canvas definitely best girl; she’s powerful, enigmatic, and is voiced by Aya Hirano…
□ Among other reasons. *LOUD COUGHING* best girl *LOUD COUGHING* Saint Seiya was the progenitor to Sailor Moon, you can see such similarities as… the main characters having repetitive attack animation and shouting their moves out-loud, I think that’s one of the reasons that I didn’t care for the Bronze Saints as much as the Gold Saints.
□ That and one of the main Bronze Saints has what looks like a child’s training potty on his head and his has a necrophile thing for his mommy. Shun Andromeda is pretty amazing though, even though he also has a weird incest thing for his… older brother. God, if he says Nee-san one more time… on second thought, he might be like that crazy little sister from Mahouka. “Onii-sama… Onii-sama… Oniisama…” I often hear that voice in my dreams.
○ As far as the other series go:
□ I didn’t like the Hades Chapter, it was boring and the directing was choppy. The only reason for watching the first season is for nostalgia and Virgo Shaka gets a lot of screen time because he’s amazing.
□ I dropped Saint Seiya: Soul of Gold after the first episode because it seemed like an empty cash grab. I really wanted to be invested, too. As I’ve stated previously, I love the Gold Saints, they are really interesting!
□ Saint Seiya Omega is bad, it’s pretty (in some parts, others look like an elementary schooler drew and animated) and I love the version Pegasus Fantasy that they use for the OP. It gets you pumped. Too bad the show is nonsensical, and in my opinion, shouldn’t be considered canonical. I dropped it after seven episodes.
□ Saint Seiya: Lost Canvas is really good. If you’re a fan of the original, it’s interesting to see the previous generation of Saints. The second cour wasn’t as good, but I still enjoyed it. The designs are solid, the animation is pretty, there is a good amount character development, and there’s interesting additions to the Saint mythos.
□ Overall, I enjoyed Lost Canvas more than the original series and it is my favorite Saint Seiya thus far. You don’t have to watch the original series to get it either, so if you’re interested, Lost Canvas may be an ideal introductory series.
○ These are my tier list of arcs from the original series, so you know what the best parts are or if you want to skip around:
i. Sanctuary (Ep. 1-73): This is the best arc, especially the last part with “the Pope” (no spoilers), the clocktower, and the Bronze Saints fighting with the Gold Saints in their houses.
□ There’s a stupid subplot with “Steel Saints”, which are glorified filler characters, that only have the purpose of making the Saints question, “Are they good guys or bad guys?” The answer is: “Nobody cares!” That was the worst part of the first arc, other than the beginning, which was rocky.
□ In fact, I first started watching Saint Seiya nine years ago, and dropped it because I couldn’t get into it at first, BUT I finally finished it this year and now, I’m really obsessed. I would say, if you read this review and you’re still not interested then don’t try. But, if this has piqued your curiosity, give the series a grace period or skip to the introduction of the Gold Saints.
ii. Poseidon (Ep. 100-114): This arc was more climactic and less sluggish than the previous Asgard arc. The ending of the series wasn’t anything special, but there were a couple of cool fight scenes.
iii. Asgard (Ep. 74-99): There is a reason that this arc is bad, well, because this arc is really just filler. It is not in the manga, and is an anime-only thing. Things we didn’t need in a Saint Seiya Series, a seahorse saint and other side characters that no one cares about.
□ Well, I did really like Mime and Fenrir, but all of the other Saints backstories seemed pointless and anti-climactic. I didn’t think Hilda was the worst character ever, but there was really no point in having her.
○ The original series has its pros and cons, I personally think that it’s a good series if you watch it a little at a time and, especially, if you’re interested in Greek mythology or want to see one of the most iconic action series. Saint Seiya (1986) gets a 6/10.