We know there are tons of classic anime out there, but G4 Rewind Anime Style can’t go on forever. We certainly give an honorable nod to shows like Cowboy Bebop, Rurouni Kenshin, Sailor Moon,
Neon Genesis Evangelion, Trigun, Magic Knight Rayearth, Lupin III, and more. But for the final week, we have something very special for you...
Here in America, everyone is entitled to their own opinion, so here is ours: The Vision of Escaflowne is the greatest anime of all time.
Of course, also in America, we have forums and comments sections for rattling off on how much we disagree about things. Go ahead. We’re sure you want to point out how Escaflowne has nothing on Naruto or Death Note even though you haven’t seen it. Go on...we’ll wait.
Done? Look below the cut.
The Vision of Escaflowne is a highly accessible, moving story about an average teenage girl named Hitomi Kanzaki who gets whisked away to the world of Gaea. There, she develops her latent psychic powers and discovers that her wishes will determine the fate of this land.
As beautiful as Gaea appears, it is a bloodstained world. The ancient Draconians used the power of their will to create it, but that power came at the cost of their own destruction. Now Van Fanel, one of the last Draconians, must lead his devastated homeland out of strife with the help of a mysterious guymalef (mecha) named Escaflowne. Van has few trustworthy allies, but they’re strong. And now, he has Hitomi and her powers by his side.
Is it as easy as it sounds? Nope. That would be boring. Van’s older brother Folken is fighting for the other side, the technology-driven Zaibach Empire. Gotta love an underdog.
The main theme of this series is about the power of will. Are we bound by destiny, or do we forge our own? Is it possible to change destiny through technology? Does fate even exist?
Escaflowne is an evocative, epic adventure that anyone can enjoy. This is the kind of series you show to your girlfriend/boyfriend if you want to try to get them into anime. The story is long enough to be fleshed out without dragging on, but short enough that it comes full circle while fitting all the pieces into place. It may not have the most visually stunning artwork, but the directing is well done. The animation is vivid and the editing builds tension in just the right places.
When you see the scene with the fate machine in action, you’ll know what we’re talking about. (Side note: Upon recent watching, we did notice a continuity error in that scene that occurs twice.)
The soundtrack is composed by Yoko Kanno who also did Cowboy Bebop, RahXephon, and Macross Plus to name a few. For those of you not in the anime loop, she’s the John Williams of anime, and her works in this series really do resemble the music of an epic feature film.
We don’t have much to say about the dub because we generally refuse to hear it. It’s not that it’s bad. It’s tolerable. We’d accept a million dollars to listen to it. But why would we want to when we have a star-studded Japanese cast including Tomokazu Seki, Joji “George” Nakata, Shinichiro Miki, and Maaya Sakamoto? Actually, this was Sakamoto’s first work, so technically she wasn’t a star then....
Shut it. Keep reading.
The best part about getting into Escaflowne now is that the series is much more affordable than it used to be. Several years ago, it would have cost you nearly $200 for eight discs, but now you can find all 26 episodes in a value pack for $40. If you see it, snatch it up.
But wait...there’s more!
There’s also Escaflowne manga and a movie. Keep in mind, both came out after the TV series. We haven’t read the manga yet (because Courtney is afraid to see a non-bishie incarnation of Allen Schezar), so we’re not going to comment on it. The movie, however, we can tell you about. The film is a stand-alone, condensed version of the story. Same basic plot, just crammed into 98 minutes. The story isn’t as gripping as the TV series because of that, but the artwork is stunning and the soundtrack is just brilliant. If you end up really liking the TV series, you should try the film as a bonus.
If you want to call yourself an anime connoisseur, then The Vision of Escaflowne is a must-see. Heck, even if you aren’t, it’ll be the best $40 you’ll ever spend.
-- Courtney Kraft