Having a look through TAY and Kotaku I noticed there are barely any articles about Saint Seiya (SS), the TV series, the manga, the movies, the toys and thought “What the Hades, people? Are you sleeping around?”
Ok I am aware that it is not easy to write about SS due to the long running story but I will give it a go. What I believe is the best way to do this is to focus the post on everything instead of just one particular medium, pointing out to the other sources when relevant. Right guys, put on your Myth Cloths and let that Cosmos roar!
*Some spoilers ahead, apologies for that.*
SS is originally a manga series written by Masami Kurumada and published in Weekly Shonen Jump between 1986 and 1990. There was also a great anime aired in Japan between 1986 and 1989. This original series spawned manga and anime spin-offs Next Dimension, Episode G., The Lost Canvas, Omega (the one I prefer to forget existed) and the surprisingly good and currently running Soul of Gold. Finally there was also a remake of the original series in a CGI film called “Legend of Sanctuary”.
There are several video games for most platforms, and an amazing series of collectible figures related to the series on which I spent more money than I should have, but I regret nothing! Nothing!
These are my two favorites, Aries Mu, and Hades:
But who or what in Tartarus is Saint Seiya?
The series is focused on Seiya, an orphan boy who is forced to go to the Sanctuary where champions are trained to defend the Goddess Athena. In the world of SS, the Greek Gods incarnate people every few years and fight for the control of Earth. They each have their champions to fight for them. Hades has his 108 Specters, Poseidon his 7 Generals, Athena her 88 Saints. When it comes to Athena’s Saints they are usually trained in the Sanctuary and the best of the best are granted mystical armours called Cloths, each one related to one of the 88 constellations (Specters are stars, generals the 7 seas). The Saints, as they are known are divided in three levels depending on how powerful they are, Bronze, Silver and Gold Saints. The gold saints wear armours related to the 12 signs of the Zodiac, reason why in some places SS is also known as “Knights of the Zodiac”.
Story wise it is not very complex, in spite of being long, very long. I would rather not go into too much detail for those who never saw or read it, so I’ll just do a quick synopsis. Those who know the story can comment on what they know, like or dislike, those who don’t know it, maybe it will open enough of an appetite for it.
Saori Kido organizes a fighting event, the Galaxian Wars, where new bronze saints will fight to win the honor of the most powerful cloth of all, the Sagittarius Gold Cloth. The tournament is stopped by Ikki the Phoenix Saint who steals several parts of the Gold Cloth. Seiya the Pegasus Saint and some others go to get the missing pieces. Eventually they are attacked by Silver Saints sent by the leader of the Sanctuary. After that they find out that Saori is in fact the incarnation of the Goddess Athena and the Pope (leader of the Sanctuary) is trying to kill her since she was a baby. The Bronze Saints decide to go to the Sanctuary go through the 12 houses of the Zodiac defeating the 12 Gold Saints, and defeat the Pope so that Saori can take her seat and be safe. There is loads of fighting and one is blinded at some early point.
The Second Arc is against Poseidon, who also incarnates into a human and wants to flood it. God of the seas and stuff, almost James Bondian villain plan but it makes some sense. The Bronze Saints must defeat the 7 Generals in order to stop this, there is more fighting, one loses an eye and flooding is prevented.
The third Arc is against Hades, who decides to attack Athena, the Sanctuary, Earth and everything living as he likes to do every few hundred years. This time the Saints need to defeat the Spectres, who, because they are on Hades side, don’t die when defeated. Interesting twist there and how they twist it back. The Saints fight all the way to Elysium (last level of the Underworld) fight other Gods such as Hypnos and Thanatos, and the series ends. Sort of…
Like I said, pretty basic story, it is worth reading or watching due to the details and the fights but it is summarized very quickly.
The Bronze Saints
The main characters of the series are 5 Bronze Saints, Seiya, Shiryu, Hyoga, Shun and Ikki. Unfortunately they are not the best characters ever, as they are all a bit one dimensional. Seiya is the main character of the five, he uses the Pegasus Cloth and basically he is the one that always gets a huge trashing, then the other three come to help, they get a trashing, Ikki shows up, beats someone up then gets a trashing and finally Seiya gets some willpower Cosmos together and brings the smackdown on whoever they are fighting. I know it sounds like a basic plot, but it is that simple, although the fights are cool and worth watching. Seiya is mainly driven by his goal of finding his sister and is the one the others look up to as an example of strength. Hyoga Cygnus (or Swan) Saint is a cool character always there for his friends, Shiryu of Dragon is probably the most powerful of them all when it comes to brute force and Shun who wears the Andromeda cloth is the most delicate and less violent of them but has amazing skills and power. Finally Phoenix Ikki, Shun’s brother… Ikki is just badass just look at his entrance in the movie Legend of Sanctuary.
Legend of Sanctuary
This movie came out in 2014 and is basically a remake of the original Sanctuary Arc. Although there are several alterations that were necessary due to how long the series takes, not all of them were successfully achieved in my perspective.
Fighting? Ain’t nobody got time for that!
This is my biggest itch about this movie, although the fights are excellent, they are usually short, except the last one which I also didn’t like, but more on that in a bit. It would be difficult to put all the fights from the Sanctuary arc in a movie, I can understand that, but if they didn’t spend so much time setting up the story, which could have been done in a shorter way, the movie could have had more, or longer fight scenes.
Turning Milo Saint of Scorpio into a woman was a mistake. I don’t want to sound sexist, but really? In every version I saw there are no female Gold Saints, there are other female saints in the series, but not Gold, and again I am not saying women can’t be as strong as men, I am just saying it was an unnecessary gender swap that added nothing to the plot.
Deathmask, Saint of Cancer. Really, guys? Really? On every version the Cancer Saint is an absolute badass and you do this to him here? I’m not going into details; those who have seen the series and movie know what I’m talking about, those who will see it will understand.
The final fight, like with Deathmask, was just poorly handled. I understand that a giant monster is visually more interesting but there was no need for that. In any way at all!
Visually, the movie is beautiful; the CGI is top level and flows perfectly, as do the fights in spite of being short. Or maybe because they are short…
I love the fact that they took away the Cloth boxes. As you can see in the following image, Saints carry their Cloths in huge boxes, and c’mon… those do not look user friendly. In the movie they have these little amulets that bring the Cloth from some other dimension or some crap like that they don’t explain, but I like it.
The Cloths! Holy Zeus, they look amazing! I particularly like the fact that the helmets have several shapes depending on if they are just walking around or if they are fighting. Great detail, loved it.
Overall, the movie is worth seeing. So if you haven’t yet, and even if you don’t know the series, take a look at it.
Other versions of Saint Seiya that are worth some time.
The Lost Canvas
This one is a spin-off of the original series. It was published between 2006 and 2011 in Weekly Shonen Champion magazine and the story is set 250 years before the Saint Seiya. There is both a complete manga series and an anime that was stupidly cancelled in order for Saint Seiya Omega to be done. Big mistake, but whatever… The plot of The Lost Canvas is a lot more interesting and complex than the original. It follows the last holy war when Hades attacked and the Saints had to fight the Specters, it sounds similar to the last arc of the original series, but it’s not. Firstly, this war happens again every hundred and odd years, it will go on until Hades conquers Earth and kills every living being in it. The characters are a lot more interesting and complex, not only the main bronze ones but the Gold Saints as well. It’s a more grown up version of the series and a lot more fluid and well told. The most interesting thing about this is that the incarnations of Athena, Hades and Seiya were all friends in an orphanage. I don’t know what’s with these guys and orphans but it must be a thing. So Sasha, Alone and Tenma, not only have to fulfil their duties but they must do it against their past and feelings. This makes for a more compelling and interesting view of the stories and gives more depth to the characters.
Although you will be left with a void I believe you should give the anime a try, it is really nicely achieved, and read the manga, there you get the full story and it is totally worth the time.
Soul of Gold
This one started on April 11th 2015 and there are only 3 episodes available yet, it’s on every other Friday/Saturday depending on where you live and how you can access it. Can’t tell you too much of the story because of it except the set up.
In the original anime, not the manga, there is a filler arc where the Bronze Saints go to northern Europe and fight Odin’s God Warriors, obviously they win. And at almost the end of the Hades Arc in the series all the Gold Saints give their lives so that the Bronze ones can go into Elysium and do stuff. In Soul of Gold, the Gold Saints were brought back to life, and have to fight new God Warriors, although they do not understand why. Neither do I but I am loving it so far.
So, my fellow TAYers there is a lot of SS out there to have a look at. Although nostalgia will always keep the original warm in one of my hearths, I would advise to you the excellent Lost Canvas if you are more into manga, Legend of Sanctuary for the CGI production, and Soul of Gold because it’s new and pretty.
Before I forget, this is the best of Saint Seiya, the intro song! Those of us who grew up with this will remember the awesomeness of it on the first few chords!
Just to finish, for you to understand how much I love Saint Seiya, I have the Aries Gold Saint tattooed on my arm:
Thanks for reading, feel free to comment, question and sh… stuff. And stuff.