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Jason Thompson's House of 1000 Manga - Saint Seiya: Knights of the Zodiac


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Shenl742
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PostPosted: Thu Nov 18, 2010 4:21 pm Reply with quote
Thankyou so much for posting this! Pretty much agree with everything you said. Saint Seiya has a list of flaws a mile long, but there's a certain, distilled epic passion in it which allows it to transcend them. It took me a lot of work, but I'm proud to say I've got all 28 volumes of it in english.

It's a crying shame that series has pretty much passed America bye. I personally think that Saint Seiya, rather than Dragon Ball Z, is the cornerstone which shonen fighting manga is built upon, and it's a shame that it's so out of focus.
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nightjuan



Joined: 22 Jan 2008
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PostPosted: Thu Nov 18, 2010 4:36 pm Reply with quote
This article reminds me about why, when I was younger, Saint Seiya was quite possibly the best thing in the world. At the same time, it also succeeds in bringing up a lot of conflicting feelings.

I enjoyed every minute of the anime growing up and even got to read summaries of the Hades arc long before that part of the manga was ever animated, let alone scanned and translated, but my ultimate conclusion is one of skepticism and cynicism regarding Masami Kurumada's inability or unwillingness to make the most out of a brilliant concept. If he had only dared to take a few more risks, everything could have been so much better.

Yes, once you realize the story and many of its battles are extremely formulaic, the magic tends to slip away and only leaves behind a lot of nostalgia value. Not exactly the worst thing ever, but not something that stands the test of time either. Well, perhaps with the possible exception of the soundtracks, which are absolutely wonderful...but then again that only applies to the anime and not to the original manga itself.

On that note...the differences between the manga and the anime are limited to a filler arc or two, some additional characters and slight modifications to certain events or how a few fights were resolved, but generally speaking the adaptation didn't exactly misrepresent the original source material. Which is both good and bad.

I suppose those who are newcomers or whose passion continues to remain resilient will be far more optimistic about the subject. As things stand, Saint Seiya gave me countless hours of entertainment but I'm not too interested in revisiting the same experience at this time.
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Lord Geo



Joined: 18 Sep 2005
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PostPosted: Thu Nov 18, 2010 5:12 pm Reply with quote
Great to see this manga getting some focus, let alone have it be one of your longer entries. I've said it before, but Masami Kurumada is, by far, the master of "straight-up shonen action"; when it comes to action, very few can match, let alone top, Kurumada. Also, I'm glad to see that you do see that the story arcs, while formulaic, are still complex and expansive. Too bad that after TokyoPop releases the last volume of B't X in a couple of weeks we'll probably never get anymore Kurumada manga ever again. Shueisha owns 95% of his works, including B't X now, and Viz will never touch any of his titles again, even if Shaenon Garrity and translator Mari Morimoto beg Viz for the rest of their lives. And the other 5% of his works, which amounts to three titles (two of which aren't even drawn by him), are related to Saint Seiya and will probably never be brought over because of that relation.

As for the main idea behind the cosmos, that's part of what I like to call Masami Kurumada's use of "metaphysics" (probably not the right term to use, but I think it works in this case): Somehow Kurumada has this ability to make an explanation he gives for how something works result in you thinking "It makes sense in theory" enough to let you accept that it can work. He uses this a lot more in his later work B't X, which is pretty much Kurumada taking his usual style and mixing it with mecha (specifically super robot) logic.

Oh, and Dragon Shiryu is easily the most masochistic shonen character ever. He just has to have an infinite amount of blood in his body. Also, his main philosophy in battle is so simple but at the same time genius.

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(But more importantly, why hasn't Ring ni Kakero been translated? I don't get it! 4Kids would love it, right?)


I love the anime adaptation of Ring ni Kakero 1 and it's by far the one anime I want to see licensed more than anything else (not necessarily my favorite anime of all time, but it is my most wanted anime license). The first two seasons of the anime have been fansubbed, though it certainly took a while for them to be fully subbed. I think too many people just look at the boxing theme and expect it to be just another sports title, though. And, hell, there are a good number of reviews of the anime that just insult the hell out of it because of how over-the-top it is. I can understand wanting something more realistic (I especially love Hajime no Ippo and Ashita no Joe), but at the same time there's nothing wrong with simply being a fun show to watch. Ring ni Kakero 1 is simply fun and crazy shonen action and it delivers that really well.

If you are interested in this title at all, Jason, I'd recommend watching the anime, as seemingly no one is ever going to translate the manga, unless Shueisha decides to make it available on that upcoming manga portal (yeah, right); I ended up recently buying the 18-volume re-release of the manga that Shueisha did back in 2000-2001 just so I could have the manga in some form. I will say that the anime does start a few volumes into the story, but that's because the anime's starting point is where the main story really gets going. Everything before that is really more of a Joe-like drama story and the other major characters aren't introduced until where the anime starts.

Oh how I want to own this anime, all three seasons of it (with hopefully more of it coming one day), on R1 DVD one day...

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Saint Seiya is more like the 2010 Clash of the Titans, with its "humanity, f*ck yeah" message, rather than the 1981 Clash of the Titans


Not surprsing at all, since the director is a giant fan of Saint Seiya, and purposely made the armor that the gods wear look like cloths as an homage.

All this talk from me, and to think that DiC's horrific adaptation of Saint Seiya made me not want to read or watch any of Kurumada's works for a while. Thankfully B't X and Ring ni Kakero brought me in.
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CCSYueh



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PostPosted: Thu Nov 18, 2010 6:10 pm Reply with quote
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For example, heroes shed blood and cry and are sincere even when they're mad; villains act like total dicks.


Like any criminal organization, there were varying levels of loyalty. It was revealed the motivation behind the persecution of Athena & the Bronze Saints was sexist (a chick couldn't be expected to win the ultimate of ultimate fights) & only about 3 Gold Saints (2?) outside the head honcho were in the know. Most of the Gold Saints were duped into following orders of their leader. Overall the Silvers seemed the most rotten of the bunch, but the Golds were more noble.
On that note, wasn't it Capricorn they changed into a good guy in the anime when he was unabashedly on the bad guys side in the manga?

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It's a man's man's man's manga.


Oh god, yes. One would have to go to Fist of the North Star to be more manly.

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The cast of Saint Seiya is almost all-male,

Because, otheer than Athena, the female knights are masked & have to kill or marry any man who sees them, wasn't it (yeah-very sexist. A woman warrior goddess would have this rule)

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but there are some men who make almost a separate subspecies, since they are so gorgeously handsome they look like women.

They are so beautiful overall, the few who aren't really stand out--other than Kurumada's really bad art. I was shocked about 1/3rd of the way in he actually started to get some absolutely gorgeous pages in, but then all the stuff around them still sucked so I pictured him slaving away on those few gorgeous pages & then slapping all the rest together. Or he got some really good assistants to help make the most of those great art pages.

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There's quite a few Ancient Greek statues of naked men in the story as well, and although no one ever makes out with anyone else (You want sex scenes? In Kurumada's art style? Are you serious?), it's no surprise to find out that Seiya was a popular dojinshi subject at the birth of yaoi in the '80s.

The anime also had so much room for imagination. Shun's shower scene, the pope getting out of the bath (damn, his hair was too long to see if he had a nice ass) Misty's bath, Aphrodite in one of the movies, wasn't it? I know there were more.

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Facing a deadly opponent, Dragon Shiryu.... ascendant dragon blow and never use it!") Presumably Kurumada was thinking Worked once, might work twice. Or maybe he just forgot.

You have to admit Dragon was the one who seemed to attract bloodloss.

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Saint Seiya is also one of the most masochistic shonen manga ever. If you can't hurt your opponent, you can at least prove your manliness and stoicism by hurting yourself (or your friends), and often you'll somehow kill your opponent in the process. After being defeated by Hyôga, Black Swan rips his own eye out and teleports it to his ally so his ally can see Hyôga's "Kholodyni Smerch" move imprinted in the retina of Black Swan's eye. When Seiya is poisoned by the Black Death Punch and left dying, his friend Shiryu starts stabbing his body with his finger, releasing gouts of blood. "It's okay, I'm opening his Star Life Points!" he tells a horrified onlooker.

Wasn't that kind-hearted Shun?
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"The only way to save Seiya is by opening all 13 points and letting the contaminated blood escape!" Later, Shiryu gouges out his own eyes to resist the power of the Medusa Shield, which can turn people to stone even if they close their eyes. And in still another scene, as if he can't get enough, Shiryû slashes his own wrists with his bare hands so that his blood can pour over the Dragon and Pegasus Cloths to repair them. Of course, merely slashing your wrists seems like nothing in Saint Seiya terms, so another character has to deliver exposition to explain why this is actually dangerous ("It would take at least half of the blood in your body. A man cannot lose even a third of his blood and survive, and a knight is still fundamentally a mortal human!")

The only theory that works is Saints either have twice as much blood as the average human, or their blood replenishes at an amazing speed.In particular, the anime was so gloriously bloody-little things like Shun holding tight on his chain as it's beeing ripped from his hand & the "drip, drip" of the blood in the soundtrack. That shot of Dragon lying in his own blood after fighting his Black Saint opponent was too much blood for the average human, much less someone who surrendered as much as he allegedly did to revive the cloths. The fricken fact the cloths were so bloodthirsty (we see Gold Saints reviving the Bronze armor after the Sanctuary story) is amazing for a children's story when one recalls what was deemed safe for American juveniles in the '80's.

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Pain is how heroes earn their heroism....glories of Ancient Greece.

I found the theme not unlike the idea of beautiful youth dying for a noble cause in the full bloom of their youth & the whole "march into Hell for a Heavenly cause".
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In fact, despite the deaths and blood and dismemberments and people getting thrown into molten lava, Saint Seiya somehow doesn't even seem that violent. Hear me out. First off, almost all the fighting is just hands and fists, with nary a sword or gun or even a sharp object.

My memory was a whole lot of chi or mystical/psychic attacks. The ones actually using their fists seemed few & far between but it may have been the art style. It could be my favs favored the mental stuff like Gemini & Ikki. (Ikki rocks) Yeah, he punched, but the devastation was the move destroyed the opponent's mind. Poople never talk about how over-powered the Saints are, yet they really were obscenely overpowered which is why I believe Kurumada didn't have them fighting mere mortals--they fought one another or gods. The forbidden Athena Exclamation had the power of a nuclear bomb, didn't it? Or was that 2 Gold Saints facing off?
There were weapons. (Hell, the cloths alone ran to lots of horns. Just have Scorpio shoulder-butt the opponent or what the hell is it with the Aries cloth?)
Otherwise, Shun's chains were his major weapon. Aphrodite had his roses. Libra loaned his weapons to Dragon, wasn't it? Dragon a shield.

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Just as real injuries aren't exciting enough for Saint Seiya, neither is real death. Merely being threatened with death is kind of bland, not to mention nonthreatening when your heroes have the ability to come back from the dead.

Not exactly.
My memory was Ikki seemed to be able to return thanks to the Phoenix cloth (& in fact, never really hung around like the rest of the lot. He seemed to show up when Shun was in trouble & otherwise was in his fortress of solitude or maybe some limbo). No one else returned on their own power--once dead, they were dead. The only "return" was the Hades Chapter where it is stated the Saints killed in the prior battles were resurrected by the Underworld so they could kill Athena. Yeah, they were alive, but they were under a new boss. Wasn't it referred to as a temporary life?
Other than that, Libra had been granted an extremely long life, but he hadn't died or anything.

Interesting take. Yeah, it's a shonen manga, but I guess I saw more of the whole higher cause nobility stuff & never really noticed the fighting, maybe because the moved along pretty quickly, didn't they? Maybe a couple took 2 volumes, but overall, there were usually 2 or 3 going on at any one time so there were enough it never got dull. In particuar the anime never seemed like 15 episodes of fighting because they were different fights & thus different tactics.
I see a lot of the modern stuff as being either heavily Seiya influenced or Dragonball-like 2 different camps. (OK, some aren't necessarily either but the 2 types are pretty definitively each one. I see Naruto as more DB & Bleach as more Seiya)
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Basilisk Steven



Joined: 28 May 2010
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PostPosted: Thu Nov 18, 2010 7:30 pm Reply with quote
An excellent write up.
For the record, Kurumada's atheist (almost anti-theist) views are well-documented, and not limited to western religions alone, as he spurns several Japanese folkloric traditions as well. And yes, it is a running theme throughout Saint Seiya. Many believe that if he ever would complete that long planned 4th arc, it would end with the complete slaughter of the gods at the hands of the human protagonists.

There's this line in the fifth Saint Seiya movie which, although not written by Kurumada, encapsulates the series' viewpoint perfectly. It goes something like: "Even if it is humanity's fate to disappear, I will leave proof of our existence by planting my fist in the face of God."
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Lord Geo



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PostPosted: Thu Nov 18, 2010 7:42 pm Reply with quote
CCSYueh wrote:
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It's a man's man's man's manga.


Oh god, yes. One would have to go to Fist of the North Star to be more manly.


And even then it's hard to tell which is manlier.

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The cast of Saint Seiya is almost all-male,

Because, otheer than Athena, the female knights are masked & have to kill or marry any man who sees them, wasn't it (yeah-very sexist. A woman warrior goddess would have this rule)


Granted, Kurumada's first serialized manga had a female lead but it only lasted two volumes. I guess Kurumada decided to make males the focus after that, though he has given females some more focus since Saint Seiya. B't X, amazingly enough, has quite a few females who actually do things in it, and only one of them hides the fact that she's female!

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The forbidden Athena Exclamation had the power of a nuclear bomb, didn't it? Or was that 2 Gold Saints facing off?


Nuclear bomb? What do you think this is, some wussy shonen action manga? The Athena Exclamation had the strength of the Big Bang that created the Universe! Even Dark Schneider would look at that and say "Now that's power!"

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Just as real injuries aren't exciting enough for Saint Seiya, neither is real death. Merely being threatened with death is kind of bland, not to mention nonthreatening when your heroes have the ability to come back from the dead.

Not exactly.
My memory was Ikki seemed to be able to return thanks to the Phoenix cloth (& in fact, never really hung around like the rest of the lot. He seemed to show up when Shun was in trouble & otherwise was in his fortress of solitude or maybe some limbo). No one else returned on their own power--once dead, they were dead. The only "return" was the Hades Chapter where it is stated the Saints killed in the prior battles were resurrected by the Underworld so they could kill Athena. Yeah, they were alive, but they were under a new boss. Wasn't it referred to as a temporary life?
Other than that, Libra had been granted an extremely long life, but he hadn't died or anything.


Yeah, Jason kind of exaggerated the death and revival aspect in this title. This title isn't like Dragon Ball, where characters can continually die and get revived shortly after. For the most part, unless your a major character (or Taurus Aldebaran) if you die you die... Until the Hades Chapter starts. Well, except for Poseidon's forces, as they kind of get the short end of the stick.

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Interesting take. Yeah, it's a shonen manga, but I guess I saw more of the whole higher cause nobility stuff & never really noticed the fighting, maybe because the moved along pretty quickly, didn't they? Maybe a couple took 2 volumes, but overall, there were usually 2 or 3 going on at any one time so there were enough it never got dull. In particuar the anime never seemed like 15 episodes of fighting because they were different fights & thus different tactics.


Yeah, Saint Seiya was good at keeping things fresh by keeping everything moving at a good pace. The anime tended to slow things down a little, but it still wasn't as bad as some shonens can get nowadays.

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punching each other so hard they fly into the air (something which happens so often here it is known as the Kurumada-futtobi, or "Kurumada launch")


Jason, how could you mention the Kurumada-futtobi but not mention the Kurumada-ochi/"Kurumada Fall", where characters always seem to land directly on their heads if they're launched into the air during a battle?
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vashfanatic



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PostPosted: Thu Nov 18, 2010 7:54 pm Reply with quote
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To quote Shaenon again: "White-people religion is all the same, right?"

It's only fair given the BS we pull with "Eastern" and "primitive" religions. And thanks for reminding me that I still need to read Occidentalism...

Also, thank you for giving me something to look at as the potential source for everything I loathe in shounen series, from the predominantly male casts to the mindless battles to the make-it-up-as-you-go-along plot... as well as much of what I like about them, of course, like the fun and PASSION!!
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Dark Elf Warrior



Joined: 26 Nov 2007
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PostPosted: Thu Nov 18, 2010 9:34 pm Reply with quote
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Heine was by no means a right-wing nationalist who glorified dying for your country


Yes, because right-wingers are death obsessed people who glorify dying, death and suicide, whether it be for a good cause or just for the heck of it. Rolling Eyes Choose your words carefully. Using terms like that can really cause problems. Not all right-wingers are death-obsessed, on the contrary, many wonder why we have so many death-obsessed emo kids. Just saying. I'm Independant by the way, but these types of comments have started flame wars all over the place, and with things being the way they are now, I just wouldn't go there.

Good article by the way. Never really got into Saint Seiya, but it does seem to be overlooked.
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Zac
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PostPosted: Thu Nov 18, 2010 9:37 pm Reply with quote
Dark Elf Warrior wrote:


Yes, because right-wingers are death obsessed people who glorify dying, death and suicide, whether it be for a good cause or just for the heck of it. Rolling Eyes Choose your words carefully. Using terms like that can really cause problems. Not all right-wingers are death-obsessed, on the contrary, many wonder why we have so many death-obsessed emo kids. Just saying. I'm Independant by the way, but these types of comments have started flame wars all over the place, and with things being the way they are now, I just wouldn't go there.

Good article by the way. Never really got into Saint Seiya, but it does seem to be overlooked.


He isn't talking about the American right. And it's spelled "independent".
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ladyvoid



Joined: 21 Sep 2008
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PostPosted: Thu Nov 18, 2010 10:32 pm Reply with quote
Yah, Saint Seiya's artwork is cluttered at times, and the story may be literally insane, but the "red-blooded shonen fiery" gleams strongly enough for me to see it. The series is just... doesn't hold back, lol.
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CCSYueh



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PostPosted: Thu Nov 18, 2010 10:53 pm Reply with quote
Lord Geo wrote:

B't X, amazingly enough, has quite a few females who actually do things in it, and only one of them hides the fact that she's female!

I hated that! I sort of suspected. I had it pre-ordered when TP cancelled that last volume & I have again pre-ordered it (16?) There's 18, isn't there? I don't really care as long as they finish the thing this time!
Lord Geo wrote:

Nuclear bomb? What do you think this is, some wussy shonen action manga? The Athena Exclamation had the strength of the Big Bang that created the Universe! Even Dark Schneider would look at that and say "Now that's power!"

That was it! Thank you. I remember the Gold Saint weren't supposed to fight because it lasted something like 1000 days because they were evenly matched. (Saga managed, didn't he?)
There was also that moves against Saints could only be used once because once seen, they were countered.
It did have that sad shonen heroes have to fight one another rather than talk & figure out they're on the same side.
Lord Geo wrote:

Yeah, Jason kind of exaggerated the death and revival aspect in this title. This title isn't like Dragon Ball, where characters can continually die and get revived shortly after. For the most part, unless your a major character (or Taurus Aldebaran) if you die you die... Until the Hades Chapter starts. Well, except for Poseidon's forces, as they kind of get the short end of the stick.

That's also part of what I liked about Seiya-they did take out some of the heroes. No wishing back, but that was part of the whole sacrifice theme.
The Saints also seemed way more intelligent than a lot of shonen heroes. Seiya seemed a bit of an ass in the Hades Chapter, but Ikki got to shine as did Canon. Saga, Camus & Capricorn got to be all noble.
But I also REALLY liked that Seiya didn't have to be the big hero always saving the day. The title was more teamwork. In the Poseiden Chapter, each of the heroes had their assigned task to complete. It's never like DBZ & the whole Goku-worship. The Hades Chapter revolves around Shun & Ikki more than any of the Saints.
Though Saint Seiya did have the whole obscenely young heroes (Shun & Seiya are 13 at the onset & Ikki is oldest around 17 or 18). Even the Gold Saints seem rather young, though Saga was in his 20's.
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Lord Geo



Joined: 18 Sep 2005
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PostPosted: Thu Nov 18, 2010 11:02 pm Reply with quote
CCSYueh wrote:
Lord Geo wrote:

B't X, amazingly enough, has quite a few females who actually do things in it, and only one of them hides the fact that she's female!

I hated that! I sort of suspected. I had it pre-ordered when TP cancelled that last volume & I have again pre-ordered it (16?) There's 18, isn't there? I don't really care as long as they finish the thing this time!


Volume 16 is the last volume of B't X. Also, TokyoPop never really canceled B't X... They just never solicited Volume 16 until earlier this year.
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Psycho_Despair



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PostPosted: Thu Nov 18, 2010 11:46 pm Reply with quote
My Uncle loves this series from the bottom of his heart! He told me that this year he re-watched the whole series again, but this time with the OVAs. We even watched the Heaven Overture Chapter film, together, but he is still left with the cliff hanger, since the film is not part of the story.

After watching the film, I got interested of the series and now I am planning on buying the 28 volumes. Very Happy


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"Even if it is humanity's fate to disappear, I will leave proof of our existence by planting my fist in the face of God."


This quote is absolutely awesome, and manly.

Oh and my favorite character is Andromeda Shun (yeah the one that has been mistaken has a girl, more than any other character of the series by readers) I have also heard that he is one of the strongest Saints in the series, is this true?
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Zhou-BR



Joined: 28 Feb 2008
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PostPosted: Thu Nov 18, 2010 11:59 pm Reply with quote
Saint Seiya was the first anime series I ever got obsessed about, and I'm still a devoted fan, even though I admit it really didn't stand the test of time. I only got to read the manga five years after I finished watching the TV series, and while Kurumada's crude artwork put me off at first (in addition to the bad anatomy, it seems he can only draw about ten different poses), I think he's great at designing armors and somehow making characters distinctive and memorable even though they have pretty much the same face.

While it's good that the manga doesn't include the worst filler arcs and contradictory bits from the anime, it's way too fast-paced for its own good. Seiya and co. barely have time to breathe between battles, and the deep bonds they develop with each other seem less believable because of that. Granted, in the manga they're revealed to be half-brothers, while the anime's writers omitted that part, probably because they thought it would detract from their friendship.

But what really captivated me about Saint Seiya, other than all the fighting and dramatic self-sacrifice, was the fact that many of the adversaries were misguided good guys who thought they were fighting for justice... and Seiya and co. still had to kill them for their cause. Hell, Hyoga was forced to kill his own master! In other shonen manga, whenever an opponent turns out to be a good guy, he/she ends up becoming the hero's ally later on, but most decent guys Seiya and his friends fought didn't have such opportunity.

And Saint Seiya fans should definitely check B't X out. It may look disconcertingly similar to SS, but it features some of the most imaginative battles Kurumada has ever come up with. There's even a bizarre mathematical duel that seems straight out of Hunter x Hunter.
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eely225



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PostPosted: Fri Nov 19, 2010 12:56 am Reply with quote
not to be "that guy", but I'd like to say one thing for the sake of clarity.

In the Biblical narrative, Abraham didn't actually sacrifice any of his children. He was prepared to sacrifice his second son, Isaac, but was stopped from doing so. The test was whether he believed that God had the power to raise his son from death. Anyway,

Great article, really engaging. It makes me wish I had gotten into Knights of the Zodiac back when they showed it on Toonami.
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