Don't you just hate spoilers? I do, too. That's why I always try to include warnings. However, I sometimes ramble a bit too much here or there and maybe a few (or many) key plot points slip without me giving proper notice. So I'd like to include a blanket spoiler warning for the weary internet travelers of the world: Here There Be Spoilers. You've been warned.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Fate and Fortune: A Review of The Vision of Escaflowne (Tenkū no Esukafurōne)

I bought this series on DVD with the idea that I had seen it before or at least some of it. Well, apparently, I haven't. I couldn't remember anything more about this show than the name. And I think I only know the name from the movie that so divides the fans of the series. The title of this show is often just shortened to Escaflowne, but the credits say The Vision of Escaflowne so I posted the entire title to avoid any confusion.

This show is a neatly wrapped package of 26 episodes and the plot is pretty thick. It's hard to believe that FOX Kids once had the show on (in a heavily edited format, of course) because this show is very hard to understand. In most cases the key concepts in this show are fate and fortune. One of the many questions asked in the show is whether or not we can change our destiny just by wishing it to be changed. This is a particularly heady concept and it is not really prevalent until the later half of the series, but it is something to look out for. This show won't hesitate to get all philosophical on your ass. Especially toward the end.

But let's talk about the beginning and our key characters. The main character of the story is Hitomi Kazaki and she is just your typical school girl from Japan. She likes a certain boy in her class and the boy is moving away. Naturally, she is sad. It's only that when she goes to see him for the final time that things really get weird. A brilliant flash of light appears from the sky and a strange boy appears. This boy's name is Van Fanel and he just happens to be carrying a sword and warning everyone to get away because a dragon will soon be coming.

Now let's fast forward a bit.

Eventually, Hitomi is transported back to Van's world by seemingly mere happenstance and it is in the strange world of Gaea that the story truly begins. We are introduced to a world that is at war or at least on the cusp of it and violence seems to be erupting in Van's kingdom of Fanelia. The strange and evil Empire of Zaibach is on the attack and they want one thing called the dragon.

Well, the dragon happens to be a large robot (or "guymelef") named Escaflowne and it just happens to belong to Van. Hitomi finds herself constantly under attack because of her association with him, but she soon finds out that she may be the one more capable of destruction or salvation than any guymelef.

So this story really does have everything you could want. Dragons, robots, war, heavy concepts, and a love triangle or two.

There's virtually no nudity and little swearing so that may be a plus for some. But the show is fairly violent. There are quite a few battles between people piloting large robots and blood does get spilled.

But there isn't a single episode wasted. I would have loved to see a few more episodes, but I guess I'll just have to get the movie. And I said earlier that the movie really divides fans and that is for a good reason. Some movies can fit neatly inside of its series and others can't fit at all because of how little excess time there is in the series to make another adventure fit in, but the movie of Escaflowne is different because it takes on the whole "alternate dimension" thing. Characters are wholly changed and the plot is changed from anything resembling the series. It is kind of like the difference between Richard Bachman's The Regulators and Stephen King's Desperation.

I think I once saw the movie, but I can't really remember. Hell, I thought I saw the series before, but I guess not. But I'm glad I bought the series because I see some more repeated viewings on the horizon.

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