September 12, 2012

The Vision of Escaflowne

The Vision of Escaflowne is one of those shows that you can't help but feel nostalgia when watching. I remember first being introduced to this show back in the late 90s when it was aired in North America on the Fox Kids Network. Needless to say, this was at a time when anime shows never seemed to reach the end of a season and would usually stop being run about half way through the series. Thankfully we have DVD, Bluray, and of course the Internet, to let us relive the the good old days (usually a years worth of airing lapses in about a week in my case if I'm really into an anime).

The Vision of Escaflowne has a very deep and thought provoking plot. Much of the story is developed around the complexities of love, war, and destiny. The story premises around Hitomi, a schoolgirl from Earth, who has an interest in performing tarot readings to tell fortunes. Hitomi's grandmother passed down a special pendant which is later found out to be from a world known as Gaia. Through a series of strange events, Hitomi is transported to Gaia with a young King by the name of Van. When war breaks out in Van's home town of Fanelia, he must pilot a large and special mech called Escaflowne to protect Hitomi's life and his own. This tragic event leads Van and Hitomi on a quest to challenge the Zaibach Empire and rebuild Fanelia. As they embark on this journey, new friends are made and deep secrets uncovered.

This series has a phenomenal soundtrack and the music was very fitting in setting the mood and tone throughout the entire show. Through the use of classical music, the action scenes tended to have more bravado and flare than many of the newer shows that rely on heavy techno, JRock, and JPop tracks. The musical selection very much helped to create the feeling that this is an "adults" show. Even for those who haven't watched the series, the soundtrack is well worth picking up, or at the very least checking out a few tracks on YouTube.

Animation and artwork was again flawless. The design of characters was very pointed and created the visual aesthetics that this was indeed a show for older audiences. While there were no graphic or nude scenes by any means, the way that characters were rendered demonstrated almost a maturity in the animation. The colours in the artwork were often a little duller, but used very effectively. This effect created almost a historical feel which was especially effective since the plot is set in a medieval period. One feature that really stood out was the use of still images during certain action scenes. This often helped to slow the pace of the action scene down and really cause you to think about what was happening in the story. It also provided an opportunity to showcase some outstanding art stills during the show.

A consistent aspect of this show was that the story did not stop on account of the action scenes. The action scenes were often used as a means to amplify elements of the story rather than being used as stopping points for senseless violence.

Overall, The Vision of Escalfowne is a masterpiece! Every minute is worth watching. My only regret looking back is that I didn't finish watching this series sooner and that it took so many years for me to get around to watching it in entirety. This will definitely be one of those shows that you will add to your collection and watch more than once.

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