Tuesday, December 20, 2016

The Vision of Escaflowne: Complete Series

Age Rating: 13 and up
Rating: 10 out of 10
Episode Count: 26
Genre: Action, Adventure, Fantasy, Romance, Mecha
Format: English Dubbed

Official Synopsis:

"Hitomi Kanzaki is an ordinary high school girl who runs track and has an affinity for tarot reading. But when a brash young man named Van appears from a beam of light at her high school, Hitomi is spirited away to a mysterious new world called Gaea. On Gaea, Hitomi is a stranger in a strange land.

Soldiers in magnificent armored mechs, or Guymelefs, wreak havoc around her. Humanoid animals walk and talk like people, and foreign empires are embroiled in an increasingly violent war. On top of that, Hitomi discovers her ability to read tarot cards is due to a secret power more potent than she'd ever imagined, and her newfound ability makes her both an asset and a target.

To save the world of Gaea and return to her own, Hitomi must unravel the mystery of her powers, Van's past, and the powerful Escaflowne.

A sweeping tale of love and war, The Vision of Escaflowne was a seminal series that influenced anime's worldwide popularity. Directed by Kazuki Akane, this beautifully animated adventure features epic music, memorable characters, and an unforgettable love story."

My Review: 

Was it all just a dream? Or was it a vision?” For me, being given the privilege to share the magic of this series was a bit of both. Due to its age, and its original US license holder’s untimely demise, by the time I was mature enough to fully appreciate Escaflowne my window of opportunity had already flown by. Surprisingly, I had only ever heard whispers of praise surrounding this series, so I would’ve been more than willing to relinquish any and all fantasies of ever getting to watch this masterpiece. However, in the end, it turned out I didn’t have to.

FUNimation never fails to anticipate our wishes, so they not only obtained the rescue license Escaflowne desperately deserved, but went the extra mile in outfitting it with a completely new, definitive dub; paid in part by the fans who expressed their dedication to this classic with over $318,000 of support via Kickstarter! I swear it’s as if FUNimation can read my inner most thoughts! The moment I begin to admire and revere classic animation, but had tragically run out of vintage series to watch, my vigilant guardian angel swooped in to rescue me in grandiose fashion.

In the past two years I’ve spent countless hours binge watching many of the classics; from enormously popular series like Cowboy Bebop and Inuyasha, to the more niche favorites like Trigun and Rerouni Kenshin. These titans of their times have helped to broaden my horizons in more than one respect. Among these much loved and highly praised series though, Escaflowne easily stands out as the most life altering for me personally. Calling something this profound “entertainment,” feels a bit wrong. It goes a step beyond entertainment… it’s an experience!

Everything about Escaflowne rang supremely modern and relevant. A task not easily achieved by a series that just celebrated its 20th anniversary. Maybe it was because it was my first time watching it, but I swear it felt as if I was seeing anime for the first time. I was overcome with the most surreal combination of nostalgia and new found wonderment.

It reminded me of the excitement you feel when first watching an anime … the satisfying yet nervous energy you produce wondering what’s going to happen next … the tremendous thrill encountered when an epiphany is revealed … and the inevitable anticipation you face at the end of each episode! Yes, it’s series like Escaflowne that are the reason I’ve chosen to dedicate my life to anime.
So here are a few of the things that serve to give Escaflowne an unmistakable aura, tangible presence, and timeless feel:

  • Striking animation
  • Stunning OSTs
  • Mesmerizing stories
  • Mystical setting
  • Majestic battles
  • Unprecedented  plot
  • Distinct voice acting
  • Relatable relationships
  •  Impacting morals
  • Characters you can feel passionate about

Transcending both its country of origin and era as well was child’s play for this well versed series. Incorporating contradictory genres in a complementary fashion, Escaflowne was so far ahead of its time, it will take another two decades for the 21st century anime to catch up.

With a medley of characters you’ll instantly find yourself invested in, its cast will keep you on the edge of your seat. Prepare to wrack your brain pondering their pasts, bite your nails down to a nub worrying about their present, and find religion while praying in favor of their futures.

This series blazed a bright trail to the enlightened future that we now live in. Rather than exiling its heroine to the role of damsel in distress, it gave her a crucial purpose, allowing her to brilliantly display how one can be weak and vulnerable, yet kind and brave, all in the same breath.

With nuanced relationships, that refuse to stand for the status quo, Escaflowne keeps things real in its portrayal of the trials of love. Life isn’t as straight forward as a love triangle, and emotions aren’t as simple as, “I love them both.” To know another’s heart, you must first know your own, and Escaflowne goes the extra mile to vividly display that. An exchange of ideas can bring about peace faster than an exchange of blows. Kind words motivate faster than harsh truths, and a warm embrace can be filled with more passion than the most romantic kiss.

Of the many ideals Escaflowne explored though, my favorite was the cold hard truth, that, in fact, seeing is NOT believingbut believing IS seeing! I could expound, but for fear of revealing any critical plot points, I’ll leave it at that. There were so many wonderful thoughts and feelings that Escaflowne left me with that I can’t possibly fit them all into one review. So I’ll leave off with this: Sometimes to experience something new, we must look to the past. We should always remember, at all costs, that Entertainment Has No Expiration Date

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