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Escaflowne Vol 1: Dragons and Destiny

(return to disc)

Content rating: 7
Posted 2003-08-31 by StupendousMan
Endorsed by Cacophanus on 2003-09-22 16:46:00

Escaflowne has it all: giant mechs, a young man coming of age, a young woman coming of age, dragons, steam-powered airships, a cat-girl, and not one, but two incipient love triangles. What more could an otaku want?

A bit less, perhaps. This show centers on Hitomi, a high school girl transported to a strange and wonderful -- and dangerous -- world. Her destiny is somehow tied to that of Van, the youthful King of Fanelia, whose kingdom has just been destroyed. That's a lot of material, and characters, and backstory, to introduce in just four episodes. Actually, since the first episode takes place entirely on Earth, the writers have only three installments to pour all of this into the viewer's brain. For me, it was all just a bit too much.

Don't get me wrong: we see plenty of good things: one of the three master swordsmen of Gaea takes on two giant mechs with nothing but his trusty sword; realistic depictions of the swirl of emotions inside ordinary high-school students; and a nice homage to The Empire Strikes Back, in the scene which shows a noisy video transmission from the Evil Emperor himself. There's stock footage whenever Van enters the cockpit of his giant mech (which looks very much like those of Roger Smith operating Big O), but it's very well done stock footage :-)

And, of course, the music is great. Yoko Kanno shows her range, moving from Gregorian chant to sweeping ballads. The disk includes four "music videos", which contain scenes from the show loosely set to four pieces sung by Maaya Sakamoto, the seiyuu for Hitomi. If I didn't already have three of them -- on the CD Hotchpotch, which is full of Sakamoto singing Kanno -- I'd pop the DVD into my laptop and record the music for enjoying later. Note that this recording of the title song is the "short" version; the Hotchpotch CD has an extra 30 seconds or so, including the section with bagpipes. No, I'm not kidding. These are the only extras on the disk, but they're the best I've seen on any anime disk. I wish that the Bubblegum Crisis 2040 series had included versions of it music, too. Sigh. On the strength of the songs, I'm giving the "packaging" rating a 10.

But watch out -- the music videos do contain scenes from what must be future episodes of the series, so spoilers abound.

I hear that this series picks up about halfway through. If that's true, and it does improve, then it's going to be a very good show.

Oh, one last thing: the pendant. Hitomi wears a keepsake necklace, a gift from her grandmother, which has several special properties. First, it has some mystical ability to transport its wearer (and those nearby) from one place to another, and even between worlds. It may play some part in the visions which come to Hitomi, warning her of impending danger. We see the pendant light up when these special events occur. Fine, I can buy that -- this is a fantasy.

But, the pendant has one more property: it swings back and forth with a half-period of exactly one second. Now, there's nothing wrong with that: any dense mass at the end of a light string some 25 centimeters in length will oscillate in this way. However, the necklace we see in the series is much too short: it looks closer to 10 or 15 centimeters long. Sigh. Aren't there any scientific advisors on anime payrolls? If there aren't, I'd be happy to start a tradition....

Equipment used when writing this review:
Sony DVD player, JVC 27-inch TV, stereo speakers

Content: 7 Video: 8 Sound: 9 Packaging: 10 Menu: 7

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Other reviews of this disc:
Escaflowne Vol 1: Dragons and Destiny by rgmoore (Rating: 7.80)
The first disk of Escaflowne is a fast paced start into the series. It's not quite as insanely paced as the first disk of Nadesico, but there's certainly not a lot of messing around. From about the halfway mark of the first episode,...(continues)
Content: 8 Video: 7 Sound: 8 Packaging: 8 Menu: 8

Escaflowne Vol 1: Dragons and Destiny by Cacophanus (Rating: N/A)

Destiny, faith and mysticism. Abundant resources in the "other-world" of Gaia. However the world of Gaia is currently in violent turmoil, the use of mysterious blitzkrieg troops and medieval "clockwork" mecha (called Guymelefs, the...(continues)

Content: N/A Video: N/A Sound: N/A Packaging: N/A Menu: N/A

Escaflowne Vol 1: Dragons and Destiny by liquidbrains (Rating: 6.00)
Escaflowne failed to draw me in.

The story: A high school girl mysteriously drawn into a parallel world of giant medieval fighting robots by her grandmother's magic pendant while trying to win her true love's first kiss by running...(continues)

Content: 4 Video: 7 Sound: 7 Packaging: 7 Menu: 5

Escaflowne Vol 1: Dragons and Destiny by JonCarl (Rating: 7.00)

The first issue of Escaflowne was quite enjoyable, especially for someone that never watched the series before and picked up the disc on a whim at best buy.

Escaflowne brings you the story of Hitomi Kanzaki, a high school track...(continues)

Content: 8 Video: 8 Sound: 5 Packaging: 8 Menu: 6

Escaflowne Vol 1: Dragons and Destiny by oneleggedsmith (Rating: 8.00)
I wanted to do a review on the whole series, but since I couldn't, I decided to write only about the first disc. In my opinion, the first disc is not so good. I gave it 8/10 because Escaflowne is one of my favourite series and I don't want...(continues)
Content: 8 Video: 9 Sound: 9 Packaging: 7 Menu: 7

Escaflowne Vol 1: Dragons and Destiny by CrystalCut (Rating: 8.50)
I have the entire Escaflowne series. (26 Episodes) Although some of the charecters are a trifle "cute" for my taste, this has become one of my most favorite anime epics. The plot isn't particularly orginal, but it's handled quite...(continues)
Content: 10 Video: 10 Sound: N/A Packaging: 8 Menu: 6

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