The Nihon Review - Anime Reviews & Editorials

Vision of Escaflowne

Title: Vision of Escaflowne aka Tenkuu no Escaflowne
Genre: Action/Romance
Company: Sunrise
Format: 26 episodes
Dates: 2 Apr 1996 – 24 Sep 1996

Synopsis: Kanzaki Hitomi’s life is ordinary. Ordinary, that is, until a pillar of light brings a strange boy to her high school who just happens to be fighting a dangerous dragon. The battle between the two otherworldy visitors rages on, and, in the aftermath, Hitomi is transported to a strange world called Gaea, where Earth is clearly visible in the sky. All is not peaceful in Gaea, and Hitomi quickly finds herself caught up in a devastating war.

The Highlights
Pacing: Very fast, slows down a bit in the later episodes; no filler.
Characters: A mixed bag; most are annoying or uninspired.
Mecha: Cool designs; great battles.
Music: Great, but far from Kanno Yoko‘s best.
Setting: Interesting, but a little underdeveloped.

Mark Twain once said, “A classic is something everybody wants to have read and nobody wants to read.” In the world of anime, a classic is any title that can be had in its entirety for $34.98 or less. If you’re not happy about an anime receiving too much praise, wait three years. Cynical, sarcastic joking aside, how the mighty have fallen. Vision of Escaflowne is a title that was once held in great esteem within the fan community, and was widely considered to be one of the best anime out there. Perhaps it was the lack of titles available in America that caused Vision of Escaflowne to be praised so, but whatever the case may be, after watching it I can only call it good, not great.

Vision of Escaflowne starts with a bang and accomplishes twice as much as a typical anime does per episode. Things happen almost too fast in the beginning as Hitomi is whisked all over Gaea at a staggering pace. The show slows down a bit as the episodes go on, causing things to progress at a nearly perfect pace where one doesn’t need to struggle to keep up, and never needs to hope for things to speed up. The story may not be one for the ages, but it is solid, and oftentimes surprisingly entertaining, making Vision of Escaflowne an engaging and pleasant watch.

Vision of Escaflowne is also a treat both aesthetically and creatively. Kanno Yoko‘s musical score is awesome, but she doesn’t show off her wide range of talent. There are few different pieces of music, and they are similar in style. Directly contrasting the music are the many nations of the world of Gaea, unique in their customs, dress, and ambitions. It’s a minor complaint, but these countries could have been further described and explored. I’ve never been a fan of mecha because the action tends to focus on random explosions instead of intricate choreography, but the sword-fighting guymelefs of Vision of Escaflowne were a hit with me, especially how the different countries have different tactics and weapon choices.

For having such an inspiring world, Vision of Escaflowne sure has some uninspiring characters. Dilandau brings a whole new meaning to the word “psychopath”, and Allen Schezar is one bad-ass dude, but the rest of the characters are trite in comparison. Half of what Merle says is, “Van-samaaaa!”, and Van goes through a Parn-esque rise in fighting ability. Hitomi changes her mind about who she likes every other episode, killing any meaning the series’s romance could have had. I gave the rest of the cast nicknames: Dryden, “Billionaire Playboy”; Gaddes, “That Guy”; Folken, “Angsty Bishounen”; Millerna, “Tomboy”… you get the point.

If you’re looking for an engaging action series, Vision of Escaflowne fits the bill. It’s far from the greatest series out there, but there’s never a dull moment in the world of Gaea. After all, who can say no to an “Anime Legend” for only $34.98?

The Rating: 7

Reviewed by: Kuma

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