Finally saw Saint Seiya – Legend of Sanctuary ( and by finally I mean with subs. seriously the movie came out in June and didn’t get subs until Dec) and I thought I share some of my thoughts about it.
Saint Seiya Legend of Sanctuary, daaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaamn did I enjoy it. Some people told me it wasn’t that great, and granted it’s not the best thing since sliced bread, but I’ll be damned if I don’t say I liked it and want to talk about it.
SPOILERS, if for whatever reason you don’t know what happens in the Sanctuary arc.
Well, where to start? One thing you should all know before I start talking is that Saint Seiya was big in Mexico, France, Spain and other european countries. Not as big as Dragon Ball, but it was another anime well watched by a lot of people, as it was aired in Cartoon Network alongside DBZ, Inuyasha, Pokemon, and other animes.
Okay so, to all those people who say that it wasn’t the greatest I have to tell them that their tastes aren’t great either.
I want to watch it again, and I am totally not asking my friends if they’ve watched it yet so I can go watch it with them.
Is it a good movie on its own?
I would only go as far as to say that it is entertaining even for non-fans. However, it relies far too much on the hope that its audience already has a working knowledge of the franchise. Its biggest problem is its short run-time, but there are some seams that could have been smoothed out just by minor tweaking like adding a line here or changing a line there.
Is it a good Saint Seiya movie?
Definitely. It offers about as much built up as any other Saint Seiya film. In fact, I was surprised how well the first act, which essentially covers the first 40 episodes in about 30 minutes, works. The rest of the movie works about as well as the other traditional Saint Seiya movies, almost point by point.
What Works in the movie
-The movie looks beautiful: Despite the overly busy designs for the Cloth and the environments, it is amazing to watch in animation. The new designs feels more sleek and more semi-real from the anime/manga (which is a good thing) as it feels more in touch with the movie as a whole.
While we’re talking about redesigns, some of the redesigned armors (or should I say cloth) caught me off guard at first because I had not seen any of the promotional videos/art of this movie before watching it. (I had seen one teaser and it didn’t show much.) I loved the details when the armors were scratched/damaged as it made it look more realistic. Even when they were walking and hitting each others armor, it made metallic clunking sounds to signify more that it was armor (alongside other things, such as when they were walking and you could feel and see how heavy/light everyone’s respective armor was).
At first I thought adding masks was just the animation team being lazy about not animating faces, but I eventually enjoyed the movie too much and forgot about it halfway through it. (Might beacuse their masks reminded me about Casshern Sins that I love, but maybe that’s just me.) What really caught me off guard was Milo of Scorpio’s sudden sex change, whereas other people was okay with it, I wasn’t. My friend suggested that this was done to make up for the lack of female characters in the movie, as Seiya’s mentor, Eagle Marin, who was one of the main female presences in the anime, was not in the movie.
-Sound design. The soundtrack was AMAZEBALLS and really gave the tension and action when needed, especially during fight scenes, the sound effects are also really good and give a nice sense of weight during the action scenes.
-The Bronze Saints as a group: This is a big one. The way the Bronze Saints are shown in this movie works in many different levels. First of all, their backstory is streamlined. Instead of 100 orphans, it was just the 5 of them. Aioros saw in the stars that 5 young Saints would protect Athene and told Kido who then searched for 5 kids that showed affinity to Cosmo and sent them to train. Quick, simple, and leave far less questions than canon. It is implied that the Bronze Saints have been together most of their lives, we often forget that at the beginning of the series, Seiya and the others didn’t even like each other after being separate for so many years, the movie sidesteps that by implying that the Bronze Saints were trained together and then set off to find their respective Cloths.
This makes their quirks and interactions as a group far more endearing.
And lastly, embracing stereotypes. The movie does not try to overreach with the Bronze Saints’ personalities, instead they keep them simple:
Seiya is more comedic and light hearted, serving as some part of the comedy relief of the movie.
Shiryuu is a serious character with a straight-to-the-objective demeanor who is for the most part always on the lookout.
Shun is still my most precious baby and they only emphatized his kawaiiness more in this movie,
and Ikki is as badass-swaggery as ever.
Hyoga was awesome pouting tsundere precious baby duck riding a motorcycle. That is all.
-Saori/Athena: The movie’s Saori is like a combination of Sasha from Lost Canvas and Aria from Omega, she is very likable.
-Leo Aiolia: Out of all the Gold Saints, Aiolia comes off as the most epic. While he only does a bit more than of the other Gold Saints, nearly every scene with him counts.
-Female Milo: Even though I was highly imposed about him becoming a her, I still like her, in fact I like her a lot. In fact, despite her short stature, she comes off as the most imposing Scorpio Saint in the franchise.
-The Gold Saints: The Gold Saints actually do something during the movie. Though one would wish they would have done more, it still far better than in the original where they just waited until the Bronze Saints reached Saga.
-Seiya vs. Saga: The fight between Seiya and Saga is THE BEST battle in the entire Saint Seiya franchise. Better than Shaka vs. Saga’s group, better than El Cid vs. Icelus, and better than Kouga vs. Abzu.
-Seiya/Saori: There is only a bit of it, but it is there and I love it.
-“Evil” Saga: The movie has its own version of the pale haired, red-eyed Saga that work quite well.
-Seiya & Bronze Cloths: Despite skipping the vs. Ikki arc altogether, we actually got scene where pieces of the other Bronze Cloths go to help Seiya and it is one of the best moment in the movie.
What Does Not Work
-Runtime: That is THE issue with the movie. Cramming 73 episodes worth of material cannot be done without damaging the end result, and sadly the movie suffers from it. For example, the decision of going to the Sanctuary so suddenly is a head-scratching one since they know about the Gold Saints and in fact Aiolia just beat the living hell out of them with ease. Also a lot of stuff happens off screen and that gets annoying.
The movie, despite being 93 minutes long just like your average movie, felt a little bit short in my opinion. Don’t get me wrong, I think they did a great job to summarize the introduction of the protagonists and the whole sanctuary saga of the original series. I simply felt that they could have made the movie longer so they could add some more content to the movie, because honestly the movie plays out expecting you to have watched/read the original anime/manga.
And to be honest, I don’t really expect anyone who didn’t even bother to watch the original to be watching the movie, but still, adding more nods and scenes and a few fights (or have extended some of the ones they already used) would be great.
I mean, don’t get me wrong, I loved the few scenes that were (somewhat) to the point to the original, such as Aiolia of Leo being controlled by the Patriarch (kinda hard not to add the plot point though, but still) and Aldebaraan’s helmet’s horn being cut when Seiya defeated him. Something I also absolutely loved is that they show the Gold Saints doing shit after they are defeated. In the original anime, they just kinda sat there (or outright died. I’m looking at you Death Mask of Cancer) after the protagonists defeated them, and make them participate during the finale.
-Hyoga vs. Camus: It almost worked, it really almost did. One more scene between the two would have put this in the previous list, but alas that is not the case, it just comes off as rushed.
I felt that there wasn’t enough for the two to actually “catch up” in a sense. but hey, Seiya is the main star of the show in the first place! It’s rude to take such spotlight from the dude! His Temple looked nice though, it looked like it had water for the roof, which I wish they had saved that idea for Aphrodite’s Temple, but they never got that far. But to think that Camus would be the first Gold Saint to die. I only question how Hyoga and Shiryu “teleported” into a temple…
-Shiryu vs. Deathmask: Essentially the same as the point above. Though in their defense, their fight is a bit more amusing thanks to DM.
I did find that the dancing and singing was a little unnecessary (Seriously though, what’s up with the hip shakes?). I felt that LoS Deathmask wasn’t anywhere near Classic Deathmask, and that disappointed me a bit. Not only did it feel like he wasn’t as well thought out as Classic Deathmask was, I felt that he was under-appreciated in LoS. I think they should have spent more time on him.
Another thing that I have to point out is the underwear scene. It was slightly embarrassing to watch. Didn’t he have tights under the Gold Cloth? (Unless Shiryu Rozan’d them off… Gosh! I didn’t know you roll that way Shiryu!) The one thing I must say is that the tattoo of the Crab of Cancer on his chest was an interesting add-on. I liked that very much.
-Ikki is wasted (;_;) : Ikki barely does anything during the movie. He kills Sagitta Ptolemy, has one cool entrance, and tries to fight Shura, emphasis in the word try.
-Shun is wasted (;;__;;) : Shun does even less than Ikki! He defeats an unamed Saint, stops a Scarlet Needle shot… Barely, and tries to fight Shura (off-screen), and carries Saori for a short time while Seiya is down. HE’S MY FAVORITE CHARACTER, DAMMIT!
Not only does the Saint Seiya Wikia say and I quote: “He is one of the strongest characters in the series, although his gentle disposition and kind nature tend to hold him back from using his full power until he has no other choice but to do so.”
And anyone who have seen or read Saint Seiya know how badass and strong he can be.
-Aphrodite’s death: Not only is Aphrodite’s death really cheap, but couldn’t they have just added 5 more minutes and have him fight Shun so that the kid could actually do something in the movie?
-Which reminds me, NO APHRODITE VS SHUN, GREATLY DISAPPOINTED.
-Saga turns into a FF boss: We all made fun about how the Bronze Saints looked like Final Fantasy characters, but that’s nothing compared to the monstrous form Saga takes at the very end. It would not look out of pace next to SIN or Sephiroth’s or Kefka’s final forms. Why would they do that when the battles was going so great?!
-Shaka’s and Shura’s attacks are not named: This is the epitome of nitpicking, but it still kind of annoying. Every other character (except Aiolos and Aphrodite who do not fight) gets to call out one of their attacks at least once (Seiya, Hyoga, and Saga even have two). Shaka does use Kahn and Om during the movie and of course Shura uses Excalibur (even a super charged version of it) but they never say their names.
-The comedy: There are many comedic moments throughout the first and second acts, some are genuinely funny while some fall flat.
-The Sanctuary: In the movie the Sanctuary seems to be inside a pocket dimension. It’s kind of weird, but it does give the entire thing an ethereal feel.
-Changes: There are some scenes from the trailers that were altered for the movie or never even happened.
-Deathmask in speedos: Yes this is a thing I mentioned earlier that happens during the movie. It’s both disturbing and hilarious.
Does the movie make a good transition from the 2D plain to the 3D one? Yes it does.
Is it over the top several times? Yes it does.
And it very well knows that: it often makes the saints pull off ridiculous stunts and acrobatics. And damn its climax has Bayonetta-level scales painted all over it.
This movie shows off how Japanese it is, and hey, it’s based off from the god damned Saint Seiya series, where people draw power from the “cosmos” and shoot dragons and electric jolts from their fists, it damn well knows how exaggerated it can be and is proud of it.
Heck, the introduction of Death Mask was ridiculous, and I loved it! (
Also, for the voice actors, they had a all star cast back and god DAMN it made me want to have a full CGI television series beacuse of this.
Despite its obvious flaws, I thoroughly loved and enjoyed the movie from start to finish. However, I am the biggest Saint Seiya fan I know and I’m aware I was watching this movie with severely tinted rose-colored glasses. That said, I liked as much as the other Saint Seiya movies, I would watch it again in a heartbeat and if given the chance I would buy the DVD version when it comes out. If you are thinking of using it as a gateway to introduce your friends into the Saint Seiya series, it might work since the visually as so beautiful it is bound to catch their interest, just make sure you watch it with them because they might need some explanations that the movie is in too much of a hurry to give them.