Saint Seiya

(A short introduction by Stayka)

Translation from German by Shinomizu, some corrections to it made by Stayka

This page was last modified: 2007/03/19

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Deutsche Version

The anime series Saint Seiya had its debut in 1986, while the manga conceived by Kurumada Masami was published on the weekly magazine Shonen Jump.

Through a total amount of 28 mangas, 114 TV episodes, 25 OVA episodes and 5 movies, a charming story develops that tells about about the Great War between Good and Evil, which takes place every two or three hundred years: The Goddess Athena, who always reincarnates on the side of Good, fights back the Evil Powers (personified by the Gods Poseidon, Hades, Eris and some others) with the help of her Saints, until the Cycle starts again.

The expression 'Saint' actually means 'Holy Warrior' here and has no similarity with the usual Christian saints. There are different degrees of Saints, who hold different power levels: Gold, Silver and Bronze Saints.

The Bronze Saints are usually the weakest warriors, even if they, too, are able to cause considerable havoc with their fighting techniques - a fact which is always proven especially by the series' main characters, the five Bronze Saints Pegasus Seiya, Cygnus Hyoga, Dragon Shiryu, Andromeda Shun and Phoenix Ikki.

Each Saint is attuned to a constellation - the twelve Gold Saints are bound to the Zodiacal signs, while Silver and Bronze Saints draw their powers from the remaining constellations.

The Saints' armours (named 'Holy Cloths' in the original Japanese version) have the characteristics of their respective constellations. One sees this best in their appearance when the Cloths are shown in their presentational form.

Saints receive their supernatural powers from a sort of energy, which comes both from within themselves and their guardian constellations; it is partly channelled through the Cloths, but also through the Saints, depending on the degree of their training and/or spiritual level.

This energy named 'Cosmo' is the force that allows Cygnus Hyoga to turn his adversary into an ice-cube, or that can launch an opponent together with Dragon Shiryu directly into the Earth's orbit (sic!). The level of control over their Cosmo is also what makes the different kinds of Saints - Gold Saints are able to employ their 'seventh sense' at will, they have full control over the Ultimate Cosmo, which Silver or Bronze Saints only occasionally attain.

Nonetheless, Pegasus Seiya and his four friends belong to a group of Bronze Saints, who in desperate situations are able to go beyond themselves. In these cases they can use their Cosmo like the Gold Saints do - a fact that surprised quite a lot of the Gold Saints during the battles.

The Saint Seiya TV series takes place in a not too distant future (other sources speak also of a parallel world) after a not exactly identified catastrophe, and the anime consists of three chapters:

  1. The Fight at Athena's Sanctuary (The Sanctuary Chapter)
  2. The God Warriors of Asgard (The Asgard Chapter)
  3. Poseidon and his Warriors (The Poseidon Chapter)

Saint Seiya begins with an international Tournament in Tokyo, the 'Galaxian Wars', in which the best fighters of the world compete. This Tournament is organised by the Graude Foundation (the largest Asian business company) under the lead of thirteen-year-old Kido Saori, and the vacant Sagittarius Cloth is exposed as a prize. Among the fighters are Pegasus Seiya, Dragon Shiryu, Cygnus Hyoga and Andromeda Shun, who were trained in different and extremely hard training camps during the previous years to become Bronze Saints.

In the Tournament (like the whole series) we see a lot of hard and bloody battles, but before the tournament is over, the Sagittarius Cloth is stolen - and by no one other but Andromeda Shun's elder brother Phoenix Ikki.

Ikki, who went to Death Queen Island, the hardest of the training camps, instead of the delicate Shun, was virtually brainwashed during his fights to obtain the Phoenix Cloth. Thus he now fights for the evil side with some further Black Saints.

About half of the first chapter deals with the attempt to regain the Sagittarius Cloth, and the aforementioned Bronze Saints have to confront stronger and stronger opponents - mainly Silver Saints.

Finally, the Goddess Athena manifests in Kido Saori, and at last we learn something about the real background of the story.

When Athena reincarnated in a baby's body about 13 years ago, there was a certain person who didn't like the fact that the Goddess was about to receive her true power and tried to kill the baby. Gold Saint Gemini Saga wanted to attain the power himself. Because of this, he killed the previous Master of Sanctuary, Aries Shion and put himself - under the Pope's practical mask which didn't reveal his true face - at the place of the Master. (In the manga there are hints about the fact that Gemini Saga was corrupted by Hades, the Underworld's God, in order to get rid of Athena - in Volume 22, one of the Specters, Zelos, mentions that the dagger Saga used was given to him by Hades.)

However, Saga's attempt to kill the baby was prevented by Gold Saint Sagittarius Aiolos, who rescued the helpless Athena and fled with her out of Sanctuary without a moments' hesitation. During his flight, he was mortally wounded, but however he managed to hand over Athena and the Sagittarius Cloth to Kido Mitsumasa, the Graude Foundation's owner, just in time.

Kido Mitsumasa ordered the abduction of a hundred children from several orphanages and forced them to train to become fighters, so that they could guard the Goddess as Athena's Saints. (In the manga we learn that these 100 children all were begotten by Kido Mitsumasa - who might also be regarded as Zeus' incarnation - and so they could be considered as demigods, which makes their supernatural powers more plausible.)

After this revelation, Athena decides that now it's about time to retake Sanctuary. This means she has to go back to Greece with her best warriors (Seiya, Hyoga, Shiryu, Shun and Ikki) and try to retake her seat of power.

Unfortunately, this is complicated by the fact that first of all the Bronze Saints have to defeat the twelve Gold Saints, who guard Sanctuary and who have been convinced by Ares/Saga, that the late Sagittarius Saint was a traitor who had killed Athena, thus Kido Saori could only be an imposter.

The second chapter exists only in the TV series and not in the manga. It was added so that the manga could again catch up as the anime advanced faster than the manga and it deals with Asgard's God Warriors. Polaris Hilda, a priestess of Odin (some sources tell also of her as a Valkyrie), who is entrusted with the task of keeping the Northpole's ice frozen, receives a ring (incidentally by one of Athena's other favourite opponents) which bestows a great power upon her that corrupts her completely. She sends one of her God Warriors to annihilate Athena and her Saints. Since he fails, Athena and her warriors leave for Asgard, in order to see to the situation in the North by themselves.

The third chapter once more follows the manga's storyline, and so Athena and her warriors once more have to fight against a Greek God, namely Poseidon, who's goal is either to rule the world together with Athena or to drown it. And since he's more or less sincere in his love ambitions towards Athena, he offers her the choice between marrying him or being killed. Obviously there are our well-known five young men who want to prevent this.

With the end of the third chapter, the anime Saint Seiya was finished on April, 11th, 1989, and the Hades Chapter, already well on the way as manga, was never aired on TV - even if it is by far the best section of the Saint Seiya saga in the eyes of the fans. It deals with Athena and her Saints' encounter with Hades and his 108 Spectres in the Underworld.

The following story, Tenkai-Hen, which was planned to take place after the Hades Chapter, and should lead the Saints into a battle against the Gods in Heaven. This tale, however, was never published, not even as manga, since the readers' interest sank and the editors wanted to get a new successful story by Kurumada Masami. Unfortunately the next story turned out to be a flop, just as Kurumada's following projects could never surpass Saint Seiya's earliest success. Only with the current series B'tX (15 mangas published up to November, 1999) he managed to draw another successful story.

Then something miraculous happened with Saint Seiya: 16 years after it's initial start, the series was reanimated as OVA series, and the Hades Chapter was transferred into animated pictures after all. At first it started with 13 episodes in 2002 (Hades Sanctuary), which were followed by 6 episodes in 2005 (Hades Inferno Kosho) and another 6 episodes in 2006 (Hades Inferno Zensho). This means that by now a large part of the Hades Chapter was released as OVA, and we can look forward that the rest will be released in due time, too.

2004 saw also the release of the 5th movie, Saint Seiya Tenkai Hen Joso - Overture, which wasn't about the battle versus Zeus, though, but where Athena's Saints had to fight Artemis and her warriors.

Let's take a look at the main characters. Here they are:

Pegasus Seiya - He's the leader of the Bronze Saints' and certainly not always the brightest, but he has a strong fighting spirit and endurance. He was trained by Silver Saint Aquila Marin, who is one of the few female Saints. In the course of time it becomes clear that he has a special affinity to the Sagittarius Cloth since it defends him on its own initiative in some precarious situations.

Cygnus Hyoga - The cool blond from Russia is the Saint of the constellation Swan (lat. Cygnus), and spent his training in Siberia, where Crystal Saint (according to the manga, Gold Saint Aquarius Camus) taught him different attacking techniques, all resulting in the victim being thoroughly frozen. Similar to his attacks, he's rather cool and reserved, and he moreover suffers from a considerable mother-complex, since he watched her drown in ashipwreck ship right before his eyes.

Dragon Shiryu - As the name already indicates, he's the Saint of the constellation Dragon. He was taught his fighting techniques by Gold Saint Libra Roshi/Dohko in Rozan, China. In the anime series, Shiryu seems to be the one who takes by far the worst punishment by his opponents - but he never gives up. He's also the one among the five Bronze Boys, who lose his Cloth the most often, and then shows off his well-built body... :)))

Andromeda Shun - The cutest among the Bronze Boys looks almost like a girl, and the pink Andromeda Cloth, does nothing to change this impression. Shun was trained by Silver Saint Cepheus Albiore on Andromeda Island and received the Andromeda Cloth, which shows a considerable life of its own in comparison to the other Cloths. Shun is not particularly fond of fighting. However, if he is forced to, he can gain his power not only from the Andromeda constellation, but furthermore from the whole Andromeda Galaxy, a fact which makes him one of the strongest Saints of all.

Phoenix Ikki - He's Andromeda Shun's big brother ("nii-san"), and contrary to Shun, he doesn't hesitate to beat up his opponents badly. In the anime series, the he mostly appears on the scene to save his young brother when Shun is in danger of losing to his adversaries. Ikki was trained by a sadistic and brutal master on Death Queen Island, and so he still keeps some traumata, which are made worse by the fact that his Cloth receives its powers from death and destruction (but also from rebirth).

Athena (Kido Saori) - Since she was brought up in a more than super-rich house thanks to Kido Mitsumasa, Saori is (at least in the beginning) an awfully spoilt, 13-years-old girl, who takes great pleasure in maltreating the young Saints trained at the Graude Foundation. In the course of time, when Athena manifests more and more strongly in her, she becomes more bearable, too. It seems that her main task in the series is to be captured by some hostile God who threatens to kill her within 12 hours, so that her Saints have to save her while taking great troubles and risks. In the end she usually manages to employ her divine Cosmo to save the day and everything is (more or less) in order once more.

Saint Seiya is a series in which fights play a very important role, and blood flows freely, too. Nonetheless, it's not a splatter series about sending as many opponents as possible to death in the most disgusting ways, in Saint Seiya the Saints fight for their friends, their ideals and for freedom. Their motto is to never give up, never lose self-confidence, and even sacrifice themselves to protect the ones they love.

These values are probably the reason that helped Saint Seiya to become a great success particularly in Latin-American countries, Italy, Spain and France (there as Les chevaliers du zodiaque, 'The Zodiac Knights').

In Japan, the audience's interest slackened more and more during the course of the series, which probably was due to the fact that the simple repetition of the plot was not 100 percent satisfactory.

If one would be slightly mischievous, one could resume Saint Seiya in the following way: The five Bronze Boys run up an endless amount of steps during the series and movies, they are usually pushed down once and again, but they somehow rise again every time, they have to fight with their opponents on the way who usually die after their battle, and only five minutes before the end, they actually manage to save Athena from the impending death.

On the other hand, the characters are really nice, and we can even sympathize with the opponents' motives, so that one is often very sorry when the Bronze Boys succeed (good examples of this are the fight between Dragon Shiryu and Capricorn Shura, or the fight Cygnus Hyoga vs. Aquarius Camus as well).

Finally, we mustn't forget the wonderful soundtrack by Yokoyama Seiji either, which turns Saint Seiya into a marvellous event - I've watched some episodes at least a dozen times only to listen to the excellent music pieces! :)

It's a pity that the original albums printed by Columbia Records are already 'out of print' for several year, and thus not easily available anymore. However, some websites offer some of the most beautiful tracks in MP3 format (illegally, of course...), but in September 1998, a certain Taiwanese company published - illegally as well - six of the albums again.

Meanwhile it is very hard to catch Saint Seiya merchandise for good prices. Till now I've gotten my hands on some anime cels, cards and shitajiki. Other stuff, such as the 59 expensive figures and the models, have become expensive collectibles by now and can be found only at high prices.

With a bit of luck the mangas can still be found, even if one needs a certain amount of patience and stubbornness, in order to get either the Japanese originals or the (till now) 23 French volumes of the manga, depending on the country one lives in.

I hope you liked what you read so far. Keep your fingers crossed that whoever airs Saint Seiya on TV in Germany won't censor it too much - if it really will be broadcasted someday, that is.

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