Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Stella Invicta (*)

At the end of the last Winter, once the 6th OVA of the Meikai-hen Zensho was aired, disappointment was the main voice to be heard all over the internet and among the fan communities. Bitterness and anger prevailed, not without reason, and a question, echoed in many places:

Was there ever any hope at all?

Should there be any hope still, for what will follow?

On the doorstep of Winter this year, on the eve of Sol Invictus, the answer was given to those who still harbored a little flame in their hearts:


Yes, a small, fool's hope, but it was there, and on December 20th, 2006, that fool's hope was kindled. And so the journey continues. The road goes on. Ever on, and on.

There are several ways to watch an anime.

You can watch it with your mind focused, your analysis abilities sharpened and ready to sieve through every single aspect of what you’re going to watch. If you decided to watch Saint Seiya, Meikai-hen Kosho that way, you could say the following: in spite of a superb character design and the undeniable quality of the art, one can feel in each scene the suffering of animators struggling to clamber up the slopes of the mountain they call “animation”, their nails torn off and their fingers bloody. Despite a magnificent soundtrack, and the very shrewd choice of where to use each piece, one cannot ignore the strangely thin quality of the sound effects, such as the sounds used for the repeated falls of warriors collapsing or being slammed into the ground. Even though the seiyuus’ performance was fantastic, they remain different people from the original cast. No matter their talent, no matter all the efforts they go through to be their characters, they cannot replace those who gave them life for so many years. You could also say that the direction keeps following every single image of the manga, a faithful shadow deprived of the very first ounce of creativity, that each of its desperate attempts to compensate for the lack of animation through the use of stills, of pancels and a repeated travelling shows as starkly as a full moon in the dead of night. Yes, you could say all that.

You can also watch an anime the way you’ve always watched it, with shining eyes and a heart that beats rapidly inside your chest. With this lump in your throat that hurts, and this strange sensation of a pressure over your rib cage, with this feeling of a burn in your eyes that troubles your vision all of a sudden. You can plunge into the images and cloak yourself in the voices and the music as you would cloak yourself with the starlit sky. You can feel wonder rise within as you discover moments that echo the magical instants you experienced some twenty years ago. You can breathe and taste the scenes you’ve been waiting for almost fifteen years. You can find your eyes misty when watching the masterful flashback of Ikki and Shun as kids, and of their terrible reunion during the Galaxian Wars. Your heart wrenched, you can watch the beautiful image of Ikki’s tears, as he’s about to kill the younger brother he loves more than anything in this world. When the ending fades into black, you can just feel like saying “thank you.” Just thank you, for having given life to one of the most beautiful chapters of Saint Seiya. Thank you, for having achieved so much with ridiculous financing, for having overworked yourselves like madmen with too few people, for having burnt your strength and your energy so we could watch this. Thank you for compensating the lack of means and the absurd firing of essential members of the staff. Thank you for having given us all that you could.

Thank you.

Of course, you might also be watching an anime you really don’t care about anymore, or even that you truly believe is obsolete and stupid, worthless even. An anime you’ll enjoy bashing once you’re done watching, the more so since the lack of means offer you so many flaws to underline that it won’t even be fun to do so. But then, I’m not really interested in that, and I don’t give a damn. If you push me, I might even tell you that this kind of people are lucky to have so much time and bandwidth to waste, while wondering if they really have nothing better to do during their spare time.

As for me, well, it looks like you can remain an eighteen years-old kid all your life, because I watched these episodes just as I watched those who made me cry, almost twenty years ago. I watched those two episodes with a lump in my throat and mist obscuring my vision. I wrapped the mantle of the music around me, and gingerly hugged myself with it. I don’t know how the next episodes will be. They might be disappointing. I don’t know, and I don’t care.

Beware, this is a declaration, an old declaration that stubbornly refuses to fade into oblivion. A declaration that keeps being true, and that keeps burning warmly inside the somewhat naïve and passionate kid’s heart that beats inside my chest:

Saint Seiya, I love you.

(*) or: Star Unvainquished, of course a direct reference to the celebration of Sol Invictus which takes place during the night of the Winter solstice, later stolen by thieving religions such as christianity which usurped it under the name of "christmas".

You can find this review on my web home, along with rather beautiful images here.
And while I'm on the subject of Saint Seiya, you can also find my latest Saint Seiya fanfic on my fanfiction page, or here: Leaf Horizon

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