Sunday, January 07, 2007

Our Last, Best Hope... for Saint Seiya !

One can reasonably surmise that Masami Kurumada, the much acclaimed [insert snicker here] author of Saint Seiya didn’t know what he was doing when he entrusted the young mangaka Teshirogi Shiori with the making of a prequel to the series. The young woman was after all at the beginning of her career, having only a two volumes series to her name.

Miss Teshirogi’s prequel was to run parallel to another prequel, one done by the “master” himself. The two prequels would tell the tale of the previous holy war between Athena and Hades, the one which had taken place in 1743. That prospect alone was rather disappointing, as fans were largely more interested in seeing more of the Heaven Chapter after the fantastic Overture movie directed by Shigeyasu Yamauchi. But then, as Mr Kurumada had had a bit of a temper tantrum concerning the movie, loved by the fans but hated by him, a sequel was not to be. Instead, two prequels got underway.

Mr Kurumada's would be titled “Saint Seiya Next Dimension” and was published first. The result was an affront to the eye and to the mind. Art so ugly it hurt to look at it, dialogues about right for characters aged respectively 7 and 8 years old, and a scenario about as bad as what the worst 7 years old male fanfickers can do concerning Saint Seiya. So, quite logically, many among the fan community, myself included, were disgusted and more or less abandoned all hope concerning this new revival of Saint Seiya.

As it happens we were wrong.

By accident more than by design, Mr Kurumada gave a license to produce Saint Seiya material to a woman who not only loves the series, but what’s more shows a true understanding of what Saint Seiya is about, of what lies at its heart. And so, soon after the Next Dimension horror of Mr Kurumada came out, Miss Teshirogi’s Lost Canvas appeared, and charmed a great many Saint Seiya fans off their feet.

Miss Teshirogi enriches her characters touch by touch. With a single picture, she adds nuance and layers to her characters. Exit all the over-simplifications and the hasty, or inexistent backgrounds to explain a character’s personality. In little drops of jet black ink, Miss Teshirogi paints the characters, gives them a life, a soul, and draws the reader along with her vision of the story. Elegance, class, nobility, resourcefulness, razor-sharp depictions and good humor at unexpected times are the key elements that are sure to turn her vision of the 1743 war into a success.

Overall, the interactions between the characters feel natural, contrary to how forced they do when Mr Kurumada tries to use his lack of talent at dialogues. With Miss Teshirogi, there is no obvious rigidity in sentences and dialogues, no jarring sensation that send your teeth gritting in frustration. The flow of words is just right. The characters are true to themselves, instead of becoming mere parodies fit for a farce. The depth and coherence she brings, along with the charisma and class of the characters are a blessing.

Of course, this is Saint Seiya, and it will remain Saint Seiya. But miss Teshirogi has given it back its touch of class, she has re-infused it with subtlety and elegance, she has brought back coherence and depth. With a feathery brush of shoujo talent, she has revived a very much battered hope for the series. In spite of my initial lack of interest for a prequel of Saint Seiya, I now find myself eagerly waiting for each new chapter to be published. That, in itself, is undeniable evidence of miss Teshirogi’s talent and true understanding of the series. It’s both sad and apparently illogical to say, but she knows more concerning the heart and soul of Saint Seiya, than the one who created it in the first place. Mr Kurumada lost his way a long time ago, among too many packs of beer and wrestling matches.

Thankfully, be it fate or something else, Mr Kurumada’s path crossed miss Teshirogi’s. She is the right person at the right place, and in the right time. It’s a rare and precious enough chance to be noticed. And one wonders, if the gods haven’t decided to smile again.

A more detailed review, with a few pictures to show you I'm not kidding, is available in my Saint Seiya shrine:

Enjoy! ^^


Virgo_Andromeda said...

I like the reference to Babylon 5... :-) (if you remember I had given my opinion on this serie on cyna)

I like Lost Canvas too. And I think the best is for the future 8) fightings longer than in the Meikai.

And you are right, psychology is better than in the serie from my point of view.

Fuu-chan said...

Thanks. ^^
I just can't help putting Babylon 5 references everywhere, it's too tempting ^_-

At to Lost Canvas, let's wait and see, but I dare hope that we won't be disappointed =)