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Sunday, May 8, 2011

Saint Seiya: Legend of the Crimson Youth: Now THIS is a Saint Seiya Movie!

Like I said in the previous review, in 1988 there were two theatrically-released Saint Seiya movies, and while The Heated Battle of the Gods was an enjoyable movie, there was still some things holding it back. Thankfully, the third Saint Seiya movie, subtitled Shinku no Shounen Desetsu/Legend of the Crimson Youth, completely makes up for the previous movie's flaws and is easily the best of the Seiya movies so far. The story was the best, the new characters were interesting, and it definitely feels more like an actual Saint Seiya movie and not just a filler story.

This movie debuted in theaters in July of 1988, while the TV series was in the middle of the Asgard Chapter filler arc. Again, much like the previous two movies, it's canonicity can be argued but this one most definitely takes place between the Sanctuary and Poseidon Chapters of the actual story, and just like the second movie this one takes no time to get started. Saori Kido/Athena is visited by a man called Phoebus Abel, God of the Corona, who in the age of myths was one of Zeus' sons, making him Athena's older brother. Abel has decided that humankind has not been able to improve and must be destroyed, but asks Athena to come with him so that she won't suffer. She agrees and tells the Bronze Saints that they don't need to protect her anymore; instead, she'll be protected by Abel's Corona Saints: Carina Atlas, Lynx Jaoh, and Coma Berenike. Also, Abel resurrected the five Gold Saints who died in the battle with the Bronze Saints not long ago: Cancer Deathmask, Picses Aphrodite, Aquarius Camus, Capricorn Shura, and Gemini Saga.

Seiya and his friends are understandably dumbfounded by this reveal and don't know what to do. In reality, though, Athena knew that Abel and his Corona Saints are too strong for her Bronzes and agreed to go with Abel in an attempt to stop him herself. Unfortunately, her attempt fails and Abel kills Athena, guiding her spirit towards a passage in the afterlife that will lead her to Elysion, heaven for the gods. The Bronzes feel Athena's cosmo disappear and decide to fight back in order to save her before she's gone forever. The idea behind this story is in all honesty even better than the second movie's plot, and one thing that I have to say is that this movie's pace is excellent, which is due in part to the longer run time this movie has in comparison to the previous two: roughly 75 minutes compared to roughly 46 minutes. This extra time allows fights to be paced more naturally and it allows every character their chance to shine... Except for Shura and Camus, who after finding out about Athena's death try to kill Abel but are killed in about a minute. Outside of those two, though, this movie's pace and character usage is nothing but very well done.

Of course, great pacing can only do so much if the overall execution of the story and fights suck. Thankfully this movie definitely delivers on both of those. The story is introduced even quicker than in the second movie and the early part of the movie gets all of the needed introductions out of the way. The fights in general are very well done and no one fight is horribly short or painfully long, like in the second movie. Also, due to the dead Gold Saints being revived you do get a couple of rematches from the original story: Shiryu vs. Deathmask and Shun vs. Aphrodite (but this time Ikki helps out). Both of them are pretty similar in style to their original fights, which is nice, and both are finished off without any real issues. Saga's portion of the movie with Seiya is also done very nicely and makes for a cool redeeming-of-sorts after what happened with him previously in the actual story. The Hades Chapter has its own version of redeeming these characters, but the movie does well enough also.

The Corona Saints themselves get mixed showings in this movie, much like Dolbar's God Warriors, but at least this movie actually delivers on the hinting that Carina Atlas is a force to be reckoned with. Unlike Loki's pathetic performance when it came to his fight, Atlas pretty much kicks ass throughout the movie and the final fight with him still shows off how good he is. That is how you build up an original character in a shorter time frame! It's like everything that was wrong with the second movie was actually acknowledged and fixed for this movie, and I commend that.

Now there are some problems with the movie, of course. Like I just said, the Corona Saints get a bit of a mixed showing. Atlas had the major focus out of the three (having seiyuu legend Akira Kamiya voice him probably was part of the reason), with Berenike and Jaoh getting smaller roles, though their overall presence is still definitely felt. By the way, Seiya Seiya: The Lost Canvas makes a reference to this movie by giving one of the characters Atlas' Corona Blast attack. Of course, Yamauchi's love of warping characters faces during powerful moves is in full-force in this movie, but at least it isn't quite as often as the second movie. The movie does also still rely on the usual story devices the series itself uses often. In all three movies so far Shiryu has gone bare chested, Ikki has saved Shun, and the Gold Sagittarius cloth has been used in every final fight. While the first two are generally forgivable to a point, since they are trademarks of the series, the fact that the Sagittarius cloth has to be continually used by Seiya is kind of silly at this point. Hell, in the actual manga Seiya only wears it three times, and only one of the times was where it had more than simply a storyline use. Still, it's a minor problem overall and if that's all I can really think of when it comes to problems then it shows that this movie really does a lot right.

The first two movies used the TV series' first opening, "Pegasus Fantasy" by Make-Up, which did kind of them make them feel more like extended TV episodes than actual movies. This movie, though, has no opening theme, which does help in making it feel like a movie. In place of an opening the movie has an exclusive ending theme, "You Are My Reason To Be" by Hitomi Toyama and Oren Waters. It's an interesting slow-paced song, where Waters sings in English while Toyama sings in Japanese, but when the chorus starts up both of them sing in full English, and it definitely doesn't sound like any other Saint Seiya theme... I like it.

Legend of the Crimson Youth is everything you want in a Saint Seiya movie, and whatever flaws there are in this movie are mostly negated by being a very impressive and enjoyable package overall. As of right now if I have to recommend only one Saint Seiya movie to watch it would be this one. In fact, this movie does kind of seem like it was made to be the last of the Saint Seiya movies when it came out. But one more movie was made during the 80s, and for it Toei seemingly decided that since they referenced Jesus Christ in the first movie, then the fourth movie would involve the fallen angel himself, Lucifer.

1 comment:

  1. Great review! More people like you should be writing about Saint Seiya,