The huge upcoming anime adaptation that no one is talking about
With Cowboy Bebop fresh out and A play Still on the horizon, live-action anime adaptations are a big topic of conversation right now. In all the overwhelming excitement and cynicism, some of the genre’s weirdest and most interesting entries slip through the cracks and go unnoticed. One of the countless missteps of the average anime adaptation is taking the right name of a beloved source material and slapping it on an unrelated and often terrible movie. Maybe a very different movie could be created by adapting a lesser-known anime classic, maybe a movie that often doesn’t spend its time in the sun.
Saint Seiya started life as a manga in 1986, written by Masami Kurumada. A fairly early entry into the venerable shonen genre, the series spanned four years in the iconic Shonen Jump Magazine. The series was adapted into an animated series just a few months after its manga premiere, which then led to three OVAs, six animated films, and multiple reinterpretations by different creators.
Released before or in the middle of many standbys in the genre, Saint Seiya is a source of inspiration for works including Ronin Warriors and many Gundam series. Tite Kubo, the writer and artist behind the shonen classic Bleach, cited Seiya as a major inspiration on his design sensibilities and iconic battle scenes. Buried by spinoffs, re-imaginations, and often shady adaptations, new viewers rarely get to see what the franchise has brought that made it such a lasting influence on the art form.
Saint Seiya is a Greek mythology-themed fantasy action-adventure story about a group of heroes defending Earth from the evil whims of the gods. These eponymous saints wear mystical armor called Cloths which endows them with superhuman powers in the service of the goddess of wisdom and war, Athena. Seiya is one of five new heroes who take up these old cloaks, each designed after a famous constellation.
The series plays with tons of classic anime tropes, tournament arcs, evil siblings, characters who are reincarnations of other characters, increasing power levels, villains rising on a comedic scale, and so on. Seiya is a classic anime of its day, with one exception. Unlike most of the great shonen pillars of today, Saint Seiya has a satisfying ending. It is a complete story, which serves as an inspiration to its peers and deserves the respect of its pedigree. Respect, however, is often denied by the tough adaptations that have emerged in the decades since the original series. With the franchise’s most ambitious project to date on the horizon, perhaps Saint Seiya could be introduced to a new audience with a new take.
Saint Seiya: the knights of the zodiac is a film adaptation of the classic animated series produced in the United States. The project has completed filming in Hungary with no exact release date announced, some predictions are for its release in 2023. Production has been in turmoil, suffering multiple setbacks in the many years since its initial conception. The film is produced by Toei Animation, the powerful studio behind Dragon ball super and A play, among countless others. This film is the directorial debut of Tomasz Baginski, an animator and producer who has worked on projects such as The Witcher: The Wolf’s Nightmare. In a world of disastrous anime adaptations, this project has an interesting talent behind it that could lead to a fascinating product when the film finally sees the big screen.
Mackenyu, pillar of the animated film, is expected to play the title role in the next adaptation. Mackenyu recently played the role of the excellent villain of Rurouni Kenshin: the final and should represent the iconic Roronoa Zoro in the next live-action A play. Veteran character actor Sean Bean was chosen as Seiya’s mentor, Alman Kiddo, bringing some very recognizable star power to the film. Famke Janssen, best known for playing Jean Gray in the 2000s X Men films, was chosen for an unknown role. The franchise’s stellar action will now be overseen by Andy Cheng, a recent martial arts master best known for choreographing some of Marvel’s best fight scenes in Shang Chi and the legend of the ten rings. While the cast and full crew are yet to be on display, what has been revealed is promising.
While Saint Seiya certainly has its fans, its popularity is pale compared to some of its more modern peers. This offers an interesting new experience for adaptation; will it still be considered a betrayal if the source material is less well known? Will Saint Seiya take advantage of its relative obscurity by being judged squarely on its own merits? Every fan knows, the only decent anime adaptations succeed by adapting the spirit of the original work, but perhaps breaking new ground and bringing a new fan base into the work, Saint Seiya: the knights of the zodiac could be something really special.
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