Recently I watched the amazingly awesome Legend of Black Heaven and decided it was about time I got to watching all the classic 90s shows that are required of fandom. I was already watching Turn A Gundam, so I added on Escaflowne, Irresponsible Captain Tylor, and, of course, Martian Successor Nadesico. (I guess I’m pseudo-watching Violinist of Hameln too) If you have any other suggestions for 90s anime I should watch and haven’t seen before, go ahead and share.
WARNING: The following post contains major spoilers for Escaflowne
I have to say, Escaflowne ended up being a pretty big disappointment in my opinion. At first I was really enjoying it – the sort of blend between shoujo and shounen goodies was neat, but more importantly it was very fast-paced and the actions scenes kicked. ass. There was a great sense of adventures, with the way the crew traveled about very quickly and the world it takes place in seemed very broad. All of the characters, while not particularly deep, were likable as well.
Then somewhere around halfway through the show just fucked up. There was a point of unequivocal awesome right around the halfway point – both Van and Dilandau were going through turmoil and everything rely seemed to be escalating to the next level. But then in the late teens the pacing just got totally out-of-wack. I guess it was because plot development was becoming more important but it lost a lot of the energy it had and there were certain parts (episode 18) that were plain horrible. But the worst part was wondering where the fuck was Dilandau! Dilandau was my favorite character, he was half the fun of the show and for around 7 episodes he wasn’t even shown!
So around the early 20s things start to pick up again, but you don’t get that solid climactic feeling. In the beginning, it had always felt like and adventure that was on it’s way toward a foreseeable goal, but at this point everyone was just kind of running around on their own agenda with some ambiguous plan towards what they were going to do at the end. But the series made one absolutely huge epic fail mistake at this point; making me hate almost ALL of the characters.
Hitomi turns into a spiteful bitch (who, until the very end of the goddamn series, doesn’t learn the important message from ep 17). Allen, after being tricked into falling in love with Hitomi, never reverts to his cool, suave self and instead becomes a permanent dickhole throughout the show. Van I didn’t hate, but I really never felt anything much toward Van. He was entirely a one-track mind from start to finish, which made him cool and honorable for the first half, like Tony Jaa in The Protector, but at some point he jus seemed to be incredibly thickheaded, having to relearn the same peace message over and over.
The best side character, Millerna’s fiancee, got almost now showtime, and Van’s brother was pretty cool, though he doesn’t get to be prominent until the end and then only for a couple episodes. The defining moment of my hatred for the characters though was when Dilandau triumphantly returns with the fucking awesome Jajuba (or whatever the hell his name was). When these guys were fighting Allen and Van during their reunion, I was BEGGING for him to kill Allen. And you know there’s something wrong when you want the bad guys to win.
Of course, had he, in fact, killed Allen, we wouldn’t have gotten the dramatic irony of ZOMG Dilandau is Allen’s sister. Oddly enough, I thought that part was really cool – whether freaky guy or fucked up girl, Dilandau is always a sexy beast, so I don’t care. However, I thought that plot element could have been introduced in any number of better ways. It definitely should not have been thrown out there in the last couple of episodes. It’s almost like when we last saw Dilandau and the bad guys said some random foreshadowing things about him, it still hadn’t been decided what was going to happen to him.
Some more things I didn’t like – NOT ONE of the battles that took place after Dilandau’s initial disappearance were as good as any beforehand. I was in awe of the creativity and intriguing styles of mech fight used early on, but later it just becomes your average hack’n’slash swordfighting. And oh. dear. god. the final battle was lame. Why? Because Dilandau, who had always been an even match for Escaflowne, gets all of his limbs severed IMMEDIATELY only to be saved by Jackajuby and Allen. And I honestly didn’t care much about Vanvs.Allen because the only reason I even remotely wanted Allen to live was so that I wouldn’t have to see Celena/Dilly sad.
In addition, the romance between Hitomi and Van was WAY too rushed. I had always thought it was interesting how the male and female leads didn’t begin romantically interested, but were building a bond of trust and I could sense that they would eventually hook up, but why did it hapen in the last 3 episodes and all-at-once?
In any event, at the very least the ending was pretty good – it would have been much much better if the HitomixVan pairing had been stronger, but judging the ending individually it was pretty well done.
Overall, I wouldn’t call it a bad show, but I would definitely say that it really threw itself off a building at some point. Once the adventure was gone, the fights got lame, and everyone became a bastard there wasn’t much left but to end it before you had time to hate it too much.
Since someone said I was being ‘too picky’ and that keeping the show on one track would have made it less ‘epic’ I replied:
the whole trouble is that is was epic and then it became non-epic and then rushed to try to be epic again. For instance, it looks like things are getting heated up when the catgirls are around and then when they die, but then it’s like the entire Zaibach force just decides to dope around while the characters go about their business. It completely pulled back from the action and at that point there wasn’t even time left to build back into it. So they did a rush job and everything was left feeling thrown together, and like I said, I hated almost everyone at that point. I mean, I was a huge Allen fan right up until he started sucking, Hitomi was a fun character until you realize that she (and Van) never learn their damn lesson.
It might just be that the story stopped being something I cared about. Mind you, I have never been a fan of fantasy shows for the sole reason that they tend to get too serious/political and this one became sort of like that near the end. I mean I REALLY liked it for the first half, I was sure I’d be ranking it among my favorite fantasy shows. Because it was really FUN and the battle scenes were just so amazing. The use of the mechs ever-changing weaponry, the new battle environments and ways of fighting kept you on your toes, and DILANDAU, all the things that I liked about the show were taken away sand there awas nothing I liked enough to take it’s place.