Saint Seiya Asgard Arc Review

PEGASUS RYU-SEi-KEN! (Image property of Toei animation and Masami Kurumada)
PEGASUS RYU-SEi-KEN!
(Image property of Toei animation and Masami Kurumada)

When it comes to anime, I’m a bit behind the times. Sure, I used to watch a ton of anime and had a collection of anime films, but nowadays I’m just kind of put-off with the styles of anime that are out there. Will I watch anime on occasion? Of course! However, I find myself often drawn to older anime. I like the stuff that came out in 90s and early 2000s, because that’s what I grew up with. I’m talking Samurai Pizza Cats, Dragon Ball Z, the first few seasons of Naruto, Dai-Guard, Mazinkaiser, etc.

On the other hand, I don’t tend to watch a lot of 80s anime. I’ve never really been into Fist Of The North Star nor have I watched every single episode of Robotech. One 80s anime that I’ve always been into though would have to be Saint Seiya. Labelled as “Knights Of The Zodiac” when first released here, this show remains lukewarm in America and Canada. It’s super popular in Japan, Spain, and France but has never really caught on in North America.

The anime has never received a full translation, only the first 60 episodes have ever been released in America. None of the prequels, sequels, or spin-offs have ever been released in America. Of course, the powers that be are trying to fix that. Bandai-Namco released a Saint Seiya game in America and plans to release another one next year. On top of that, the first four films have been subtitled and released on DVD in North America just a couple of years ago.

The show itself essentially inspired the Shonen anime genre, for better or for worse. The show revolves around five young men who are known as “Bronze Saints”. The Saints are a group of warrior-knights who battle evil in the name of Athena, the Greek goddess of war. The Bronze Saints are said to be the lowest rank of Athena forces, yet the Bronze Saints on the show always end up doing all of the work. Seiya, Shiryu, Hyoga, Shun, and Ikki battle their way through powerful warriors in an attempt to save the goddess Athena. Yes, they almost always have to save her in every story-arc. She’s effectively the Princess Peach of anime and almost just as useless.

The show itself has four story arcs and a bunch more if you include all the other manga and anime series. These primary arcs are known as the Sanctuary, Asgard, Poseidon and Hades arcs. The odd-man-out is the Asgard arc of course. This story arc has a rather long history as it was actually greatly inspired by the second film, “The Heated Battle Of The Gods”. In the film, the Bronze Saints went to Asgard, which exists in this universe for some reason. The film takes a break from Greek mythology and indulges primarily in Norse myths. The film itself was pretty badass for a forty minute anime film. It had some good action scenes and depicted a battle between two friends that was so epic they put it in on the American DVD cover.

The anime arc itself was very loosely based on the film, being its own entity rather than a simple adaptation. The anime ignores the film and gives us an all new story with new characters and higher stakes. Sandwiched between the Sanctuary arc and the Poseidon arc, this story arc acts as a lead-in to the Poseidon. The Asgard arc is in my opinion the best story-arc in the entire series. It has good villains, some awesome action sequences and a truly awesome climax! It has its faults, but I still think it to be the best show has ever done. Today, I wish to discuss in detail this amazing story arc of an amazing anime.

Plot

Taking place several months after the Asgard arc, Seiya and friends are taking a reprieve after their grand battle with the 12 Gold Saints. However, peace is fleeting as a knight appears. Calling himself a “God Warrior”, he easily beats back both Seiya and Shun in attempt to kill Athena. After the battle, a new character shows up and she is known as Hilda. She is a representative for the Norse god Odin on earth and she is being mind-controlled by a magic ring belonging to Poseidon. She leaves with the Saints wondering what to do next.

They decide to bring the fight to Hilda, however ice-burgs all over the earth start to melt away. They were once kept in place by Hilda’s power, but due to her being under the control of Poseidon, Athena has to keep the ice-bergs from melting herself. However, it is a tremendous strain on her body and she will perish in less than a day if the Saints do no make it in time. And if Athena can’t keep the bergs in place, than the world will be flooded!

Yes, it’s a bit of a ridiculous setup, but it leads to an amazing arc! Each villain has a pretty awesome backstory and every fight is intense and memorable. I recall the battle with Fenrir, where Shiryu got ganged up on by a zillion crazy wolves. And who could forget the battle against Mime, a character with one of the best backstories in the franchise. One of the best moments in the series is when the Bronze Saints face off against Siegfried at the end. It truly was a badass moment. The arc still had its problems though, suffering from a fair amount of filler and pointless scenes. Despite that, it’s one of the most intense and well-written arcs in the franchise. And even though it’s non-canon, it was still popular enough to warrant a videogame adaptation as well as an entire sequel / spin-off called “Soul Of Gold”. So, it certainly is a forgotten gem of a story arc.

Visual Style And Voice Acting

The series uses the same art-style it’s been rolling with for the past 73 episodes. It looks good and the late great Shingo Araki’s animation style still shines through. Fight scenes are fast and dynamic and the abilities of each villain make for some truly awesome eye-candy. Voice acting is solid, with all of the voice actors from the previous arc returning. The voice-acting is well done on each character and it really adds to the intensity of each action scene. As usual for the franchise, it looks and sounds good. Unfortuntely, it’s hard to find good translations of the arc. The arc has never been properly translated into English and the subtitles I’ve found are severely lacking. Despite all that, I was still able to understand most of the plot despite a few awkward translations here and there.

In Conclusion

The Asgard Arc proves to be one of Saint Seiya’s finest moments. A battle against the Bronze Saints and the Asgard God Warriors results in some intense fight scenes and good character-building. It is packed with a fair bit of filler and the story is a bit dumb, but it manages to deliver an arc that outshines even the canon story-arcs of the series. It’s a fun yet padded ride and is a blast to watch from beginning to finish. I’ll definitely have to go back and re-watch this arc once Soul Of Gold wraps up.

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