a.k.a. Tenkuu no Escaflowne
Hitomi is your average school girl, an aspiring star athlete who wishes a kiss from an upperclassman. Before she gets her chance, a dragonhunter from another land magically appears on Earth, and then just as quickly whisks her away to his world. Not given time to adjust to her new surroundings, Hitomi finds herself in the middle of a medieval war fought using giant machines called Guymelefs. While finding her way back to Earth, Hitomi must survive the destruction that looks to engulf her soul.
summary by Kain
Highs: Kanno Yoko; fast-paced story from beginning to end; gritty fantasy setting; bold animation style
Lows: Hitomi grated on my nerves
What a fantastically ambitious series! They got just about everything right here, and it edges out Neon Genesis Evangelion in the “Battle of the Introspective Mecha Anime of the Mid-’90s”. Beyond that, Vision of Escaflowne should very well be considered the best anime of the entire decade.
Among all its great qualities, the music is the standout. Kanno Yoko put together gorgeous pieces of fantasy music that add oodles of atmosphere. The one piece that comes to mind is the heart-pumping Dance of Curse, a rare song I can loop endlessly and enjoy just as much.
As with any great anime, the animation is excellent and uses vibrant colors. The characters and setting were very Lodoss War-ish, as they should be. Some of their personalities are stock anime, but the short length and quick pace leaves little for advancement of character. This is too bad, because Hitomi’s whining, non-realist diatribes irked me. Nevertheless, the smooth flow of events in the story and the exquisite pacing left me digging hard to find any flaws in this anime.
In the end, however, this is an anime for every otaku to cherish. Originally meant to be about a dozen episodes longer, the pace and length is perfect for the story. If anything, make sure you buy the soundtrack while you’re at it.
Highs: Amazing score; great characters; vivid animation
Lows: Disappointing ending
How many anime feature protagonists that are magically transported to a fantasy world? The answer to this question is probably too many to count. But in this crowded genre of anime, Vision of Escaflowne is without peer. Outstanding in just about every aspect, it stands as the definitive, epic fantasy anime.
The series is a nonstop roller coaster of action and drama, and Escaflowne manages to maintain a perfect balance between intense action, touching character relationships and romance. While the action sequences are simply phenomenal, the characters are what really steal the show. The cast, both heros and villains, stands as some of the most memorable and enjoyable characters in all anime. Characters like the chivalrous Allan or the sick and demented Dilandau are sure to leave lasting impressions on viewers’ minds. The action and romance are seamlessly interwoven together by a plot that is engrossing and captivating from the get-go. However, if there was one true weakness to the anime, it would have to be that the ending is a bit of a disappointment and will frustrate some viewers.
In terms of presentation, this is really a treat for the senses. If for no other reason, the music makes the series worth watching. Featuring what is arguably Kanno Yoko’s best score, Escaflowne uses music to perfectly complement the onscreen action. Pieces like Shadow of Doubt and Dance of Curse help to create an unbelievable sense of atmosphere for the series. Additionally, the animation is terrific for a television series. Although it’s nearly 9 years old, Vision of Escaflowne is still a gorgeous series with a vivid color palette and great animation.
There really aren’t too many negative comments that can be made. The ending may disappoint some, but even this can’t drag the series down. If you enjoy fantasy, action, romance and great characters, Escaflowne is a must-see. Few anime are as enjoyable as this, and it is easily one of best anime of the ’90s.