It’s time to return to the world of Saint Seiya. The first OVA was a solid start to the Hades saga. I really liked the creative use of CGI which helped to mask the lack of animation at times. It also gave the OVA a very grand feel. Well, that is gone from this special but the animation is much better so it feels like we’re back to the original show in a good way. I would say this OVA improves on the first one even considering that the amazing clash of Athena Exclamations has already passed.
The OVA starts off with with the saints making it into the heart of the Underworld. Their mission is clear, they need to take Hades down and bring Athena back to the world of the living. It won’t be easy though as the Underworld has many castles and specters at the ready to foil their every move. Seiya and Shun are the characters in one plot while Shiryu and Andromeda work with Gemini Kanon in the other. Will the divide and conquer tactic work (Not like it’s really their choice though) or will they now be picked off. Also, where is the man known as Phoenix Ikki?
Maybe part of why this OVA feels like we’re going back to the roots of the show is because we’re going through the whole “Take down each Specter at each castle” routine that each arc of the show always went through. It’s nice and nostalgic to see the characters going through the motions. The big difference here is that we actually have a Gold Saint who can hold his own this time. Kanon really does well in each of the fights and reminds me why he is one of the best Saints in the show. The guy seems more reasonable than most and gets several fights in this OVA.
Before going further, I have to say that it’s still such a cool move when the heroes start taking their opponents down while keeping their eyes closed. It’s probably more of a stylistic approach then their literally closing their eyes at key moments but the animations have always kept this detail and I appreciate it. What’s more hype than letting a villain know that you don’t even have to keep your eyes open to win a fight right?
All right, so back to the plot. Most of the episodes are focused on the Seiya and Shun plot. They make quite a lot of progress through the temples. There is a time limit though so they have to beat these specters quickly. It’s just good nostalgic fun to see them going from place to place. They also make for a good duo with Shun as a support type while Seiya is all about offense. Meanwhile Shun and Shiryu are also on the case but are having trouble defeating any of the specters. It’s a rough stretch for them but up til now they’ve never seemed to be so out of their depth so it’s kind of interesting to see them like this. Then you have Athena and Shaka moving forward with their own plan to defeat Hades which takes a while for any pay off but it’s always fun to have their cameos.
As always Seiya is a great character here. He’s always the last one to give up and keeps on fighting until he gets the edge. It takes a lot of resolve to always be getting up with the ways that the opponents disrespect his Meteor Punch all the time. It never works the first time and yet Seiya keeps at it. You also see a lot more of his personality here as he trolls the judge specter who wanted everyone to keep it down. I haven’t seen Seiya like that since the pre arc.
He has a mischievous side to him after all but rarely gets to show this given that he is in nonstop fights all of the time. This arc actually have him a little time to slow down and have fun with this which was cool. Then there is Shun who still manages to lose all of the time but at least he gives Seiya a lot of moral support. His chains also do save him on more than one occasion so this is far from Shun’s worst appearance. I wish he could get some more clear cut wins but this OVA does throw him a bone so you can expect him to contribute.
Probably for the first time Shun actually does a lot more than Shiryu and Hyoga. I almost don’t need to mention them because these two get one shotted by one of the 3 Judges and then don’t do anything for the rest of the ova. Kanon hard carries them through this arc and they would have been dead many times otherwise. At this point it feels like the gap between them and Seiya is massive. Not so much in pure cosmos but in terms of drive as Seiya gets up while these two stay down. They will have to prove themselves in the next ova.
Ikki takes a while to appear but when he does show up it is certainly worth the wait. He comes in as if he is one of the most powerful Gold Saints. That’s the kind of ability he has and Ikki can really shake the whole battlefield to its core. He even has an expanded origin story that includes Pandora. It feels a bit out of the blue but makes for one of the more suspenseful flashbacks in the series. Ikki was really tough even as a kid.
Part of why Ikki is my favorite character in the series is due to his grand entrances and this one doesn’t disappoint either. He just seems to be a few steps ahead of the other Bronze Saints at all times and knew just when to show up. The villains get lucky that he is summoned away later on or the Specters would have kept taking some heavy hits. Additionally while Ikki is the tough member of the crew and makes the tough calls, he will always put Shun above everything else. Ultimately he makes the right decisions here and it’s a great moment.
The only Saint who deals out as much damage would be Kanon who steals the show as I mentioned earlier. He talks tough to all of the Specters including the 3 powerful Judges. He overpowers their techniques and is even able to fight without his armor. As someone who was not one of the original 12 Gold Saints, Kanon has to deal with not being given the same level of respect as the others and handled it well. It never feels like he will turn to the dark side again and has instead become one of Athena’s most reliable fighters. He has really come a long way here and while he may not do much more for the rest of the series, you can be really satisfied with his role. The guy beat up a whole army of Specters like it was nothing and the judges even have to tell them to leave Kanon alone.
Dohko is still around but he really doesn’t do as much as you would expect in this special. He provides some weapons which are useful during the climax which will have to do. All of the Gold Saints get one last hurrah here before leaving things to the bronze saints. Virgo Shaka’s is the most memorable though as the guy actually did well against Hades. I liked that he didn’t entertain the idea of stabbing Athena for an instant and just went straight for Hades. He’s the kind of guy who doesn’t like breaking the rules so it’s a powerful moment.
Honestly this is why I still really don’t like Athena’s plan. It just seems like an awful way to waste most of her own men. Shaka would have done a lot better if Athena wasn’t getting in his way. Her plan to effectively beg for mercy is awful. What’s to stop Hades from claiming he will save the world before murdering her? By the time Athena realizes the flaw in this plan it’s too late because she’s already stabbed. From the start I had major reservations about this plan and this ova did not help matters at all. If anything it just makes every traitor gold saint and Athena look even worse. I’ll probably go more into this after the final ova since we’ll see her complete plan but it’s not looking promising.
Now as for the villains, first up we have Charon who may just be the guy that drives the boat but don’t let that fool you into thinking that he is weak because that is far from the case. He can fight really well and even gives Seiya some trouble. If not for some cheap shots I think the fight would have been over quicker but I give Charon some credit for being a little honorable. That’s more than you can say for most Specters and I thought he was really entertaining.
Then you have Rene who is mostly memorable for all the scenes with Seiya trolling him. It really was one of the funniest episodes in the franchise. The guy’s abilities are good too with how he can toss you around dimensions and use that whip of his. It ties into one of Kanon’s better scenes but without the illusion he may have even beaten Seiya and Shun. Never underestimate the powers of a good illusion.
Pandora is a memorable villain with how much hype she gets. She really does have the specters on a short leash but it seems more like a respect thing than actual power. Unlike Lost Canvass where she can really fight, here she seems to be the ultimate glass cannon. If she can hit you with the harp then she has the edge but otherwise even a normal attack from a Bronze saint can take her down. She spends a good chunk of this special looking shocked or trying to land a sneak attack.
Pandora is a nice change of pace within the villains and I like her well enough but I do think the series could have done more with her as the counterpart to Athena. She is ruthless though and has a lot more agency so that’s still an improvement. In any continuity Pandora is always better than Athena. I doubt Athena would have stabbed the suspicious package the way Pandora did. The tactic may not have worked but it was worth a shot.
A fairly minor villain was Sphinx who did have a good ability to rend the opponents unconscious. If not for Lyra being around he would have been difficult to defeat. You may not remember him for long but Sphinx was reasonable. I had more issues with Lyra in the end. The guy has a tragic backstory but you mean to tell me that he never suspected that the whole thing may not have been an accident? Basically he and his girlfriend had to leave the underworld without looking back but sure enough she did by mistake and turned into stone. This was due to a random bright light.
Naturally it was one of the villains but really Lyra? No suspicions on that? I feel like he should have realized and made a move a lot sooner. His plan was actually not that bad but ultimately it just didn’t work the way he wanted it to. As a silver saint the guy is really impressive, I dare say that he would beat some of the Gold Saints in a battle.
The final one of the normal specters is Valentine who gave Seiya a really good fight. Now granted that Seiya was super weakened and in enemy territory but I think it’s still worth mentioning. You have to have great physical stats to even do that much and you can see why Valentine is such a trusted fighter in the army.
That takes us to the big 3 Judges. Of the 3, Minos hasn’t gotten to do a whole lot yet but his puppet techniques are really lethal. Even Gold Saints are unable to break through his strings. Aiacos has his burning techniques like the Garuda wing and then Rhadamanthys really feels like the strongest member of the 3. He’s also the best one as the guy gets real development and even a true rivalry with Kanon. I like the idea of having a big 3 among the Specters because it really builds up the hype well.
Aiacos has his own rivalry with Ikki and it was a solid fight with a lot of back and forth. Unlike most Specters these guys won’t go down to a single counter attack. As for Rhadamanthys, I liked that he just wanted a good fight and he takes great offense to Kanon saying that the Gold Saints would have wrecked him if their powers weren’t limited. It’s the whole reason he wants to fight Kanon and that’s always a great motivation for me. I was absolutely on board with this.
Finally we have Hades who is the big bad of this saga. He finally shows himself in the second half of the special. I would say it’s worth the wait but he’s not particularly memorable just yet. The guy speaks in a very grand fashion and has a divine aura that forces opponents to back off but we haven’t seen him fight yet. As a god in the series he doesn’t really need to I suppose but he better keep his guard up. I just wish Athena would look tough like this since theoretically she should be about as powerful as he is.
Hades has a great fake out involving a dream which was cool. Ultimately he may get lucky on more than one occasion but you don’t get to be King without having some good luck at times right? I look forward to seeing more of him in the next special. He may not match the 3 Judges but it’s always good to finally meet the big bad and see what his plan is. An eclipse is a fairly original way to cause death and destruction.
There are some meanwhile scenes back on Earth but I haven’t mentioned them much because they don’t really add anything. It’s nice to see that they’re still alive and all but trust me, they won’t be impacting the story in any real way. They’re mainly just here to remind you that they’re around. The best scene on Earth is really the flashbacks with Ikki and Pandora. Those scenes are almost like something out of a horror with how dark the city was that night and how creepy Pandora can be. Ikki having to deal with such painful attacks as a kid is still something else, that kid had grit!
As mentioned earlier, the animation is much better here than last time. We finally have a lot of really good hand to hand battles like the old days and good movement with the energy blasts. It feels like the TV show has come back for real and that definitely feels good. The attacks look solid and the characters’ desperation is really illustrated well. Saint Seiya is a series that really relies on characters giving each other a lot of motivation and pep talks and so you can expect them here as well. They’re handled very effectively.
As for the soundtrack, it’s mostly a lot of classic tunes so they should sound familiar. The opening though really stands out. It’s incredibly high energy and works really well. In general this ova has a lot of energy and helps excel the series. When I say that this ova is near perfect it’s because it shines in all aspects. The Hades are really was quite excellent. Part of what makes it so great is again because it isn’t purely about the Bronze Saints this time. You’ve got the Gold Saints making moves, Athena, Hades, even the Specters get their own development and character moments. It makes this feel like a really complete adventure.
Overall, This will definitely leave you hyped for the third ova to conclude the Saint Seiya saga. I’m ready to see how exciting that one will be. You should probably watch the first ova to really get what is happening here. It won’t make Athena’s decisions look any better but at least you’ll have the context. The ending to this ova is quite striking, Athena’s last scene in particular may take you by surprise. Things aren’t looking great for the heroes but as long as they keep trying there’s always a chance. This ova is just a blast.