Saint Seiya: Soul of Gold Review


It’s definitely good to have the Gold Saints back in action. They mostly just got wrecked a lot in the original series although some god to have their moment to shine in the Hades arc. This time they have a whole show to themselves where they can really get to cut loose and it works really well. The show can be rather formulaic so you know what to expect but it ends up being a great show from start to finish.

The show starts with Aiolia being mysteriously revived over in Asgard. He’s unsure of how this could have happened as he is sure that he died. Well, no matter. Aiolia has to head over to Hades to back up the bronze saints but he is asked by Lyfia to stay and save Asgard. The place has become very corrupt as the God Warriors serve Andreas now. Hilda is sick and unable to take control and Odin is sleeping as usual. If something isn’t done quickly, all of Asgard will fall as the villains raise up the world tree.

Usually Aiolia could just end this in an instant but it won’t be so easy this time. For starters, the World Tree absorbs the energy of the Gold Saints so their abilities are heavily nerfed. Making things even worse is that the God Warrior have their abilities amplified at the same time so what ends up happening is a double disadvantage. On the bright side, the rest of the Gold Saints have been resurrected as well. Fighting as a team has never been their strong suit but perhaps Aiolia can rally the group to save Asgard. Then they will head over to help Seiya and friends.

I may as well say now that they don’t get to help Seiya and friends but you probably guessed that since it would have completely changed the timeline. That could be fun in a way as a massive plot twist but keeping things separate isn’t a bad idea. It’s fun to just see the Gold Saints hanging out and we get more of their personalities here since there’s some down time. In the main series you certainly didn’t have time to see the Gold Saints just hang out and grab a drink. I would say the first part of the show is more of a creature of the week format as they beat up on a poor God Warrior with their own God armor and then end up fainting. Rinse and repeat until we get more structure.

It’s not a bad set up though and will remind you of the classic Saint Seiya structure. At no point would I say this show gets close to the original but it still works well. The first reason for this is since this is an original story, you don’t know how it’s really going to play out. After seeing the classic adventures in a few variations, it’s fun to see a brand new ordeal here. Even the tone and feel is a bit different since the main characters are the big shots here and not the Bronze Saints surpassing their limits all the time. We’ve got a bit of a mystery subplot with how Lyfia will randomly stare at the Saints once in a while with a dangerous look on her face and of course the tensions of Saints acting in another jurisdiction.

The animation isn’t great here but it works well enough. They put in some extra effort for the climax as well. I still wish we can get a truly top notch Saint Seiya animation at some point though. Some of the movies look great and take the lead there but I’m talking about a Studio Pierrot or Ufotable kind of production. With how flashy all of the Saint designs are it would be really easy to make the fights look amazing. Regardless, it works well enough.

As for the soundtrack, I wouldn’t say there are any real standout themes here. The music all feels almost free domain at times. The opening has a very good opening beat but then it fades from there. Also, there are a ton of sound effects in the song that make it hard to just listen to casually. I think they could have done better on this front. There are a few decent themes scattered within but I wouldn’t call this a very good soundtrack.

Before I jump into the characters part, I also have to give the series credit for directly referencing the old Asgard arc from the show. As an anime exclusive arc I’m sure they may have been tempted to ignore it but that arc was quite solid so I’m glad that it was still relevant. We learn about how these new God Warriors came into place and it makes sense since the Bronze Saints didn’t hold back against the last ones. It also reminds you that these guys would be easily dispatched if not for the tree messing up with the balance the whole time. Take that away and things would be different.

All right so Aiolia is the main character here and he makes sense as the pick. He’s easily the character who is the closest to being like one of the original characters. He is a hero who does the right thing and never wavers. That’s something that most of the other Gold Saints could learn a thing or two about. Aiolia also tends to lose quite a few fights here as a result but by exploding his cosmos he is usually able to win in round 2 or make a last second comeback. While most of the Saints seem fixated on doing whatever they want or protecting Athena, Aiolia seems to actually believe in justice which is important.

He was always one of my favorite Gold Saints and he certainly looks good here. We also get to see Aiolia’s older brother Aiolos. I was surprised that he was resurrected since he died so long ago but I was definitely happy to see him. He’s as tough as you’ll remember from back in the day and he gets a good role here. It’s not a particularly big role until the end so you have to wait, but it’s worth it. It’s safe to say that he’ll always be the best Gold Saint. Not saying he’s the strongest but he’s the coolest.

I never cared for Mu much. Usually he prefers to just watch all of the fights instead of doing anything which is annoying in itself. Then he went full on traitor in the Hades arc and kept on sinking and sinking. Well, in this show he’s not bad. He still seems a bit weaker than the other Gold Saints but the guy is more of a defensive fighter so that makes sense. When your main technique is a big shield…it’s inevitable that somebody’s going to break it. That’s how these things always go. Mu does his detective work in the show and helps find the weakness to the tree though.

Usually Dohko is in the same camp as Mu in terms of just watching everything the whole time but he gets a little more involved here. As one of the more powerful Gold Saints I expected him to do more than what he did. He’s still around for some battles though. Then there’s Aldebaran who is still the strong man of the group but his fighting style is what really lets him down most of the time. The guy always crosses his arms as his fighting stance which doesn’t work. I mean his big attack is then unfolding his arms with a great push. What kind of combo is that?

Aldebaran badly needs some new material. I think you can only get away with that if you’re one of the stronger Gold Saints and it seems like this guy would get smoked by most of the others. Scorpio Milo is one of the Gold Saints who looks really solid the whole time. He just wants a good fight and is eager to fight the villains. He also takes Camus’ betrayal very seriously and just wants to beat the guy up. He ended up being a lot more engaging than I expected him to be.

Unfortunately Camus is the perfect contrast here as that guy looks awful. It wasn’t enough for him to be a traitor once, he has to do it again? His whole character here is that he’s with the Gold Saints. Yeah, they explain why but the reason is as shallow as it gets and I don’t buy into it being reasonable. So I was rooting for the Gold Saints to absolutely devastate this guy in the fights. Just get him out of there asap. There was no coming back from this.

Shura is one of the Gold Saints who doesn’t get much of a role. With 13 episodes and 12 Saints it makes sense that some wouldn’t get much of a role. Especially when some Saints get a considerable role so there is even less time for the others. Shura gets to prove that his sword is the best though. Aprodite gets the smallest role but to help make up for it, the writers made sure that his moment really counted at the end. So in a way you could say that Aphrodite ended up being one of the more crucial pieces in the whole show.

Deathmask gets an entire character arc here. He starts off as a very annoying guy who refuses to hel and just gets in the way the whole time. Definitely the kind of character that will make you shake your head. Fortunately after that he starts his journey of recovery although it takes him a long enough time that things get a bit tragic for him. By the end he’s learned what it means to be a hero but it sure takes him a long time. He was still one of my least favorite characters by the end of it. He’s lucky that Aiolia didn’t knock him out when they first met.

Speaking of which, the show continues the urban legend about how a fight between Golden Saints will take 100 days or something like that. It’s a great story but we’ve seen many Gold Saint battles at this point and they’re still over rather quickly. 100 days would really imply that their powers and abilities are exactly equal but this just isn’t the case. I think the Saints tend to overestimate themselves a bit which ultimately ends up coming back to bite them. I do like the bravado though.

Now we come to the big 2 Saints who get a lot of hype in the show. First up is Gemini Saga and whenever he shows up all of the villains start to panic. I like that he is given this much respect because he has definitely earned it. Gemini Saga was the highest ranking Saint who was even in line to become the Pope after all. (Aiolos was the #1 choice though) While there is always a fun debate to be had on whether Virgo Shaka is stronger, either way they are near the top. Even while nerfed Gemini Saga was able to hold his own against various opponents here. He always has a very cool demeanor to him and I was glad that he still had that presence here.

Finally you have Virgo Shaka who really did look quite good here. He was even portrayed as a bit of a mastermind and really came through when the team needed him. His attacks have the most variety to them and since he is the man closest to god in this verse, he is able to even handle the various demi gods and actual gods that show up in this show. Ultimately he still isn’t unbeatable or anything but when he shows up you can expect that the villains are going to have a tough time.

Andreas is the main villain of the series and he’s your classic evil dictator. The guy acts really nice the whole time but he is tricking people to be used in live experiments and only cares about conquering the world. His nice personality is all an act but unfortunately one that works well. Everyone trusts the guy and the sad irony is he probably could have become the King legitimately with how people liked the guy. I guess he would never settle for being second fiddle to Odin though. So Andreas is okay but I wouldn’t say he is super memorable.

Loki makes for a much more interesting villain and that guy is also a lot more powerful. As another true god in the Seiya verse, you would expect him to be strong too. Perhaps not as strong as Hades, Poseidon, Zeus, Athena, and Odin as the 5 great gods here but he would be about as strong as Hades’ two right hand men. Of course we canm’t take this standing too seriously as Athena always looks super weak and Odin can’t do anything for himself. Loki also appears to be stronger than Hypnos and Thanatos, that or Seiya and the gang are just that good.

Either way you should be satisfied with how Loki looks. He shows up and starts to dominate right out of the gate. His abilities are the real deal and the fight actually goes on for quite a while. He’s got the kind of confidence you would expect from such a villain too. On the hero side we don’t have any gods to aid the heroes but we do have the heroine Lyfia who is always around for moral support. There are quite a few twists about her seemingly evil mode. For her normal state though, she’s nice enough. The show starts to mess around with a possible romance involving her but never really goes through with it so we can write this off as normal admiration.

She certainly owes the heroes a lot for saving her people and the people of Asgard owe her even more since nobody was helping. Lyfia was really the only person trying to stop the evil in the kingdom which paints a very bad light on the rest of these guys. She can’t really fight but considering that everyone here’s an easy planet buster it’s not like she should be expected to battle. Just summoning everyone here was enough.

Frodi is the main God Warrior here and while that means he’s a big sucker who bought into all of the villain plans, at least he means well. I don’t usually have a lot of patience for these guys who are just following the rules and don’t think about the truth. I should think the whole thing is pretty obvious when Hilda is “sick” and Lyfia is trying to help take down Asgard’s ruler. Shouldn’t it make you think a bit if the royal family isn’t happy with what’s going on? I would have just liked this guy to try thinking ahead a bit more. In terms of ability and design though this guy was fun.

Fafner is the worst member. Every villain group tends to have that one creep and that’s Fafner in this case. The guy likes to run human experiments to make the villain tech work better. He uses people to power up the tree and to increase his own energy. The guy can’t fight nearly as well as the others and usually gets taken down quickly but any scene with this guy is usually annoying.

Heracles is the power member of the villains but I didn’t find him to be very impressive personally. He gets wrecked by Aldebaran really early on and never came back from that. He is one of the only God Warriors to not get any kind of convincing win. The guy talks a big game that he just can’t back up and doesn’t have many long range options. When you’re weaker than the others and are the “power hitter” of the group then that’s a problem.

Surtr is the guy who guilt trips Camus the whole time but I don’t even blame him for that. That’s all on Camus for being a chump here. In battle Surtr is decent. He prefers not to just jump into battle and relies on strategy but that shouldn’t be mistaken for being weak. He just fights in a smart way but if he has to get into the ring personally then he will. This is why the guy’s such a big threat. I liked him well enough and he was one of the better members of the group.

Another solid member was Sigmund and this guy has more of an honor code than the others which is always appreciated. This guy wants to win on his own merits and as a reward of sorts he gets to fight Gemini Saga. I liked this guy through and through. Of course he is still on the wrong side of things and didn’t think any of this through but at least he isn’t using any cheap tricks and that goes a long way.

Baldr is the last big member of the group and he’s the one who became an actual immortal which makes him very dangerous. His fight against Virgo Shaka is one of the best parts in the whole series as a result. Both of these guys are a lot stronger than the average fighter and you can feel it in each of their moves. They can counter any attack thrown their way which leads to a lot of back and forth. I liked Baldr quite a bit and he has a fairly emotional backstory. I thought it was sadder than most of the others at least.

So the show has a very solid cast of heroes and villains which always goes a long way to making the show great as well. As you can probably guess, there is a lot of nonstop action here as well. The battles never really end as each episode will throw something at you. Then the climax is a bunch of other battles in a row before we get the big team up. Seeing the Gold Saints team up is also a very nice moment. Soul of Gold did well to take the premise of having the Gold Saints in the front lines and making the most of it. It’s why this works so well as a spinoff.

Overall, Soul of Gold was definitely great. I really didn’t have any big issues with it. Of course it would be nice if the show was longer and could get more arcs but it would probably get more and more difficult to do this without having them get in the way of the main series. After a while it may be forced if the heroes aren’t able to get to Hades. The ending also could have been a bit different, I’d prefer many different options to how things played out here. In a way it’s because it feels like a bit of a cop out. The classic “If you didn’t watch the show then you didn’t miss anything” kind of feel. I always think making the whole show not feel important after all is a shame. It doesn’t take away from the experience but it would be nice to tell someone they have to watch this to find out what’s going on in the Saint Seiya saga. With the way the ending goes (Don’t worry, it’s not a dream) you can’t really say that but I would still highly recommend this to anyone who wants a good action story. In this case it is highly recommended you watch the classic Saint Seiya show first though.

Overall 8/10

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