Saint Seiya has had many films and series over the years but we hadn’t really gotten the live action version before now. Well, that was all to change with this one. Interestingly it decided to go with the American name for the franchise but that one’s always worked well so it’s a reasonable move. Unfortunately the movie isn’t doing so great at the box office so the chances of a sequel are beginning to dim. It’s definitely a shame since this one sets the seeds very well but I guess it’s going to be back to the drawing board for the franchise.
The film kicks off with two fighters battling it out in the night sky. The hero manages to protect the baby Athena before he is ultimately destroyed in the process. We then cut to the present where Seiya is a street fighter who takes on all challengers although he does a lot more dodging than actual fighting. After a particularly tricky fight Seiya is attacked by mysterious warriors and so a mysterious old guy tells him that they have to hurry out of there. Next thing Seiya knows he’s in a castle where a girl named Sienna is said to be the reincarnation of Athena and Seiya has to protect her since Seiya is the Pegasus incarnation from the knights. Does he have the power to pull this off…and why should he?
A lot of the story here is about following your destiny or trying to break past it if need be. Fortunately Seiya is a hero through and through so while it may not make a whole lot of sense at first, he does get with the program and help out as needed. He doesn’t get along with Sienna very well at first but in large part this is due to her being rude the whole time so you don’t really blame him. I’d say that Seiya is a likable main character who is told to believe a whole lot of things at face value right off the bat so it makes sense that he would be skeptical.
He went from being an ordinary fighter to having to fight world ending threats over night so I cut him a lot of slack. I’d say the movie also did a good job of including a little humor to his character as well. The original show may not have had too much time for it but Seiya did have a sense of humor that would show up once in a while. Here he gets some clever one liners and insults spread throughout the film and they help to make him feel much more like a complete character.
He still has his confidence and willingness to jump into battle as well. Definitely a solid lead all around. Now as you may have heard, the rest of the bronze saints don’t appear here which is definitely an odd choice. Instead we jump right to Phoenix Ikki…who has been renamed Nero for the movie and this time he’s working for a human named Guraad. This part is more inspired by the TV show and it’s an interesting angle. Basically she believes that Athena has to die in order to save the world from a dark prophecy and Nero is helping out. You have to be careful who you trust as a villain though.
Nero easily steals the show here with his constant sarcastic wit. The guy has an answer for everything and of course he has the power to back it up. If not for all the trailers showing that Nero would get in on the action you may start to get a little nervous halfway through the film though as you hope he will get to fight here. I can tell you that skipping his fight would have really hurt the film. As it stands we get to see exactly why he is so confident. His abilities really speak for themselves.
I also thought the movie went all out with making the effects for his costume and attacks good. One of the movie’s few weaknesses is that Seiya’s suit looks really bad. It’s nothing like his classic attire and looks like something out of Mortal Kombat instead. I like Mortal Kombat as much as the next guy but it doesn’t make sense to change this when Seiya is so popular and world renown for the outfit. His Pegasus Fist was also ruined here unfortunately. It just looks like smoke to an extent and not a rapid blow of fists. So the effects could have been a lot better but Nero’s looked good.
The fight scenes were all really solid though. I knew I was in for a treat right away when I saw the shockwaves behind every hit during the Seiya vs Cassios fight. Super satisfying all the way. I dare say it may have been the best fight in the film with the only competition being Nero vs Seiya. Both very good fights but in general all the hand to hand and beam battles were good. If you’re looking for action then this film delivered.
Guraad also made for a good villain. She wants to save the world even if it means destroying all of her bonds. She even knows how to fight with her technology and aura in a pinch. She doesn’t finish very well though as this kind of villain only really works when she is determined and ready to see her goals through to the end. When you’re a super evil villain like this then that’s what you really need to do but the instant you waver then that’s no good. It’s way too late for the victims at that point and so I much rather see a villain who sees the plan through than one who has doubts.
That’s why I wasn’t thrilled about parts of her character arc here but ultimatelys he is still good. I actually prefer her by a large margin to Alman who feels more wishy washy and the guy went too far. He caused just about as much damage as Guraad and while he ultimately did stop, he certainly took his time in the past. Princess Sienna is a good character though. She’s your classic “I’m really tough” character who comes in strong with the insults and doesn’t want to let anyone get too close.
She can’t control her powers yet though so don’t expect a lot of actual wins but at least she can talk tough which is always appreciated. Seiya knows that he can’t let his guard down around her or she’ll insult him again. By the end of the film I’d say that she has finally balanced her attitude along with being a little nicer though. If the films end up turning her into a real fighter that would be great.
I also have to give the film credit for how it handled Cassios. He’s considerably better here than in any other Saint Seiya media that I’ve seen. The guy was a full character and a strong fighter even before getting powers. The guy actually dealt damage to the automatic cosmo soldiers at one point and he also has a lot of confidence. Ultimately he might let himself get manipulated a little too easily and don’t expect him to actually come out on top but he’s a villain who is very entertaining to see. I was glad that he wasn’t just a one shot joke character.
The movie does have a good fakeout involving this with Alman’s bodyguard. When the first guy shows up to get one shotted by the villains you figure that the film did him dirty but then we see the true bodyguard after that and he looks good. It’s a bit cheesy that anyone could beat a bunch of these dark knights with a sword and gun combo. I’m not really sure that I buy it at all but it did make for a fun action scene.
The story, characters, and fights were definitely good all around. The only other issue is the pacing did get a little slow during the training by Marin. I felt like the desert didn’t make for the most interesting backdrop and the training itself was a little more on the plain side. There wasn’t much to it so it wasn’t super interesting. You were just waiting for Seiya to get back already to help out Sienna and stop the villains. Eventually Marin saw reason there but she definitely delayed him. It would be nice to see Marin more in the sequel because she can fight so she should be really useful there.
Overall, It was probably a mistake to change so many things from the manga. Having the rest of the Saints show up here would have been the better decision rather than saving them for a sequel that may or may not happen. I don’t think it would have been a whole lot to juggle. Either way I am looking forward to the sequel for this film if it arrives. As far as live action adaptions of a manga go I thought this was a fairly strong one. I was entertained the whole time and while it was a different adventure, I thought it captured the spirit of the adventure. Next time lets get more of the classic music tracks in here though instead of remixes playing very silently in the background.