The Vision of Escaflowne

Some of the people in the Vision of Escaflowne
The Vision of Escaflowne

Combining swords, tragedy, sorcery, destiny and romance, The Vision of Escaflowne is certainly one of the most innovative anime series of the past year. From mecha action to sword combat, from fantastic characters designs to fluid animation... all you always dreamed of seeing in an anime can be find in here...

In an interview appearing in the Sunrise Art Book on the series, animation director Hiroshi Osaka tries to describe the appeal of The Vision of Escaflowne: "It's hard to say, because there's so much. It's got a shjo manga style, but it's still a mecha show. It's an alternate world fortunetelling story. It'd be easy to just assign it a genre, but most of it wuldn't make sense. When I check the computer networks, each fan seems to see something different in it. I guess that's probably the attraction."

A twenty-six episode TV series airing from 2 April to 24 September 1996, and produced by mecha veteran studio Sunrise, Tenk no Escaflowne ("Escaflowne of the Sky" or, as it was christened by Sunrise, The Vision of Escaflowne -- the series' official English title) offered its viewers something that hadn't been done in anime in a long time -- a fantasy-style world used simply as a setting, without the traditional stock fantasy characters. Resurrecting a knights-in-armor mecha motif that hadn't really been seen in mecha circles since Ryosuke Takahashi's 1984 TV series Panzer World Galient was on the air, Escaflowne went for a iron-forged technological look that was miles from the high-tech sleekness of very in-vogue cyberpunk works such as Ghost in the Shell or the latter-day Gundam and Macross sequels. Likewise, Escaflowne's "shjo's manga-type elements" harken back to a more romantic age of mecha -- the mecha TV shows of the '80s, such as SPT Layzner and Zeta Gundaml, which were always especially notable for their large female followings, based largely on the handsome heroes and blatant soap operea elements amidst the nitty gritty of mecha combat. Romance in anime in general is something that's only recently come full circle with anime hits such as Sailor Moon and Fushigi Ygi, but it's also something that Escaflowne's story creator, chief writer and series supervisor Shoji Kawamori himself had been involved in previously, in the show that puyt idol singers into the sci-fi mecha universe, Superdimensional Fortress Macross and two of its subsequent sequels -- Macross 7 and Macross Plus.

"In Macross, it was songs, a triangle relationship, and war," Kwamori explains. "This time, the fortunetelling-equals-destiny theme was definitely going to be included, but I wondered whether to make the other elements combat or love affairs. Eventually, everything would be included. It's probably my character, but I decided that a story only about action or a story only about lobe might as well be left up to Hollywood movies. I thought it was worthwhile to take on the challenge of incorporating elements that might end up being oil and water into the story."

To suit Kawamori's final vision of Escaflowne had as much heartache as hardware -- a bittersweet love story set amidst the sweeping background of medieval-themed nation-states fighting a desperate war."

*taken from Animerica, vol.5 number 3 arcticle compiled by Egan Loo

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