Saint Seiya (聖闘士星矢 Seinto Seiya?), also known as Knights of the Zodiac, is a Japanese manga series written and illustrated by Masami Kurumada and serialized in Weekly Shōnen Jump from 1986 to 1991, and adapted into an anime TV series by Toei Animation from 1986 to 1989.
The story follows five mystical warriors called the "Saints" (or "Knights") who fight wearing sacred armors named "Cloths" , the designs of which derive from the various constellations the characters have adopted as their destined guardian symbols. These Saints have sworn to defend the reincarnation of the Greek goddess Athena in her battle against the other Olympian gods who want to dominate Earth.
Both the original manga and the anime adaptation were very successful in Japan and several European and Latin American countries (mainly in South America), including France, Italy, Spain, Mexico, Argentina, Brazil and Dominican Republic; however, neither of them were translated in English until 2003. Four animated feature films were even shown in Japanese theaters; however, the anime was cancelled and left unfinished in 1989, leaving one arc of the manga non-animated. In 2002, Toei Animation continued the anime in the form of three OVA series (the final one ended in 2008) in order to adapt the remaining manga story arcs, and following this revival of the franchise, a fifth film was screened in 2004.
Six years before the events at the focus of the series, one hundred orphans from Japan are sent to different parts of the world to become legendary warriors known as "Saints", who are the soldiers under the command of Greek goddess Athena. These warriors are under the protection of a celestial constellation.
The power of the Saints originates from the understanding of the nature of the "Cosmo", an inner spiritual essence, originated in the Big Bang. The concept of the "Cosmo" advocates that each atom within a human body resembles a small solar system, and since the human body consists of billions of atoms, the totality forms a "small Cosmo" or a "small Universe". Each person's Cosmo has its own unique signature. The Saints take the knowledge of the Cosmo to the next level: since humans are composed of atoms, humans should be able to use the mysterious forces behind the atoms to achieve super human feats.
The story focuses on one of these orphans named Seiya. He is sent to the Sanctuary in Greece to become the Pegasus Saint. After six years, Seiya becomes the Pegasus Saint and returns to Japan to find his older sister. Because his sister disappeared the same day Seiya went to the Sanctuary, Saori Kido, the granddaughter of the person who sent all the orphans to train, makes a deal with him to go to fight in a tournament called the Galaxian Wars, where the orphans who survived and became Bronze Saints must fight to win the most powerful Cloth: The Sagittarius Gold Cloth. If Seiya goes to compete there and wins, Saori would start a search to find Seiya's sister.
During the series, Seiya becomes the partner and friend of other Bronze Saints: Shun, Shiryu, Ikki, and Hyoga. As the myth of the Saints, they must fight together to protect the reincarnation of the goddess Athena from any danger, as their predecessors have during millennia.
When Masami Kurumada was in the process of creating Saint Seiya, he gave Seiya the name Rin at first, since Kurumada was going to title his manga "Ginga no Rin" (Rin of the Galaxy). However, as Kurumada continued developing his manga, he decided to change the name to Seiya, which was more fitting. First he spelled the name with the kanji that meant "Holy Arrow", to relate it to Seiya's condition as a Saint, but later decided to use the kanji that meant "Star Arrow", to emphasize the constellation and mythological motif. Finally, he changed his manga title as well, to Saint Seiya, once he fully developed the concept of the Saints. Also, Kurumada stated that one of the first ideas he conceived for Saint Seiya was the Pegasus Meteor Fist. Since his manga was going to use the constellations as a very important and ever-present theme, he wanted his protagonist to have a special move that would be like a shower of meteors.
When Kurumada designed Seiya's likeness, he was inspired by his character Ryūji Takane, the protagonist of his hit manga Ring ni Kakero, which he created 9 years before Seiya. Most protagonists of Kurumada's works bear a resemblance to Ryūji, as Kurumada subscribes to the revered Osamu Tezuka's Star System (a stable cast of characters) technique. The same process is done with almost all the other characters from the series.
The original Saint Seiya manga was conceived, written and illustrated by Masami Kurumada and was published by Shueisha in the magazine Weekly Shōnen Jump from January 1986 to December 1990 and collected in 28 tankōbon volumes. The series has three main parts or acts: Sanctuary Act (volumes 1 to 13), Poseidon Act (volumes 14 to 18), and Hades Act (volumes 19 to 28). Volume 13 also contains a separate short story called The chapter of Nastassja from the Land of Ice (氷の国のナターシャ編 Kōri no kuni no Natāsha Hen?). The series is licensed in English in North America by Viz Media. Viz released the first collected volume of the series on January 21, 2004, and as of February 2, 2010 all twenty-eight volumes have been released.
In addition to the original tankōbon volumes listed below, the series has been reissued four times. The first reissue was the 15 Aizōban volumes in 1995, the "Collector's Version". The second reissue was in 2001 of the Bunkoban, the "Library Version". The series was released again in 2003 in 19 volumes with Setteis from the anime adaptation, and called the "Remix Version". The fourth reissue, in 22 volumes and called the "Complete Version", contains additional colored pages as well as colored armor schematics. Another "Remix Version" was published at the end of 2007 to coincide with the broadcast of Chapter Elysion of the anime.
During 2002, a new manga called Saint Seiya Episode.G started being serialized. The story is situated 7 years before the events at the beginning of the original Saint Seiya Manga, and 6 years after the death of the Gold Saint Sagittarius Aiolos, making Leo Aiolia the main character. During the series, Titans are brought back to life with the mission of recovering their realm, and the Gold Saints are assigned to stop them to protect the humans. This new manga series is written and drawn by Megumu Okada, under the authorization of Masami Kurumada. The individual chapters are published in Akita Shoten's Champion RED, with fourteen volumes being currently released.
In the summer of 2006, Kurumada resumed the story of Saint Seiya in Saint Seiya: Next Dimension. The story continues with the previous Holy War between the deities in the Saint Seiya universe. Heroes from the present journey back in time to save Pegasus Seiya from his imminent death. It is being published in Akita Shoten's Shonen Champion magazine at irregular dates.
Also, during the fall of 2006, another new manga series called Saint Seiya: The Lost Canvas started being published. This series tells an alternate interpretation of the previous Holy War that took place in the 18th century, 250 years before the original series in the Saint Seiya universe. The story centers on the relations between Tenma, the Pegasus Saint and his beloved friend, Alone, who would eventually become his greatest enemy, Hades. Along with Saint Seiya: Next Dimension, it is being published in Akita Shoten's Shōnen Champion magazine. This manga series is, however, not written or illustrated by Masami Kurumada, Saint Seiya: The Lost Canvas, is written and drawn by Shiori Teshirogi, under the authorization of Masami Kurumada.
The anime adaptation is based on the manga of the same title and follows it closely. Produced by Toei Animation, it first premiered on Japan's TV Asahi on October 11, 1986, lasting from 1986 to 1989. It was directed first by Kōzō Morishita (episodes 1–73) and then by Kazuhito Kikuchi (episodes 74–114). The animation character designers and aestheticists were Shingo Araki and Michi Himeno, and Seiji Yokoyama composed the soundtracks. Adapting Kurumada's storylines from the manga, the chief scriptwriters were Takao Koyama and Yoshiyuki Suga. The series has three main parts: Sanctuary (episodes 1–73), Asgard, which exists only in the anime adaptation (episodes 74–99), and Poseidon (episodes 100–114). In the United States, the series premiered in Cartoon Network on August 30, 2003, but only the first thirty-two episodes aired. This dub, retitled Knights of the Zodiac, was licensed by DiC Entertainment (now known as Cookie Jar). This dub was heavily edited; the edits included cutting overly violent scenes, adding in previously non-existent digital transitions, coloring all instances of blood blue and renaming it "mystical energies," re-writing the scripts, and replacing the opening theme, ending theme, and background music. ADV Films licensed the Home Video rights to the series and released the DIC dubbed episodes, as well as the uncut subbtitled versions of the episodes, featuring an uncut dub (with a different voice cast than the one used by DiC). The first two seasons were released in this way. In early 2009, the uncut version was reissued in two boxsets, and regained ADV's interest in the series, but ADV shut down and ceased operations later that year.
On November 9, 1988, Shōnen Jump released a Jump Gold Selection Anime Special 2, written by Takao Koyama, with illustrations by the series' Animation Character Designers Shingo Araki & Michi Himeno. This special is just a detailed flashback to Gemini Saga's assassination attempt on the newborn Athena.
There is also a series of two novels written by Kurumada and Tatsuya Hamazaki with the name of Saint Seiya – Gigantomachia, which were published by Jump J Books. The first novel was released in Japan on August 23, 2002, while the second was released on December 16, 2002.
Original video animations
These are a series of original video animations (OVAs) that cover the last arc of the manga, which was not previously adapted into anime. The first 13 episodes were broadcasted on Animax (a Japanese pay-per-view channel) from November 9, 2002 to April 12, 2003, and then released on DVD during the year 2003. These 13 episodes were named Hades — Chapter Sanctuary (冥王ハーデス十二宮編 Meiō Hādesu Jyūnikyū Hen?) and adapt volumes 19 to 22 from the manga. This OVA series was directed by Shigeyasu Yamauchi, still with animation character designs by Shingo Araki and Michi Himeno, while the scripts were adapted from the manga this time by Michiko Yokote, and the soundtrack was entirely taken from Yokoyama's work on the previous TV series.
Two years after the first part of the Hades saga, Chapter Sanctuary, a second part was produced in 2005. This second chapter was named Hades — Chapter Inferno (冥王ハーデス冥界編 前章 Meiō Hādesu Meikai Hen - Zenshō?) and consists of six episodes, adapting volumes 23 to 25 from the manga. However, most of the original voice actors did not reprise their roles. Hideyuki Tanaka, however, reprises his role as the narrator. Hirotaka Suzuoki, the original voice actor of Dragon Shiryu, died on August 6, 2006 due to lung cancer.
On the same Animax channel, Toei Animation released the first two OVAs on December 17, 2005, followed by the next two on January 21, 2006. The last pair were released on February 18, 2006. Shortly after their TV broadcasting, which lasted for 2 months, the episodes were released on DVD in 2006. This short OVA series was directed by Tomoharu Katsumata, but the other staff remained the same. Toei Animation officially announced the news on its website on July 18, 2006. Then, Hades — Chapter Inferno - Part 2 (冥王ハーデス冥界編 後章 Meiō Hādesu Meikai Hen - Kōshō?), which contains 6 episodes in total, was released, adapting volumes 25 to 26 from the manga.
As of June 28, Masami Kurumada announced on his personal blog that production on the Hades — Chapter Elysion (冥王ハーデス エリシオン編 Meiō Hādesu Erishion Hen?) OVAs had begun. It was thought that the release was to be in mid-December 2007, as of the last two years with the performance of the two Inferno chapters (Zenshō and Kōshō), but no preview or released images were available as of the end of October. In November 2007, Toei Animation announced that the official release of the Elysion Chapter would be in March 2008 and not December 2007 as originally planned The Elysion OVAs were released in March (episodes #26 and #27), May (#28 and #29), and August (#30 and #31), and adapted the final two volumes from the manga, 27 and 28.
A fifth film came out in Japanese theaters in 2004, Heaven Chapter - Overture (天界編 序奏 Tenkai Hen Josō?), which was supposed to follow the regular chronology right after the end of the manga (which finished being adapted on August 1, 2008) as a prologue to a new chapter. Toei Animation first announced that this new chapter would be a new animated series, but later Kurumada stated that he wanted the film to be part of a trilogy. Tōru Furuya revealed Kurumada's wishes for the series during a press conference. After Pegasus Seiya eventually defeats Zeus, he is to go on and face Chronos, the god of Time. Toru was not allowed to say anything more.
With the serialization of Saint Seiya: Next Dimension, Kurumada removed Overture from the canon of the Saint Seiya universe, although some elements that appeared in it remain in the continuity.
In August 1991, a musical, sponsored by Bandai, was performed at the Aoyama theater in Tokyo, Japan. The story retells the Sanctuary and Poseidon chapters. The cast included members of SMAP as the five Bronze Saints and Poseidon. The characters Aries Mu, Leo Aiolia, and Scorpio Milo were portrayed by members of another band, Tokio.
Several video games have been released based on the series. For the Family Computer, two role-playing games named Saint Seiya: Ōgon Densetsu and Saint Seiya: Ōgon Densetsu Kanketsu-Hen, were released in 1987 and 1988, respectively. In 2003, Bandai released another role-playing game game called Saint Seiya: Ōgon Densetsu-Hen Perfect Edition for the WonderSwan Color, adapting the first 73 episodes. In 2005, Bandai released the Saint Seiya: Chapter-Sanctuary for the PlayStation 2. It is a 3D Fighting game that adapts the same episodes as the previous game. A sequel for this game was released in 2006 with the name of Saint Seiya: The Hades adaptating the original video animations series. Unlike previous games, these two PS2 games were released outside Japan, the later being released first in Europe in 2006 and later in Japan and Australia.
A new game called Saint Seiya Online was to be released in August 2009 from SEGA Japan, it has however not been released and its current status is unknown. Saint Seiya Online will feature a 65-piece orchestral music score composed by Masamichi Amano and performed by the Angel City Studio Orchestra. Recording took place at the Eastwood Scoring Stage at Warner Brothers Studios. The game was first shown to be in production back in 2006 on the 14th of July on Masami Kurumada's blog, but it wasn't until 2008 on the 7th of November that he showed more info about the game on his blog. Including a picture from the game with the five main Bronze Saints in their original colors.
Games featuring characters from Saint Seiya:
- Famicom Jump: Eiyū Retsuden (Famicom, 1989)
- Pop'n Music Animation Melody (Arcade, PlayStation, Game Boy Color, 2000)
- Pop'n Music Animelo 2 (Arcade, 2001)
- Saint Seiya Typing Ryu Sei Ken (PC, 2003)
- Jump! Ultimate Stars (Nintendo DS, 2006)
Seiji Yokoyama's work as composer of the musical score for Saint Seiya is prolific and has been released in numerous compact-disc compilations. Some of them are listed:
- Saint Seiya - Original Soundtrack (a compilation that spans 8 CDs)
- Saint Seiya – 1996 Song Collection
- Saint Seiya – 1997 Shonenki
- Saint Seiya – Best Collection
- Saint Seiya – Chikyūgi (Single Album)
- Saint Seiya – Galaxian Wars
- Saint Seiya – Memorial Box (spanning 5 CDs)
- Saint Seiya – Gold Collection (spanning 5 CDs)
- Saint Seiya – Hits (spanning 3 CDs)
- Saint Seiya – King of the Underworld
- Saint Seiya – Piano Fantasia
- Saint Seiya – Tenkai Hen Josō Overture
In the mid-1980s a line of Saint Seiya action figures, called Saint Cloth Series, were produced by Bandai, featuring most of the series characters. The toy line was a huge success inside of Japan, but also in other countries such as Hong-Kong, Taiwan, France, Belgium, Switzerland, Spain, Portugal, Brazil, Paraguay and Mexico. The figures have now acquired collector status and the Japanese originals are highly sought after. Some, like Odin's God Robe or Kraken Isaac, have a very high value.
Starting in 2002, for their popular gashapon high-quality PVC figurines line, Bandai released several Saint Seiya themed sets, each one containing an average of 5 figurines. Seven sets were released, the sixth of which was a Special release that included the 12 Gold Saints. The seventh set was released in 2004 to commemorate the release of the Tenkai Hen Josō Overture movie, raising the number of figurines released to date to 34.
In 2003, Bandai created a new line of figures called Saint Seiya Cloth Myth (聖闘士聖衣神話 Seinto Seiya Kurosu Maisu?). Originally, only the five main Bronze Saints wearing their Cloths from the Poseidon Arc would be released, in commemoration of the Hades arc of the manga being animated, but were so well received that they decided to continue the line and it continues to sell very well internationally. As of July 2010, there are over 100 figures available, and Bandai continues to release new figures regularly. The line seems to be nowhere near its end.
In 2006, Bandai created a separate gashapon line named Saint Seiya - Cloth-up Saint (聖闘士星矢 クロスアップセイント Seinto Seiya Kurosu-appu Seinto?). It differed from the original gashapon line in that the figurines were poseable and their armor could be removed. Five sets, each containing five figurines, were released.
In 2008, Bandai released a line of PVC figurines Saint Seiya - Saint Statue (聖闘士星矢 聖闘士彫像 Seinto Seiya - Seinto Agaruma?). Each set includes an average of five figures, and four sets have been released to date.
More recently, the Japanese hobby figurine and collectible manufacturer Megahouse released in 2007 a line of very high-quality, non-poseable resin figures named Saint Seiya Excellent Model, which are part of the line Excellent Model, composed of various well-known characters from manga and anime. Three figures have been released so far, Pegasus Seiya, Dragon Shiryū and Athena.
Starting in 2008, the Japanese collectible manufacturer Medicos Entertainment, is releasing the Saint Seiya - Cloth Collection (聖闘士星矢 聖衣コレクシオン Seinto Seiya Kurosu Korekushion?), a line that consists in various resin figurines of the Cloths worn by the Saints. Three volumes have been released so far, each one containing 6 figures.
Continuing with its Saint Seiya themed lines, Medicos Entertainment also released a line of non-poseable resin figures named Saint Seiya - Twelve Golden Temples Chapter (聖闘士星矢 黄金十二宮編 Seinto Seiya Ōgon Jūnikyū Hen?), composed of various figures of Saint Seiya characters. Nine figures have been released so far. Medicos also released a very high-quality resin figure of Aioros and Seiya, wearing the Sagittarius Gold Cloth, as part of their Art Collection line. All three sub-lines form part of their Chōzō (Super Figures) line.
The original manga series of twenty-eight volumes have sold over 25 million copies in Japan as of 2007. When TV Asahi, a television network in Japan, conducted a nation-wide survey for the one hundred most popular animated television series, Saint Seiya anime came in twenty-fifth place. Animage also ranked the anime series within "Top 100" anime productions. The anime series won the Animage Anime Grand Prix prize in 1987.
It is considered one of the biggest anime phenomenons of the 1980s. It would become the inspiration for future series, including Kurumada's later work B't X, Gulkeeva, and Gundam Wing. In The Anime Encyclopedia: A Guide to Japanese Animation Since 1917, Jonathan Clements and Helen McCarthy praises the series' complex plot and felt that designers' Shingo Arakai and Michi Himeno had worked "magic" with both the series and the films. They also praised the grand soundtrack and director Shigeyasu Yamauchi's ability to stretch out the tension and chose the perfect places to stop an episode to keep audiences waiting for the next one. Clements and McCarthy did, however, find the series disturbing in that its main emotional impact comes from the audience seeing "older boys and men fighting brave by neive teenagers" and through victories earning more weapons. Jason Thompson describes the series as being "almost pure battle".
Yaoi dōjinshi based on Saint Seiya popularized the term "yaoi" in 1987. Saint Seiya was particularly popular to parody in yaoi as it had a large cast which was predominantly male. This allowed "an incredible number" of pairings, although Andromeda Shun was one of the more popular characters to create yaoi for. Tite Kubo, the author of the manga series Bleach, considers Saint Seiya to be one of his biggest inspirations for the designs of the different types of weapons that his characters use in the story as well as the battle scenes.
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|40x40px||Wikimedia Commons has media related to Saint Seiya.|
- Saint Seiya website (Japanese)
- Official Toei Animation Saint Seiya anime website (Japanese)
- Official Toei Animation Saint Seiya OVA anime website (Japanese)
- Official Toei Animation 2004 Saint Seiya anime website (Japanese)
- Official Toei Animation Seiya SP anime website (Japanese)
- Official Cartoon Network Knights of Zodiac anime website
- Saint Seiya (anime) at Anime News Network's Encyclopedia
- Saint Seiya (manga) at Anime News Network's Encyclopedia
- Saint Seiya at the Internet Movie Database
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