It had been YEARS since I last watched The Vision of Escaflowne. Sure, I'd seen it at least 5 times in its entirety (going all the way back to UGAnime's 1997 debut of it, just a year after it first aired on Japanese television [Hey! A year's turn-around time was impressive back then, back in the old days of fansub tape-sharing between clubs, with internet downloads being blazingly fast at maybe 5-10kbit/s]), but it had been at least 7 years since my final viewing... Then along came Cupcake and her love of fantasy-themed stories.
We had just finished up Game of Thrones' first season, and she wanted more. In order to broaden her horizons I decided to show her some good old-fashioned fantasy anime, but couldn't decide between Scrapped Princess, Record of Lodoss War, Berserk, or Escaflowne... In the end I chose Escaflowne because it was more female friendly (meaning it had lots of romance, not as many eviscerations and beheadings as Berserk, and was just all around less D&D than Lodoss), and also because I just love the holy fuckballs out of it.
"So," you sputter like the 300lb-overweight, greasy, stinky, pissy fanboy that you are, "Why are you even bothering to review an anime that's over 15 years old?! Oh, and I fuck my mom!" Well, personally I don't want to hear about your disgusting incest sessions with your one footed (due to diabetes complications and Ding Dong addictions), obese, shut-in mother who likes to spank you with a big, black, rubber dick when you've 'been bad' (seriously, STOP SENDING ME THOSE PICTURES!), but as to the first part of your confusion, I'm reviewing it because I'm afraid that The Vision of Escaflowne is becoming a forgotten classic, and it needs to be remembered because it is really fucking amazing.
So, for all you young'uns out there who've never heard of Escaflowne (or those who've only heard of it, but because it was animated before 2009, doesn't have the word "Evangelion" in the title, isn't a retarded retread shonen fighting anime, or doesn't have a harem of big-tittied and stupid women falling all over a hapless male virgin, you've chosen to ignore it) this is what it's about:
Hitomi Kanzaki is a tomboy on her high school track team. She's popping major wood for the captain of the squad, but just before she can fully tell him of the warm fuzzies he makes her feel in her girly parts, from out of nowhere a strange boy wearing battle armor and speaking an unfamiliar tongue appears in a beam of light in front of them both! Oh, and the giant pissed off land dragon that follows him and burns the school's playing fields to ash kind of interrupts the special moment too.
So Hitomi (who can FORESEE DOOOOOOOM!) helps the strange gaijin lad slay the dragon, but she gets teleported away with him in another beam of light before any bodily fluids can be exchanged with her team captain. She then finds herself on a world where the Earth and Moon appear in the sky, which is inhabited by cat people, giant mecha knights, and a cruel global power bent on total domination with the help of their super technology (invisible floating airships, liquid-metal swords and projectiles that can shoot out of their caped mecha warriors, and fate-altering devices).
Anyway, it turns out that the dragon-slaying boy Hitomi helped (Van Fanel) is actually the king of one of the smaller countries on the planet Gaea (the fantasy-themed world in which the two were teleported)... just not for very long, seeing as the Zaibach Empire (the cruel, super-teched, war-mongering country) attacks and burns the whole capitol city to the ground during Van's coronation ceremony. What the Zaibach troops (led by psychopathic mech pilot Dilandau McCrazyEyes, and Stratego Folken [both of whom have mysterious pasts of course]) are after is the Escaflowne — the "dragon" that the leader of Zaibach (one really old dude with a rockin' coiffure named Dornkirk [mysterious past included]) prognosticates in his scientific divinations as being the only thing that can stop his fate-altering experiments he's pushing on the entire population of Gaea.
Van's forced into hiding with his Escaflowne (the special transforming guymelef/mecha passed down to Fanelian royalty through the ages), and he eventually winds up with Hitomi by his side, master swordsman Allen Schezar at his back, and a rough and tumble crew of ronin warriors, mole men, cat girls, and runaway princesses helping him stay one step in front of the douchebags of Zaibach. Van's secondary goal is to hopefully warn the nations of Gaea about Zaibach's reality-warping desires. Oh, and there's Dryden, the coolest unshaven merchant billionaire you've ever met. He coo'.
During all this running, fighting, and magicking we find that Hitomi's latent fortune-telling powers on Earth have become full-blown, four-alarm prophetic visions of death, destruction, and dismay on Gaea. She can now see and feel bad vibes that are about to happen, then she usually screams like a girl and faints when she experiences them. 'Cause she's a girl. After both dreamy Allen and vengeful Van both learn to use her powers for their own means, things start to get complicated for the Earth girl and her decision for whom she should give her cherry to. Then there's more history, lots more world-jumping, and plenty lots more luck thrown around before the final world war kicks off and everything's changed forever. FOREVER says I!!!
So Escaflowne's exciting, it's fun, it's got some romance for the ladies, and it's got giant robots/magic-armor for the guys... It's pretty much the perfect show. And we watched it this most recent time as a Blu-ray rip at 1080p on my big screen TV, and it looked absolutely beautiful! I'm trashing my old Bandai DVDs (which even upconverted on my PS3 looked like Hecto VHS fansubs in comparison... Just say "Heck NO" to Hectoflowne!). I will never watch those discs again.
Beyond the pretty cut-ass rugged plot of the whole tale (which constantly moves forward and adds new dimensions to the multitude of characters, both primary and secondary), I absolutely love the whole cast — from Hitomi (and her confusion over the new world she finds herself in, her new powers, and her feelings for the two men in her life) and the young and bouncy catgirl Merle (ever-loyal subject of Van), to the young king of Fanelia (and his fight to save the rest of the planet, and avenge his ashen domain) and the constantly forsaken uber swordsman Allen... Even the peons of this series — I love them all! they're all fascinating, and I never once wished that the focus would shift away from one or another because they were boring. I especially love Erya and Naria, the two luck-infused, sultry catgirls who love to be at Folken's side, pawing at his legs, dying for his affection..... MeeeeeeYOW!
Seriously, if you've never seen Escaflowne (which you should known by now is pronounced "Es-kah-flow-nay," just like how your mamma's name is pronounced "Sluh-tee-bee-yatch-hoe"), you need to (just not the horrible, ear-bleedingly bad English dubbed version). If you think that all fantasy world anime series are just rip offs of Lord of the Rings (*COUGH* Lodoss *COUGH*) or RPG table top games or video games, you need to watch Escaflowne. If you like Yoko Kanno music, you must at least listen to the soundtracks, but you really owe it to yourself to watch the whole of Escaflowne. It's just good. Really, really fucking good.
The Vision of CUPCAKE
Okay, yes, I did enjoy this show, this Escaflowne... But that ending! Come oooooooooooooon! Really, Japanese people? You couldn't have given ONE COUPLE a happy ending?!
Okay, first of all, after all was said and done, after the world of Gaea was saved and Van and Hitomi could finally be together you go and have that bad-haircut queen go back to Earth, leaving her world-jumping pendant behind so that she can never get back? Why? What purpose did that serve? Emotional or story-wise, all it did was give a giant middle finger to the two love birds. Why couldn't she have stayed on Gaea, helped Van rebuild his nation, and become a queen?! She could have easily brought her family with her if that was her big concern. What the hell, Japan?!
Then there's Dryden and his wife, Princess Millerna. He just leaves her so that he can become a man worthy of her? What? How is this...? Who the hell WRITES this stuff?! And Allen... Okay, at least he got his sister back, but he ended up with nobody. I guess he could go bang Princess Millerna now that Dryden's gone, but all he ever wanted was Hitomi, so like he loses by default.
And what about Merle? There's no way Van'd marry his childhood friend who was raised as his catgirl sister...
I'm just so disappointed with the way all the relationships worked out is all. Yeah, yeah, as the Rossman points out, it was a great ending plot-wise. I like how the whole storyline of fate and absolute fortune played out and worked for all those involved, but I just wanted ONE relationship to end on a happy note. Oh, and maybe some less feathers. Seriously, if Van wanted to rebuild his kingdom in the end all he'd have to do to finance it is to let his magical, Draconian wings out, catch all the millions of stray feathers that then fly around, and make a fortune stuffing pillows and mattresses with those things.
HEAVY SPOILERS OVER
Ever since UGAnime first started watchin' this show back in the day, yo, I's been DYIN' to go to that Gaea world! Think about it! Cool, suave knights can just bone every blonde princess they encounter, even popping out royal kids if they not careful; cat girls run around without any panties all the time; and if I find an absolute fortune device jus' lyin' around I can make all the honeys in the world my very own fuck basket of deeeeeelight! Giggity!
I'm looking for my very own magical Gaean pendant to transport me there. Yeah, I been lookin' since '97 and still haven't found one, but I think that just means I'm due. Seriously, just think what those cat girls can do with their tails!