Knights of the Zodiac: Battle of the Bronze Knights - Volume 1
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KNIGHTS OF THE ZODIAC: VOL ONE
Knights of the Zodiac is DIC's reworking of the anime series Saint Seiya (1986) for American television. Much of the violence has been excised: Seiya rips off an opponent's ear in Saint, and the audience sees it pulsating on the arena floor; Knights deletes the entire sequence. During battles, DIC colors the blood blue or purple in an unsuccessful attempt to disguise it. The actors on the Knights dub sound stiff and not very bright. The mystical underpinnings of the martial arts combat have also been simplified. In the original, Seiya's mentor Marin explains how all matter and energy originated in the Big Bang; in Knights, she mentions, "that same power that caused the universe to begin with a bang." Knights of the Zodiac may please Cartoon Network viewers, but it will infuriate anime purists. (Unrated, suitable for ages 10 and older: violence) --Charles Solomon
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SHORT REVIEW: "Knights of the Zodiac" is an alternative title for "Saint Seiya," arguably one of the best animes of all time and easily one of the most financially successful. There were two English dubs made for this show: an edited dub called "Knights of the Zodiac," by DIC which aired on TV, and an uncensored dub called "Saint Seiya," by ADV which went straight to DVD. The version here is the edited dub by DIC...and as such, it is not a faithful English representation of the original anime. You only want to get this if you watched the edited TV version and want something to remember it by.
LONG REVIEW: "Saint Seiya" is the story of a group of young boys who are the reincarnations of ancient warriors--called Saints--who were sworn to protect the Greek Goddess Athena, and did so by harnessing an ancient power from the stars known as the Cosmos. Each of them were able to align their souls with one of the star constellations, and in doing so, use the Cosmos to gain incredible power, speed, agility, attacks...and mystical sets of armor--called Cloths--unique to them and their constellation. These reincarnated Saints, re-born in modern times without memory of their past lives, end up getting involved in a dark plot set in motion by the Greek Gods themselves to kill Saori Kdio, herself the modern-day reincarnation of Athena. Although there is a single Saint for each constellation, the story focuses on five Saints in particular who form a strong friendship and end up acting as a sort of unofficial strike team: Seiya the Pegasus Saint, Shiryu the Dragon Saint, Hyoga the Cygnus Saint, Shun the Andromeda Saint, and Ikki the Phoenix Saint. Together, they will battle power-hungry bureaucrats, other Saints who have fallen to the dark side, and the Greek Gods themselves to protect Athena. And that's JUST the main plot. All of the characters become very fleshed out as the series progresses, with unique personalities and complex but logical motives, told through great writing, charming artwork, and a beautiful orchestral musical score.
.......Seriously, who WOULDN'T want to watch this show after hearing that plot description? The show has all the tools needed to make it a hit...and it is. Not just in Japan, but all around the world (in some cases, its global success was actually greater than its success back in Japan). Go to France, Italy, Spain, Mexico, Portugal, or Brazil among many countries, and you will find that the success of "Saint Seiya" is--like another reviewer pointed out--on par with other huge anime hits like "Dragon Ball Z," "Pokemon," or "Sailor Moon." It's a wonder it took so long to come to North America.
Unfortunately, while the show did air on Cartoon Network in 2003, it flopped very quickly.
I feel confident that I can attribute the lack of success to two things. Firstly, the timing. The show came relatively quickly after "Ronin Warriors," a vaguely similar anime, was being shown on Cartoon Network. They're far from identical, but the very basic concept is still the same--five young men in colored armor fighting evil. I remember many people who I talked to who weren't as familiar with the show as I was saying that it looked to them like a cheap "Ronin Warriors" rip-off...rather ironic considering that in Japan, "Saint Seiya" was made several years before "Ronin Warriors."
The second issue, though, is by far the greater one: DIC's horrible treatment of the show.
When the show came to North America, it was in a very strange situation, because *two* companies actually had the rights to it: DIC and ADV. Both companies made their own English version of the show. DIC got the rights to release their version on TV, and renamed the show to "Knights of the Zodiac." However, ADV got the rights the DVD releases, and released both DIC's English version and their own English version with a different voice cast--which they simply called "Saint Seiya," its original Japanese title. So...let's compare the two versions.
"KNIGHTS OF THE ZODIAC" (DIC)
It's such a pity that this is the version that got on TV. The reason for this is because whichever version of a show that goes on TV is BY FAR the version that is more remembered, and so it is the version that will make the biggest impression and determine the overall popularity of the show. It's so sad that the biggest impression left on people of this show is DIC's version, because DIC made A LOT of censorship decisions, edits, and changes. Here's a short list of the many problems...
//The original music is completely gone. The opening theme, ending theme, and background music are all entirely replaced. While every single other dub kept the background music--and some even created alternative versions of the Japanese opening and ending themes sung in their language--nothing of the kind is found in "Knights of the Zodiac." There was no reason whatsoever to change the music, and it was blatantly done to make the show look "cooler" (most notably by changing the opening theme, "Pegasus Fantasy" to "I Ran" by Bowling For Soup.........ummm.........what?). As such, my biggest issue is that they changed the music at all. However, if I may be allowed to insert my opinion, another problem is that the new music is not nearly as good as the original music. Almost none of the new music has any sense of dramatic urgency to it, and there are few if any moments of silence. It's just this constant, generic, monotone rock song that plays throughout the entirety of each episode. For example, when Seiya first puts on his Saint armor, the Pegasus Cloth, the music was originally a somewhat fast-paced orchestral piece that got increasingly louder and louder as each piece of the armor was put on, so that by the time Seiya was completely adorned in his armor, it was a booming loud piece of triumphant orchestra music. In "Knights of the Zodiac," the same low note guitar hum plays throughout the entirety of the scene. Quite frankly, while I hate that DIC changed the music, I also don't understand how they thought that replacing the music would make it "better." I've shown many people a comparison of this scene between the two English versions ("Knights of the Zodiac" vs "Saint Seiya"), and every single time, the conclusion was that the original music found in "Saint Seiya" was infinitely better.\\
//Overly violent scenes have been completely cut. Often, characters will be physically fine in one frame and be injured in the next without any explanation. Oh sure, there was some off-screen sound effects or dialogue to imply that something happened (*punch sound effect*, CHARACTER: Hey, no fair!), but the editing is not only sloppy, but visibly so. I understand that it may not be possible to air this show uncut on kid's TV, but that's not my issue. My biggest issue is the sloppiness of the editing. As shown through the recent airing of "Dragon Ball Z Kai" on Nicktoons, it is possible for a show to be edited while still getting the major points across. No such care was taken with "Knights of the Zodiac."\\
//When something can't be censored, it is edited in a rather stupid way. Case in point, blood. Blood is actually re-colored BLUE in "Knights of the Zodiac" and re-named "mystical energies" to hide the fact that it's blood. Like we don't know. Just like before, I understand that some things like blood can't be shown on kid's TV. However, there were better ways to edit it. DIC could have easily just removed the blood entirely, but instead they re-named it mystical energies and re-colored it blue. Again, very sloppy.\\
//Previously non-existent digital transitions. Compared to the other edits, this isn't a huge deal, but it's annoying nevertheless because, like the rest of the changes, it was clearly one of those "hey let's be cool" decisions that serve no purpose to the story. To show the changing of one shot to another, DIC would often add in some sort of CGI animation, like a star flashing across the screen.\\
//Re-writing of the scripts. Of all the changes, this would have to be the most bothersome. While it is true that some elements of the original script--such as the swearing--cannot be shown on kid's TV, my biggest problem was--you guessed it--needless changes, purely done for the sake of making the show look "cooler" (and actually doing the exact opposite in the process). You may have noticed that I have not commented on the acting at all so far in my review, and there's a reason behind that. The acting in "Knights of the Zodiac" is terrible, but it's not fair to blame the actors considering the script they were given to work with. No actor can make a bad script good, and these scripts were inexcusably bad. If I were to list every single line that was purposefully mis-translated, then I could probably write a nine-page review. The only way to encapsulate every single change under one banner is that they were changed purely to sound cool. Of the many examples, here is one. During one episode, Hyoga the Cygnus Saint is battling the Hydra Saint in a tournament, and finishes him off with a powerful attack (called "Diamond Dust") using the power of the Cosmos in conjunction with the Cygnus Cloth. In the original, he speaks at length about how his Cloth is made of an ancient ice that has not melted for centuries. In "Knights of the Zodiac," this is briefly mentioned, but essentially replaced with this (actual quote): "Ya know what, snake eyes, maybe you should think of me as your own personal ice age dude. Dude, if you're cold now, then get ready, `cause the ice man cometh--CHILL, baby!" See what I mean? They tried to rewrite Hyoga as a cool California surfer dude...rather ironic considering surfers don't exist in Siberia, where he's from. That's just one example of many...as I wrote earlier, I wouldn't have enough space to write every single instance like this. Suffice to say, the scripts are not a faithful representation of the original show.\\
...Nor, for that matter, is the entirety of "Knights of the Zodiac." It's the result of a great show being converted into a marketing tool by people who had no interest in giving a loyal adaptation to begin with. However...
"SEINT SEIYA" (ADV)
A very loyal adaptation of the original mega-smash hit show. ADV was a company created by anime dorks for anime dorks, and as such, their target audience has always been people who have an interest in anime. However, I firmly believe that if their dub had gotten on TV instead of the DIC version, the show would have been a huge hit like it was everywhere else, even with mainstream audiences. Here's why.
//The original music is kept. No changes whatsoever. This is a good thing. As an added bonus, the audio quality of the music has been significantly cleaned up, so it sounds great. If I had to nitpick, I'd say I was a tad disappointed that they didn't make English versions of the opening and ending themes (instead of just keeping the original Japanese versions like they did), but ADV knew when they were making their dub that it was going straight to DVD, so I guess they didn't feel the need.\\
//No scenes have been censored, edited, or cut. None. Not much to add other than--like keeping the original music--this is a good thing. Like I discussed earlier, I understand some things would have had to have been censored to get this on TV, but DIC could have done a much better job editing the show and still could have released it uncut on DVD.\\
//No needless censorship. It's uncut. This is good.\\
//Blood is actually red. Again, the blood could have simply been erased for TV airing, not re-colored blue.\\
//NO digital transitions.\\
//The scripts are faithfully translated from the original Japanese dialogue, with only a minimum amount of changes, and the few changes that are there were made to make the dialogue flow more naturally with the lip movements.\\
//Finally, as an added bonus, the "Saint Seiya" DVDs also come with the original Japanese audio track with English subtitles as a bonus for people who don't like dubs.\\
Reportedly, both DIC and the original Japanese executives at Toei Animation were confused when the show didn't become a huge hit in North America like it is everywhere else that it aired. I'm amazed that they failed to make the connection that the reason it wasn't a hit is because DIC turned it into a completely different show. They didn't bring the show that won the hearts of so many viewers across the world to North America...they used pre-made animation to essentially make their own show..."Knights of the Zodiac."
That's the show that aired on Cartoon Network, unfortunately. If you watched it back in 2003 and want to see it again, then I guess you should buy this DVD. Otherwise, look for the other English version produced by ADV. Here's how you'll know--the edited version by DIC is called "Knights of the Zodiac" and has that title in gray letters above a picture of a stone disc. The logo for the faithful adaptation by ADV is called "Saint Seiya" and the logo is spelled thusly in giant golden letters. THAT'S the version you should be looking at. I highly encourage you to check out that version instead. With any luck, one day, North America will learn what it has been missing out on.
After seeing a scene were 4 unconscious warriors cheer on the main character in their surfer dude lingo, I turned off the tv in disgust. I mean, face down laying on the ground, completely motionless, yelling "you can do it, dude!"
Stay away from DIC. They destroyed Saint Saiya inside and out.
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i know that most of you don't like the censore version of saint seiya in the American Cartoon Network and specially that now they are selling the censore version of...Read more