9. The Vision of Escaflowne: Whenever I think of the Escaflowne, its battle theme song with its sweeping orchestra and operatic voices comes crashing into my head as clear as the first time I watched the show. Listening to the battle theme and Maaya Sakamoto’s opening song “Yakusoku wa Iranai” never gets tiresome.
Escaflowne started my love of mecha shows, before the days of late night Gundam Wing, Eureka Seven and Rahxephon. It was shown on YTV, slightly less uncut then on a certain American network we dare not speak about. Having been a fan of Sailor Moon, I was excited to hear about Escaflowne’s heroine Hitomi, a track runner who gets sucked into another world called Gaea, when she witnesses a young man battling a dragon on her track field.
In Gaea, Hitomi is drawn into the politics of the world, the young man she met on the track field being Prince Van Fanel of Fanelia, who is waged in war against his brother Folken and the Zaibach Empire; the Zaibach Empire trying to find the ancient city Atlantis so it can hone its legendary power. During her stay in Gaea, Hitomi meets Allen Schezar a swordsman who looks exactly like a track and field runner in her world, a cat like girl named Merle, and a cruel and insane Guymelef pilot named Dilandau (my favorite character, not gonna lie).
The little touches like the Atlanits backstory, Hitomi’s use of tarot cards, and unseen plot twists are what make Escaflowne a great anime. As a kid I didn’t catch all the nuances – I was watching it for the Guymelef fight scenes (which are like mecha) and the love story between Van, Hitomi, and Allen. But re-watching Escaflowne as an adult, made me glad that as a child, I had such an adult and plot driven anime to watch – no offense Pokemon. Like Sailor Moon had begun to do, I was seeing anime as not just a “gotta catch ‘em all” franchise but as a medium of storytelling that even the best shows on cable have problems conveying now and days.
Both the dub and sub are top notch to me. Since I watched the anime in English when it first came out, that version is closer to my heart. But the Japanese cast is fantastic. Maaya Sakamoto, Tomokazu Seki, and George Nakata, are perfect as Hitomi, Van and Folken.
Escaflowne is in my Top Ten List because of nostalgia, but all because it has some damn fine storytelling and a love story that broke my heart and healed it in one fell swoop. Escaflowne is my favorite mecha anime of all time.
Escaflowne: The Movie is a condensed version of the TV series and was released in 2000. Some fans don’t like it, but personally I think it is a great adaption.
KDW’s embarrassing side note: The spelling of Van’s name as a kid always tripped me up. I was like shouldn’t it be “Von?” Van makes me think of the vehicle. I also shipped Dilandau/Folken like burning (and Hitomi/Van of course).