“For The Love Of” – Vision of Escaflowne (manga) – 4/10 Snowballs

 

You may have to fight a battle more than once to win it. ~Margaret Thatcher

Mangaka: Aki Katsu

Genre: Action/Fantasy/Mecha/Romance/Shounen

Review Status: Complete (8 Volumes/8 Volumes)

Licensed: Formerly licensed by Tokyopop

Art/Animation: This is pretty standard 90’s shounen designs. Unfortunately, Hitomi has some really ugly hairstyle choices when she’s on Earth. But other than that, there really isn’t much to say- the panels aren’t cluttered, there’s dramatic shading in the right places, and there’s a good amount of detail.

Summary: Hitome Hoshino, a 16-year-old high school student with an interest in mysticism, experiences strange dreams at night. A mysterious temple, a tremendous jewel, a shadowy prince… the images trouble her, and a strange incantation keeps echoing in her mind. One day- during a simple fortune telling at school- Hitomi feels a magical pull, and in a shocking moment she is pulled from her body. She wakes up in a strange world where the Earth hangs in the sky and a headstrong prince asks her to power his god. Where is she? Why has she been transported? And will she really be able to wake the deity Escaflowne? (back cover of 1st volume)

Review: The anime of this manga is considered one of the classics, so while it’s hard not to compare, these are really two different stories that grew and evolved on their own. The anime isn’t so much an adaptation, but a separate story. An Alternate Universe of sorts.

The Escaflowne manga is a fairly standard shounen. A girl whisked away to another world is reminiscent of other popular shoujo plotlines *coughFushigiYugicough* at the time. However, this takes that premise and melds it with the standard shounen storyline of saving the world, lost thrones, and big mecha fights. Most of the elements added to make this more exciting (the hidden civilizations, political machinations) feels more like they were thrown in there to make it more exciting than to really add anything to the story- and their importance is fairly shallow to begin with, which makes me wonder why they even bothered. Escaflowne is nothing more than a super-powerful giant mecha, something that bothered me since something that’s in the title should be more than a plot device. This managed to throw in some twists to the story, but unfortunately, they were fairly predictable. Escaflowne didn’t really do anything different with the story elements that were given.

Plot issues spilled over into the characters. Some relationships are given subtle growth over the volumes. Some of the characters are interesting, if somewhat one-dimensional (Dilandau makes for a fairly nice psychopath, if nothing else). Most characters and relationships are completely flat and lack any sort of meaning. Van is nothing more than a rude idiot most of the time, for instance, and his relationship with Hitomi is really quite shallow. Dilandau suffered from this, because while his inner psychology was interesting, his motivations and desires jumped from one thing to another with no logic to it.

The one thing that made this worthwhile was the mecha battles. They are many and they are good. The action really stood out in a story that suffered from mediocrity.

There was some potential for this manga to be a lot better than it was- the politics that played out could have been made deeper and given more intrigue, the characters could have been given more depth, while some plot points could have been left out entirely. The fanservice could have been ditched for meaningful character development. Completely unnecessary characters could have been cut for meaningful character development or story development.

Overall, while the action is good, everything else is not.

Recommended: Watch the anime instead. 16+ for the manga, though, because there’s a decent amount of fanservice and the violence, implied and otherwise, can be quite brutal.

Other titles you might enjoy:

Visions of Escaflowne (anime)

Fushigi Yugi (manga and anime)

Twelve Kingdoms (anime)

Herioc Age (anime)

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