SSBS – Saint Seiya/Knights of the Zodiac Episode 3: Cygnus! Warrior of the Ice!

SSBS - SS EP3

Plot: As Seiya gets settled into his new surroundings, a new warrior is introduced – Hyoga: Owner of the Cygnus cloth.

Before he traverses to Japan to partake in the Galaxy Tournament, he visits his mother who lies in a state of suspended animation deep under the frozen waters of his homeland. He leaves her protection in the care of the young boy, Yagoff, and sets off on his journey.

Saori properly introduces the start of the tournament and reveals that there are many Saint Warriors in existence – as many as there are constellations; 29 in the north sky and 47 in the south sky. Additionally, among the Saint Warriors are 12 additional warriors whose signs coincide with the Chinese Zodiac members – these are considered the strongest of the warriors.

The golden cloth is said to only be worn by the mightiest of the Saint Warriors, so this tournament is being held to determine which of the Bronze Saints are worthy of the honor.

The tournament begins and it’s Cygnus vs. Hydra. At first, it seems like Hydra really has Hyoga on the ropes, managing to get several good blows in and even poisoning him with hidden fangs, not once, not twice but three times. Hyoga doesn’t even seem to know what he’s doing until he suddenly reveals that Hydra’s punches are so weak they’re not worth dodging and his fangs have been ineffective this whole time because the Cygnus cloth has been freezing the poison within the fangs before they’re able to inject into Hyoga.

Using his Diamond Dust technique, he easily takes care of Hydra, making Cygnus the winner of today’s first bout.

—————————————–

I have very mixed feelings about this episode. On the positive side, the first half is really great. We got some down time with Seiya, learned more about the tournament and got a decent introduction to Hyoga.

The negative side is the entire second half IE the match between Hyoga and Hydra. It’s plain as day that Hydra’s going to lose. Even when you first see him merely standing among the other Saint Warriors, it’s obvious he won’t make it past the first round based purely on his appearance. His character design is so lazy he not only has barely passable armor, but he also doesn’t even get eyes.

However, even knowing a pushover enemy’s going to lose, the fun is learning how the good guy’s going to win. Surely they still pose some challenge, kinda like Bear in the previous match? Certainly we’ll need some strategy, right? Not quite.

The entire match, Hyoga cops quite the attitude. His catchphrase seems to be ‘so what?’ whenever Hydra made any sort of battle declaration, even though he continuously gets punched, kicked and stabbed with venomous fangs. I was getting a little angry with him as I watched because he was either being an idiot or dangerously arrogant, which is also dumb.

It’s revealed at the end of the match that Hyoga didn’t bother to dodge because Hydra was deemed just that weak, which is arrogant and dumb because he was still drawing blood and you shouldn’t take damage when you don’t have to, even if it’s not terrible.

When it came to the poisonous fangs continuously stabbing him, he froze Hydra’s arm, making it immobile and unable to use the fangs. However, Hydra revealed he also had fangs in his knees of which Hyoga didn’t seem to be aware.

Even later, Hyoga reveals that all of these supposed poisonings from the fangs were ineffective. The Cygnus armor was freezing the venom before it could even enter his blood stream. Then Hyoga uses Diamond Dust and defeats Hydra extremely easily.

In short, there was no strategy to be had in this entire match. Hyoga wasn’t really playing with his opponent so much as just not trying. He could’ve ended this match in one move without taking any damage or putting himself in undue danger (He didn’t seem to know about the fangs when the match started, and if the fangs weren’t a threat, why bother freezing Hydra’s arm?) He was being an arrogant dumbass for absolutely no reason.

We knew Seiya would win his first match too, but at least there was tension there in that he was a fairly new warrior, was actually struggling with Bear and needed a viable strategy to beat him, even if the strategy was obvious. Here, the tension is created by not knowing if Hyoga’s bluffing when he’s acting all cocky. When it’s revealed that he’s not, you kinda feel irritated. I don’t much care for such overtly self-important characters who feel the need to act (forgive the pun) cool and stretch things out when they don’t have to.

Rating: 6/10

Next episode, Dragon vs. Pegasus!

….Previous Episode


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SSBS – Saint Seiya/Knights of the Zodiac Episode 2: Burn! Meteor Punch of Pegasus

SSBS - Saint Seiya Episode 2

Plot: Seiya has arrived in Japan right as the Galactic Tournament is starting up. The Galactic Tournament is a series of matches between those who have earned Bronze cloths for the sake of winning one of the 12 Golden Cloths. Seiya has absolutely no interest in joining, however. His one goal in coming to Japan and the tournament arena was to deliver the Pegasus cloth to a man named Mitsumasa Kido, who ran the tournament.

Six years ago, Kido separated Seiya from his sister after their parents died. He shipped him off to Greece and told him he could only return and be reunited with his sister once he acquired the Pegasus cloth. Now that he has done so, he wants to see his sister.

Saori Kido, Mitsumasa’s granddaughter and current runner of the tournament, gives him terrible news. Not only is her grandfather dead, but Seiya’s sister went missing from the orphanage almost immediately after Seiya was shipped off to Greece. Saori was never told where she was, if her grandfather had anything to do with her disappearance.

However, she is very keen on getting Seiya to participate in the tournament, so she offers to lend her resources and money to him to find his sister should he win the tournament. He’s still not interested, even after also being pressured by the owner of the Unicorn cloth, Jabu, who used to know him in the orphanage.

He goes to the orphanage, known as The Foundation, for clues and meets with his old friend, Miho, who is currently helping care for the children there. She tells him that she also doesn’t know where his sister might be, but suggests that he try to get her to find him by fighting in the tournament. It’s a massively publicized event, and he has a good chance of having his sister find him if he participates.

Seiya agrees, thanks Miho and goes to join the tournament.

His first match is against the owner of the Bear cloth, Geki. The Bear Saint has massive power in his arms, and he boasts about killing hundreds of bears with his bare hands, no pun intended. He tries to strangle Seiya to death, and it seems he has him down for the count until Seiya remembers what Marin once told him when he was a child.

When fighting someone more powerful than you, find the main source of their strength and attack it. Since Geki’s strength is in his arms, he starts crushing the armor on his arms with his hands. He breaks free and uses a flurry of kicks too fast for the human eye to catch to destroy Geki’s cloth and knock him out of the fight.

Seiya’s next match is against Jabu. Who will win a battle of the horses?

Breakdown: We’re getting slightly rushed with this episode because not only do we get thrown into the tournament and see our first match, but we also have to acquaint ourselves with backstory and several new characters.

I love tournament fighters, so I’m not really complaining about the latter, though I will mark something down on that in a minute, I’m moreso complaining about the former.

Seiya’s backstory is pretty good, but I won’t deny that it feels very rushed here. I feel like we needed a full episode to develop this firmly instead of having it crammed into the first part of this episode. The inclusion of Miho felt particularly rushed, especially considering she’s obviously being set up as Seiya’s love interest.

The tournament half was good, and it was nice to see Seiya struggle during his first match instead of flippantly blow his first opponent away just to show what a badass he is, which he did a few times in the start of the episode, but the manner in which he would achieve victory was a little too obvious from the beginning.

What imbecile tells his opponent where his true power lies in the middle of a fight? That’s almost as bad as telling someone where your weakness is. The instant he said ‘My true power lies in these arms’ I facepalmed and said to myself ‘well, now he knows what to attack, you idiot.’ If you manage to take away someone’s source of power, they’re helpless. Hubris, Geki. Hubris.

Then we get an almost insulting scene where Seiya flashes back to his studies under Marin, where she shares the aforementioned lesson. Since Seiya’s a child in this flashback, I wasn’t bothered that it was included, but I could feel my blood pressure increasing when they flashed back to Geki saying his true power lied in his arms, then again when they repeat Marin’s lesson, then again when Geki repeats what he said, then they do it again, and again, and again – we get it! Most people would’ve figured it out on their own without a single flashback, but apparently the writers and editor think we’re so dense that we can’t piece together such a simple strategy.

I also found it stupid that Geki has such massive strength in his arms, but instead of ripping Seiya apart or incapacitating him and beating or crushing him to death in a few blows, Geki gives Seiya ample time to come up with a strategy as he slowly strangles him. He’s not even really aiming to strangle him – he wants to build up enough strength, incredibly slowly, to snap Seiya’s neck, which is something people without bear strength can do in a matter of seconds but Geki wants to savor it I guess.

Seiya breaks Geki’s cloth, so…does that mean the Bear cloth no longer exists?

It was an entertaining match for a little bit, but then the rest of the match is a prolonged strangling session until Seiya is able to break free and give his badass finale move – this time in kick flavor.

Overall, I enjoyed this episode, but it has a bunch of logic issues and the pacing needs work.

Rating: 7/10

Next episode, we meet the Swan Saint and the tournament continues.

…Previous Episode

SSBS – Saint Seiya/Knights of the Zodiac Episode 1: Revive! Legendary Hero

SnSBS Saint Seiya Episode 1

Plot: The goddess Athena is protected by a group of warriors, fueled by the constellations of the cosmos, called the Saints. They must fight and earn their own specific cloths, which contain the armor of the Saints, and protect their goddess from other gods who want to take over the world.

A teenager named Seiya is a Japanese boy attempting to earn the Pegasus cloth in a tournament, though no one wants him to win since they believe the cloth should only go to those of Greek descent. He does manage to win it by harnessing the power of the cosmos within, but his trials aren’t over yet.

A masked girl named Shaiya, wielding powers of a snake, wants to truly see if Seiya’s worthy of the cloth by challenging him to a battle.

Seiya can just barely keep up with her and nearly gets killed. He finally decides to unleash the power of the Pegasus. With the armor on, he is able to prove his worth and return to Japan.

Breakdown: Ah, Saint Seiya, also known as Knights of the Zodiac. Arguably the most well-known magical boy anime. Some may fight me on that description but I respectfully stand my ground on this. Transformation sequences to suit up, teams with themed powers, trying to save the world, enemies of the week etc. The most leeway I’ll give is that it is really a magical boy show melded with a tournament fighter with more plot than your typical magical girl show.

I first saw this show on Cartoon Network back in the day and I loved it, even if I can’t remember the dubbed voices worth a damn. I do remember one aspect very vividly….the opening theme.

It’s not uncommon for dubbed shows to get completely redone theme songs instead of just using the original, but with Knights of the Zodiac, DiC uh….Well, first of all, they used Bowling for Soup music, which is fine because I actually love Bowling for Soup. A bit of an odd choice for an anime, but they were popular at the time so whatever.

The weird part was….the song they were using….was BfS’s cover…..of A Flock of Seagulls’ ‘I Ran.’ The only thing this song has in common with Knights of the Zodiac is that they both came out the 80s. Why the hell they decided to use that song with that band is one of the biggest mysteries I’ve ever contemplated in anime.

But that doesn’t matter much because today I decided to use the original version. As an opener, it’s really good. It introduces the plot well, sets up the Saints and where their power comes from and how its used in an effective manner, and it created a sympathetic main lead…..outside of one thing I’ll get to later.

Seiya is obviously a major underdog. Not only does no one in this place, besides his mentor and teacher Marin, want him there and beats him up on a regular basis, even in spite of the age difference, but they also despise that a non-Greek is attempting to get the Pegasus cloth. He struggled a lot in his training because he couldn’t understand the techniques, though he quickly excelled at them once he did.

Surprisingly, this series actually tackled a magical girl/boy trope before it even became a trope. Seiya acts like the armor will be all that he needs to defeat his enemies. He, not exaggerating, straight out says that the armor should be acting of its own accord and giving him untold power to win instead of him putting any actual effort into his own fighting. It is very annoying when this does actually happen because you become less impressed with the character and more enamored with the powers they’re using. Nice to know the armor doesn’t put up with dependent garbage.

I know this is hard to believe, but his reaction is not the exception in his sympathetic personality I mentioned a minute ago.

Another trope they seem to overcome is being ‘destined’ to get these specific cloths. While Marin says some things that hint that it is fate, these cloths must be earned through battle. If you don’t manage to hone your skills enough without the cloth to beat the warriors in the tournaments, you’re out of luck. I imagine some people are just, by default, more ‘worthy’ of these cloths than others, but they don’t seem destined by birth or, if you’ll forgive the cheesy phrase, it doesn’t seem like it’s ‘written in the stars’ for it to be one person or another.

The personality flaw I mentioned before is shown in why his armor stops ‘working’ for him. When he put on the cloth at first, he actually utilizes its power quite well because he, as a fighter, was syncing with the power of the cosmos within him and fighting like a true warrior. His punch was so strong that, even from a vast distance, the air pressure from the strike was able to injure Shaina’s shoulder. However, when he came face to face with Shaina, his armor suddenly felt heavy and started hindering his ability to fight rather than help him.

Why?

………Because, as a man, he could never put his all into a fight against a woman.

*sigh*

Okay, I shouldn’t get so irked at this yet. This show may have been made in the mid 80s, but it’s based on a manga. It’s probably just parroting some sexist bullshit from the 60s or something. You really can’t blame an anime for trying to be loyal to a manga that was written…..in 1986….the same year this anime came out……

So….Seiya’s just a prick? Cool beans.

Seriously, 1986. I know sexism is still not dead, and I wasn’t alive back then, but we should’ve been passed this at that point.

At least Marin rightfully calls him out on his stupidity, yelling out that he’s about to be killed because he’s a sexist dumbass. He does actually almost end up getting killed. He’s about to be hit by another of Shaina’s Thunder Claws, which he stated was more than powerful enough to kill him if he got hit by it again…..then, out of nowhere, the other warriors of the city pop up and stop Shaina, stating they want to be the ones who kill him.

They start kicking the crap out of him and then, because they have penises, Seiya is able to get up, utilize his cosmic power again and blow them all away with his Pegasus Meteor Punch. The air pressure was enough to break Shaina’s mask in half, showing her face and proving to her that Seiya is worthy of the armor, which, in my opinion, is a little bull.

I know I’m acting a bit butthurt about the sexism stuff, especially since I don’t know what time period this is supposed to take place in, but if all you need to drain this guy’s power and kill him is be a woman, he really isn’t very worthy of that cloth.

Hell, he wouldn’t have that cloth at all if his opponent in the tournament was a woman, making him even less worthy. At some point, you need to have what it takes to suck up your ‘pride as a man’ and say ‘wow, this woman’s kicking the unholy shit out of my ass. Maybe I should actually take her seriously as a warrior and put my all into this fight instead of thinking she’ll cry and go binge watch Lifetime movies if I do.’

I don’t even understand his logic here. He already injured her shoulder, though he wasn’t able to see her because he was so far away, and before he used the cloth, he attempted a Meteor Punch on her. Those things are fine, but you won’t actually aim to take her down? You’re a friggin’ idiot, Seiya.

How can he even be sexist when his trainer and mentor, Marin, is also a goddamn woman!? AND both Marin and Shaina are both Saints on top of that! AND the guy he defeated to get the cloth was trained by Shaina! It doesn’t seem anyone else is sexist in this world but Seiya.

That stupidity aside, this is a very solid first episode to this series. I have a deep love of magical ‘boy’ shows, tournament fighters and classic art designs, so we’re already giving me all sorts of warm and fuzzies. It addresses certain aspects of shows like this that are commonly brought up as problems or plot holes and aims to actually explain them or simply remove them, and the plot as a whole is very interesting. Greek mythology, constellations, gods fighting gods with themed warriors? What’s not to like?

Rating: 7.5/10

Next Episode, the tournament begins! It’s Seiya vs. Geki of the Bear cloth!