Much like I did with Record of Lodoss War
I thought I'd take a look at the gender roles in Escaflowne.
You may recall that my summary verdict about Lodoss War was "Oh dear". Escaflowne is much
better than that but still has problems.
For a start there will be few, if any, episodes that will pass the Bechdel test. This isn't too surprising given the extent to which romantic tension is central to some of the story arcs but it is a little disappointing.
For a second, Hitomi is all too often cast as the damsel in distress, and romantic tension is a major part of her character arc. Her early contributions against the Dragonslayers are essential but diminish over time. Partly this is because Van learns the trick of it, and partly because Hitomi becomes increasingly horrified by the violence as the series wears on. Not that I blame her - things start nasty on Gaea with the fall of Fanelia and then get progressively worse.
Having said that there are also several positives worth noting.
The female characters, barring single episode appearances, are
actual characters with real contributions to make. Most have a degree of complexity and depth that is refreshing, and often development as well.
Hitomi is an accomplished athlete, has the power to see the future, and the entire storyline is her bildungsroman
Millerna, although initially presented as the spoiled princess, rapidly rises above that to become an interesting and rounded character. Millerna is a woman born to power who actually learns skills that will help others, and then earns her power through a willingness to do her duty.
Merle is just fun to watch: annoying kid sister and cat all in one package. :)
Nariya and Eriya I don't want to say too much about yet as I haven't rewatched those episodes yet. However I think it says something that these two are strong enough as characters to be in many ways the fulcrum upon which the entire series hinges.
And then there's Eries, who we see far too little of, but even in those brief appearances manages to become a fascinating mystery.
Finally there is either no, or minimal, fanservice
. Apparently the animators were explicitly instructed
to avoid it. I imagine that this took some effort during that 6 meter long jump in a shortish skirt
So overall I would rate the gender aspects of Escaflowne as "not bad", and probably better than most.
Day 1 - Fateful Confession / The Tower
Day 2 - The Girl From the Mystic Moon / Ace of Serpents
Day 3 - The Gallant Swordsman / Death
Day 4 - The Diabolical Adonis / The Hanged Man
Day 5 - The Seal of the Brothers / Judgement
Day 6 - Capitol of Intrigue / Justice
Day 7 - Unexpected Partings / The Chariot
Day 8 - Sub vs Dub
Day 9 - The Day the Angel Flew / Temperance
Day 10 - Memories of a Feather / Ace of Birds
Day 11 - The Blue-Eyed Prince / Knight of Beasts
Day 12 - Prophecy of Death / The Devil
Day 13 - The Secret Door / High Priestess
Day 14 - Red Destiny / The Emperor
Day 15 - The Gender of Escaflowne
Day 16 - Dangerous Wounds
Day 17 - Lost Paradise
Day 18 - The Guided Ones
Day 19 - The Edge of the World
Day 20 - The Gravity of Destiny
Day 21 - Operation Golden Rule of Love
Day 22 - False Vows
Day 23 - Reaction of Fortune
Day 24 - ???
Day 25 - The Black Winged Angel
Day 26 - Storm Premonition
Day 27 - Fateful Decision
Day 28 - Zone of Absolute Fortune
Day 29 - Eternal Love
Day 30 - Looking Back at The Vision of Escaflowne