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Pirates of the Burley Griffin
A schedule bears the same relationship to reality as Astrology.
Thirty Days of Escaflowne - Day 30 - Looking Back At The Vision of Escaflowne 
16th-Apr-2011 04:06 pm
Van Fanel from Escaflowne
Here I am at the end of Thirty Days of Escaflowne. As with The Record of Lodoss War this last post is a last[1] set of comments, as well as a complete set of links to the earlier posts. NB: I've already said most of what I want to say about the ending.

The Tarot Cards

I've always liked the use of the Tarot cards in The Vision of Escaflowne, but this was the first time I attempted to examine how the cards related to the individual episodes.

Even if, like me, Weird Al Yankovic's Your Horoscope For Today [2] says everything [3] that you will ever want to say about fortune telling and astrology etc, I strongly recommend that fans of Escaflowne take at least a brief look at the cards. It really made a difference to how I saw some of the episodes, and some of the choices were surprising.

One interesting point about Hitomi's deck is how non-standard it is. In particular the deck that she received from her grandmother features traditional major arcana and minor suits from the Merlin Tarot (which dates to 1978 or thereabouts). I initially thought that Hitomi inherited it making it somewhat anachronistic. However the website identifying the details (the previous link) indicates that the deck was bought as a present so it probably postdates the Merlin tarot.

I haven't looked into why it was such a custom deck, or the implications thereof, but there's room there for further thought [4].

Sip vs Inhale?

There is a big difference between inhaling 4 or more episodes in a run, and separately reviewing individual episodes. Stretching the series out over a month and a half really changes the perspective and you notice more details that are otherwise subsumed into the grand plot arcs.

In the case of Escaflowne I would recommend taking them at a run for a first viewing. I think that's the best way to experience the flow of the story. It is only on second and later viewings that I would recommend a more measured approach to pick up the details.

Papa Don't Preach

The Vision of Escaflowne does carry a strong message about growing up, and about personal responsibility, but it is subordinate to the story. More precisely the story shows rather than preaches the message.

This is also true about a number of secondary messages scattered through the series. Although the messages in the series opposing racism are possibly too subtle.

The messages that are there do not get in the way of the story, and do not detract from the enjoyment of the show.

Despite the tight editing there is a fair amount of infodumping going on, particularly in the Mystic Valley section, but it is also well handled for the most part.

Having said that not every question is answered, and not being spoonfed answers is one of the things I often like about anime. It leaves more room for speculation, and the traditional wild mass guessing of TV Tropes [5].

The Look and Sound

I note that most of my comments so far have focussed on the story and the characters of Escaflowne with few if any mentions of the design, or how it sounds. Given the fabulous Yoko Kanno soundtrack this is a serious fault.

Suffice it to say that throughout Escaflowne always sounds great, and the character designs work really well. A particularly clever piece of character design work is Dilandau and Celena. Once you know what's going on it is obvious Dilandau is a male version of Celena, but it isn't as obvious in flashes before that point.

Wrapping Up

The Vision of Escaflowne is quite simply a masterpice of anime, and certainly one of the best series of the past 20 years. It was at the time, and remains now, one of my favourites.

A show that I will always come back to again and again.

Snarky Bits (aka footnotes)

[1] Well, there might be one or two omakes coming to deal with the extras on the DVDs and the soundtrack. Maybe. If you're good.
[2] I would like to thank rdmasters and leecetheartist for exposing me to that one. Which means that you can blame them for it.
[3] Except for comparing it to project management. :)
[4] Which I leave to someone else. I think I've written over 30,000 words in this series of posts, that's enough for me.
[5] Although there don't appear to be any WMGs for Escaflowne on TV Tropes which I find really disappointing.

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 / The Magician  
Day 17 - Lost Paradise / The Star
Day 18 - The Guided Ones / Wheel of Fortune
Day 19 - The Edge of the World / The Empress
Day 20 - The Gravity of Destiny / The World
Day 21 - Operation Golden Rule of Love / The Fool
Day 22 - False Vows / The Moon
Day 23 - Reaction of Fortune / The Hierophant
Day 24 - Destiny, Free Will, and Personal Responsibility
Day 25 - The Black Winged Angel / The Sun
Day 26 - Storm Premonition / Ace of Beasts
Day 27 - Fateful Decision / The Hermit
Day 28 - Zone of Absolute Fortune / Strength
Day 29 - Eternal Love / The Lovers
Day 30 - Looking Back at The Vision of Escaflowne
(Deleted comment)
16th-Apr-2011 09:43 am (UTC)
I have not seen any of the manga versions and I thought that they came later (although happy to be corrected).

I have heard negative reports about the various versions though, in particular that there was a pure shoujo version and a pure shonen version.

Which, to be blunt, is just dumb. The Escaflowne anime is so perfectly balanced between the two that to do such focussed versions COMPLETELY misses the point
16th-Apr-2011 09:07 am (UTC)
I think this was close to the first anime where I actively searched out and bought the original Japanese score on three separate different releases. Part of the reason I wanted to watch it in the first place was Yoko (Yohko, some ppl spell it for some reason) Kanno's soundtrack to Macross Plus that I blame JAFWA for exposing me to. :) Yes, I bought all those soundtracks too and the Sharon Apple CD! :D

She has done some remarkable work over the years and not just for soundtracks. I really think with anyone else this series would have had a completely different "feel" to me... I doubt they would have done it the justice she did.

Apparently she also did the movie version soundtrack but I haven't sought it out as it didn't really appeal to me as much as the TV version.

As for design, I do remember the first reaction I get from a lot of people I introduce it to is "Oh my god, the noses!!!!" but that disappears pretty quickly once they get into the story itself.
16th-Apr-2011 09:46 am (UTC)
I find that remarkably easy to believe. I don't think that Ms Kanno has done a bad soundtrack yet.

I'm not sure if she did the RahXephon soundtrack but whilst that one is good in context, not so much as standalone music.

The Escaflowne sound track is just fabulous in it's own right as background music.
16th-Apr-2011 02:02 pm (UTC)
The manga was done as shoujo and shonen versions, which as you note was idiotic; it's the perfect blend of both that makes it work.

The movie... Well, I mention it only to warn any potential viewers away. Interestingly, this also holds for another of my favorite series, Nadia. Series great (though not as good as Escaflowne because of some stupid interludes), movie so bad that it is UNIVERSALLY agreed that you should not even watchh it to see how bad it is.
(Deleted comment)
17th-Apr-2011 12:02 am (UTC)
I think I liked the movie, but did so knowing it was a completely different continuity.

I've only seen it once though.

Re 20 days of movies : I don't think that's a fair description of Castle Cagliostro, Galaxy Express 999, or Beautiful Dreamer. (evil grin of my own)
17th-Apr-2011 02:39 am (UTC)
I wouldn't go that far.

The movie was enjoyable enough after a fashion, it just wasn't part of (or that closely related to) the series.
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