DISCLAIMER: My english is bad etc. I think its readable tho. Corrections are appreciated anyway. Most of the review can be understood without spoilers as most of them are just examples made to prove my points and such. Some mild spoilers are present however as the spoiler format for anilist really breaks the texts fluidity. Saint Seiya is a 1986 battle shounen manga written by the influential Masami Kurumada and it might be the best one to represent his early career. While Saint Seiya was surely popular and its both loved and hated by a fair amount of people most of its readersmore like watchers actually thoroughly ignore pretty much everything in the manga except maybe the characters names and techniques. Its a work treated as unraveled but you never see anyone discussing its themes or story and almost no one seems to understand it even in the most basic level. Im also guilty of this as its the anime that got me into anime and Ive known it for almost two decades but still took me all of that time two watches and three readsone incomplete and two full to truly grasp it. If you believe in everything I said until now you must be asking Why is that? Is Saint Seiya truly such a complex work of art? and the answer is: no not really. I believe theres two major explanations for this phenomenon. First most of the people who consumed Saint Seiya did so trough the anime adaptation which is shaky at best and completely ruins the mangas fluidity and cohesion. And second the action in the manga is so frenetic and constant thats easy to simply forget to scratch it beyond its surface as there is and seems to be entertainment enough in its fights and its oneliners. There are three major points that makes Saint Seiya a unique and truly great manga and battle shounen. Two of these points call for longer explanations but theres one I can summarize in this one paragraph: character visibility. The only other battle shounen I can think were the main cast is so equally worked on is maybe Yu Yu Hakusho. I actually believe this to be one of the main reasons why Seiya is so hated on the fan basebesides the anime killing half of his personality. Saint Seiya is one of the few manga were it wont really hurt you to hate the protagonist as every character has their own spotlights in every arc and you can pick your own favorite from the main 5 with no fear. They will constantly have good fights and be worked on for the rest of the manga. Before going on the next two points Id like to clear some misconceptions about the manga. A lot of people disseminate that its a work riddled with blatant plot holes at every corner and while thats true its something exclusive to its animated version. The anime writing changes several points that end up creating severe contradictions on the storysuch as and etc. and the manga dialogues are so diluted in filler lines created to gain time that they actually become mostly incomprehensible and meaningless on the animated version. Not to mention terrible decisions such as making the main characters removing almost every dialogue with personality and a LOT of other things. The manga plot is actually heavily and adequately foreshadowed and its mostly consistent characters also arent nearly as shallow as their anime counterparts. Another common complaint is that the arcs all follows the same formula. I dont really think thats a problem as oneonone fight corridors are the ideal format for a battle manga in my opinion but even then thats not really true. The Black Saints arc dont have matchups as well established as other arcs the oneonone sequence on Poseidon is interrupted at the arcs climax and leads to a pretty interesting conclusion and Hadeswhich is pretty much 1/3 of the manga doesnt resemble the formula in the slightest. Now to the first major point. Saint Seiya is great at working its themes and keeping loyal to them. You have a pretty big number of them since there are a lot of more allegoric fights made to send a point across but the two main ones are Brotherly Love and SelfSacrifice. The main 5 characters are orphans who grew up in an abusive environment and were sent to face deaththreatening training in isolated parts of the world spending all of their young years with barely any warmth and human company. However by becoming Saints they truly form family bonds and find the happiness of loving and being loved even a midst their harsh trials and deadly fights. From the point the main 5 finally become a family their dialogues when reunited are always touching and wholesome and really makes you understand the value they put in their relationshipand again thats something absent in the animated version there also quite a few onetoone dialogues in key moments that makes wonders to show the bond they share especially Ikki whose character pretty much resolves around being the rigid yet caring big brother for the group. The second major theme is the most important but also the most silent of them all as rather then being constantly shouted its demonstrated trough actions and character progression. As the name implies the Saints journey is a journey to become Saints. They gradually go from characters with personal motivations to nearly inhuman warriors of selflessness as thats the destiny they chose to accept. Saint Seiyaand Kurumada in general is heavily influenced by Buddhism and Christianity and that really shows in their characters. Thats the general idea but Ill develop it a little more with spoilers next. I could keep listing moments of self sacrifice on this manga endlessly but I believe this point is already obvious enough. The third major quality in Saint Seiya is the fights and all that they encompass. There are essentially two types of fight in the manga: a fights there are simply power comparisons. Usually for showoff purposes. These are especially common from the Galaxian Wars arc up until the Silver Saints Arcs but also show up at the beginning of Poseidon and Hades arcs. These can still be quite fun and they do a great job at establishing power levels b fights were the tension or conclusion originates from external factors rather then the result of a simple power clash. The arc of the 12 Temples is the prime example since all of its fights are this type. Theres no doubt that every Gold Saint is generally far stronger then the main cast except for . Rather then powering up and straight up defeating every opponent the fights are resolved with suicide strategies moral victories and other sorts of uncommon solutions. That doesnt mean however that these fights are boring in any way. Its quite the opposite actually. Its an arc with nothing but memorable fights and antagonists. These fights also occur on the pattern that the main character is stronger than the opponent but is somehow handicapped physically or emotionally such as and etc. These b types of fight are were Saint Seiya truly shines. Not only they make a great job of preserving a consistent power level from the beginning to the end of the series but they also show Kurumadas ability to understand what makes a fight entertaining and to write battles that go far beyond simply battling. Creative conflicts character diversity aesthetic techniques and an endless archive of oneliners make the experience of Saint Seiyas battles one of the best in all battle shounen. The most divisive point in SS and Kurumadas works in general is the art without doubt. And while a lot of people dislike his character designwhich is fine I suppose. It does take some using to I believe is undeniable that his backgrounds techniques back drops use of particles and armor design are all really good and can be universally appreciated. So while I cant say the art is incredibly good I can say with confidence that is not bad and its perfectly readable. That is not to say Saint Seiya is perfect. The storytelling has a fair amount of flaws such as important characters being abruptly introducedsuch as Kanon and Izaak the rushed Sanctuary arc conclusion and the really cool but a quite confusing concept of the same technique never works twice against at a Saint. Even so there is no doubt its a criminally underrated manga and anyone who says its bad almost infallible fall in one of three categories: people who only watched the bad anime adaptation people who dont like the art people who werent willing to do the most basic text interpretation So yeah Saint Seiya is pretty good and if you enjoy battle shounen and have never read youre missing on one of the most satisfying and fun experiences in the genre.
75 /100
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