A Superversive Classic From Japan: The Vision of Escaflowne

It’s been over 20 years since The Vision of Escaflowne fired aired on Japan, and henceforth flew across the world to win over the hearts of a generation of fans seeking action, romance, and giant robot combat. Noble knights fighting against a wicked empire, disposed kings seeking to restore a long realm, and a girl just coming of age trying to find her place in the world- just add giant robots and airships to get this new classic out of Japan.

And yes, you better believe that this is a Superversive story. For all its doom, gloom, tragedy, and sorrow this is most definitely about shining a light in the darkness. Our heroine is not just the heart of the story, but also its moral compass; Hitomi may follow an arc typical of romance stories–the hero and the rival are her love interests–but it’s firmly the subplot of an overall coming-of-age warstory drama for both Hitomi and her hero: Van Fanel Fanelia.

Now available on Blu-Ray, as the clip below shows, the series can again (legally) be enjoyed for a new generation that is also hungry for fiction that is true to life- especially when that fiction is as fantastic as this one is.

I recommend the series over the movie for most audiences; the film takes that Darker and Edgier tone that leads to some dissonance with its Superversive storytelling, undermining the superior production values clearly present in the film. I also recommend that you want this in Japanese with English subtitles; this was just before English voie acting in anime series upped its game, and it shows. There are subtleties in the Japanese performance that are not present in the English ones (or, for that matter, in the German and Spanish ones); Episode 14’s climatic, character-defining moment for Van is far more powerful in Japanese than any other available language to date.

Take note that the living Goddess of Music–Yoko Kanno–did the music for this, following up her magnificant work with Macross Plus a few years before this series, and all of it holds up to this day against the very best Western counterpats- then and now. Without her presence in the scores and songs, the true beauty present in this series would never manifest, and it is arguable that her work–more than anyone else–is why this series acquired such a loyal following and retained them for so long.

A fairy tale with giant robots cannot be missed. Recommended. Add this to your library.