- Episodes : 26
- Genre : Shounen, Shoujo, Mech, Fantasy, Adventure, Supernatural
- Airing Date : April 2, 1996 – September 24, 1996
- Producers : Sunrise, Funimation
The Vision of Escaflowne Preview / Plot (No Spoilers)
Escaflowne made its debut on Fox Kids back in the late 90’s and acted as a gateway anime for many who had never been familiar with the genre before. One of those kids was me. Unfortunately, Fox was forced to shut the program down when the action became too violent and uneditable leaving many yearning for an ending. This was a blessing in disguise because it forced kids to seek out the original unedited series, which was much better.
The story feature Hitomi Kanzaki, a typical high school girl with high school crushes. One day she discovers her main crush Amano will be moving away soon. Before he leaves, she wants to beat her personal sprint record in front of him. She meets him late at night at her high school track and gives him her pendant which can strangely swing in time. If she beats her record, she wishes to have a kiss as a reward. The timer starts and she immediately heads towards the finish line only to be stopped midway by a strange boy carrying a sword.
A dragon soon follows him and they fight, causing Hitomi and her friends to get in the middle of the battle. Suddenly, Hitomi has a vision of the dragon slicing the boy from behind and she calls out to him. He manages to dodge the tail swipe and counterattacks the dragon’s soft belly resulting in death. The strange boy is then transported back to his world via a pale blue light and Hitomi is dragged along with him as Amano reaches out to her. The only thing she managed to grab was her pendant in his hand.
From here on, Hitomi is launched into the world of Gaia where the Earth hangs in their sky. She is caught up in the world’s politics and battles due to her fortune telling abilities and other strange powers. The strange boy from before is revealed to be a prince named Van Fanel, whose country is destroyed by a shady empire called Zaibach. Zaibach believes they can bring peace to the world by altering fate and using technology, but the key to unlock this power lies in Van’s gyumelef, a giant mecha, Escaflowne that can transform into a dragon. Together, they gain allies in the neighboring country Asturia and fight off the Zaibach Empire from destroying the world.
Who does The Vision of Escaflowne cater to?
One of the best features of Escaflowne lies in its ability to attract anime fans from many different genres. Shoujo lovers will enjoy the subtle love triangle between Van, Allen, and Hitomi. Shounen fans will love the battle scenes and overall cast of the show as well as the rich backstories for each main character. For mech fans, the show has ancient machines called Guymelefs that are the source of most battles throughout the series.
They are basically ancient mechs with swords. The story takes place on an alternate planet from Earth where kings and queens still reign and technology has not yet taken over, which fantasy fans will find their love. Hitomi’s ability to predict the future and the presence of ancient Atlantis should draw supernatural fans as well. Escaflowne is quite a well-rounded anime.
What's so appealing about this piece of work.
Typical female lead, she actually thinks about the consequences of her actions and isn’t afraid to get her own hands dirty or tell it like it is. She’s attractive to both men and women and someone the audience can really relate to.
The story is equally amazing and well thought out, referencing ancient mythology from all over the world making audiences want to research in order to get more from the plot. Of course, the action sequences are absolutely gorgeously animated as well. Escaflowne also features a killer VA cast along with music composed by Yoko Kanno.
The Vision of Escaflowne TV Trailer - Bandai
The Vision of Escaflowne Main Characters List
Voice Actor :Maaya Sakamoto
At her high school, Hitomi is a track star whose best friend, Yukari, manages the team. She is often sought out by her classmates for tarot card readings since most of her predictions are spot on. She has a crush on a fellow team mate, Amano, and owns a pendant give to her by her grandmother.
When she is suddenly transported to Gaea, she realizes her powers are magnified tenfold and she is essential to unlocking the power of the Escaflowne. With her newfound responsibilities, Hitomi treads lightly and carefully considers all of her decisions while trying to stay on the morally right path.
Hitomi is competitive and contemplative. As a friend, she will do whatever she can in her power to help and support you. Since she’s still a teenage girl, she does succumb to her raging emotions quite often, but she is quick to admit her mistakes despite the guilt she feels afterwards.
Voice Actor : Tomokazu Seki
As a child, Van looked up and respected his older brother Folken, but when he disappeared to kill a dragon, Van inherited the responsibility of becoming heir to the throne. He often trained with his sword master, Balgus, until it was time for him to follow his brother’s footsteps and become King through the rite of dragon slaying.
During his battle with the beast, Van teleported to Earth where he met Hitomi and accidentally brought her back with him. He vowed to return her to her world and during his coronation ceremony, Zaibach made a move to attack his country, Fanelia. Driven to a wall, Van activated Fanelia’s secret weapon, Escaflowne, in a last ditch effort to fight, but ultimately resulting in his retreat.
Van is stubborn in his beliefs and often thinks he knows best. As a prince, many would try to take advantage of his status and so he is often wary of strangers resulting in a bad first impression between him and Hitomi on their meeting. Despite these setbacks, Van is loyal and will often recklessly put himself in danger if it means saving the lives of others.
Voice Actor :Shin-ichiro Miki
At a young age Allen was gifted with the talent of swordsmanship, but it wasn’t until Balgus found him that he really excelled and managed to raise himself up to the level of Knight Caeli of Asturia. Allen is the quintessential knight and is often renowned for his chivalry, good looks, and charm.
His swordsmanship is top notch and he also pilots his own guymelef, the Scherezade. Allen is suspicious of the Zaibach Empire from the start, but is limited on the course of action he should take since Asturia and Zaibach have formed an alliance. After meeting Van though, Allen becomes bolder in his stance against the dark empire.
Allen’s personality suits him well as a knight. He is fiercely loyal to those he serves, but is not afraid to stand up for what he thinks is right. He believes in fighting only if it is necessary and retreating do avoid further loss. He is intelligent and able to form meticulous battle strategies by analyzing the strengths and weaknesses of their foe. As a man, he is haunted by his past every time he sees Princess Millerna.
Voice Actor : Jouji Nakata
Folken is Van’s older brother who never returned from the rite of dragon slaying. It was rumored that he had been killed, but it is now clear that he survived thanks to Zaibach’s sorcerers. He lost an arm in the battle and it was replaced by a mechanical prototype. Zaibach preyed on Folken’s wish for his brother to grow up in a peaceful world and manipulated him into becoming a sorcerer himself and later their Strategos. He fights against his brother believing he will ultimately save Van from the harsh realities of the world.
He is extremely misguided, but has a fairly pure heart. He is mostly silent and exudes an air of intelligence and prestige. Folken is also one of the lucky few who are granted speaking privileges to Emperor Dornkirk as he often discusses their future plans together. He has a fierce love for his brother and even more so, Gaea. He only wishes to stop the hatred of the world before it ends up like the fabled Atlantis.
Voice Actor :Minami Takayama
Dilandau is the most unstable member of the Zaibach Empire and heads the Dragon Slayers, a guymelef team whose sole purpose is to capture Escaflowne and Van Fanel. Their goal becomes quite complicated once Dilandau begins to hold a personal grudge against Van for scratching his face during battle. Folken has a hard time keeping control of Dilandau and often has to reprimand him like a child. His past is fuzzy and unknown.
Insanity would be the first word to come to most people’s minds when having to describe Dilandau. He is blood-thirsty and doesn’t mind taking the most violent course of action in order to have his fun. He is cruel even to his fellow Dragon Slayers and uses them as servants when they are not in their guymelefs. Once he has a target to hate, that person better watch out because Dilandau will almost become possessed and nothing will stop him until his target is dead.
The Vision of Escaflowne Review
A classic amongst most anime circles, The Vision of Escaflowne “spares no expense” in the famous words of John Hammond from Jurassic Park. Everything from the writing to the animation is on point. The art style is unique from many anime from the mid ninties era. Most notably, the character’s noses tend to be a bit pointier and protrude out from the character’s faces more so than usual.
The designs did tend to scare of some fans, but I personally think the style is executed quite tastefully. The overall animation of the show is gorgeous and fluid with battle scenes avoiding the typical still slide syndrome many of today’s anime suffer from. Watching Escaflowne on blu ray is absolutely gorgeous.
Animation isn’t the only thing the show got right though. The soundtrack is timeless with amazing vocals and mood setting instrumentals that complement the tone of the anime expertly. Escaflowne is actually Maaya Sakamoto’s first major anime work, having sung the opening theme and did the voice work for the main character Hitomi. Yoko Kanno felt she was perfect and this star studded team has gone on to provide music for many other anime including Wolf’s Rain and more famously, Macross Frontier.
The most important aspect of the series, the plot, is well-written and thought out by Kazuki Akane who has also worked on Turn A Gundam, Noein, and Ergo Proxy. The characters are believable and all suffer from their own personal character flaws. Thanks to excelled voice work, the characters come alive to tell a rich story set in an alternate world where magic and nature dominate over technology.
When I first watched Escaflowne as a preteen, I worried that Hitomi would become the typical Mary-Sue figure that most anime perpetuate, but I was actually pleasantly surprised. Hitomi is not well liked by many of the main characters at the beginning. Van believes she is cursed and refuses to associate with her, while Merle, his childhood friend, believes she is fighting for Van’s affections.
Neither of these things are true and Hitomi becomes deeply depressed as any other normal human being would after being transported to a strange land with no one to provide comfort and guarantee safe passage. Things become even more complicated once the castle is attacked and Van is forced to flee with Hitomi and the Escaflowne. Hitomi predicts the whole thing through a vision she is given and becomes hysterical. Of course, no one believes her and she is even further alienated.
Hitomi doesn’t gain the trust and affections at the get go which is quite refreshing after watching anime from similar genres. She earns these rights once she proves she can be of use and is also reliable. There ARE many characters throughout the series that are interested in Hitomi, but these encounters seem more natural than forced. Since she is an outsider, it seems plausible that she would be considered a threat or prized at a high value for her unique looks.
Hitomi is supported by several other main characters that allow her to deep dig deep inside herself. Van is the most notable. His stubborn pride prevents him from seeing clearly and so he often dismisses Hitomi’s legitimate concerns. Once Hitomi’s predictions become increasingly accurate, Van is forced to question himself and makes a complete 180. He then relies too much on Hitomi’s powers, only seeing her as a tool which eventually hurts Hitomi quite deeply.
The pain Van feels is quite real and reminds many of their own emotional teenage years where down was up and up was down. Van has to deal with his surging emotions while also shouldering the responsibility of leading a nation. He makes many mistakes throughout the journey, but once he begins to accept himself as he is, he also begins to accepting others for who they are.
While the characters give life to the plot, the backdrop they’re set against provides the means to create a wonderful story with a strong backbone. The people live simple lives in harmony with nature, but Zaibach threatens that peace. Humans are imperfect beings and are often prone to disagreements. Unfortunately, wars do break out and there are always heavy losses after a victor has been declared. Zaibach sets out to harvest peoples’ hopes and dreams to create a world where war is obsolete.
Zaibach’s Emperor Dornkirk, who is revealed to be Sir Isaac Newton, uses fate alteration technology he has research for decades in order to manipulate Gaea into a world where everyone’s wishes come true. Unfortunately, his plan backfires since people’s wishes with contradict each other and war becomes the final outcome. Van and Hitomi are able to put an end to Dornkirk by breaking his Fate Prognostication System with the power of their love.
The message is clear, humans are individuals with their own opinions and dreams. Not everyone agrees with each other, but the answer is not violence through ignorance. Instead, a mutual respect should be practiced in order to enhance the world through different perspectives. If only this message were practiced more often in the real world.
Fanelia is a small country set in a valley surround by dragons, so it’s no surprise that they worship the beasts to keep them safe. Their main trade is agriculture and they seldom are involved in wars. Unfortunately, the country houses the Escaflowne which is the key to unlocking the power of Atlantis causing Zaibach to gain interest. The country is burnt to the ground in their efforts to locate the Guymelef. With the help of the military, a good portion of Fanelia’s citizens survived the attack and await the return of King Van so that they may rebuild their homeland.
Home to both Allen and Millerna, Asturia is a prosperous nation – housing several trade ports and a large army. The current king, Aston, formed the nation by appealing to several differing trading villages to form a single country. His idea worked, and Asturia is thriving. King Aston knowledge is unfortunately limited to profit. He aligns himself with Zaibach in hopes that profits will increase via Zaibach’s usage of their valuable trade ports. Since Aston produced no sons and his two eldest daughters were married off to other nations, Millerna is the sole heir to the throne and her intended is the son of a prosperous merchant.
Zaibach is a relatively new nation which began with Newton’s ability to inspire the people around him. As he grew, his ideas and opinions became darker and darker and his Empire continued to grow by wiping out all the natural forests surrounding the area. The capital is cold and emits an eerie green glow upon nightfall. The country deals in the black market across Gaea and is well known for their technology and fate research. Innocent children have been known to be used as subjects in their experiments, but no one in the higher echelon seems to view this as a problem.
The Vision of Escaflowne has it all and can serve as the ultimate gateway anime. The plot is rich with references from ancient mythology from all over the globe and the overall story harbors a lesson anyone can get behind. The characters do not succumb to stereotype syndrome, and there are giant, ancient mechs that fight during every battle. Romance, action, and adventure, The Vision of Escaflowne can suck even the biggest anime naysayer in.