We have known for some time that Toei Animation has three projects in mind for the Saint Seiya franchise (The Knights of the Zodiac). Two of these three projects are already known to us. The first of these Saint Seiya projects is the CGI ‘anime’ series, which debuted on Netflix and later moved on to Crunchyroll. While the second project is the ‘live action’ movie called The Knights of the Zodiac: Saint Seiya – The Beginning. These two productions have their approach in common, as Toei Animation hopes to capture the attention of younger audiences.
For this reason both the ‘anime’ series in CGI —to a lesser extent in its first season— as well as the Saint Seiya ‘live action’ movie (The Knights of the Zodiac), take some liberties by adapting Kurumada’s original story.
So, taking into account the above, in our review or criticism we will know if it is worth giving The Knights of the Zodiac: Saint Seiya – The Beginning a chance.
The story of The Knights of the Zodiac: Saint Seiya – The Beginning is a reimagining of the one seen in Masami Kurumada’s ‘manga’ that debuted in the pages of Weekly Shonen Jump on December 3, 1985. In his screen debut big, the story of the Knights of the Zodiac movie centers on Seiya (Mackenyu). He is a young man raised on the street, who is looking for his sister Patricia and to live he participates in clandestine fights. In one of these fights, Seiya awakens a power that was dormant and alerts Guraad (Famke Janssen), who sends his army to capture Seiya. She is the villain of the film, who searches for all humans who possess “cosmo” and Sienna Kiddo (Madison Iseman) to prevent Athena from destroying the world.
Nero (Diego Tinoco) is the Knight of the Phoenix and is introduced to us as one of Guraad’s subordinates.
Seiya manages to escape Guraad’s men with the help of Alman Kiddo (Sean Bean) and Mylock (Mark Dacascos). When they are out of danger, Alman tells Seiya the truth about Sienna and tells him that he is destined to protect her. For hard-core fans of Kurumada’s work, the way the story has been reimagined in Knights of the Zodiac: Saint Seiya – The Beginning—which is closest to what was seen in the first season of the CGI anime. — is one of the big mistakes of the film.
Mylock, or Tatsumi in the original version, is proof that some changes are not bad.
As we said at the beginning of our review or criticism of the Knights of the Zodiac movie, this adaptation is made for those who don’t know the ‘anime’ or ‘manga’. With the above, we don’t want to justify the mistakes of the film, but without a doubt it seems wrong to compare it with the source material. Given that the main problem of The good and the bad of The Knights of the Zodiac: Saint Seiya – The Beginning It is not the new story, but the script and the rhythm of it. Additionally, some characters like Cassios (Nick Stahl) do not have clear motivations for entering into the conflict. This also extends to the film’s villain, who takes a back seat due to the actions of Nero, the Knight of the Phoenix, played by the American actor of Ecuadorian descent Diego Tinoco.
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Capricorn and Sagittarius appear at the beginning of the film, but the sanctuary and the twelve houses are not named in the story.
But it’s not all bad, the choreographies of the fights in the movie Knights of the Zodiac: Saint Seiya – The Beginning —directed by Andy Cheng— without being spectacular, they stand out for having nods to the classic ‘anime’ effects, that show the blows with pauses on the screen or camera turns to give the viewer the feeling of power. Thanks to this, the Knights of the Zodiac movie does not fall into the error of the CGI series. However, this does not mean that we do not see energy attacks in the film. These attacks are executed with poses —similar to those of the ‘anime’— and on the back of the knights of Pegasus and Fenix the constellation of each one can be seen. Like this one, there are several nods to the original work in The Knights of the Zodiac: Saint Seiya – The Beginning.
Seiya’s armor in the movie has an evolution.
Another of the successes of the movie The Knights of the Zodiac: Saint Seiya – The Beginning is the interaction between Seiya with Sienna and Marin. It should be noted that, in a subtle way in the film —as in the original work— the events try to somehow make Marin look like the protagonist’s sister. However, Seiya’s teacher would have deserved more screen time or a better background for her appearance.
The film features the participation of some of the voice actors from the original ‘anime’.
The Knights of the Zodiac: Saint Seiya – The Beginning is a risky introduction of Masami Kurumada’s story to a new audience, which due to its short duration (137 minutes) has chosen to focus on its protagonist and the beginning of his path to be one of Athena’s protectors. With an inconsistent rhythm and script, the film ends up loading everything on the performance of Mackenyu —who really feels like Seiya— and on the strength of the character Nero or Ikki from Fenix, which in any adaptation of Saint Seiya steals the spotlight.
The film’s music —without reaching the levels of Seiji Yokoyama, composer of the original ‘anime’— complies and the use of ‘Pegasus Fantasy’ at key moments, along with other references to the original work, shows respect —which despite the changes— the production of the film has with ‘manga’ by Masami Kurumada. In summary, The Knights of the Zodiac Saint Seiya – The Beginning is a good starting point for those who are unaware of the history of the Knights of the Zodiac. However, if you are a fan of Kurumada’s work, we recommend watching this live action with an open mind or waiting for the movie to hit one of the streaming platforms.