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Name: Visions of Escaflowne (96.36% in 11 votes)
Platform: VHS/VCD
Company: SunSoft
Release date: 1990
Reviewed by: Hinorei

Visions of Escaflowne is a 26-ep masterpiece of sight, sound, story, characters, voice acting and directing. Produced by Sunrise as an answer to Evangelion, it is considered by many to be one of the most beautiful animes produced of all time. That's not to say there isn't a serious amount of death, destruction, and tragedy. It is an epic, and it is well worth seeing by any means necessary.

And keep in mind - I've only seen this with bad tapes with pathetic translations and very worn video at this time, and it's STILL one of the absolute best things I've ever seen.

The heroine of this version of Escaflowne (there are two manga versions, and the heroine is different in each) is Hitomi, who's a sprinter with short light brown hair, tall, thin, and not very feminine, she's pretty "normal"... except that she can read tarot cards, see glimpses of the future suddenly, and use a special pendant her grandmother gave her to keep time like a clock. It's as good as a stopwatch. So she gets her secret crush who's moving away with his father to hold it and count her time as she tries to beat 13 seconds on the 50 meter sprint (or was it 100 meter?), and if she wins, she wants him to give her her first kiss. He agrees.

Nothing much happens after that, except a guy with dark hair and a sword and armor teleports into her path in a bunch of bright light, she runs into him, a dragon comes in from another dimension, he tries to kill it, it tries to kill all of them, big fight ensues, Hitomi saves this guy's life by warning him before he dies from the dragon's sharp tail (which she sees about 15 secs before it's due to happen), the dragon is slain, and both of them get drawn back to *his* world in a beam of light, into another dimension...

See, nothing much happens in this anime.

Hitomi is in a new world. The Earth is seen in the sky and is known as the Maboroshi no Tsuki (Mystic Moon some say, I call it something like the Moon of Illusion). There are wolfmen, people of many animal types indeed, and medieval-style mechs piloted by men - essentially little Gundams powered by the mystical power of the center of a dragon's eye, known as a "Dragon Energist".

But Van, the man mentionned above, and the returning King of Farnelia, is witness to his kingdom's destruction by invisible Guymelfes (the aforementionned mechs) that can fly, be invisible, and produce a variety of weapons from streams of liquid polymers that can shape themselves into many things. Or just fly right through a Melfe and slaughter pilots, footmen, entire kingdoms.

While the samurai loyal to the young teenage king try to hold off the menace, Van goes with Hitomi to the heart of the castle, and unlock the power of the most powerful machine known to this world's man - powered by the Energist that Van took from the dragon he slew, and beating like the heart of this awesome machine. It is his birthright. It is named Escaflowne.

Interested yet?

This series goes through a lot of twists and turns over the 26 episodes. Suffice to say that the world hangs in the balance. The legacy of the ancient destroyed city of Atlantis and a world built on hopes and dreams are the central themes of this anime, which is not at all for the squeamish - but it is a truly compelling story with characters you have no difficulty relating to, admiring, pitying, or hating. You should be impressed.

Art: 10/10
I've only seen bastardized versions. The real thing is truly magnificent from what I can tell from still pictures and testimonials.

Music: 10/10
Masterpieces. My fansubs played them to their full glory, and you will *not* be disappointed...

Voice Acting: 9/10
Some are annoying, most are great. Mind you, this is the original, subtitled - not a dub.

Characters: 10/10
The annoying ones are annoying on purpose. But you have to see Faulken to believe him. I'm giving a 10.0 just because he drags the standard up to true excellence.

Story: 9.5
The ending wasn't as good as I hoped. But that doesn't subtract much from, overall, a tremendous experience.

Overall: 9.5
It's possible to get better than this, but not by much! Don't settle for fifth-gen fansubs unless you have no choice. Make the extra effort and enjoy it in its full beauty. I enjoyed it even with the fansubs, so when I see this on LD or DVD, it'll be bliss.
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