It’s nice to see Saint Seiya back, though I’ll admit I’m only really familiar with the first few volumes of the original 80s manga. The last Saint Seiya Toei Animation anime, Saint Seiya Omega, was a pretty long 93 episode affair, which was a kind of weird alternative adaptation of the Saint Seiya Next Dimension manga series but was very different, including entirely new main characters. It got some mixed reception because of that.
But how’s the new Saint Seiya: Soul of Gold looking? Again, it’s an original anime, but this time its taking place after the Gold Saints sacrifice themselves in the original Hades arc against the Wailing Wall. This sacrifice is revisited in the prologue at the beginning of the first episode: Gold Legend, Revive. It’s a nice touch as it doesn’t necessitate familiarity with the original material.
The audience viewpoint throughout this episode is pretty firmly with Leo Aiolia, and we even get some nice flashbacks of his story to help along those of us who aren’t familiar with his journey. Leo finds himself not dead, but somehow revitalised, and in Asgard. Weak and confused he is captured by Asgardian guards and put into a cell. At the same time a woman named Lyfia is canvassing the Asgardian populace, asking them to fight with her (as in, on her side, not just looking for a fight, which providing me put my understanding on an amusing tangent a few times while watching). She too is captured by Asgardian guards as she is apparently wanted, and thrown into the same cell as Leo.
Naturally it doesn’t take long for Leo to break them both out, the guards being no match for his abilities as a Saint. The two escape to a rural area and catch up over a Ploughman’s (I don’t think it’s actually a Ploughman’s) where Lyfia lets him know what’s going on. Something is definitely up in Asgard, with Hilda (a character from the anime) being seemingly usurped as Asgard’s Earth representive by Andreas Lise. He’s popular with the people, but Lyfia says he has a hidden agenda that’s not in line with what Lord Odin wants — namely raising the Yggdrasil tree, which is apparently not a good thing. And he’s got seven God Saints to help him do it. One of which, Frodi, is hot on the tail of the escapees.
Leo is pretty iffy as to what’s going on regarding his seemingly coming back from the dead, and more importantly who’s behind it — possibly Lord Odin himself. But, as it has to, it eventually comes down to a fight between Leo and Frodi.
The fighting in the episode is quite good, though it’s somewhat brief. I’m willing to think this more of a blessing than a curse after a childhood of waiting for Dragon Ball Z’s Goku to use certain moves over a span of many episodes. The fights are a combination between trick / gimmick fighting, and power-level fighting, which often seems to be the way with Saint Seiya. When you can get the balance right, it’s generally pretty satisfying, as long as there are other elements to the anime too, which there are.
The animation is nice, with strong lines and some bold colours, but in a lot of place it’s all quite basic and just a little bit uninspired. The setting is used to great advantage, however, with some stunning uses of snow in the animation. If things can ramp up overall to that sort of detail quality, it could be very nice indeed.
A lot about this episode was pretty much as you’d expect. But, while the plot seems simple and predictable, more than enough questions and plot hooks are raised to keep me interested in how it will turn out. The style of the spin-off, being set between what fans already know and exploring a new path, also seems to be working quite well in the anime’s favour so far.
As usual, here’s a large amount of screenshots if you’re into that sort of thing!