I always said Merle was superfluous.
Well garrison duty just ended for me so I decided to watch Escaflowne again after buying a copy of my own instead of mooching off my buddy. I love how Bandai was putting out old series in boxed sets for 34-40 USD a pop, if only they would do it for series that were more recent… Next time I plan on buying my own copy of Zeta Gundam, but until then Escaflowne was cheaper. So yes Escaflowne, how unfortunate it was that FOX butchered it when I was a kid. Still a fantasy mecha that transforms into a dragon, how could I say no to that? This would make my third time watching this series again but I still think highly of it after all this time. I’ll post my final thoughts later since things get shall we say even more interesting…but for now episodes 1-14 is a good half way point to write about some of my favorite scenes from the series. Also I still don’t know how to take screen caps with a PS3 so apologies for only having one screen cap, still it looks prettier.
Escaflowne had many epic moments but the two that stand out for me was Balgus with his huge Guymelef killing sword and the Duke for Freid calling out his challenge to the four demon armies of Zaibach. Balgus was just so bad ass when I first saw him run his huge sword through a Guymelef I still don’t have the words to describe just how EPIC it was to ss that and then to see Balgus laid low by a cowardly Zaibach pilot. Given how the Dragon Slayers just suck when de-cloaked except for Dilandu I was delighted every time one of them got slapped or killed. They were over reliant on their stealth cloaks and for a group of elites their team work is really sub par if they still rely on shooting guys in the back while Dilandu pins their opponents. Episode 14 should have been dedicated to Balgus since the Zaibach cowards were all annihilated once their cloaking devices met Van’s new Hitomi tachyon detection grid.
I like how every kingdom on Gaea was distinct from one another in the first half Fanelia had the Japanese and samurai theme, going while Freid had that Central Asian and monastic theme going. I am not sure what Asturia fits in as other than generic Euro country with a slight renaissance feel. Zaibach is just techno crusade guys with buildings that look more science fiction than anything fantasy. Even if Zaibach has those poncy Dragon Slayers who are pretty much “Special” forces dudes with an over reliance on tech to make up for their lack of ability the rest of Zaibach looks pretty damn cool with their huge floating fortresses and hordes of Guymelefs that could launch in rapid succession. It is clear that Zaibach has a technological edge over the other kingdoms and I like how their banners look so out of place for a place that is mostly dominated by high fantasy themes. I got ot hand it to Kawamori and his fellow mecah designers for making the Guymelef little better than an a regular melef in terms of protection but just added two things that kept them grunty and cool first was the ability to fly since it complemented the floating fortresses nicely and the second more important one was the liquid metal weapons. Speaking of the banners that must be the crappiest job for any one on Gaea, here there are a bunch of big mecha going at it while you only got a sword, maybe a crossbow, and still have to lug around a standard as you march in front of a big bad melef as things blow up all around you. It makes no military sense but since we are still in the realm of high fantasy it just makes everything look more epic. It wasn’t so much as Zaibach had hax, but it was more of a problem that they were the only guys who were undergoing a Scientific Revolution while every one else was still mired in ignorance.
While I had been more accustomed to mecha as a science fiction genre Escaflowne was a significant change for me. This allowed for a more complex plot by cutting out much fo the technology aspect with the power source being the hearts of dragons, and that technology for every one but Zaibach was lost technology that they did not always fully understand. It made things much easier to accept since magic was always possible even if there were no true sorcerers aside from Hitomi in a sense. I also like how the melefs are like clock work mecha with regards to control surfaces and the internal mechanisms. Got to love how they solved the flying problem by using float rocks that were all over the place to allow for some unique mecha action where you had elements from both science fiction and high fantasy.
Van for me was no annoying at the start he was young but at least he had courage and courage was enough. Hitomi was where the was a wow factor since Hitomi was not actively fighting but nonetheless contributed a lot more towards the plot than I would have expected since my initial assessment that she would be mostly an observer instead of an active player. I also enjoyed drunk Hitomi a lot. Millernia is a stuck up bint even if she is a doctor I still think of her as a nasty woman who read other people’s dairies and treated Hitomi like a mere servant, I am so glad that Allen can only think of his first love when he sees her. Speaking of the dashing Knight of Caeli I liked the guy even though he had womanizer written all over him, because he wasn’t a womanizer, but played the part to his advantage. Merle was just annoying and I am certain that the series could have done just as well without her, heck I like mole man more than I like Merle since Merle didn’t contribute much more than her cries of “Van–sama.” Dilandu was lovably insane for the most part slapping around his underlings, burning every thing around him, and painting his Guymelef red so it moves 3 times faster though he still got his ass kicked once the rookie Van leveled up and pwned the Dragon Slayers.
Episode 14 was the first time we get to see Dryden and he is quite the character for using Escaflowne’s AAA button to call up Guymelef Assistance from Ispano. Gotta like how they wasted so much time to confirm that it was Escaflowne so they could claim more man hours for making repairs. While the price gouging was to be expected I like how they voided the warranty because of van’s Draconian blood. It was such a shift from the usual mecha fare where the titular pilot could get his mecha beat half to hell and get it repaired all for free, not so with Ispano where you not only pay for quality Guymelef you have to pay top dollar for scratching up their machines. Dryden was pretty quirky and I loved his line, “this isn’t sudden we’re already engaged” to Millernia when she protested about their future marriage.
Mahad dar Freid was the last of the non bishie rulers of Freid. May his memory live on even if his lineage is dead. The likes of Mahad dar Freid will never be seen again in the modern era where men no longer look like men.
The Duke for Fried was a manly man, and I felt that he got the short end of the stick when he married Marlene. The good Duke must have really loved her to not have Chid removed so that he might father a true heir. Chid was too much of a baby to be the true son of Mahad dar Fried. i am glad that in the end Marlene realized that her husband was a manly man who made her wish that she might have had more time to make up for her youthful indiscretions. Allen had his thunder stolen twice by the good Duke once when Allen was about to make public Marlene’s shame and the second when Mahad Dar Freid marched out declaring is name and challenging all of Zaibach to fight him sadly Zaibach grunts don’t give a hoot about honor and just shot him so that the honor of killing Mahad dar Freid would go to Dornkirk’s discovery of Newtonian physics. Still the good Duke did die a hero.
All in all I loved every minute of the first half of Escaflowne since there was no filler and there was a continuous information assault that helped me stay in formed about this world and quash and questions that I might have had with a good deal of speed. Right now things seem to be at a good running pace without having things drag too much.