Allen’s hair is friggin’ awful. God damn the ’90s.
The Vision of Escaflowne is one of those shows I’ve been meaning to watch since I first got into anime. (The other one is Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex.) Secret Santa finally gave me a reason to stop putting it off. I totally didn’t wait until late on Christmas Eve to finish watching it, no sirree.
I feel there’s not much to say about Escaflowne that hasn’t been said by a million others before: for half its run it’s a really solid action-adventure fantasy romp. I hesitate to call it generic, but yeah, it does work primarily with well-worn fantasy tropes. And then the second half happens. It’s kind of dumb. I mean this in the most affectionate way possible.
Perhaps my favorite aspect of Escaflowne is how it combines elements from across genres to create a show that is, for lack of a better expression, uniquely anime as heck. You’ve got romance straight out of the sappiest of shoujo manga, swashbuckling giant robots, fantasy-ass political drama with knights and princesses and crises of succession; big emotions, a penchant for drama, and a willingness to throw in the most ridiculous narrative devices with complete sincerity. It’s hard not to smile a little when the show throws out “evil Isaac Newton wants to recreate the fall of Atlantis on the moon using a machine that alters fate only to be defeated by an angel-winged pretty boy in love” with a straight face. This is anime at its most anime, catgirls and all. Sort of the ‘90s equivalent of something like Aquarion EVOL (which, bee tee dubs, y’all should watch already).
In its character writing, however, Escaflowne falters in comparison to later ass-bonkers Shoji Kawamori works. While I found the Escaflowne cast charming enough, they weren’t nearly as fun to hang out with as the dorks of Neo-DEAVA or Walkure. It’s unfortunate that the lack of chemistry between the leads killed my interest in the love triangle shenanigans. I’m usually a sucker for cheese, but in a world where the line “I’ll be the dirt to fill the hole in your heart” has been uttered 100% seriously from the cockpit of an orgasm-powered robot, silly romantic drama’s gonna have to work a lot harder to impress me.
That said, I’m pretty glad I saw Escaflowne, although I imagine I’d like it more if the year were 2005. I wonder how much of the love for the show is couched in nostalgia? It’s certainly among the Most Anime things to appear in an era where Very Anime anime was hard to come by. Which makes it a cool relic of anime fandom, I guess. It’s pretty interesting as a point on the evolutionary trajectory of the Kawamori #aesthetic.
Buuuuut if you need me I’ll be in this corner with a box of donuts, thank you very much.