Vision of Escaflowne, or Escaflowne, is a TV series and a movie produced by Bandai and Sunrise. And, it is, truly, one of the best animes ever created.
The TV show
The TV story starts off in Japan, where Hitomi Kanzaki is running time trials for her school's track team. Then the hallucinations start. She sees a boy about her age dressed in funny clothes and armor, with a long sword. Later, while trying to win over her "object d' drool" the strange boy and a land dragon are transported via strange beam of light to Earth.
When the dragon is killed, the boy, Van Fanel, and Hitomi are both transported back to Van's home world via beam of light. Gaea. Once there, Hitomi is a guest in the kingdom of Fanelia, of which Van is just about to be crowned King. Then an invisable enemy attacks, Fanelia is destroyed, Van, Hitomi, and Van's Guymelef (a mecha) called Escaflowne are all transported to the wilds of Asturia, where they meet Allen Schezar. Allen takes them to the capital of Asturia and they are reunited with Merle, a cat-girl who hangs onto Van as if they were newly weds. As the story progresses we learn that an evil empire, Zaibach, is attempting to control all of Gaea using the "Atlantis Machine" which can control fate. Zaibach is trying to revive Atlantis to create a peaceful world; through war. Things happen, stuff goes on, big giant war, everyone goes mental, love is professed, the end.
What? complaining about the lack of detail in my plot summary? Well, it's near impossible to explain *just* the basic plot of Escaflwone. There are at least six back stories that get explained within the series, and many more that do not. These aren't just your ordinary run of the mill one episode dedicated to that back story either. They're richly detailed back stories that really f up the 'simple' divided-by-love plot. I can't really tell you much about anything with out ruining the truly visionary story that is Escaflowne. Plus a lot of the plot will be explained in the Character section, so just be patient.
- Fateful Confession
- The Girl From the Mystic Moon
- The Gallant Swordsman
- The Diabolical Adonis
- The Seal of the Brothers
- City of Intrigue
- Unexpected Partings
- The Day the Angel Flew
- Memories of a Feather
- The Blue-Eyed Prince
- Prophecy of Death
- The Secret Door
- Red Destiny
- Dangerous Wounds
- Lost Paradise
- The Guided Ones
- The Edge of the World
- The Gravity of Destiny
- Operation Golden Rule of Love
- False Vows
- Reaction of Fortune
- The Black-Winged Angel
- Storm Premonition
- Fateful Decision
- Zone of Absolute Fortune
- Eternal Love
Hitomi - the girl from the Mystic Moon. She's the main character of the series. She has a typical case of female teen angst and is consequently torn between her feelings for Allen and Van. On Earth, she was very good at reading Tarot Cards, but in Gaea, her fortune telling *always* comes true. She has a seemingly magical pendant that ends up, as it is, contains the secret of Atlantis.
Van - King of Fanelia, pilot of the Ispano Guymelef called Escaflowne, and a stubborn bastard. He learns how to imitate Hitomi's ability to see the invisible Zaibach Guymelefs (they have invisibility cloaks) and because of that, and his blood union with Escaflowne, he goes mental. He's in love with Hitomi, but he doesn't realize it.
Allen - Knight of Asturia, playboy extraordinaire, blonde bombshell; as far as animated men go anyway. He falls in love with almost all the female characters in the series, and even some that are dead. For the longest time it seems that Allen is nothing but a character merely thrown in the show to create tension between Van and Hitomi and cause problems with their relationship. You're thinking that throughout the whole series but then... oh, no... wait, yea that's his only purpose.
Folken - Van's older brother. He was 'killed'/'ran away' during the Dragon-slaying-ritual-to-become-king and ended up becoming Zaibach's Strategist and one of the Empire's premiere Sorcerers. He has been destined to die, but wants to create a perfect, peaceful world before he does.
Merle - cat girl! Complete with tail, ears, skirt that doesnt cover anything, and a lack of underwear! She hangs onto Van as if she was a permanent attachment to his clothing. Early on she senses that Hitomi and Van have... chemistry, so she becomes Hitomi's rival, of sorts, but still seeks comfort from her.
Dilandau - look kids! It's everyone's favorite schizophrenic transgender psychopathic blood thirsty villain!
Dornkirk - the emperor of Zaibach. He is a mysterious and very very old man. He built and operates the Atlantis Machine, which includes a Fate Alternator and something along the lines of a Destiny Predictor. He's trying to use the two to bring peace to Geae with war.
Millerna - A princess of Asturia, she is in love with Allen, but is arranged to marry the merchant named Dryden. She is not the stereotypical princess. She does laundry.
Dryden - The wealthiest merchant on Gaea, he is in love with Millerna. He sits in as king of Asturia for some reason, and aides Van in paying for some massive repairs for Escaflowne.
Ooooooooooooooooooh my god it's Escaflowne. Beautiful. I kiss you Escaflowne. I kiss you
. All my base are belong to you. Your animation is beautiful, your story is deep, and your music is the bestest ever. Your voice actors fit their roles perfectly. mmmm... Escaflowne. Everyone should watch and enjoy you. You're a classic. If anyone is even remotely interested in watching anime they should see you first. But not in English. I spit on your English voice actors and scripters. pa-too. IF YOU WATCH THIS ANIME IN ENGLISH I WILL PERSONALLY GOUGE YOUR EYES OUT AND EAT YOUR EARS.
Ah, Escaflwone, you're wonderful. If only they scripted the English parts better... and fixed those inconsistencies. Damn those inconsistancies. One minute Hitomi doesn't have her gym bag, and the next she has Yukari's (best friend) gym bag with Hitomi's stuff in it! And don't get me started on Van's shirt... Or Hitomi's inexplicable clothes changing in between two episodes. Seriously Escaflowne, your blooper
s rival cheap American cartoons... But I love you anyway.
So the Vision of Escaflowne manga has just been released in the United States by TokyoPop. Well. One of the manga series. There are two, apparently.
TokyoPop has a decently lengthy (half a page; shut up, I think it's long) explination as to the origin of Escaflowne. It's the brain child of Hajime Yatate and Shoji Kawamori. They developed the anime first. Then, two manga artists, Yuzuru Yashiro and Katsu Aki took the ideas for the anime and created two series of novels with the Escaflowne name. One shoujo, one shonen; one for girls, one for boys, respectively. The one currently being released by TokyoPop is the Aki's shonen manga. Which is much more lengthy in volumes (aka, not a total of two, like the shoujo).
Since sappy romance (no matter how many angst ridden transvestites piloting giant robots you have) doesn't really sell to boys, the shonen manga is much more... chauvinistic...
Take everything you know about Escaflwone from the anime series. Everything. Ok. Now chuck it out the window. Just forget about it. The shonen manga is nothing like that beyond character names, general plot, and... yea that's about it. Hitomi is a shy nerd girl with HUGE glasses, Van is a complete ass. and the artwork is much more rough and not cutesy-wutesy.
Oh, and Hitomi ends up transforming into a hot randomly-naked blonde chick. Regularly.
Continuing on with character differences, Allen doesn't change. He's still the really good looking blonde swordsman. Same personality too.
As mentioned before Van's a total ass. He's angry, spiteful, and not even half as "good" looking as he was in the anime. Imagine a hair-do out of Ranma 1/2 with Inuyasha's immature angsty attitude in a suit of armor, that just happens to co-pilot a giant robot with an uptight chick that keeps transforming into a randomly-naked blonde chick. Van is much funnier in the manga than in the anime. And I quote, from the scene just after Allen pounds Van's guymelef into the ground (first meeting)...
Hitomi: Cut it OUT, Van! We should try talking to this guy.
Van: Talking's for pussies! And he started it.
Hitomi: You have some serious issues with anger management.
Van: I'll, uh, anger manage your face.... yeah...
So he's an immature ass. A funny one, but one nonetheless. Oh, he's also -really- short.
The only other character change so far is Dilandau. He's no longer the pschotic bishonen of the anime. He's actually smart, thoughtful, and looks more like a girl than he does a guy. So far, he's the main bad guy, no one but him has been presented just yet.
One other fundamental difference is the artwork. Clearly, since it's a different artist. But still. It's different. It's much more... filled with testosterone. And blood. Much more to my personal liking than the anime. Maybe because I have a penis. Maybe. The guymelef designs aren't radically different, but they are fundamentally different.
The ones in the manga look cooler.
The only remaining difference is the fundamental plot. Based off of the first four episodes of the anime, you can't really get a sense of where the plot leads, except that the anime is A. a romance above all else, and B. There is definitely a bad guy that may or may not get his ass whopped on. Based on the first volume of manga, you can tell A. HEY! Van's mother has been kidnapped!! (mother complex? I think so); and B. There is going to be serious ass kicking later on.
There are other minor differences. Like how Hitomi has to be in the cockpit of Escaflowne for it to work; since she's the Energist that powers it (and therefore feels its pain also). Escaflowne also turns out to be Fanelia's "Gaurdian Diety." A god, to its people. Go figure. At the end of the manga, it is made clear that there will be many many side quests and volumes of manga before the final volume where Van saves the day. Much different from the direct route of the anime.
So there you have it. The fundamental differences between the anime and the shonen manga. It's not even close to comparable. So forget what you know about the anime when you read it.