Escaflowne is actually a crossover anime, appealing to both shoujo and shounen audiences alike. But it's probably hard to please both parties. Animerica honored it with the Best Romance Masquerading as an Action Series award and described it as nothing more than a love story. As for me, I'm just like, "What love story?" I actually think maybe it's the other way around, because this show has lots of men, mecha, and battles. The whole thing with Hitomi and Allen Schezar was so sudden, and the whole thing with her and Van was so underdeveloped.
But there's no arguing about it, Escaflowne is probably as well-rounded as an anime could get. Couldn't imagine how else you could cram all those themes in the previous paragraph into 26 episodes, and still have some room left for psychism, interplanetary navigation, and diabolical inventors. It also has schoolgirl stuff, dragon lore, illegitimacies, and arranged marriages. Howabout that? This results in an anime that doesn't seem to have a lot of fillers.
The anime was created by Yadate Hajime and Kawamori Shoji. And interestingly enough, this is one of those storylines where the anime preceded the manga, which was done by Katsu Aki. Or rather, the manga was based on the anime. I haven't read the manga, but from what I've heard, it's not as good as the anime. Interesting. Looks like it's always the initial version that's much better. Most of the time.
Being a regular schoolgirl, Hitomi had a crush on her senpai, Amano, for a long time. Like her, he was on the track-and-field team and would sometimes time Hitomi. She had been perfectly happy to be quiet about her crush on him and only confided in her best friend, Yukari. Then one day, Yukari told her that Amano-senpai was leaving to go to the U.S. Hitomi was able to meet him at the tracks and asked him to give her first kiss if she beats her best time. He could measure her time using her omamori. Amano agreed.
While Hitomi was running, there was this brilliant flash of light and there was this strange guy (looks more like a boy) standing in the middle of the tracks. Going at full speed, she crashed into him. She didn't have enough time to demand who the hell he was--and he didn't have enough time to demand who the hell she was, except ask if they're demon worshippers--because a dragon suddenly appeared and everybody had to run for cover. The dragon seemed to be the strange guy's opponent, because they were soon battling each other.
At one point, the dragon could have killed the strange guy, if Hitomi did not call out and warn him. In that way, she saved his life. He was able to kill the dragon, after which he did a very strange thing. He proceeded to cut the dragon's eye open (well, it looked like an eye. It could've been the heart) and remove a glowing orb. There was suddenly a glow of light that surrounded him and Hitomi, and they disappeared, leaving Yukari and Amano stunned.
Hitomi found herself in a meadow, and in the sky she saw the moon and Earth. The strange guy was still with her, and he commented that they were safe. They landed in Gaea, a world consisting of several kingdoms. The guy was Van Fanel, ruler of the Fanelia kingdom.
Escaflowne chronicled the story of Van as he tried to avenge Fanelia using a giant, powerful Guymelef (nice name meaning robot) called Escaflowne. Only the king of Fanelia could pilot Escaflowne with the use of a dragon orb. Hitomi had no choice but get thrown into the fray. On more than one occasion, she was able to save Van's life using her powers of premonition. There were times, however, when these powers brought her distress as well.
Escaflowne was also about Merle, Allen Schezar, and Princess Millerna. Merle was a catgirl who was devoutly loyal to Van and would have issues with Hitomi. Allen Schezar (I would call him Allen, but it seems like everybody else in the story called him by his full name) was a knight with the kingdom of Asturia, who subsequently had issues with his superiors. He piloted a Guymelef called Scherazade. He also owned a ship called the Crusade, manned by a loyal staff. He also resembled Amano-sempai, which led Hitomi to have a crush on him. Princess Millerna was the youngest daughter of the king of Asturia, and was in love with Allen Schezar. Because of this, she had issues with Hitomi.
The title also had a movie called Girl in Gaea. It consisted of an older, darker Hitomi and an older, darker Gaea. Actually, all its characters were older and darker. It was essentially like the TV series, only everything's crammed in an hour.
That was my initial reaction upon finishing the series. Then I watched the movie.
"What the hell?! That's it?!"
That was my initial reaction to the movie.
Maybe I just heard so much fanfare about Escaflowne that I was expecting something fantastic and incredible. It fell short of my expectations and I wound up getting disappointed. Hmm, it's actually reminiscent of a lot of things in life, ne?
This is a great series. It probably had the best opening sequence I've ever seen, with Hitomi looking up in the sky and then Van gazing across a landscape and Allen Schezar... *sigh* It's cute without going overboard. It even had this clip showing two Guymelefs battling in the mountains, silhouetted against the sunset with their capes billowing. Very cool. The opening sequence was accompanied by a great opening song entitled "Promises Not Necessary." If the video had some shounen elements (like the Guymelefs), the song's definitely shoujo. Not that I'm complaining. Like I said, this probably had the best opening sequence I've seen. Or one of the best, at least. The closing sequence, on the other hand, was nothing to jump up and down about, except Van there looked pretty hot.
For most of the time, though, Van looked pretty young. I found myself hoping he'd pull a Zelda and suddenly grow into a hot bishounen (in one of the Zelda games, Link became older so the player had this cute guy in tights running around as opposed to a runty boy in tights running around). That's why the closing sequence was like eye candy. Allen Schezar would probably be considered a bishounen. He didn't seem that droolworthy, but he's definitely sexy. There are other guys in the series that have cute personalities but aren't necessarily hot, such as Dryden, Millerna's wealthy fiance, and Folken, Van's older brother.
I guess this anime was a disappointment because Van and Hitomi's relationship was pretty underdeveloped. And what was that I said earlier? Her relationship with Allen Schezar was too sudden? Yeah. All other relationships there were pretty well-developed, but the ones with the main characters weren't. The plot was pretty well-developed too. But the relationships between Hitomi, Van, and Allen Schezar weren't. Have I said that before? Well, yeah, because it was sorely disappointing.
But don't mind me. Maybe I'm too sappy for my own taste. I recommend this anime. Go. Watch it. Now. But don't go hurry and watch it all in one sitting with hopes that Van and Hitomi would fall madly in love and get married. If you have, maybe we could start a petition or something to extend the storyline :D