Title: The Vision of Escaflowne vol 1
Author: Katsu Aki
Suggested Retail Price (SRP): £6.99
Number of Pages: 192
Reviewed: 15th May 2006
Reviewer: Rich (Webmaster)
The anime series of Escaflowne is an excellent example
of how to make a show that will appeal to both male and female audiences without
compromising on quality. The series balanced giant robot action with an
excellent heartfelt romance to superb effect, and itís popularity soon lead to
two manga spin-offs, one aimed at girls and one aimed at boys.
This book is volume 1 of the series aimed at boys, and as you would expect
action is the name of the game. As with the anime series, The Vision of
Escaflowne focuses on the tarot reading schoolgirl Hitomi, who is magically
transported to the swords and sorcery fantasy world of Gaia and into a heap of
trouble. Hitomi has come to the land of Fanelia, a kingdom ruled by the
brash and arrogant prince Van, and she soon learns that she is the ĎEnergistí -
the key to unlocking the nationís guardian, the mighty giant robot suit known as
Escaflowne. Poor Hitomi may be completely out of her depth, but in typical
manga fashion it isnít long until she has to demonstrate her new found power.
Fanelia is attacked shortly after her arrival by the army of Zaibach led by the
psychotic Dilandau, and Hitomi and Van narrowly escape only when Hitomiís
Energist powers manifest. Confused by her new abilities and on the run
from a deadly enemy, Hitomi is going to have to learn a lot and fast, but with
Van seemingly trying to escape his responsibility, and Zaibach hot on their
tails, is she going to live long enough to get the chance?
Fans of the popular anime series will be surprised to find that this manga
incarnation is a very different animal in tone, style and delivery. It is
interesting to see that the author has put his own spin on the events, taking
the existing series as a base and then working his own story around it. It
is always risky to try and interpret a classic series in a new way as it will
invariably be compared to the original, but for the most part Katsu Aki does a
good job of it, introducing some intriguing ideas and taking the plot in new
directions. As mentioned the focus is very much on action and it is the
action that really drives the story and also takes up most of the bookís pages.
Whether battling Dilandau in Escaflowne or negotiating a maze of moving rocks
the action scenes are fast paced and exciting, which goes some way to covering
up what is - at the moment - a decidedly underdeveloped story.
The Vision of Escaflowne vol 1 is all about flashes and bangs and apart
from a couple of dramatic scenes where Van is forced to take stock of his life
and priorities, the scenes that move the story along are often pretty brief.
The story starts well with a decent sense of tension as Hitomi and Van attempt
to escape Zaibach, and in fairness this tension does remain throughout, but it
never really gets gripping. The only real plot development occurs when
they meet the dashing knight Allen Schezar, and apart from that it is pretty
standard fantasy-action fayre, entertaining but not groundbreaking in either
idea or setting.
The artwork is a completely different style to that of the anime, and is pretty
good too, if a bit less distinctive. The artwork does fit with the new
style the author has brought in though, and it suits the characters well.
The characters thoughÖ well thatís the only real problem for me. Van in
particular is incredibly annoying, mostly because of the surly Italian-American
accent they have decided to give him which makes it seem like heís being played
by Joey Tribianni. Hitomi lacks any real depth at the moment and so far
Dilandau has been nothing more than a random nutter, but all of these are
problems that Ė if the anime is anything to go by Ė will no doubt be addressed
in future volumes.
At the moment though The Vision of Escaflowne is an enjoyably solid
fantasy-actioner with plenty of battling and the promise of some great stuff to
come. Apart from the current lack of depth and Vanís accent there is
nothing really wrong with this book, but there isnít that spark that elevates it
above the norm either. Iíve no doubt that it will become better once the
characters are fleshed out a bit, but at the moment it is simply good when it
probably should have been great.
Not a great deal, which is unusual for a Tokyopop book. As well as
the obligatory adverts and next volume preview there is an, admittedly
interesting, one page introduction explaining about the origins of the manga.
Could be better.