Knights of the Zodiac is a moderately fun watch if you do not expect it to be a Saint Seiya story.
Knights of the Zodiac Synopsis
Underground fighter Seiya is drawn into a world of mystical knights and world-destroying gods after he follows Alman Kiddo home—the latter had promised information about Seiya’s lost lost sister. Very loosely based on Kuramada Masami’s hit 1980s manga/anime, Knights of the Zodiac depicts Seiya’s journey to becoming a knight of the goddess Athena. How he is instrumental in helping the reincarnation of Athena accept her destiny too.
I watched Knights of the Zodiac at Golden Village Plaza Singapura. To me, this was special as the mall was where I bought most of my Saint Seiya Japanese tankōbon in the late 80s. (There used to be a Kinokuniya outlet on the fifth floor) Plaza Singapura, or more accurately, Yamaha Plaza Singapura, was also where I drilled Pegasus Fantasy in preparation for my Electone Grade 7 examination.
I spewing irrelevant nonsense, I know, and I’m doing so because I’m still reeling from disbelief after watching this so-called live-action “adaptation.” Other than Seiya, Marin, and three sets of (seriously dull-looking) mythical armour being in the show, practically nothing in the show spells “Saint Seiya.”
- The Athena persona was completely rewritten. Madison Iseman’s goddess reminded me far more of Hades/Alone than Kido Saori.
- 90 percent of the Saint Seiya world was unmentioned, the result of which is the richest elements of Kuramada Masami’s masterpiece brutally stripped from the show. Even the signature techniques are merely shown but not named. Gosh! Was the term “bronze saint” even mentioned?!?
- Transforming armours was one of the highlights of the series. You know, people are still paying hundreds for figurines of them? The ones in this adaptation look like the classic cloths from the manga, but nothing indicates that the individual pieces of the armours could be regrouped to form a Pegasus shape, Phoenix shape, etc.
- Cyborgs and spaceships in a Seiya show?!? Artificial extraction of cosmo? Seriously?!?!
It’s profound, as in profoundly bizarre. Rather than an adaptation of the manga or the various anime series, Knights of the Zodiac is very obviously a live-action remake of the 2019 Netflix CGI. (Guraad is an original character written for the CGI series) A remake that had its fair share of hatred, most of which stems from, for the lack of a better phrase, efforts to rewrite the story for more cosmopolitan viewpoints.
Director Tomek Bagiński has also seemingly forgotten that the franchise is nearly 40 years old, with translated and dubbed versions of the manga and anime found throughout the world—from Southeast Asia to Europe to South America. In other words, the story has long proven itself palatable to an international audience. So why all these rewrites? Are they trying to reinterpret or reinvent the story?
But it’s precisely because the original story is enduringly popular, that a live-action “adaptation” is deemed financially feasible 37 years after the manga was published.
It’s just beyond understanding, isn’t it?
Worse, I can’t bring myself to completely dismiss the show because there are admittedly some decent moments. Sean Bean and Famke Janssen demonstrate they can make the best of whatever roles they are given. As unfamiliar as she is to the fanboy in me, I’d be lying if I say I don’t prefer this feistier version of Athena over the stoic damsel in the manga.
The Matrix-inspired kung-fu choreography, while so not Saint Seiya, is entertaining in its own energetic way.
In the end, it’s as I stated in my one-liner. This flick could pass as popcorn entertainment if you do not expect it to be a Seiya story. If you forget that it’s a Seiya story.
For viewers completely unfamiliar with the original saga, I guess they wouldn’t find too many flaws. But for a 37-year fan like me, it is disheartening.
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