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The Vision of Escaflowne is an anime series from Sunrise Studios and directed by Kazuki Akane. The series is 26 episodes long and has multiple re-tellings through manga spin-offs and a fully length feature film. Escaflowne blends multiple anime genres and tropes together commonly found from shonen and shojo anime. Giant mecha, inter-dimensional travel, romance, dragons, Kazuki Akane's Escaflowne is a melting pot of anime. The anime series was a critical success, but received disappointing television ratings and although Escaflowne never reached mass popularity in Japan, it found more success in North America and South Korea. The manga re-imaginations and movie were a result of its worldwide appeal.
A Girl in Gaea
Hitomi Kanzaki is, for all intents and purposes, a remarkably ordinary Japanese high school girl. She's got plenty of friends, a member of her school's track team, and a crush on the team captain, Amano Susumu. The only unusual trait about her is her affinity for tarot cards and a pendant for fortune telling. She is often on the receiving end of fortune telling requests because she is frighteningly accurate. Hitomi's mundane life is broken when she issues a challenge to her track team captain. The challenge is he has to kiss her if she can sprint 100 meters under thirteen seconds. Her sprint is interrupted by a a beam of light that transports Van Fanel while he is fighting a dragon. Hitomi she sees a vision of Van's death and helps him defeat the dragon, but is transported to Gaea in the process.
Hitomi and her pendant
Gaea and the Mystic Moon
Most of story takes place on Gaea, which is actually a hidden moon of the planet Earth. Although Gaea is invisible to Earth, the antecedent is not true. Citizens of the Gaea call Earth the Mystic Moon, a source of curses and misfortune. Since Hitomi originates from Earth, Van encourages her to hide her background and forge a false upbringing.
Hitomi and Van
Gaea is fantasy world divided into many countries resembling Earth. Technology is not as advanced but Gaea possesses innovations non-existent on Earth such as the Guymelefs, enormous armors used for battle. Several other races of intelligent humanoid animals co-exist with the humans of Gaea, as well as dragons. Flight is made possible by an incredibly dense element called levi stones.
Zaibach EmpireThe Zaibach Empire, lead by Emperor Dornkirk, is a militant country with one goal in mind, to resurrect the power of Atlantis. Dornkirk has one goal in mind, to create the "zone of absolute fortune", an existence where everyone's wishes come true. He stops at nothing to accomplish this causing strife and chaos to neighboring countries. In terms of military strength, Zaibach is far more advanced than their rival countries. Guymelefs from Zaibach are equipped with special invisibility cloaks, flight, flamethrowers, and liquid metal weapons that can morph into blades or shoot out like spears. Most countries cannot stand up to their military strength and are completely annihilated like the Kingdom of Fanelia.
Main CharactersHitomi Kanzaki
Hitomi Kanzaki, the main protagnist, is a 15 year old Japanese high school student who is transported to Gaea during a fight between Van Fanel and a dragon. Although Hitomi didn't possess any extraordinary powers on Earth, her fortune telling talents are greatly amplified on Gaea. Her premonitions always come true but not set in stone since she constantly changes their outcomes. Most of them revolve around Van's death but she constantly saves him. She can detect the location of Zaibach guymelefs while they are cloaked making her a valuable aid to Van in battle. She can teleport people with beams of light and learns she can transport herself between Gaea and Earth through the use of her pendant, which acts as an amplifier for her powers. Upon first encounter she immediately falls in love with Allen Schezar because of his resemblance to her crush Amano Susumu. Their relationship grows throughout the series and Allen proposes to her, however, she realizes that her crush for Allen is purely superficial and is love with Van Fanel.
Van Fanel is the young King of Fanelia and half Draconian, the people of Atlantis. In his country the successor to the throne must slay a dragon and offer its heart to the kingdom's most prized possession, a guymelef called Escaflowne. Van kills a dragon with Hitomi's help but must flee his country, with Hitomi and the Escaflowne as it is being decimated by the Zaibach Empire. The King of Fanelia is rash and constantly runs towards danger but is constantly saved by his love interest, Hitomi Kanzaki. His skills and attitude as a fighter greatly progress along the series. He usually fights with Hitomi who aids him as a locator for invisible Zaibach guymelefs. Since Escaflowne can only be activated through a blood pact, Van shares a symbiotic bond with his guymelef. Damage Escaflowne receives, Van receives as well. Even more cumbersome Van's wounds sustained from Escaflowne cannot be healed unless Escaflowne is repaired. As the series progresses Van builds a thrist for battle and almost loses himself to it. Hitomi's presence and his love for her eventually brings him back to his senses.
Allen Schezar is an extremely skilled knight and one of the best guymelef users in Gaea. His skills as a swordsmen is matched with his abilities to pick up women. Hitomi instantly falls in love with him because of his remarkable resemblance to her high school crush, Amano Susumu, and has the love of the third princess of Asturia, Millerna Aston. His love interests continues as he is the previous lover of Millerna's oldest sister, Marlene, and the real father of Prince Chid, the successor to the Kingdom of Freid. Superficially Allen appears to be the perfectly in control but has a dark side as he is constantly haunted by the disappearance of his sister and father.
Van's older brother who failed to kill a dragon to earn the kingship of Fanelia. Folken was spared by the dragon because of his lack of malice and remorse but lost an arm in the process. The shame of failing his task was so great he ran away from Fanelia and is nursed back to health by the Zaibach Empire under the orders of Emporer Dornkirk. Folken eventually defects from the Empire and joins forces with Astoria to fight back against them.
A young guymelef pilot of the Zaibach army, Dilandau is the commander of an elite group of pilots known as the Dragon Slayers. Dilandau's ferocity is unmatched and is responsible for killing hundreds of civilians and soldiers. Insanity plagues his mind and is driven further into it when Van scars his face. It's later revealed that Dilandau is Allen's long lost sister, Celena, who has been horrifically changed into a male body.
MangaThree manga series exist for Escaflowne. The Vision of Escaflowne, Escaflowne - Energist Memories, and Messiah Knight - The Vision of Escaflowne differ greatly from each other and the anime series. The Vision of Escaflowne manga focuses heavily on the shonen side of Escaflowne with its heavy emphasis on battles and Hitomi's more feminine appearance. The manga was published in Shonen Ace in Japan and Tokyopop in North America.
Messiah Knight - The Vision of Escaflowne only lasted ten chapters before it was canceled in Asuka Fantasy DX. The manga focused more on the shojo elements of the anime series and the violence was almost non-existent. Escaflowne does not make an appearance until the very end of the series.
Finally, Escaflowne - Energist Memories, also published in Asuka Fantasy DX, was another retelling of the Escaflowne story and was composed of 15 mini-stories from different mangaka. Tammy Ohta, Yayoi Takeda, Kahiro Okuya, Daimoon Tennyo, Kazumi Takahasi, Masaki Sano, and Kyo Watanabe were all contributors.
Movie The 98 minute movie simply called Escaflowne is a re-imagining of the 26 episode series. Kazuki Akane reprises his role as director but the character design is by Nobuteru Yuki. The differences between the movie and anime mainly exist in the characters. Hitomi is a lonely, depressed shut-in, who is slightly suicidal and Van is a hyper aggressive alpha male. Although their personalities are different their relationship remains the same. Van is locked in a long standing feud with his brother, Folken, and his battle lust and soul is saved by Hitomi.