The Silver Knights
The Rising Tide
To Fight For Athena
ONE WAR ENDS, ANOTHER BEGINS
Who is Saint Seiya: Knights Of The Zodiac actually marketed at? Netflix’s 3D CGI remake of a beloved anime classic was certainly met with mixed results last time out and this question is the one you’ll constantly find yourself asking while watching. Back for a second season (or part 2 on Netflix), Saint Seiya brings everything from the previous season to the table but does so in such a haphazard way that it actually makes this second season feel like a step down.
The CGI animation still doesn’t feel right, the lip-syncing is appalling, especially during close-ups, and the reflective armour takes far too much attention away from faces making for an aesthetically jarring watch. While the story is serviceable, if you were turned away from the first season there’s little here to recommend.
The story begins right where we left off, following a brief recap to get us up to scratch on the story. Seiya is saved from the volcano thanks to Master Mu and what ensues from here is a fight with the Silver Knights that spills over to most of the season. The show wastes little time getting right to the heart of the drama either, with plenty of fights dotted throughout the six episodes with both Gold and Black Knights going up against Seiya while Sienna plays the damsel in distress angle.
Expect plenty of Greek mythology here too, and there’s enough action and thrills dotted through the fleeting episodes to keep things ticking over. Much like the first season, the episodes zip by so quickly it feels like the show needs another four or five episodes to properly flesh everything out. As you may expect, the show also ends on the trademark Netflix cliffhanger so expect more Saint Seiya in the future too.
If you were turned away from the first season, all those pet peeves you may have had make their way over to part 2. The CGI animation is sometimes made worse by colours that clash badly together. The reflective metallic armour for the knights are incredibly distracting and the facial animations feel wooden and lacks subtlety to expressions that hand-drawn animation does so well.
To make matters worse, the original Japanese voice acting doesn’t even match the characters’ lip syncing. Whether this was an issue we overlooked in the first season is another matter but here, with the abundance of close-up shots, the words aren’t even close to matching what’s being said half the time making for a really clunky and jarring watch. At times I had to double check I wasn’t watching a Japanese dub, such is how noticeable this is. Oh and the mini ad-break segments with stock pictures breaking up the action returns this season too, offsetting the pacing of the show.
What’s even more frustrating here is the number of hand-drawn segments included, almost to troll the audience. From flashbacks involving Greek myths with gorgeous hand-drawn backdrops to characters looking at photos, the hand-drawn elements dotted through the six episodes only further highlights just how off-putting the CGI animation is here. It’s especially damning given the original anime has far more emotional resonance with its extreme close-ups than this show ever achieves.
If you’re in the mood for a good animated adventure and were intrigued by the first season, do yourself a favour and watch the original anime. Saint Seiya is a wonderful animated story and much like the first season, this CGI remake does little to enhance or build on that legacy. The first season was a little rough around the edges but given the negative feedback it received, it was always going to be difficult for this one to come out with a compelling follow-up. Unfortunately this effort feels a lot worse, partly thanks to the above issues, but also because it just doesn’t feel like the show has learnt anything in the year it’s been off-air. Expect more Saint Seiya in the future given the cliffhanger ending but whether you’ll make it that far remains to be seen.
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