I promise they do exist. It’s just that to get to them, you need the patience of… wait for it… a kindergarten teacher. Assuming you have this patience (which I do not, making the fact that I watched 51 episodes a miracle), you’ll find that there are about eight pretty good episodes. Wow, eight entire episodes. Go figure, though, they all have certain things in common. It’s almost as if the staff actually knew how to make episodes entertaining and just decided not to bother!
Well, I’ll complain about Saint Seiya Omega later. This post used to be filled with lots of irrelevant thoughts about it, so I’ve decided to review it at some later date. But this post’s purpose is to shower praise onto the episodes that impressed me of those first 51 episodes, and to possibly shed some light onto what kind of checklist Toei should have been using if they cared about making every episode good (which they don’t). Obviously spoilers are within, but face it; you weren’t going to watch the show anyway, so it probably doesn’t matter.
The first episode was a silly way to introduce new viewers to the series. For people who don’t already have some working knowledge of Saint Seiya, it probably doesn’t even make all that much sense. But oh well, that’s not my problem, unfortunately.
Instead, as someone who watched the series from start to finish (we’re pretending it ended after episode 51, okay? Anything after that is Shin Saint Seiya Omega in my eyes) I got to deal with the fact that everything this episode introduces (atmosphere-wise, interaction-wise, characterization-wise) gradually disappears until about half way through when it becomes almost completely absent. I guess I’ll whine about that more when I finally review the series, but this episode is pretty mean.
Still though, I listed it as one of the good episodes for a reason. So here’s our checklist for this episode. The main event!
• BADASS FIGHT SCENE? Check. Umakoshi made sure of it.
• Cool Female Saint? Shaina’s pretty cool, I guess.
• Dialogue and actions that have the characters interact and develop in ways that don’t feel stupid? Yeah, actually. I liked seeing how Kouga treated Shaina and Saori so differently even though they both had the same expectations of him.
• Plot movement? Well, I’d hope so, considering it’s the first episode.
• Does this episode do something rare that never happens again?! Why yes, yes it does. It may even be the only instance of such a thing in SSO thus far! In this episode, Mars uses a special attack called Luber Sidus Gangnir. Not to be confused with Luber Sidus Gungnir. Luber Sidus Gangnir is, like, an episode 1-only attack that he never uses again. I wish he had used it instead of Liber Sidus Gungnir for the rest of the series, too. Gungnir doesn’t belong to Mars. It belongs to Odin. Duh.
This was a really cool episode. It was mostly about Yuna, and how she got all mad at people for making jokes about the fact that she has to wear a mask, for asking why she has to wear a mask, and who knows what else. Her solution to her problem was to tell the rules to go screw themselves, and live from that moment on as a maskless female saint who will not fall in love with or kill every person who happens to see her. Way better than it sounds. You gotta trust in the checklist, man, I’m telling you!
• Are there rainbows? In rays of light from outside everywhere, all over the episode.
• Fabulous directing? Awesome direction by Rie Matsumoto!
• Story progression? Sure. Kouga gets to the Palaestra and befriends Yuna.
• Cool Female Saint? Yes. This is Yuna’s intro episode, and boy is she cool in this episode. Enjoy it while it lasts because by the time the half way point comes she becomes completely irrelevant to everything.
• BADASS FIGHT SCENE? We get two!
• Gorgeous shots of food? You be the judge.
• Does Yuna use her unique powers usefully? We learn about them. Yuna can read the stars and figure stuff out from them; for example the fact that Athena’s got something dangerous going on but is, for the time being, safe. But keep this quiet, man. Not many episodes know about this, and I’m pretty sure everyone forgot in the second half. It must be a secret. Don’t tell the other episodes!
• Dialogue and actions that have the characters interact and develop in ways that don’t feel stupid? Yep. I would even go so far as to say that this episode handled this part of the checklist better than any of the rest.
Unexpectedly good episode, considering all the flaunting about how much budget the staff didn’t have for it. The checklist makes it work. Witness:
• Are there rainbows? Yes! Courtesy of Aria.
• Fabulous directing? Yep, though I think some of it suffers quite a bit from all that budget issue going around. All these really far away shots everywhere in the first half felt kind of sad. Thanks to Rie Matsumoto again, anyway, because it has its moments.
• Dialogue and actions that have the characters interact and develop in ways that don’t feel stupid? Well actually, yes, despite there not being much chance for it in an episode like this.
• Plot development? Yep. They save Aria.
• Does Yuna use her unique powers usefully? Yuna uses her wind manipulation powers to fly away from danger. But remember: you can’t tell the other episodes about this. If the second half knew that Yuna could do useful things with wind, Abzu wouldn’t have gotten anywhere near Athena in the last few episodes and nobody would have had to get the crap beat out of them. I mean all she’d have to do is blow Abzu away from her whenever he/she/whatever got too close. Just saying.
I would also like to take a moment to appreciate the appearance of Seiya in this episode. Fact: Seiya is not cool. Seiya was never anywhere near cool in the original series, and he wasn’t cool either of the times he showed up in the first episode of Omega. But in this episode, things were different.
He saves the day by exploding to the ground like a shooting star, and then the camera pans up to his face and there’s this glorious use of sound effects for added awesome when he looks up. And then we get Mars freaking out for a second: “oh shit, it’s Seiya!” and Seiya promptly punches him in the face with no more words. All this to awesome music to give it exponents of awesome. That’s the kind of grand entrance I want. That’s the kind of thing that makes me think Seiya is actually really cool even though I don’t think this. That’s the kind of thing that makes him seem like he really is some legendary badass hero.
This was actually a really nice episode. I can probably thank the writer for that, but I don’t know who the writer is and I’m obviously too lazy to find out. In this episode, Kouga and his bros wander over to what seems to be Russia, which just so happens to be the place Yuna grew up at. On their way to the nearest town, they take shelter in a cave and Yuna splurges for no reason about her sad sad past as a poor orphan whose parents died in some war, and then feels embarrassed that she said all of that. And then they get attacked by Yuna’s teacher. Sounding silly so far? Yeah. Let’s just move on to the checklist.
• Does Yuna use her unique powers usefully? Two times! At the start she uses her control over wind to pile up a bunch of snow over most of the entrance to the cave they’re staying in so they can get better protection from the cold. We also get to see her in a flashback finding out about her ability to read the stars.
• Cool Female Saint? Pavlin! Oh my goodness, Pavlin. She is awesome enough to: 1. Not baby the poor little orphan girl by buying the bread she stole, and instead has her work for the people she stole from to pay it off. 2. Not give us yet another stupid “teacher fights student to the death” thing and instead actually comes to an understanding during her fight with Yuna. 3. Turn that silly “if a female Saint reveals her face to someone she has to either love them or kill them” rule into one of the coolest threats ever.
• Are there rainbows? Yes! At first we only get stealth rainbows from outside the cave when Aria is asking Yuna if she’s lonely, but later we get rainbows of glory courtesy of Pavlin. In fact, we get a whole screen full of rainbows one of the times she uses Peacock Blizzard.
• BADASS FIGHT SCENE? I thought so, though they might not have been the best animated or anything. Might be all the Pavlin bias everywhere, she’s just too cool, man.
To the checklist!
• Are there rainbows? Yes.
• Fabulous Directing? Actually, yeah, it was quite nice.
• BADASS FIGHT SCENE? Yes! Oh what do you know, Umakoshi was onboard for this episode.
• Dialogue and actions that have the characters interact and develop in ways that don’t feel stupid? Yes.
• Plot development? Well, yeah. Eden shows up and takes Aria away. Or rather, she agrees to go with him to get him to stop fighting Kouga after their fight sets the whole place on fire and makes her cry. Good job, guys.
This episode was neat. Not only does it start out totally trippy, it later gives you all this glorious amazing cool stuff. I mean, you’ve got that moment when the music kicks and Aria gets Athena’s staff, and they proceed to battle Mars with all this heroic resolve and new power. And you think “aww yeah, heroes gonna hero it up now” but then suddenly Aria dies.
And she never comes back.
• Fabulous Directing? Sure was. I think to succeed at this kind of episode, you kinda need to have some of this going on.
• Are there rainbows? Yes actually, despite DARKNESS TEMPLE or whatever.
• BADASS FIGHT SCENE? Yes! It wasn’t the kind of fighting you’d expect from Saint Seiya (actually reminded me more of Precure than anything else, with the way each character took turns beating the crap out of some huge enemy with some nice sakuga here and there and getting flung away).
• Plot movement? Of course.
I loved this episode. The thing about it is that it’s the final episode that deals with a certain subplot; that subplot being Sonia’s. And I guess kinda sorta Souma’s but he barely has anything to do with it, ultimately. Anyway, Sonia’s subplot is the best subplot, and it’s also better than the actual plot. It’s not hard to be better than SSO’s actual plot, but you wouldn’t usually expect a subplot within a story that has an awful plot to even be decent, let alone better than the main plot.
• Stories of myths that relate to the constellations? Yes! Medea talks a bit about Scorpio and Orion and through this indirectly tells Sonia she’s giving her the Scorpio cloth so she’ll kill her brother. Why aren’t we just doing this every episode? I feel like it’s a thing Saint Seiya should have been doing from the very beginning.
• Fabulous Directing? Absolutely. This probably happens naturally with the kind of episode it was. There were a lot of flashbacks interspersed into everything. But it’s more than just the flashbacks. I thought the way Sonia’s end was handled, in particular, was wonderful.
• Are there rainbows? Yes.
• Cool Female Saint? This was Sonia’s last episode. It was all about her. Sonia was always cool, so this is definitely fulfilled.
• BADASS FIGHT SCENE? Yep!
• Did a special attack make you cry? Yes. :( EP 40 ANTARES MAELSTROM NEVER FORGET
Here it is, the eighth and last good episode of Saint Seiya Omega.
• Does Ikki show up again even though he died like fifty times already? Yes! In a flashback, mind you, but still!
• Does Athena do anything? Yes! She dons armor with a huge shield and her nice staff! She lasers a bunch of losers with her staff, and does shieldy things with the shield.
• Is someone’s face on fire? Yes!
• Are there rainbows? Yes! Saori makes them when she’s got her cool shield and WINGS OF LIGHT.
• Racism? Yes! Dark cosmo is 100% bad and evil and when baby Kouga gets it drooled onto him his skin turns dark. … Wait, no… Racism is bad… you know what, nevermind, maybe this episode wasn’t good after all. Forget I said anything about this episode.
Oh, here’s that eighth good episode I was looking for. I knew it had to be somewhere around here! This episode is the sort of thing that makes me sit through shows like this which are obviously not aimed at me, and which are way longer than I really have the attention span for. This is the payoff. The thing that makes me not regret all the time I spent (that’s about 19 hours total) watching all those really boring episodes, those bad episodes. I feel like it was all worth it if nothing else than for the second half of this episode.
Time for the checklist.
• Fabulous Directing? Sure! Actually, everything in this episode was at such a high level of quality that there wasn’t really any way for me to know if the director did anything at all. Unless the director is why every aspect was great. Sandra will never know.
• Really really cool location? Most of the episode takes place in a location that I would not hesitate at all to call “really really cool.”
• Cool Final Battle Upgrade? Sort of. Kouga gets to use the Sagittarius cloth for this, which is ten times cooler than the Pegasus cloth. The problem is that the armor gets ruined so badly in the fight that I started to worry if I was unknowingly watching some kind of anime strip show. Kouga’s New Arm is pretty neat too though.
• Are there rainbows? We get rainbow rain at the end!
• Does the opening song play during the episode at an appropriate moment when all the tables are spinning around wildly all by themselves? You bet. To make it all better, it’s SSO’s first opening theme that plays. And, well, that song also has huge nostalgia value for being a cool cover of the original series’ first opening theme. It worked very nicely.
• Did we get a cool black and white sketchy sequence? We sure did.
There you have it. Final words, right here. I might end up with a Part 2 in about a year since they decided to continue the series, but who knows. I must just stop watching it since they’re changing up a bunch of staff. Namely, there will be no more Umakoshi unless we’re lucky enough to get him for a handful of episodes here and there (and who knows if that will even happen — it barely happened when he was the animation director). We’ll see.