Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Saint Seiya: Soul of Gold

The first time I came across this was in April when I was celebrating my holiday at home. The first episode was released on the web (for free!) before I flew back. As usual, I am not a person who is patient enough to wait 1 episode per week so I prefer to be patient and wait to watch after all the episodes are released. I only remembered about this on Sunday and after much difficulty, I managed to find somewhere to stream and watch this online. Yay!!

Gold Saints play important roles in Saint Seiya but their importance always put a back seat for Seiya and friends to shine. Soul of Gold is special as finally the Gold Saints can play the central characters. The story takes place in between the fight versus Hades. After the Gold Saints sacrifice themselves and die in order to break past the Wailing Wall, they are mysteriously revived in Asgard. As Athena and Hades are busy in the Underworld, Loki grabs this opportunity to conquer the world beginning with Asgard.

I have a mixed feeling about Soul of Gold as it has a lot of both good and bad points. Let's start with the good. For a short series of 13 episodes, the story is pretty well-crafted and the plot twists are really unexpected and surprisingly good. Just a warning: spoilers ahead. At the beginning, the Gold Saints are all confused and want to know why they are revived. We are lead to believe that someone revive the Gold Saints to save Asgard from whatever threat it is facing. The Gold Saints are actually revived by Loki, through Polaris Hilda's maid called Lyfia, as reviving dead people is considered a taboo in Asgard. Loki's purpose is to get Gold Saints' cosmos to give birth to the Spear of Gungnir. Thus it is nothing about Gold Saints saving Asgard. But wait.. The plot takes another turn as Lyfia is revealed to be Odin's representative on Earth and the one who revived the Gold Saints was actually Odin. What the..

Having Gold Saints as central characters mean we also get to know their personalities better. I have to applaud what Masami Kurumada does with Cancer Deathmask and Pisces Aphrodite who are depicted in a terrible light in the main series. I mean they are like the antagonists and the evil unrepentant Gold Saints. Here, we actually see the heroic sides of them and we get to see them in a different like. I was actually cursing when Aphrodite is the first one to be "killed". I mean what's the point of reviving everyone and then eventually killing everyone again. Gosh... Aphrodite being the first one to be "killed" and swallowed by Yggdrasil is actually the key of everyone's survival. Pisces is immune to poison and thus survives inside Yggdrasil. Subsequently, when the other Gold Saints "dies" and gets swallowed by Yggdrasil, Aphrodite protects them so that they can survive inside Yggdrasil for the final comeback. So yeah, Aphrodite is damn awesome despite his short screen time.

Deathmask is another character that gets a massive personality makeover. Considering all the evil things that he did in the main series, to see him caring for a flower girl secretly is heartwarming. He even says thank you to Aphrodite for protecting the girl as Aphrodite "died" after rescuing the girl.

We also finally get to see how Gold Saints' relationship become post-Sanctuary arc with Aioros finally meeting Saga, who ordered his assassination, and Camus who actually killed him as well as Aiolia who bears hidden grudge against Camus who killed his brother and Camus who is hiding his guilt for killing Aioros.

Here come the bad parts. Firstly, the battles are boring as they follow the same old formula: they have to kill/destroy certain number of people/structure, with people sacrificing their lives before the main character is able to finally fight the final boss. The battles feel rather short although that is understandable considering the number of episodes. In comparison, 1 battle can usually run up to 3-4 episodes in the original Saint Seiya. It does not help that we are used to over dramatic battles between the Bronze saints against the stronger saints. God Warriors, the antagonists in Soul of Gold, are on par with the Gold Saints and the matches are over after trading 2 attacks from each person. No excessive bloody scenes and they just die. It is boring but I can still justify the matches to be that way because both parties are of similar strength and power.

There are so many plot holes which contradicts the main series. Considering Gold Saints' devotion to Athena and that this story happens in the midst of Athena vs Hades Holy War, it is really out of character for the Gold Saints who is revived to be spending time in Asgard instead of going back to the Sanctuary or back to the Underworld. Some even state that they want to enjoy this second chance of life and want to simply live in peace. The other out of character example is the unleashing of Athena Exclamation. When it is first introduced during Hades arc, the Gold Saints are extremely reluctant to use this forbidden technique. Here, they dish it out freely as the last resort against Loki.

Since this takes place in the midst of Holy War, how is it possible that Hades let the strongest of Athena Saints to actually get out of Hell, which is Hades' territory, to be revived by other God? Deathmask can also freely uses his Sekishiki Meikai Ha which brings his opponent to the borders of the afterlife and Hades is not doing anything about this.

The God Cloth thingy are rubbish for me! Obviously they are just some money making scheme to have new costumes for the same old characters. The modifications to the original Gold Cloths are lame as they are all about adding wings which practically serves no purpose. Those wings make the Cloths heavier and more difficult for the wearers to move and fight. Based on the explanation of that the God Cloth thingy can happen because the Cloth has come in contact with Athena's tears or blood, why don't they manifest it during the fight against Hades? And considering that it takes 12 Gold Saints in their God Cloths to defeat Loki, Loki is basically many many times more powerful than the other Gods who are defeated by Seiya who occasionally gets help from 1 Gold Cloth: Sagitarius.

Despite having great potential, it is not surprising that Saint Seiya is slowly but surely losing traction. Same theme keeps being repeated and with repeated deaths and resurrections of the same characters, it makes deaths no longer relevant. This is repeatedly echoed in the Soul of Gold: I am actually already dead, this is my second life and I am not afraid to die anymore. I consider myself an old fan of Saint Seiya and perhaps it is the nostalgia that makes me think that this series is not bad. It is not that fantastic but still bearable.

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