Vision Of Escaflowne

There is nothing better than discovering a new anime show that looks like it could become a favorite. There are a handful of truly brilliant shows out there that combine great stories and compelling characters with fantastic artwork. Although I've only seen just the start of Vision of Escaflowne, I think this one is going to be a real keeper. It may not stand the full series test, but you've got to start somewhere!

Vision of Escaflowne introduces us to Hitomi, a teenager with a love for running and reading tarot cards. She's got a crush on the captain of the track and field team, and is crushed herself when she finds out that he is going to be studying abroad. She meets up with him to run one last time in order to beat her best time--and her first kiss is on the line if she succeeds. Now before the cheese factor thermometer goes through the roof, we have some serious action come into the picture. As she "sprints for love," Hitomi literally runs into Van, a prince obviously not from around Tokyo with a mega sword who somehow transports from his world to hers. (He winds up right in her lane, much for that vision of romance, huh?) Not long after Van's arrival, one gigantic dragon enters stage left, and a huge battle ensues as Hitomi suddendly envisions the outcome. As she helps Van defeat his enemy, she is magically pulled back to his homeworld of Gaea with him. But there's more to do than click the ruby slippers three times to get back home...Van needs some serious help if he is going to deserve the title of king that's been bestowed upon him, and perhaps Hitomi is the one who help him through.

The plot line itself (ordinary girl gets pulled into another dimension/planet/etc) has been done before. Didn't I just see this in Fushigi Yugi? But never mind that--just because a plot is overused doesn't mean it can't be good in the right hands. First off, the artwork is perfect. I love the character design, and in the first tape I could not see them taking any obvious shortcuts with the animation. Secondly, it's rare to see mecha in a fantasy-based show, at least anything recent (since Aura Battler Dunbine is so far back in memory now). The designs are cool and frankly impressed me more than what I saw in the first two episodes of Evangelion. Finally, I'm just drawn in by this world. It's different, but I'm liking it. How many shows are willing to kill off a potential major character right off the bat, and then end the episode on that dire note? Escaflowne just looks to be a show with loads of potential.

The DVD release of this show is forthcoming, and apparently was pushed back because Fox Kids just got the broadcast rights. This, I am surprised at. Though the level of violence and profanity in the show is not shocking, it's realistic, and blood flows freely, so I am disturbed by the possibility of a hack job. However, assurances have been made that the DVDs will at least contain the unedited series as it stands now. I'm hoping that they are sooner rather than later, because I can easily see myself getting caught up in the world created within the Vision of Escaflowne.

Vision Of Escaflowne Vol. 1 -- violence, profanity -- A