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Hitomi Kanzaki is an Ordinary High-School Student who reads tarot cards and runs on her school's track team. One day, just as she's about to earn her Sacred First Kiss from her senpai and crush, a dragon appears in a Pillar of Light, closely pursued by a young armored warrior. The warrior, Prince Van, rescues Hitomi and her friends from the dragon, and takes a power source for his Humongous Mecha from the heart of the dead dragon. Another Pillar of Light then appears, whisking Hitomi and Van away to his world, Gaea, where Earth itself hangs in the night sky...Once there, Hitomi and Van quickly become embroiled in a massive war. Van's kingdom of Fanelia is one of many at war with the sinister Zaibach Empire, whose Emperor Dornkirk seeks to use his probability-altering technology (and army of Schizo TechHumongous Mecha known as "Guymelefs" —or "Melefs" for short) to conquer Gaea and create a world without uncertainty. The best chance to turn the tide of the war is the mighty Guymelef, the eponymous Escaflowne... which is also the biggest source of uncertainty in Dornkirk's vision of the future.A brainchild of Shoji Kawamori, Tenkuu no Escaflowne (lit. "Escaflowne of the Heavens") was conceived during a trip to Nepal and pitched as Air Cavalry Chronicles, basically "Macross with divination instead of love songs". Planned as a 39-episode anime series from the start, it spent several years in Development Hell, during which a manga was published (based on pre-production materials and thus markedly different from the final product). The series was finally broadcast in Japan from April 2, 1996 to September 24, 1996, cut to just 26 episodes, which accounts for a rather abrupt wrap-up in the end. Two more mangas and a novelization were produced later, and the anime was licensed as The Vision of Escaflowne in the US. There was also a movie released in 2000, which greatly simplified the series' mythology and played up its mystical aspects.Curiously Fox Kids aired the dub of the show around 2000, largely in response to the anime boom at the time. Of course since the show was not exactly kid friendly, it had to be edited a bit. It never fully finished, only getting halfway before the TV broadcast was cancelled.Compare and contrast with Aura Battler Dunbine and Panzer World Galient, their predecessors in creating a Medieval European Fantasy setting and adding Humongous Mecha in the mix.Now with its own character sheet.
The Vision of Escaflowne provides examples of the following tropes:
Action Dress Rip: Hitomi gallantly ruining fashion to save Van from a sneak attack.
Adaptational Villainy: In the movie Folken is a psychotic Big Bad, while in the original series he was more of an Anti-Villain or a Dragon with an Agenda to the actual Big Bad, Emperor Dornkirk (who is absent from the movie altogether). In fact, in the series he eventually has a Heel-Face Turn.
Agent Peacock: The Zaibach officer overseeing the energist extraction at the dragon graveyard wears pink accents and speaks in a somewhat flamboyant manner. He also has a Feather Boa Constrictor named Nina.
Alien Sky: Currently provides the page quote, "I could see the Earth and Moon in the sky of this strange world," from the first episode when Hitomi ends up in Gaea.
So does the German version, the ending stayed the same though
And Man Grew Proud: Gaea was created by the Atlanteans as as a final wish while their own civilization was burning to the ground.
Angst Coma: Van goes into one after going berserk and killing a number of minor villains. Hitomi enters his mind to try to bring him out of it, but it is ultimately Merle's heartfelt pleas that do the job.
Anti-Villain: Folken and Jajuka are the most prominent examples.
Applied Phlebotinum: Energists and Levistones. There's also Hitomi's pendant, which turns out to be an Atlantean artifact salvaged by Leon and given to Hitomi's grandmother on his deathbed.
Van gets one from Hitomi in the first episode for being an ungrateful git over the whole dragon fight. Unlike most slap-receiving heroes, however, he actually learns his lesson and stops being an ungrateful git. See? Violence is the answer!
She does it again in episode 19, when Van says that he needs her... but only because her magical abilities are useful in combat. (A Discretion Shot was used for this one.)
Bash Sisters: Nariya and Eriya fight with perfect synchronicity.
Be Careful What You Wish For: The final episode, where Dornkirk's machine grants everyone their wishes... and apparently everyone's wish is to fight each other rather than have peace like Dornkirk had envisioned.
Break Out the Museum Piece: Invoked, then subverted. At one point Allen asks Dryden for Guymelefs to defend against Zaibach, but Dryden tells him he is merely a merchant, not a arms dealer, unless they want to take out the museum pieces in his collection. Ultimately they don't get used in the fight, suggesting they wouldn't have been of much use.
Break the Cutie: Van, Hitomi, Folken right before he joins Zaibach, Dilandau in his... er, her backstory.
Broad Strokes: The manga adaptations take quite a lot of liberties with Escaflowne. You can't even recognize most of them in the shōnen manga; Hitomi has longer dark hair and glasses, just for starters.
Charm Person: Folken uses a Magitek device to prod Allen and Hitomi into getting together in a process somewhere on the spectrum between this and More Than Mind Control. He's not forcing them to do anything morally wrong, or even anything they might not have done on their own, just giving them an extra push to do something that both of them on some level wanted to do anyway.
Chekhov's Skill: Hitomi skills as a runner and jumper come in handy a couple of times : she is fast and resistent enough to be able to run across the city and warn Van of a potentially deadly sneak attack.
Conspicuous CG: Mostly averted, this show was one of the first to make extensive use of computers to aid the animation, but the creators were careful to blend it with the hand-drawn stuff. However, there are a few instances that stick out, such as Zongi's camouflaging.
Determinator: Van, more so as the war goes on. By the halfway point of the series, silly little factors like "we've already surrendered," "your mech is utterly totaled," or "you're bleeding to death," get in the way of trying to fly straight back to the battlefield on his own two wings.
Hitomi: And about wings... I really like them, Van. They're pretty.
Van: You and Merle are probably the only people who'd say that.
Get A Hold Of Yourself Man: When Merle manages to (literally) slap Hitomi and (not-so-literally) Van out of a dark vision, which saves their lives.
Good Wings, Evil Wings: Folken's wings, unlike Van's or Varie's, are black. While the cause of this is unrelated to his moral alignment, the Fallen Angel imagery is definitely there.Word of God states that his wings became black (note that they were white when he revealed himself to Van) after realizing how wrong Dornkirk's plans were.
Historical Badass Upgrade: Sir Isaac Newton is an alchemist who uses the power of Atlantis. Also a case of Shown Their Work, Newton did develop quite a bit of interest in alchemy and the occult in his later years.
Humongous Mecha: Not as egregious as other series. Most Guymelefs are about 8 meters tall. The manga, on the other hand, goes and makes Escaflowne about 10 stories tall.
If You Ever Do Anything to Hurt Her...: Merle begins taking this approach after it becomes obvious that Van is in love with Hitomi. Her anger at Hitomi in the second half of the series isn't because Van likes her more, but because Hitomi's Love Triangle indecisiveness is hurting him.
I Have This Friend: Millerna and Hitomi; almost as soon as Hitomi says it, Millerna catches on.
Kill and Replace: What Zongi the Doppleganger does to Plaktu. This seems to be the modus operandi of all Dopplegangers (and the reason they're so feared), since they can only seem to take the appearance (and abilities) of someone they've killed.
Dilandau's guymelef, Alseides, is named after the Alseids, the nymphs found in Greek mythology who live in the groves, springs of rivers, and in meadows - which describes Celena's personality, seeing that she loves nature and was said to be gentle. It's also an Ironic Name given how it's used by Dilandau to burn cities and to try and impale Van.
The name of Allen's guymelef, Scheherezade, is Persian for "city-freer".
Missing Mom: Van and Folken's mother. It's not explained in detail what happened to her after she disappeared, though. The implication is that this character is dead.
Modest Royalty: While Asturian royalty indulges in Costume Porn, the Fanelian royal family dresses simply. Van, for example, spends all of two scenes in something fancier than a pair of slacks and a peasant's shirt.
Hitomi:He's a prince?!
Moral Myopia: Nobody's allowed to beat on Dilandau's Dragonslayers!... Well, except for Dilandau, of course.
Muggle-and-Magical Love Triangle: Allen, Hitomi, and Van. While Allen may be a Master Swordsman, he is a muggle to the bone, while Van is a Half-Human Hybrid, descendant of the cursed and now-extinct Atlantean race. Also, Allen appears to be the Gaean counterpart of Amano, Hitomi's high school running coach and first crush, making him a muggle times two.
Overdrive: When Van, Allen and Hitomi are escaping Zaibach's capital on Escaflowne they are pursued by Zaibach's mechas which are much faster. As they're closing in and a panicked Van is urging Escaflowne to fly faster, it suddenly transforms to reveal a jet engine and shoots forward at Ludicrous Speed.
Planetary Romance: Though it initially appears to be pure fantasy, Gaia ends up fitting neatly within the Planetary Romance genre, with all instances of "magic" actually being hugely advanced technology.
Posthumous Character: Quite a few of the main characters' dead (or presumed dead) relatives are relevant to the plot.
Prophecy Twist: Knowing that fortunes on Gaea are influenced by human belief and will, Hitomi switches out the Tower card (Separation) for the Emperor (Good Fortune) in the Tarot reading of Millerna's impending marriage to Dryden. Turns out that luck was for the bad guys, who crash the wedding and — thanks to literally supernatural good fortune — destroy over half a Palas and defeat the Escaflowne with two only two mechs. Cue Hitomi's cry of My God, What Have I Done?
School Uniforms are the New Black: Hitomi wears her school uniform despite being on a completely different world. Justified to a degree: she was at school when Van brought her to Gaea, therefore she only had her uniform and her track clothes with her for quite a while. Millerna does buy her a new dress, but Hitomi only wears it for one or two episodes, then goes back to her uniform.
Justified, interestingly: that new dress meets an unfortunate end when Hitomi's racing to save Van's life. When one of your best skills is running, long skirts are not helpful.
Screw Destiny: Ultimately, both protagonists and antagonists strive for this.
Shaggy Search Technique: Millerna sits at her late sister's desk and listens to a built-in music box. Then, for no reason, she presses down on the head of one of the mechanical figurines. This causes a secret compartment to open, revealing Marlene's diary.
Show Some Leg: Millerna pretends to trip and break her leg in the dungeon where Allen is being kept. She asks the guard to take a look and pulls up her skirt, providing a distraction long enough for him to be knocked out by one of Allen's men.
Spell My Name with an "S": The official subtitles can't seem to agree on how to spell things. Though mostly consistent when it comes to the main characters (with the exception Merle being called Meryl once), minor characters vary much more. Compare Ispano/Yspano/Hispano, Mayden/Meiden, Chesta/Shesta, Gatty/Gatti, Viole/Viore/Biole/Biore, or Gaea/Gaia for example.
Standing Between The Enemies: As Van's Humongous Mecha is getting Curb Stomped by the Phlebotium-enhanced leopard twins, Merle runs out and interposes her tiny little self in front of him. The twins back off from delivering the killing stroke because she's a catgirl like them. (We also get a flashback to them doing the same thing as kids.)
Victoria's Secret Compartment: Merle is able to store an awful lot of stuff in what appears to be very little cleavage. Hitomi also manages to forget that she has a tarot deck under her shirt.
Villain Exit Stage Left: At the end of The Movie, Dilandau, who, while saner than his incarnation in the series, is still a vicious Psycho for Hire, who willingly assisted in the Big Bad's genocidal actions, just rides away with his remaining undelings, shrugging and saying that there will be more wars to fight.
Wife Husbandry: Of the inverted, unreciprocated variety: both Naria and Eriya are in love with Folken, who saved their lives and raised them from about age eight. It's entirely one-sided, though, as Naria notes after she kisses him.