Anime: The Vision of Escaflowne
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 Tech Humongous 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.
- Aloof Big Brother: Folken, until his Heel-Face Turn.
- Alternative Foreign Theme Song: The FOX Kids version has a different opening.
- 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.
- Armor-Piercing Slap
- 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.)
- Ax-Crazy: Dilandau
- Badass Grandpa: Balgus
- Badass Normal: Balgus again. You don't see a lot of people who are able to fight off a giant mecha with just a sword.
- Barbie Doll Anatomy: Played straight with Zongi the Doppleganger, who has no genitals. Slightly subverted when he takes Plaktu's form; observant viewers can see the shadow of his bulge for a brief moment before the candlelight is extinguished.
- 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.
- Beethoven Was an Alien Spy: Emperor Dornkirk is really Isaac Newton. And crazily enough this has some historical basis, given his obsession with the occult and the end of the world.note Yep, apples dropping on your head can do that to you.
- Belligerent Sexual Tension: To a very mild degree, Princess Millerna and Dryden.
- Berserk Button: Dilandau has more of a keyboard, but Van is the poster child. Hurt Hitomi and... well...
- BFS: In an example of The Big Guy using one, Balgus uses one to take giant mecha headon, even parrying the strikes of Guymelef-sized blades and severing limbs from the mecha.
- Bold Explorer: Allen's Disappeared Dad was this. In fact, his frequent absences and the fact that he never returned from one of his voyages are the source of Allen's massive Daddy Issues.
- 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.
- Bittersweet Ending: Both in the anime series and in the movie.
- Cain and Abel: Van is Abel. Folken is Cain; though he pulls a Heel-Face Turn towards the end.
- Caped Mecha: A feature of pretty much any Guymelef that isn't mass produced. The capes on Zaibach mechs double as Invisibility Cloaks.
- Cat Girl: Merle, later Nariya and Eriya.
- 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.
- Clap Your Hands If You Believe: The reason why Hitomi's calamitous prophecies come true is that she believes in them. Also, Dornkirk's machine's function is to cause this to happen. Too bad people want destruction of each other instead of world peace....
- Club President: Amano, the captain of the track team.
- 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.
- Costume Porn: AND HOW!
- Crystal Spires and Togas: Atlantis. Eventually Atlanteans decided that even this wasn't good enough for them, and decided to make themselves into Physical Gods. That didn't end well.
- Curb-Stomp Battle: Van vs. the Dragonslayers is a pretty epic example of this.
- Dark and Troubled Past: Van, Folken, and Dilandau. Played up for great drama in The Movie.
- Darker and Edgier: The Movie
- Deadly Upgrade: Van forges a psychic link with Escaflowne that makes him more effective at piloting it, at the cost of feeling its pain. Luck enhancement does not end well for Naria and Eriya. Also, Folken implies that His Days Are Numbered because of a set of these.
- 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.
- Diary: Marlene's and Leon's.
- Disappeared Dad: Leon (Allen's dad) as noted above.
- Disappears into Light: Zaibach Guymelefs.
- Distressed Dude: Hitomi rescues Van so much he actually gets frustrated by it.
- Doomed Hometown: Fanelia
- Dungeon Punk: A setting where giant robots are powered by dragon hearts? What else could it be?
- Fan Disservice: The fans are treated to more than a couple shots of the Doppleganger's pale, skinny, naked butt in Episode 10 as he infiltrates a ship.
- Nariya and Eriya, complete with a bit of incestual Les Yay.
- The manga series then takes the fanservice and runs off a cliff with it, to the point that it gets distracting.
- Fantastic Aesop: Trying to change fate is possible, but also dangerous and can have dire consequences.
- Fantastic Racism: At least some humans seem to have this for the Beastmen. Humans and Beastmen against the Draconians, the winged descendants of the people of Atlantis.
- First Church of Mecha: In at least one of the manga.
- Flight of Romance: Van and Hitomi in the finale◊.
- Freakiness Shame:
Hitomi: And about wings... I really like them, Van. They're pretty.
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.
- Heel-Face Turn: Folken and Dilandau (a.k.a. Celena)
- Hidden Elf Village: The Ispano.
- 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.
- Identical Grandson: ...and grandmother.
- 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.
- Instant Sedation
- Invisibility Cloak: Zaibach's Guymelefs have them.
- I Want My Beloved to Be Happy: Allen (for Hitomi), Dryden (for Millerna), Hitomi (for Yukari), technically Merle (for Van).
- Just Between You and Me: Let me explain how very evil I am in front of the armed guy. Of course, that was exactly what he was planning for.
- Karmic Death: A machine uses this trope as fuel.
- 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.
- Knight in Shining Armor: Allen Schezar
- Last of His Kind: Van, by the TV series' end.
- Let's You and Him Fight: Van meets Allen when he finds the latter standing over a fainted Hitomi (whom he was about to pick up and carry to safety.) Van draws his sword and charges, and gets sword-hilt to the stomach and lights out.
- Light Is Not Good: Arguably. The Draconians look very much like angels, but they're viewed as cursed by most people on Gaea. While it's not so much the case for the remaining Draconians (they're just subject to Fantastic Racism), the Atlanteans they're descended from were a something of case of this, and their angel wings (which they gave themselves through the use of some theologically questionable and world-threatening magitech) were a product and major indication of their arrogance.
- Load-Bearing Boss: Folken in The Movie.
- Love Dodecahedron: Consisting of four interlocking Love Triangles.
- Loyal Phlebotinum: The Escaflowne
- MacGuffin Girl: Hitomi in the manga. Literally: her body is made up out of the crystal used to power Escaflowne.
- Meaningful Echo: The "I have this friend" discussion.
- Meaningful Name:
- Hitomi means "eye", or "iris" which is the colored part of the eye. It was picked out for her because of her ability to see the unseen.
- Escaflowne, according to Shoji Kawamori, is rooted in the word "escalation"; and given the presence of Dornkirk a.k.a Sir Isaac Newton, and as already noted above under Beethoven Was an Alien Spy, it is highly likely that it is also related to Eschatology.
- Master swordsman Balgus' last name, Ganesha, comes from the Hindu god of the same name. (The site is Sadly Mythtaken however- Ganesha's father is the God of Destruction, while Ganesha himself is the god who clears obstacles)
- 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".
- The Medic: Millerna in the TV series. Note that she's not a White Magician Girl, though: she's a normal medicine student.
- Medieval European Fantasy
- Memento MacGuffin: Hitomi's pendant, given to her by her grandmother which was given to her by Allen's father, Leon. Yep, turns out that Hitomi isn't the only Kanzaki that's been world-hopping....
- Minor Injury Overreaction: Dilandau descends into further madness and becomes even MORE Ax-Crazy than he already was after getting a facial scar from Van.
- 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.
- Mr. Fanservice: When Kazuki Akane was put on the project to direct, he figured that it wouldn't hurt to broaden the potential audience by adding some elements. Guess what those elements were.
- Ms. Fanservice
- 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.
- Multiple Demographic Appeal: Where to begin? Mecha, really cool fight scenes, Love Dodecahedron, lots and lots of Bishōnen.... Let's just say that there was enough to spawn two manga adaptations, a shōnen one and a shōjo one.
- My Death Is Just the Beginning: Which is why Dornkirk gave that speech.
- Named Weapons: Escaflowne
- Narnia Time: The relative flow of time between Earth and Gaia is inconsistent to say the least. Although the time flow between the two worlds is presumably in synch by the end.
- Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Everything that isn't Dornkirk's fault in this series is Hitomi's.
- Noble Male, Roguish Male: Allen is the Noble Male, while Van is the Roguish Male. They are even color-coded.
- Ominous Latin Chanting: Quite often. The most notable examples in the BGM are Dance of the Curse and Epistle.
- Opening Narration: "Was it all just a dream? Or maybe a vision... no, it was real! [insert a few lines recapping the previous episode]" This stopped about halfway through the series.
- Opera Gloves
- Orchestral Bombing
- Our Angels Are Different
- 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.
- Parental Abandonment: Van, Allen, Folken, Chid.
- Partly Cloudy with a Chance of Death
- Perpetual Molt: Van, sometimes Folken.
- Petting Zoo People: There's a lot of animal people, including cat girls, wolf-men, a dog-man, and even gecko-people, as well as one person who appeared to be part dolphin/porpoise.
- Pillar of Light
- Pimped-Out Dress
- 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.
- Power Crystal
- Power of Love
- Precursors: The Atlanteans. Most of Gaea generally doesn't think very highly of them.
- Princesses Prefer Pink: And lavender if you are Millerna.
- 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?
- Put the "Laughter" in "Slaughter": Dilandau gives The Joker himself a run for the money.
- Quirky Miniboss Squad: The Dragonslayers and, once Van completely obliterates them, the Cat Girl twins.
- Redemption Equals Death: Folken, also a Karmic Death.
- Rescue Romance: A mutual example. Van latches onto Hitomi after she pulls a Diving Save, and Hitomi's own feelings are sparked when he returns the favor.
- Reset Button Ending: Hitomi must come back home once it's all over. But not really since it's said that she can go back if she really wants to. And Van can come over if he wants to.
- Retcon: The OVA is a retelling of the series, but it's completely different.
- Robot Hair: Eriya and Neriya's guymelefs, Teiring. Each has hair in the same colour and style of their pilots'.
- Royals Who Actually Do Something
- Sacred First Kiss: Hitomi had asked Amano to kiss her if she broke her own race record.
- Scenery Porn: Say what you like about the changes the movie made to the characters, it had breathtaking visuals and sumptuous animation, no question.
- 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.
- Science Is Bad
- 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.
- Shirtless Scene: whenever Van and Folken show their wings.
- Shorttank: Both Hitomi and Millerna.
- Shoulders of Doom: Pretty much all the Guymelefs. And Folken.
- Shout-Out: The Duke of Freid sounds very similar to the main character of another giant robot show.
- 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.
- Sibling Team: Nariya and Eriya.
- Slasher Smile: Dilandau's default expression.
- Spanner in the Works: Hitomi. Also Van at the end.
- Spared by the Adaptation: The Dragonslayers in the movie.
- 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.)
- Super Cell Reception: There is a pager (remember those?) that works on an invisible moon orbiting the Earth. This is debatably justified via Your Mind Makes It Real (or that could just be Fan Wank), but this still resulted in a lot of jokes.
- Tarot Motifs: Arguably half the point.
- Technology Porn: Van activating Escaflowne for the first time.
- Theme Tune Cameo
- Token Mini-Moe: Celena before she is kidnapped and turned into Dilandau.
- Took a Level in Badass: Deconstructed as Van slowly becomes an all-out Blood Knight who revels in battles. Needless to say, Hitomi is horrified.
Hitomi: I saw it — you enjoyed fighting! I don't want your protecting me if this is what it does to you.
- Of course, poor Van has to take every level in Badass he can if he wants to stop The Empire and save the world...
- Transforming Mecha: The Escaflowne
- Translation Convention: As Van's introductory scene shows, the language they speak on Gaea is most definitely not Japanese, rather some form of mixed-up Portugeuse — Hitomi just has Translator Microbes.
- Trapped in Another World
- Troperiffic: The show tries to cram in as many Anime Tropes as possible while remaining a viable story. It works thanks to heaping helpings of justifying every trope it can manage. It's further helped by the fact the series refuses to limit itself to just Shōnen or Shōjo tropes, but revels in both.
- Tropes Are Not Bad: The above bit makes Escaflowne the anime showcase to this.
- Tunnel King: The mole guy.
- 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.
- "Well Done, Son!" Guy: Prince Chid struggles a bit with the pressure the Duke of Freid puts on him to be The Wise Prince.
- Well-Intentioned Extremist: Pretty much every antagonist except for Dilandau.
- White Hair, Black Heart: Dilandau. Very pretty, very vain, completely psycho.
- 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.
- Winged Humanoid: Draconians, namely Van and Folken.
- Wise Beyond Their Years: Prince Chid is mature enough to take on the role of The Wise Prince despite being maybe six years old at most. Much of this is because the pressure the Duke of Freid puts on him.
- With My Hands Tied: Note to villains: tying up and beating Van will only only work for a few minutes before he gets a hold of your sword with his legs.