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Anime / Saint Seiya: Knights of the Zodiac

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The Pegasus rises once again!
Netflix's reboot of Saint Seiya, created in collaboration with Toei Animation, directed by Yoshiharu Ashino (who previously directed Tweeny Witches, Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox, and Cross Ange) and produced by Avengers Assemble's Eugene Son. This show was the series' second foray into all CGI animation after Saint Seiya: Legend of Sanctuary. The six episodes were released in July/August 2019 as Part 1, with the second six released on January 23, 2020, as Part 2. The series is a loose retelling of the events of the manga, featuring an original villain.

Every few centuries, the Gods are reincarnated onto Earth and fight over who shall have control over the planet. Amongst them is Athena, a goddess who works to defend mankind. Alongside her are her Knights, legendary warriors who can wield the power of the cosmos in order to aid Athena in her quest.

The Knights are led by the organization Sanctuary, who are ordinarily allied with Athena, but this incarnation of Athena was born with a prophecy that she would fail and bring about humanity's destruction. There is also Vander Guraad, a man who wants to liberate humankind from the will of the gods by using technology to destroy them and any Knights who stand against him.

In June 2022, a sequel titled Saint Seiya: Knights of the Zodiac – Battle for Sanctuary was announced by Crunchyroll.

Saint Seiya: Knights of the Zodiac provides examples of:

  • Adapted Out:
    • The original Black Saints (which looked like evil doppelganger versions of the main characters) are replaced by completely different characters, with Cassius replacing the role of Black Pegasus.
    • Some of the Silver Saints (Centaurus Babel, Auriga Capella, Heracles Algethi, Musca Dio and Canis Major Sirius) are absent as well.
    • Miho, Seiya's childhood friend in both manga and the first anime, doesn't exist here. She was barely relevant to the manga, anyway, even if the old anime basically treated her as Seiya's love interest, before the 12 Temples arc put almost all the supporting cast into the bus.
  • Adaptational Badass: In tha manga, the Black Saints are fairy weak and were easily defeated by Seiya and co. during the first story arc and later killed by the Silver Saints. In this version, their Powered Armor makes them more dangerous and durable than some of the Silver Saints and they can absorb cosmo attacks.
  • Adaptational Context Change: In the original series all female saints hide their faces under a mask. In this series Marin is the only one to wear a mask, which is revealed to be a posthumous gift Sagittarius Aeolus left in his temple.
  • Adaptation Distillation: Almost all the characters keep their main traits and motivations in comparison to the original, if with some changes. For example, Shaina, whose part of her character was all about her mask hiding her true side, lost this peculiarity since the rule about female saints hiding their faces with masks apparently doesn't exist in this version or it's optional, like in Marin's case.
  • Adaptation Expansion: Vander Guraad is a new villain created for the series, and this is also one of the very few times the Bronze Boys fight against an army using traditional weaponry.
  • Adaptational Nice Guy: Just like in Saint Seiya: Legend of Sanctuary, Mylock's horrible abuse of the Saints during their childhood is omitted and the most unpleasant aspects of his personality are removed. Same goes with Sienna (Saori), as she is never shown to be manipulative of any of the Bronze Saints.
  • Adaptational Villainy: Cassios ends up becoming one of Guraad's Black Knights for the sole purpose of killing Seiya and taking the Pegasus Armor for himself.
  • Adaptational Wimp:
    • In the original manga/anime, Bear Geki actually causes some trouble to Seiya during their fight. Here, Seiya only needs a couple of seconds to defeat him.
    • Perseus Algol is one of the strongest Silver Saints in the manga. In this version, despite Nero hyping Algol, Long managed to defeat him fairy easily after destroying the Medusa Shield.
  • All-CGI Cartoon: The second entry in the franchise that is fully animated with CGI.
  • And Starring: For Alfonso Herrera in the Latin American Spanish dub, who receives a "Con la actuación especial de Alfonso Herrera como Hyoga"note  credit.
  • The Artifact: Marin's mask stands out a lot more as female Saints no longer have the rule of having to hide their faces like in the main continuity.
  • Back from the Dead: Phoenix Nero. No explanation is provided beyond the fact that coming back from the dead is what phoenixes do.
  • Call-Back: To Saint Seiya: Legend of Sanctuary.
    • Like in the CG movie, the armor vaults were substituted for the equivalent of army nameplates, easier to use;
    • Also, for how Aiolos was killed and Sienna/Saori was found. The Sagittarius saint was defeated by both Shura and Saga, with Gemini "sacrificing" himself to "stop" him. He delievered Saori to Mitsumasa here too, with Guraad being the only divergence.
  • Call-Forward: Virgo Shaka shows Nero an illusion of him carrying baby Shaun through hell. While mostly obscured, she wears the Hades' pendant in that scene.
  • Canon Foreigner: Vander Guraad didn't appear in the original manga and anime. However, it could be a reference to the Graad Fondation, an organization that Mitsumasa created to find his numerous children and recruit them as saint candidates. He also has some physical resemblance to Jango, the leader of the Black Saints.
  • Casting Gag: Hilariously enough, the original English release brings back quite a few voice actors from the ADV dub of the TV series, albeit in different roles.
    • Blake Shepard who voiced Peacock Shiva (an anime-only character who was one of Shaka's disciples) now takes a main role as Dragon Long.
    • John Swasey, who voiced Hydra Ichi, now voices Libra Dohko.
    • Cameron Bautsch, who voiced Pegasus Seiya as a child, provides the voice for Wolf Nachi.
    • John Gremillion who originally voiced another anime-only character, Gigas, now plays Aries Mu.
    • Kira Vincent-Davis (the original voice of Shaina) voices Kiki.
    • Jay Hickman (the original voice of Shiryu) provides the voice of a security manhole robot and most hilariously, Cancer Deathmask.
  • Chest Insignia: Each Knight has the symbol of their constellation molded onto their breastplates, in lieu of helmets.
  • The Chosen One: Legend says that the Pegasus will be the one to save Athena from certain doom and help her save mankind. As the Pegasus Knight, it is Seiya's destiny to win the day.
  • Dark Is Evil: The Black Knights, humans artificially infused with cosmo by Guraad's experiments. They wear black armor and their energy attacks are purple in color.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Seiya's sassiness is played up in this adaptation.
  • Dub Name Change: By the director's admission, he found baffling that despite coming from multiple backgrounds the characters have Japanese names. Seiya is in the minority for having his original name and being Japanese. Other dubs, like in France, Latin America or Japan avert this where everyone kept their original names.
    • Ikki is named Nero.
    • Not only is Shun a girl but she's named Shaun.
    • Saori is Sienna, like in the Viz manga and the Knights of the Zodiac adaptation.
    • Hyoga is named Magnus.
    • Shiryu is named Long.
    • Seika is named Patricia.
    • Mitsumasa is named Alman.
    • Tatsumi is named Mylock.
  • Eye Scream: Long deliberately blinds himself to make himself immune to Silver Knight Perseus' Medusa Shield.
  • Fight Clubbing: The tournament takes place in an underground bunker unlike the source material that was a televised event not different from an official boxing match.
  • Gag Dub: In the Latin American dub, when Ikki calls Guilty "sensei", the latter kicks him and says "Eso es basura de puto!" ("That's pussy bullshit!"). Really.
  • Gender Flip: Shun is a girl in this adaptation. Everything else about her backstory is the same.
  • Good Scars, Evil Scars:
    • Half of Vander Guraad's face is badly burned and he's blind in one eye.
    • Phoenix Nero's scar on his forehead is more obviously visible than his Ikki counterpart's, which bordered on Informed Attribute
  • Helmets Are Hardly Heroic: Unlike in the original, none of the Knights in this series have helmets. What would be their helmets now acts like a Chest Insignia. The helmets are present in the opening sequence, though.
  • Idiot Ball: After Long is told that using his ultimate attack creates a brief gap in his otherwise perfect defense, and Seiya proves that he's fast enough to exploit that gap - twice - Long uses the same attack again, with the same result. It nearly kills him.
  • I Want Them Alive!: Vander Guraad wants Seiya alive and Athena dead, a rare inversion of what usually happens in this franchise.
  • Kick the Dog: Nero's teacher murdered his daughter (who was Nero's love interest) in front of him to get him to embrace The Power of Hate.
  • Lighter and Softer: The violence from this series is much, much less gory than the one from the original manga and anime (Case in point: In this version of the story, Seiya doesn't cut Cassius ear.)
  • Like a God to Me: This is how those who side against Sanctuary view Vander Guraad's plans.
  • Long-Lost Relative: Just like in the original series, Seiya was separated from his sister at a young age and he hopes he can find her by fighting for Athena. This time she was explicitly rescued by a Gold Saint because Sanctuary was abducting children who displayed signs of Cosmo. Since Seiya hadn't awakened his powers yet, he was left behind. In the second season it's implied that Seiya's mentor Marin may be his sister, but if she is, she doesn't remember it herself.
    • Andromeda Shaun believed that her brother Nero died while training. Turns out he survived and acquired the Phoenix armor. Bad news is, he's now full using The Power of Hate, working with Guraad and more than willing to kill his "weakling" sister.
  • Muggles Do It Better: Vander Guraad's ultimate goal is to kill the gods to prove humanity can take control of its own fate. If this were a JRPG, he might've been the hero. So far very subverted, however.
  • Screw Destiny: According to the Sanctuary, Athena was reincarnated with a dark prophecy that she would lose the battle against Hades and Poseidon, leading to humanity's destruction. She and her chosen Knights intend to prove the prophecy wrong.
  • Ship Tease: Seiya and Saori, of course. Hyoga and Shaun also get some of this.
  • Shooting Superman: The military wastes tons of bullets shooting the Knights, and we're explicitly shown bullets bouncing off.
  • Spared By Adaptation: Mitsumasa/Alman is still alive in this series (for a time, anyway - he is accidentally killed by one of Guraad's men in the second season). In the manga and the original anime, he was already dead by the time the story starts.
  • Teach Him Anger: Nero's master uses this training method, and he goes to great lengths to unleash Nero's hatred.
  • The Magic Versus Technology War: Vander Guraad's army is mostly composed of lots of people with assault rifles, gunships (Apaches, for the most part) and the Black Saints vs. the Bronze Saints, with their Cosmo and armors. The Bronze Saints do some pretty impressive amount of damage single-handedly. And they are the weakest tier of Saint Power Levels, and are actively trying to avoid killing any of Guraad's soldiers, a sentiment said soldiers do not reciprocate.
  • Tough Love: More toughness than love, if Marin's treatment of Seiya is an example.
  • Truer to the Text: Subverted. While this series changes a lot from the source material, certain story beats from the manga that were changed or not adapted in the original anime have been restored:
    • Hyoga/Magnus is sent by the Sanctuary to kill the Bronze Saints, which was Adapted Out in the original anime (this is expanded with him having also been sent to murder Athena herself), and has his snarky and arrogant personality back.
    • Seiya's fight with Ikki/Nero is more like in the manga: it takes place in a cave, Seiya fights without his Cloth, and repels Ikki/Nero's strongest attack with one hand before defeating him (the original anime changed it to taking place outdoors, Seiya being fully suited up, and him blocking Phoenix's attack with Shiryu's shield instead). Phoenix's Phantom Fist vision is a flashback to his training (instead of being moved to a later episode) and has his encounter with Shaka restored (this had not been shown in the original anime because the Shaka encounter story was only published afterwards and inserted into the Black Saints arc in collected editions).
    • Misty is the one who attempts to kill the Bronze Saints after Ikki/Nero is defeated, instead of Canon Foreigner Filler Villain Docrates.
    • Mu observes the Bronze Saints from afar during their fights against Ikki/Nero and the first wave of Silver Saints, helping them by creating an illusion of their dead bodies (over the bodies of the Black Saints) to fake their deaths. This had been Adapted Out in the original anime.
    • The fights against the Silver Saints play out more like in the manga, although some of them are Adapted Out.
    • Since the Crystal Saint was not adapted, Aquarius Camus is Hyoga's teacher as he was originally.
  • Villain Ball: The Knights would be dead several times over if it wasn't for their opponents' need to gloat and drag out their deaths long enough for the Knights to figure out a counter strategy.
  • Villain Has a Point: Given what we've seen in plenty Saint Seiya productions, Vander is right about humanity constantly being at the whims of Jerkass Gods and that they could be better off without them. The issue here is that he's willing to murder a girl who he once saw as a daughter to save the world. Who is also, coincidentally, logically the one most likely to save the world, due to being the incarnation of the goddess who has done so habitually. And is the only non-Jerkass God in the setting.
  • "With Our Swords" Scene: Seiya manages to defeat Nero, despite being out of Cosmo, thanks to his teammates supplanting him with their Cosmo and armor pieces.
  • Would Hurt a Child: Both Sanctuary soldiers and Guraad's men are willing to murder a child if it means eliminating witnesses.
  • Wrong Genre Savvy: Seiya points he expected Shaun was meaner and tougher than the others, since she's the only girl around. Shaun subverts that, showing she's actually kind and polite, if laidback. She's not behind the boys in terms of power, though - she just prefers to fight defensively.
  • You Can't Fight Fate: The schism in Sanctuary is caused by two different attempts to avert this - those who believe that Athena's destiny to doom humanity can be averted by killing her before she gets the chance, and those who believe that it can be averted by supporting her so that she does not fail in her efforts to protect it.