Saint Seiya

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Saint Seiya: Knights of the Zodiac logo (English manga)

Saint Seiya (聖闘士星矢), also known as Knights of the Zodiac, is an anime and manga series about a group of five mystical warriors called the "Saints" (or "Knights") who have adopted various constellations as their totems of power.

They are given the task to protect Saori Kido (Sienna in the TV dub and the English manga), the reincarnation of Athena (the goddess of wisdom and war), and to fight against evil forces. It is based on the manga series of the same title by Masami Kurumada. The animation series by Toei Animation first premiered on Japan's TV Asahi on October 11, 1986.

The series is currently being aired in North America on Cartoon Network every Saturday night as an edited-for-TV version called Knights of the Zodiac. An unedited subtitled and dubbed version is being released by ADV Films. VIZ Media's Shonen Jump titles the manga Saint Seiya: Knights of the Zodiac for American audiences and it uses the English anime names.

The series was able to make so much success in certain parts of the world that it gained the status of "cult". In Brazil, for example (where it is known as Os Cavaleiros do Zodaco), the debut of the series in 1994 was responsible for changing the face of animation in the country, making people effectively enjoy Japanese animation for the first time. This was also true in other countries of Latin America, especially Mexico and Argentina, although Japanese animation had slowly been shown in both nations in the previous decade, with shows like Robotech and Mazinger Z. Both anime and manga were introduced into Mainland China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan (named 圣斗士星矢) around the year 1990, and started the ardors of Japanese manga and animation among those areas.

Saint Seiya began to be known in the west as Knights of the Zodiac after it became successful in France, where it was given the name of Les Chevaliers du Zodiaque. That was also the first country where the series was shown, besides Japan itself. In Spain and other Spanish-speaking countries, it is named as Los Caballeros del Zodiaco, and in Italy it is known as I Cavalieri dello Zodiaco.

It may be said that Saint Seiya has special contributions in the development of Japanese manga and anime culture. It is the most early and important origin for dōjinshi, which has grown into a significant peripheral subculture of manga and anime. Dōjinshi groups now have large amount of members in East Asia, South America and West Europe.

Contents

Summary

The story in the anime series consists of 114 episodes and can be basically divided into seven main parts:

  • The Galactic Tournament (the battle for the gold armour of Sagittarius
  • The search of the stolen pieces of the gold armour of Sagittarius (and battle with the Black Saints)
  • The battle against the Silver Saints and other kinds of close encounters
  • The battle against the Gold Saints in the Sanctuary
  • The fight against Hilda's God Warriors in Asgard (this saga is not seen in the manga series)
  • The battle against the Marinas in Poseidon's kingdom
  • The Hades' saga (13 OVA episodes - finished in the manga but unfinished anime adaptation)
  • The Heaven saga (started with the latest Saint Seiya movie, unfinished in anime and doesn't exist in the original manga)

The story in the manga series consists of 28 volumes.

The first 13 episodes of an OVA series set in Hades' realm were released in November 2002. Before that, the Hades' saga could only be seen in the manga. There have also been four theatrical releases (three short movies and a full-length one), which do not belong to the regular chronology, as they contain several storyline contradictions. A fifth movie came out in Japanese theatres in 2004, Heaven chapter - Overture (Tenkai-hen Josō), which is supposed to follow the regular chronology right after the end of the manga (which has not been entirely adapted to anime yet) as a prologue to a new chapter.

The manga has certain differences compared to the anime, such as the lack of the Asgard saga.

Characters

Athena's Saints of the 88 Constellations*

Bronze Saints (protagonists)

  • Seiya (Saint of Pegasus)

Age: 13
Birthplace: Japan
Techniques: Pegasus Ryu Sei Ken (Pegasus Meteor Fist), Pegasus Suisei Ken (Pegasus Comet Fist), Pegasus Rolling Crush

Seiya is the main character of the series. In most ways, he's a typical shōnen hero, in the sense that he perseveres to the point of risking his life for what he believes in, and is not generally too complex in personality. Although apparently not too bright, Seiya uses many fighting strategies in battle, adapting his style to the circumstances. He had an older sister, Seika, who was separated from him by the Kido foundation, and desperately wants to see her again. He trained in the Sanctuary in Greece, under the tutelage of Marin (Silver Saint of Eagle). When he loses his armor in battle against a more powerful adversary, Seiya is often saved by the gold armour of Sagittarius, sent by the spirit Aiolos.

  • Shun (Saint of Andromeda)

Age: 13
Birthplace: Japan
Techniques: Nebula Chain, Thunder Wave, Rolling Defence, Nebula Stream, Nebula Storm

Often confused for a woman by newcomers to the series, Shun is a rather odd choice for a warrior. He is a pacifist, and as a child was very delicate and hated violence. When the time came to draw names randomly, to send the orphans for the training to be saints, Shun was chosen to train in the Death Queen island. Clearly worried that his brother wouldn't survive, Ikki took his place. Shun was then sent to Andromeda Island in the Pacific Ocean, and trained under Daidalos (Silver Saint of Cepheus). In battle he uses two chains: one for defense and one for attack. The defense chain, called "circle chain", has its tip shaped like a ring. It has the ability of circling around Shun, protecting him like a steel wall. The attack chain, called, "triangle chain", is responsible for the offensive aspect of the armor. It is able to find and attack the enemy no matter how far they could be. Shun also possesses a great power he is seldom seen using, called "Nebula Storm", following the shape of Andromeda's nebula. In order for his cosmo to reach this power, he usually removes his armor first. This attack is generally believed to be one of the most powerful of all time, as its intensity can be increased infinitely.

  • Shiryū (Saint of Dragon)

Age: 14
Birthplace: Japan
Techniques: Rozan Sho Ryu Ha (Rozan's Rising Dragon), Rozan Ko Ryu Ha, Rozan Hyaku Ryu Ha (Rozan's Hundred Rising Dragons), Excalibur

It could be said that Shiryū is the more contemplative and less impulsive of the young Bronze Saints. Often one to think rather than rush to face the enemy, Shiryū is nonetheless a very powerful Saint. He has extremely destructive powers tamed only by his chivalrous and controlled nature. When fully unleashed, usually when his friends or mission are jeopardized by his enemy, or when an injustice has angered him, the raw fury of Shiryū's attacks is potent enough to kill him along with his enemy. He trained in the Rozan Peaks, China, under Dohko, the Ancient Master and Gold Saint of Libra. He also has an unclear relationship with Shunrei, an orphan that Dohko took in and who lives with him.

  • Hyōga (Saint of Cygnus / Swan)

Age: 14
Birthplace: Russia
Techniques: Diamond Dust, Aurora Thunder Attack, Aurora Execution, Ice Ring

Unlike the other Bronze Saints, Hyōga is not a full orphan as he knew his mother and lived with her (although it is implied that Ikki and Shun knew their parents). He is very strongly attached to his mother, Natasha, who died when the ship that they were in sank near Siberia. Fortunately, he was sent to train in Siberia under Camus, Gold Saint of Aquarius (in the anime, his teacher is the Crystal Saint). He initially trained in order to recover his mother's body, but after a very important incident he dedicated himself fully to becoming the Cygnus Saint.

  • Ikki (Saint of Phoenix**)

Age: 15
Birthplace: Japan
Techniques: Hoyoku Ten Sho (Flight of the Flaming Phoenix), Phoenix Houou Genma Ken (Phoenix Illusion Demon Fist)

A renegade, Ikki is by nature a lone wolf. Cocky, prone to violence, unpredictable and explosively powerful. Scarred by his training in Death Queen Island (described as "Hell on Earth"), he initially comes back to take revenge on the Kido foundation for sending him there, and on his brother whose place he took. Recruiting the help of the Black Saints, he took parts of the Gold Cloth of Sagittarius but was eventually foiled. With time he joins the other Saints in their struggle against the Sanctuary and subsequent fights, but is generally doing his own thing until it is his time to act. With the possible exception of Seiya, he is, generally speaking, the strongest Bronze Saint. His armour has the ability to regenerate, like the Phoenix rising from the ashes. He trained under Guilty (a former Saint of an unknown constellation who was driven to madness) in the Death Queen Island.

Other Bronze Saints

  • Jabu / Jab (Saint of Unicorn/Monoceros)
  • Ichi (Saint of Hydra)
  • Nachi (Saint of Wolf)
  • Geki (Saint of Bear)
  • Ban (Saint of Lionet)
  • Jun (Saint of Chameleon)

Silver Saints

  • Misty (Saint of Lizard/Lacerta**)
  • Capella (Saint of Auriga)
  • Babel (Saint of Centaurus)
    Named after the ancient city Babel, known for its the biblical story the Tower of Babel.
  • Dante (Saint of Cerberus)
    Named after Florentine poet Dante Alighieri.
  • Jamian (Saint of Crow)
  • Asterion (Saint of Hound)
    Named after Asterion, husband of Europa.
  • Moses (Saint of Cetus)
    Named after the biblical religious leader Moses, known for his persecution of polytheists.
  • Algol (Saint of Perseus)
    Named after the star Algol ("Demon Star"), known for its varying brightness.
  • Dio (Saint of Fly)
  • Sirius (Saint of Canis Major)
    Named after the double star Sirius, also the name of the dog of Orion.
  • Algethi (Saint of Hercules)
  • Shiva (Saint of Peacock, disciple of Shaka, Gold Saint of Virgo)***
    Named after the Hindu God Shiva.
  • Agora (Saint of Lotus, disciple of Shaka, Gold Saint of Virgo)***
  • Daidalos (Saint of Cepheus)
    Named after the Greek mythical inventor Daidalos, known for the Labyrinth of Crete and his aerial escape from Crete and the tragic death of his son Ikaros.
  • Shina (Saint of Ophiuchus)
  • Marin (Saint of Eagle)
  • Tremy (Saint of Sagitta)
  • Arachne (Saint of Tarantula)***
    Named after renowned mythical weaver Arachne. After a weaving duel with Athena (which many authors imply Arachne won) she was rebuked by the goddess for her shameles choice of subjects. After she hanged herself of shame, Athena resurrected her as a spider.
  • Crystal (Saint of Crystal)***
  • Orpheus (Saint of Lyra, he appears only in the manga, during the Hades saga)
    Named after the Greek mythical musician Orpheus. After his wife Eurydice died he went to Hades to reclaim her, but lost her again because he failed to abide by Hades' condition.

Gold Saints

  • Shion (Late Saint of Aries and Pope of Sanctuary, master to Mū)
  • (Saint of Aries)
  • Aldebaran (Saint of Taurus)
    Named after Aldebaran, the brightest star in the constellation Taurus.
  • Saga (Saint of Gemini)
  • Kanon (Saga's twin brother, becomes the new Saint of Gemini during the Hades chapter)
  • Death Mask (Saint of Cancer)
  • Aiolia (Saint of Leo)
    Named after the mythical island Aiolia, residence of Aiolos, the god of winds.
  • Shaka (Saint of Virgo)
  • Dohko (Saint of Libra**, master of Shiryū)
  • Milo (Saint of Scorpius)
  • Aiolos (Saint of Sagittarius and Aiolia's elder brother; deceased before the beginning of the series)
    Named after the Greek god Aiolos, Keeper of the Winds.
  • Shura (Saint of Capricorn)
  • Camus (Saint of Aquarius, master of Hyōga)
    Named after the French-Argelian writer Albert Camus
  • Aphrodite (Saint of Pisces)
    Named after Aphrodite, the Greed goddess of love.

*NOTE: Supposedly, the Saints represent the 88 constellations, yet according to the official number of saints given (12 Gold Saints, 24 Silver Saints and 48 Bronze Saints), there are still four unaccounted Saints. These could be considered to be Eris' warriors from the first Saint Seiya movie, as they also represent constellations. However, four Silver Saints and over thirty Bronze Saints never make an appearance.

**NOTE: Plot references seem to imply these Saints are the "leader" of each particular Saint sub-category.

***NOTE: These characters are exclusive to the anime TV series.

Asgard God Warriors

  • Thor (God Warrior of Phecda (Gamma))
    Named after the Norse god of thunder, Thor.
  • Fenrir (God Warrior of Alioth (Epsilon))
    Named after the Norse mythical wolf Fenrir, who will swallow Odin during Ragnarok.
  • Mime (God Warrior of Benetnasch (Eta))
  • Alberich (God Warrior of Megrez (Delta))
    Named after the Norse mythical king Alberich of the dwarves, a sorcerer who guards the treasure of the Nibelung.
  • Hagen (God Warrior of Merak (Beta))
  • Cid (God Warrior of Mizar (Zeta))
  • Bud (God Warrior of Arkor (Zeta))
  • Siegfried (God Warrior of Dubhe (Alpha))
    Named after the Norse legendary hero Siegfried, central character in the opera Siegfried.

Poseidon's Marinas

  • Thetis (Marina of Mermaid)
  • Baian (Northern Pacific Marina General of the Sea Horse)
  • Io (Southern Pacific Marina General of Scylla)
  • Krishna (Indian Marina General of Krisaor)
  • Kassa (Antarctic Marina General of Lymnades)
  • Isaac (Arctic Marina General of Kraken) (Issac is the training partner of Cygnus Hyoga, while he was trainning to get the Cygnus Bronze Cloth)
  • Sorrento (Southern Atlantic Marina General of Siren)
  • Kanon (Northern Atlantic Marina General of the Sea Dragon) (Kanon is the twin brother of Gemini Saga)

Hades's Warriors

Hades's Heralds

  • Thanatos (God of Death)
  • Hypnos (God of Sleep)

The 108 Spectres*

  • Radamanthys (Spectre General of Wyvern, Celestial Raging Star)**
  • Minos (Spectre General of Griffon, Celestial Valiant Star)**
  • Aeacus (Spectre General of Garuda, Celestial Superior Star)**
  • Niobe (Spectre of the Deep, Terrestrial Abyss Star)
  • Zeros (Spectre of the Frog, Terrestrial Strange Star)
  • Markino (Spectre of Skeleton, rank-and-file soldier)
  • Gigant (Spectre of Cyclops, Terrestrial Violent Star)
  • Myu (Spectre of Butterfly, Terrestrial Faerie Star)
  • Raimi (Spectre of Worm, Terrestrial Hidden Star)
  • Valentine (Spectre of Harpy, Celestial Lamentation Star)
  • Charon (Spectre of Acheron, Celestial Interstellar Star)
  • Rune (Spectre of Balrog, Celestial Talent Star)
  • Pharaoh (Spectre of Sphinx, Celestial Beast Star)
  • Phlegyas (Spectre of Lycaon, Celestial Punishment Star)
  • Rock (Spectre of Golem, Celestial Target Star)
  • Ivan (Spectre of Troll, Celestial Defeat Star)
  • Stand (Spectre of Killer Beetle, Celestial Repulsion Star)
  • Sylphid (Spectre of Basilisk, Celestial Victory Star)
  • Queen (Spectre of Alraune, Celestial Magic Star)
  • Gordon (Spectre of Minotaur, Celestial Prison Star)

*NOTE: Most of the 108 spectres are not actually named or characterized in any way.

**NOTE: in Greek myth, Radamanthys, Minos and Aeacus were the Judges of the Underworld.

Angels/Celestial Warriors

  • Icarus/Toma (The only human among the angels. Gives up his humanity to serve Artemis in order to be powerful like a god. Turns out to be the long lost brother of Marin. In the end of the Heaven Saga, he sacrifices himself to protect Athena. Attacks with electric charges. His finishing move is "Highest Altitude")
    Based on Icarus, Son of Daedalus; flew too near sun with wax-attached wings, fell into sea and drowned.
  • Odysseus (Absorbs energy attacks, can redirect or combine with his own power to make an reverse attack. Defeated by Hyōga and Shiryū)
    Odysseus (Ulysses): King of Ithaca; husband of Penelope; wandered ten years after fall of Troy before arriving home.
  • Theseus (Uses wings to attack. Defeated by Ikki and Shun)
    Named after Theseus, Son of Aegeus; slew Minotaur; married and deserted Ariadne; later married Phaedra.

Other notable protagonists

  • Saori Kido (城戸沙織 Kido Saori) a.k.a. Athena / Princess Sienna: The leader of Bronze, Silver and Gold Saints, reincarnation of the Goddess of War and Wisdom Athena.
  • Tatsumi: Saori's bodyguard and right-hand man. Was in charge of training the orphans who went on to become Bronze Saints, and as such most of them are resentful towards him (now that they are stronger than he could possibly be, he's rather scared of them).
  • Mitsumasa Kido / Lord Nobu : Grandfather of Saori. He gathered the kids to become Knights.
  • Miho: Seiya's friend. Works at an orphanage.
  • Ancient Master (Dohko): Shiryū's master. He is also the Libra Saint.
  • Shunrei: Lives in Rozan (China) with Dohko and cares deeply for Shiryū.

Notable antagonists

  • Saga: Gold Knight of Gemini, plagued by a multiple personality disorder that led his evil half to kill and impersonate the previous Pope of the Sanctuary. Not all bad although he led the campaign against Athena as a spectre, his true intention was to protect Athena.
  • Hilda: Odin's representative on Earth and ruler of Asgard, she is possessed by the Nibelung Ring (controlled by Poseidon in the anime) and sets her sights on world domination in the name of Odin.
  • Julian Solo (Poseidon): International sea trade magnate, God of the Seas.
  • Kanon: Saga's twin brother who induced him to evil. Was trapped in a water prision by Saga, kept alive by Athena's cosmo. Then he has stumbled upon the seal of Poseidon releasing him free. He manipulated Julian Solo (Poseidon) to do his bidding and become one of Poseidon's generals to take over and wipe out the Earth. In the Hades Chapter he redeems himself with the help of Athena's grace and love. Becomes the new Gemini saint. Sacrifices himself in a battle with Radamanthys.
  • Hades: God of the Underworld
  • Pandora: Hades's sister, who commands the first wave of Spectres to attack the Sanctuary in the name of her brother.
  • Radamanthys: One of the "judges"/ Generals to Hades. Most featured villian in the Hades Chapter. Very powerful, proud and arrogant warrior. His move is called the Greatest Caution.
  • Apollo: Athena's older Brother, Apollo. Seen in the Heaven Saga. Apollo is the god of light, not to be mistaken with Helios (god of the sun). One of the most powerful gods, he's said to have powers far beyond Athena's and Artemis'.
  • Artemis: older sister to Athena and younger to Apollo. Was the main villain in the Heaven Saga. She plans to destroy humans because they defy the gods. Artemis is goddess of the Moon.

Armour

In Saint Seiya, most characters are warriors who wear different types of armour (cloth). The different armours are fashioned by smiths working for the competing Gods, to be used by their own warriors to defend themselves or attempt to conquer the domain of other gods (more frequently, a god will attempt to seize the human world, which is assigned to Athena). Of note is the fact that none of the actual makers of armours is ever depicted, although it is explained that Mū (and by inference, Shion and Kiki) are descendents of the tribe who forged Athena's Saints' armour.

Despite the fact that each type of armour has different characteristics, these are usually ignored in the main story, and each receive a different name. However, the main attributes of all armours are highly similar: they are stronger than normal armour made of regular metals, and, if the wearer has awakened their cosmic energy, it serves to amplify it several times over. Below, the main armour types and their particularities:

Athena's Cloths

Characteristics: Athena's Cloths were fashioned by a lost tribe of smiths, and was actually the second group of armours created (as far as it is presently known). They were created to protect Athena's Saints in her first confrontation with Poseidon. Each of Athena's Cloths represents a constellation. Also, Athena represents justice and righteousness, and as such, if the person wearing Cloths in her name acts in a severely undignified manner, their Cloth will abandon them.

  • Bronze Cloths: Granted to the Bronze Saints, the lowest order of Athena's Saints. They are of various colours, and are the weakest of all Cloths. They freeze at minus 150C.
  • Silver Cloths: Granted to the Silver Saints, the middle order of Athena's Saints. They are usually very conservatively coloured, appearing in tones of gray for the most part. Many Silver Cloths have similar designs when worn by the Saints. They freeze at minus 200C.
  • Gold Cloths: Granted to the Gold Saints, the highest order of Athena's Saints, said to be the most powerful group of warriors of all the different factions among gods. They represent the Zodiac constellations. Distinctive features include the fact that they protect most of the body (unlike many Silver and most Bronze Cloths), and that they are practically indestructible. They freeze at the absolute zero (−273.15 C).

Odin's Robes

Odin's Robes represent the seven (or eight, to be more precise) stars of the Ursa Major constellation. They were created to protect Odin's legendary God Warriors. Each Robe also represents a mythological creature or object originating from Norse Mythology (such as the serpent of Midgard Jormungandr and Sleipnir, Odin's Horse). They are said to protect against the extreme cold of Asgard, but possess no other distinguishing characteristics.

Poseidon's Scales

Poseidon is the first God known to have created armour to protect his Marina warriors. The Scales are made of Orichalcum, a rare metal which is said to have existed in the meteorite which sunk the lost city of Atlantis, which is now where Poseidon's Underwater Temple is located. The Scales are similar to the Gold Cloths, with a larger predominance of the colour Orange, but are otherwise just as protective and imposing, if weaker. The Scales represent seven (or eight, if one is to include the non-Marina General scale) mythological creatures, and it is said that the myths relating to those creatures actually originated from the Scales (within the Saint Seiya universe).

Hades' Surplices

Endlessly referred to by fans as "Sapuris" due to the Japanese pronounciation of the term, these are the protective armours created by Hades, God of the Underworld, to protect his minions, the 108 Spectres. The common characteristic of these armours is their highly ornate yet terrifying design, which is rather fitting considering who they were created for. The Surplices represent nightmarish creatures for the most part, or beings related to the Hades (such as the boatman, Acheron). Besides these Surplices, nine more were created. One for Hypnos and Thanatos each (who are demi-gods, not Spectres), one for Hades himself, and one each for the six revived Gold Saints: Shura of Capricorn, Camus of Aquarius, Saga of Gemini, Aphrodite of Pisces, Death Mask of Cancer and Shion of Aries (the latter six are Surplice-like remakes of each Saint's original Cloth).

Must be noted that although the deceased Gold Saints join Hades, their loyalty stays true to Athena. They only accepted Hades' offer so that they can return from death and retrieve Athena's armour, by using her own blood.

God Cloths

Zeus had given armours to 12 olympian gods. These are believed to be the most powerful of the armors. Not much is known about them except that Athena and Hades both wear such cloths. They can be only created by the blood of gods. In the the Hades Chapter, Athena revives her own cloth through her blood. Her blood was also used to upgrade the five Bronze Saint's armours, giving them god armor characteristics. Combined with a maximized level of cosmo, their armour evolved into God Cloths in the Hades battle.

External links

pt:Cavaleiros do Zodaco es:Saint Seiya fr:Saint Seiya ja:聖闘士星矢 th:เซนต์เซย่า zh-cn:圣斗士星矢

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