Synopsis: Hitomi Kanzaki is just your average high school girl. She runs in the track team, tells fortunes with her tarot cards for fun, and has a crush on an upperclassman. A sudden encounter with a mysterious swordsman one night takes Hitomi to a totally new world -- Gaea. In Gaea, Hitomi's abilities are amplified -- she can see visions so clearly that she predicts the future with uncanny accuracy. In Gaea, two men vie for Hitomi's love -- Van the fiery prince, and Allen the dashing knight. But one man desires to transform all of Gaea, a transformation that could end the universe itself. Torn between two worlds, two loves, and two ends... what's a girl to do?
Review: Just after watching the enchanting opening sequence, I had a feeling that this was going to be one fabulous anime. I was right. To date, The Vision of Escaflowne is one of the best series I have ever experienced. That's right. It's more than just an audio-visual treat -- it's an experience.
The series starts with the introduction of Hitomi Kanzaki, the main character. We are given a peek at how her typical day in school goes, and how she relates to the people around her. But one evening, a strange young man and a dragon suddenly appear... literally turning everything upside down. Somehow, Hitomi gets teleported with the guy back to his home world of Gaea! The problem is, the guy turns out to be Van Fanel, soon-to-be-crowned king of a land called Fanelia... and evil forces are after Van because he possesses the most powerful weapon in Gaea -- Escaflowne. Hitomi finds herself knee-deep in a sticky situation, and after meeting some more people she becomes something of a resident psychic everyone consults for their next move.
Things develop at an exciting pace, and there's a good balance of just about every single element that makes an anime great -- fighting action (both mecha and non-mecha), romance, humor, magic... You won't let you feel the 26 episodes pass by because there is never a dull moment in The Vision of Escaflowne. Every episode is packed, yet despite everything that's happening, viewers won't get lost because the story is very clear. Character development is at a high level as well. There are no ornamental characters; everyone has a distinct personality and purpose in the story. The characters also exude a realistic feel: they are capable of being selfish, dishonest, and illogical... like actual people. Viewers will find it easy to identify with them.
Visually speaking, The Vision of Escaflowne will blow you away. From the character renditions to the magnificent mecha action, the art and animation are nothing short of superb. Some of the scenes are even enhanced with a bit of computer wizardry. The musical scoring and the songs are exquisite, effectively enhancing the mood swings of the plot. The Vision of Escaflowne was originally a 26-episode TV series in Japan; fortunately, it's now officially available on video and on DVD! Impactful and memorable, The Vision of Escaflowne is one of my all time favorite anime series.
Miscellanies: For a TV series, The Vision of Escaflowne was produced on a very high budget. It doesn't skimp on anything, from the art to the music. Truly a worthwhile addition to any anime fan's library. You may also want to check out Escaflowne the Movie.