I will admit that I couldn’t resist the idea of Isaac Newton as bad guy. Not that I am supposed to know that yet, on disc 1, but in another sense it is liberating to have seen the Escaflowne movie first because a lot of useless tension is now gone, such as the Mole Man’s intentions, or keeping track of who the all the mysterious bad guys are. I especially like knowing who Folken is, because if I didn’t I would be wasting time trying to understand his role, time better spent on appreciating the story.
And to be honest, this is surprisingly good, as far as the first disc goes, with a hook that’s almost as effective as Twelve Kingdoms. In fact I much prefer Hitomi to Youko now, since this Hitomi isn’t some wierd angsty kook but someone with honest emotion and charmingly formal sensibilities. Hitomi’s proposal to Ayamo was cute and awkward in all the right ways. The transfer to Gaia also was a lot simpler in execution, especially since Van is far more sympathetic as an impulsive and inexperienced youth rather than some wierdly inhuman fighting machine. Merle is the same.
The mechs are also much more likable in the series than the film, with far fewer wierd biomechanical parts and more of a satisfying blend of steampunk and battlemech styles. The mecha seem almost like characters in their own right, treated as such by their samurai – particularly Allen’s Scheherezade. I am reminded of Robotech in that Rick’s and Max’s mechs also were as distinctive and recognizable.
My only beef so far is the weird noses. It’s way worse than in the film. Is Garry Trudeau one of the lead animators or something? And I just don’t understand the hairshine thing either. I was, however, pleased to see Hitomi sporting two antennae.