Finally saw Saint Seiya - Legend of Sanctuary and I though I share some of my thoughts about it. WARNING there will be spoilers ahead.
Is it a good movie on its own?
I would only go as far as to say that it is entertaining even for non-fans. However, it relies far too much on the hope that its audience already has a working knowledge of the franchise. Its biggest problem is its short run-time, but there are some seams that could have been smoothed out just by minor tweaking like adding a line here or changing a line there.
Is it a good Saint Seiya movie?
Definitely. It offers about as much built up as any other Saint Seiya film. In fact, I was surprised how well the first act, which essentially covers the first 40 episodes in about 30 minutes, works. The rest of the movie works about as well as the other traditional Saint Seiya movie, almost point by point.
IMO, is it the best Saint Seiya movie?
No in a world where Legend of Crimson Youths exists, that one is still the best.
IMO, is it the worst Saint Seiya movie?
No in a world where Heated Battle of the Gods exists, that is one is still the unfortunate holder of that title.
What Works in the movie.
-The movie looks beautiful: Despite the overly busy designs for the Cloth and the environments, it is amazing to watch in animation.
-Sound design. While the soundtrack of the movie doesn’t standout, the sound effects are really good and give a nice sense of weight during the actions scenes.
-The Bronze Saints as a group: This is a big one. The way the Bronze Saints are shown in this movie works in many different levels. First of all, their backstory is streamlined. Instead of 100 orphans, it was just the 5 of them. Aioros saw in the stars that 5 young Saints would protect Athene and told Kido who then searched for 5 kids that showed affinity to Cosmo and sent them to train. Quick, simple, and leave far less questions than canon. It is imply that the Bronze Saints have been together most of their lives, we often forget that at the beginning of the series, Seiya and the others didn’t even like each other after being separate for so many years, the movie sidesteps that by implying that the Bronze Saints were trianed together and then set off to find their respective Cloths, this makes their quirks and interactions as a group far more endearing. And lastly, embracing stereotypes. The movie does not try to overreach with the Bronze Saints’ personalities, instead they keep them simple: Hyoga is cool, Shiryu is overzealous, Shun is laid-back, Ikki is a loner, and Seiya is a chipmunk in a sugar-rush.
-Saori/Athena: The movie’s Saori is like a combination of Sasha from Lost Canvas and Aria from Omega, she is very likable.
-Leo Aioria: Out of all the Gold Saints, Aioria comes off as the most epic. While he only does a bit more than of the GS, nearly every scene with him counts.
-Female Milo: I like her, in fact I like her a lot. In fact, despite her short stature, she comes off as the most imposing Scorpio Saint in the franchise.
-The Gold Saints: The Gold Saints actually do something during the movie. Though one would wish the would have done more, it still far better than int he original where they just waited until the Bronze Saints reached Saga.
-Seiya vs. Saga: The fight between Seiya and Saga is THE BEST battle in the entire Saint Seiya franchise. Better than Shaka vs. Saga’s group, better than El Cid vs. Icelus, and better than Kouga vs. Abzu.
-Seiya/Saori: There is only a bit of it, but it is there and I love it.
-“Evil” Saga: The movie has its own version of the pale haired, red-eyed Saga that work quiet well.
-Seiya & Bronze Cloths: Despite skipping the vs. Ikki arc altogether, we actually got scene where pieces of the other Bronze Cloths go to help Seiya and it is one of the best moment in the movie.
What Does Not Work
-Runtime: That is THE issue with the movie. Cramming 73 episodes worth of material cannot be done without damaging the end result, and sadly the movie suffers from it. For example, the decision of going to the Sanctuary so suddenly is a head-scratching one since they know about the Gold Saints and in fact Aioria just beat the living hell out of them with ease. Also a lot of stuff happens off screen and that gets annoying.
-Hyoga vs. Camus: It almost worked, it really almost did. One more scene between the two would have put this in the previous list, but alas that is not the case, it just comes off as rushed.
-Shiryu vs. Deathmak: Essentially the same as the point above. Though in their defense, their fight is a bit more amusing thanks to DM.
-Ikki is wasted: Ikki barely does anything during the movie. He kills Sagitta Ptolemy, has one cool entrance, and tries to fight Shura, emphasis in the word try.
-Shun is wasted: Shun does even less than Ikki! He defeats an unamed Saint, stops a Scarlet Needle shot… Barely, and tries to fight Shura (off-screen), and carries Saori for a short time while Seiya is down.
-Aphrodite’s death: Not only is Aphrodite’s death really cheap, but couldn’t they have just added 5 more minutes and have him fight Shun so that the kid could actually do something in the movie?
-Saga turns into a FF boss: We all made fun about how the Bronze Saints looked like Final Fantasy characters, but that’s nothing compared to the monstrous form Saga takes at the very end. It would not look out of pace next to SIN or Sephiroth’s or Kefka’s final forms. Why would they do that when the battles was going to great?!
-Shaka’s and Shura’s attacks are not named: This is the epitome of nitpicking, but it still kind of annoying. Every other character (except Aioros and Aphrodite who do not fight) gets to call out one of their attacks at least once (Seiya, Hyoga, and Saga even have two). Shaka does use Kahn and Om during the movie and of course Shura uses Excalibur (even a super charged version of it) but they never say their names.
-The comedy: There are many comedic moments throughout the first and second acts, some are genuinely funny while some fall flat.
-The Sanctuary: In the movie the Sanctuary seems to be inside a pocket dimension. It’s kind of weird, but it does give the entire thing an ethereal feel.
-Changes: There are some scenes from the trailers that were altered for the movie or never even happened.
-Deathmask in speedos: Yes this is a thing that happens during the movie. It’s both disturbing and hilarious.
Despite its obvious flaws, I thoroughly loved and enjoyed the movie from start to finish. However, I am the biggest Saint Seiya fan I know and I’m aware I was watching this movie with severely tinted rose-colored glasses. That said, I liked as much as the other Saint Seiya movies, I would watch it again in a heartbeat and if given the chance I would buy the home version when it comes out. If you are thinking of using it as a gateway to introduce your friends into the Saint Seiya series, it might work since the visually as so beautiful it is bound to catch their interest, just make sure you watch it with them because they might need some explanations that the movie is in too much of a hurry to give them.