The Vision of Escaflowne is a 26-episode anime produced by Sunrise and directed by Kazuki Akane. The series aired in Japan from April 2-September 24, 1996. A remake film for the series, titled Escaflowne: The Movie, was released on June 24, 2000, but the film only bears a basic resemblance the original television anime series.
Bandai Entertainment held the North American distribution license for The Vision of Escaflowne until the company shut its doors. As of this writing, FUNimation Entertainment holds the North American license.
The series follows a 15-year-old high school girl named Hitomi Kanzaki. She’s a runner for her school’s track team, who has a fascination with tarot cards and fortune-telling. Hitomi received a set of tarot cards and a mysterious pink pendant from her grandmother when she was a little girl.
Hitomi learns that Amano Susumu, a boy on the track team that she has a crush on, will be leaving her school. Hitomi asks Amano to watch her do a practice run; if she beats her time, she wants Amano to kiss her. While in the middle of her run, a boy about Hitomi’s age named Van Fanel suddenly appears on the track; the boy is wielding a sword.
A dragon appears shortly after, and Van duels with the dragon, and Hitomi ends up helping him defeat the dragon; Van claims a stone from the dragon. Bright light appears, and it drags Van and Hitomi up into the sky, and they disappear.
It turns out Van and Hitomi are taken to a planet called Gaea, where Van is due to become the king of Fanelia. During the coronation, Fanelia is attacked by the Zaibach Empire, who are trying to revive the legendary power of the ancient city of Atlantis. Van activates a steampunk mecha called Escaflowne; he makes a blood pact with Escaflowne, which ties his own life to the mecha when he pilots it. During the battle, Van is forced to flee from Fanelia with Hitomi and Escaflowne.
Hitomi unwittingly summons a pillar of light, which transports Van, Escaflowne, and Hitomi to another place in Gaea. Hitomi is attacked, and is rescued by a knight from Asturia named Allen Schezar; Allen bears an uncanny resemblance to Amano, and Hitomi falls for him instantly. This later leads to a conflict for Hitomi, when she realizes she’s in love with Van.
Allen and Van team up together to fight the Zaibach Empire. Allen is not only a gifted swordsman, but he pilots a mecha called Scherezade. A 13-year-old catgirl named Merle, who is from Fanelia and has a crush on Van, is found. It turns out that Fanelia has been burned to the ground.
As the series progresses, the audience learns more about the Zaibach Empire, as well as some secrets about Allen. Hitomi’s powers for fortune telling also blossom during her time on Gaea.
The Vision of Escaflowne mixes fantasy, steampunk, mecha, and romance to create an interesting and compelling story. The animation for the series complements the story that’s being told. In addition to the compelling story and animation, there are also characters that the audience can associate with, and find themselves rooting for and caring about.
As the relationship between Hitmoi and Van develops over the course of the series, I found myself wanting to see the two of them somehow be able to remain a couple if Hitomi finds out how to return to her world. Without providing spoilers, all I will say is that even though the series may not have ended with the “happy ever after” ending I was hoping for, it still ends in a realistic and satisfactory manner.
The Vision of Escaflowne is a very well-done anime series. It’s a series that I truly believe should be seen at least once by anyone who considers themselves a fan of anime. However, I would recommend staying far, far, far away from Escaflowne: The Movie.