The cult animated series “Saint Seiya”, also known in France as the “Knights of the Zodiac”, arrives on DNA from this Wednesday, April 27!
This week, many viewers will fall back to childhood, on the occasion of the arrival of the anime Saint Seiya on the specialized DNA platform! Much more than just a hit series, the manga adaptation of Masami Kurumada is considered a founding shônen of the 80s, whose influence still affects many series today.
The series was discovered by the French public in April 1988, under the French title: The Knights of the Zodiac. Quickly becoming one of Club Dorothée’s flagship series, the anime then captivated millions of young viewers, fascinated by these Bronze Knights ready to do anything to defend Saori, reincarnation of the goddess Athena, from the perils that threaten her.
“Les Chevaliers du Zodiaque was one of the most popular series during the decade of the presence of AB Production’s flagship program on TF1, and the importance and diversity of the goodies that landed with us testify to this vitality and of this undeniable love for Kurumada’s license in our country” underline for us the expert in Japanese animation Ludovic Gottigny, author of the two issues devoted by the specialized journal Otomo to the franchise Saint Seiya.
How to explain such a success? The reasons are of course many. First of all, the series was born when Japanese productions were beginning to experience unprecedented enthusiasm among French audiences. Notably for their portrayal of pure-hearted heroes, fighting merciless battles at the risk of their own lives to triumph over the forces of evil. The shônen spirit was then to take root definitively in the collective imagination of young viewers of the time.
Before the anime series saw the light of day, the manga Saint Seiya had already had great success with Japanese readers (published in 1986 in his country of origin, the manga not having been published in France until 1997 by the publisher Kana). It must be said that the mangaka Masami Kurumada, marked by several consecutive failures, designed Saint Seiya only for one purpose: to become a success with readers. A bet won hands down, as Ludovic Gottigny explains to us:
The animated adaptation was a huge success because it flowed directly from Kurumada’s plan of attack, which saw the license as the ultimate realization of the Mediamix theory (transposition of a license on different media of a different nature with a successful equal). The popularity of the anime, produced very soon after the start of the manga, combined with the deployment of many rapidly and particularly well-marketed derivative products created a virtuous circle of positive fallout for Saint Seiya in the broad sense, going so far as to allow the manga original to last longer.
The enthusiasm met by the animated adaptation of Saint Seiya can also be explained by the work provided by a veritable dream-team of talents from Japanese animation: the combined efforts of the producer Yoshifumi Hatanofrom the director Kōzō Morishitafrom the chara-designer Michi Himeno or the composer Seiji Yokoyama are certainly the main reason for this success.
The music obviously played a key role in the popularity of the work. In addition to the soundtrack, the credits Fantasy Pegasus (performed by the Japanese metal band Make-Up) strongly marked the viewers of the time, and remains to this day considered one of the best anime theme songs of all time! In France, the French credits performed by Bernard Minet was also a huge success! “It seemed to us that the soundtrack may be that key, because the music still works extremely well today.” specifies on this subject Julien Lemoine, administrator of the DNA platform.
Remained in the memories of all Club Dorothée faithful, the license Saint Seiya has however experienced difficulties in renewing itself over the years, unlike dragonball still remained very popular thanks in particular to its new series Dragon Ball Super. “Saint Seiya Omega, which was supposed to rejuvenate the franchise, did not meet with success. Conversely, The Lost Canvas worked well. (…) We can therefore say that it is in a way cursed, but no way that she is not transgenerational since all the children who discover her adore her! analyzes Julien Lemoine.
An observation shared, although somewhat nuanced, by Ludovic Gottigny: “While Saint Seiya is somewhat forgotten in Japan today, apart from early fans, its influence is actually found everywhere and its historical importance is indisputable. In France, Belgium, Spain, Italy , in Mexico or in Brazil, a large international community of lovers continues to maintain the flame, faithful to the ideals and values of their series of hearts.
Landing for the first time on a French streaming platform, the anime Saint Seiya embarks on a double mission. Regaining the fans of the first hour, having grown up with the series during the heyday of Club Dorothée, but also addressing the new generation of anime fans, and facing competition from recent successes, such as My Hero Academia and Demon Slayer.
A complicated bet in advance, but by no means impossible, especially for heroes for whom the word “give up” does not appear in the vocabulary! The first part of the anime series Saint Seiya (episodes 1 to 73) is available now exclusively on ADN; the second part (episodes 74 to 114) will be online from May 11!