Saint Seiya has always been one of my favorite Japanese properties, whether it’s a manga or anime. There is such a rich world in this franchise that it is very easy to find something you enjoy. And while the main manga and anime run with the Bronze Saints is widely regarded as the best and obviously the most important and influential, there are various quality spin-offs and Episode G is a personal favorite of mine.
The Golden Saints were always some of the franchise’s fan favorites and this entire manga run is dedicated to them and events that take place seven years before the main storyline with Seiya, Saori, and their friends. Here we have Leo Gold Saint, Aiolia, coping with the aftermath of his brother, Sagittarius Gold Saint, Aiolos, being framed as a traitor to the Sanctuary because he tried to kill the baby Goddess Athena (although Aiolia doesn’t know the truth about his brother being framed) and passing away. Aiolia and the rest of the Gold Saints have to face the Titans of the myths as they are trying to resurrect their leader, the God of Time, Kronos.
Episode G, written and drawn by Megumu Okada, takes the classic elements of Masami Kurumada’s creation and gives it a bit of a spin by making everything larger than life. If you thought classic Saint Seiya was epic, then you haven’t read this manga.
(Copyright by Akita Shoten)
I always thought that the Gold Saints never got their respective due in the main manga. Yes, I know that Seiya and his friends are the main characters, but these twelve Saints never got a chance to prove their worth and show how capable they are as protectors of Athena, beyond one of the greatest anime/manga storylines of all time (the memorable Sanctuary saga).
So Episode G fixes that from the get-go by making a modern-day Titanomachy and places these characters in the middle of it. Aiolia is the perfect choice for the main character as he has the most solid moral compass and he is the one dealing with one of the most interesting internal conflicts in the sanctuary: being a Gold Saint and the brother of an alleged traitor. But we also get to see that the Sanctuary is far from being the most stable of places, with Gemini Gold Saint Saga having killed the current leader and Pope of the Sanctuary, former Aries Gold Saint, Shion, and taking over his place without anyone finding out while coping with his evil place.
There are lies, manipulations, and secrets taking place in the Sanctuary, with tensions building up among the Gold Saints as they tend not to see eye to eye on multiple subjects and this leads to some great storytelling because they have to stick together when the Titans arrive and it’s all of the sudden one sides against the other.
(Copyright by Akita Shoten)
Indeed, there is a very epic and grandiose scope in this manga, even more than in the original storyline, but just like the main source material, it manages to stay very human and down to earth when it matters. Aiolia is facing tremendously difficult odds through the vast majority of the story, but he never discards his own humanity or forgets about what matters most, which is protecting the weak. Much like Seiya, there is a strong sense of classic heroism in Aiolia and he has to learn that he is much more than what people think of him.
As a counterpoint, Saga has always been one of the most complex and fascinating characters of the franchise and here we can get more into his mind, seeing how his two personalities fight to take control over him and how his good side tries to do his best as the new Pope despite the horrible sins he has committed. He is a very tragic character and Okada really gets Saga as he has shown in key moments where his good side prevails.
Of course, we also have the other Gold Saints, who are just as interesting and complex as the two main ones. Capricorn Shura is the one that fought Aiolos and he and Aiolia don’t get along very well, but there is a sense of honor and respect between the two of them that you don’t see a lot these days in fiction. Their duty is above their personal feelings and thoughts of one another and that plays well for great tension.
And whether it’s the analytical Aquarius Camus, the sheer loyalty and honor of Taurus Aldebaraan, the manipulation of Cancer Death Mask or any other Gold Saint, they have very well-developed personalities and on-line with what we have seen throughout the years in the main manga/anime. That’s great characterization from Okada’s part and it makes this manga all the more enjoyable.
(Copyright by Akita Shoten)
Of course, the main drawback for some readers might be Okada’s art and I totally understand that: I wasn’t very fond of the androgynous look of the characters that I grew up watching, but I think as time progresses you would enjoy it a lot more and understand more of its appeal. It’s as grandiose and over the top as the story, with a very Japanese-oriented approach (obviously). And I personally enjoy how the Clothes are so detailed and exaggerated, fitting very well with Okada’s sense of anatomy.
This is a very fun spin-off with a lot of fanservice and quality storytelling for longtime Saint Seiya fans. It’s done in such a way that it connects very well with the rest of the main storyline and it can also serve as its one unique story, so if you’re not familiar with the franchise, you can still read this manga.
Epic, very human and with great action and drama, Episode G is the Gold Saints storyline you were always looking for!
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