We've all dreamed of it, right? See our favorite manga adapted for cinema . However, if the latest releases have taught us one thing, it is that this transformation more often resembles a nightmare. Unfortunately, the film Knights of the Zodiac is no exception to this rule...
For fans of the Japanese manga Saint Seiya , which made the heyday of the Dorothée club , this adaptation was like a stab to the heart. When we see gems such as Akira or Ghost in the Shell triumph in Hollywood , we wonder why the studios persist. And frankly, with one star on Allociné and killer reviews, the alarm signal is clearly on.
🇺🇸 An Americanized adaptation
So why this incessant need to adapt Japanese works with a Western twist? Because yes, Knights of the Zodiac is not just another Dragon Ball Evolution , even if the bitterness is almost as salty. Under the direction of Tomasz Bagiński , we could have hoped for a direction more faithful to the original essence...
The big problem with this film is this constant impression that Sony production wanted to play the easy card. Take a beloved work, put an Americanized filter on it and hope for the magic to happen. Well no ! The charm evaporates, because the soul of Japanese manga is lost in this poor adaptation of Knights of the Zodiac into film.
Why a Nick Stahl with so little charisma, in the role of Cassios ? Why give Sean Bean the role of Alman Kido if his interpretation is so critical? Or even this strange choice of choosing Mackenyu, a K-pop singer to play Seiya ? It's not because we place an actor with Asian roots that the film is close to the original!
Beyond the casting , the budget seems to have been wasted on special effects and sets that add nothing to the narrative. The release of the film Knights of the Zodiac has become a race against time to achieve any sort of box office result. The Toei production studio has accustomed us to better...
Worse still, we don't feel the passion or understanding of the original characters . What about the mythical armors , which are so central to the animated manga ? Here they are relegated to simple style accessories rather than being the emblems of power that they represent in the series. The creator of the Knights of the Zodiac would be turning in his grave!
The general criticism was not mistaken! As soon as Tomasz Bagiński 's film was released , the audience perceived this shift, this disconnection from the source. And if we rely on the figures for box office releases, in Japan and around the world, so do the general public. Respect for the original anime and for Saint Seiya 's loyal audience was, it seems, not there.
🙅♂️ Narrative and aesthetic inconsistencies
And what about the story? It's like trying to tell the Iliad in 15 minutes.
Seiya forward, the others forgotten?
By focusing almost exclusively on Seiya , we forget the richness of the manga . Where are the other knights ? Where are Shiryu , Hyoga , Shun and Ikki , who played crucial roles throughout the anime series . Their presence and the battles they fought are nevertheless essential to the DNA of the Saint Seiya franchise.
A betrayal for fans of the anime
Do we really have to talk about the aesthetics of the film? Eastern European settings with special effects worthy of a B movie with an electro-rock musical background... What happened? We are a long way from the mythical melodies that we heard in the Dorothée club animated films !
It's hard not to feel a certain betrayal . When the first reviews emerged upon release, many thought they were too harsh. However, after seeing the film, the overwhelming reviews show us that everyone is unanimous. We are a long way from the Saint Seiya animated series !
As for the mythological dimension, pillar of the Knights of the Zodiac ? Sacrificed on the altar of clumsy science fiction. The armor borders on the ridiculous – except perhaps that of the Phoenix during the climax, we admit! But even this moment, supposed to be the climax of the action, seems to have been diluted in an ocean of script inconsistencies.
The film , unfortunately, lost its way, losing both its DNA and its audience. Criticism was unanimous on this subject, in France as in Japan. As is often said, not all adaptations are equal. And that of Knights of the Zodiac by Toei is proof!
🤔 Some positive points: a glimmer of hope?
To avoid falling into total pessimism, elements of the film deserve to be applauded. Yes, yes, I assure you !
The training sceneTraining with Marine , for example, remains faithful to the spirit of the work, as does the visual representation of cosmic energy . It was a pleasant surprise, especially after the strong reviews that circulated before the film was even released . The news and the trailer had raised so much expectation with several million views in a few weeks that these moments brought a glimmer of hope.
The final fightThe final fight between Seiya and the Phoenix Knight is also notable. Despite questionable special effects, the tension and emotion were palpable. It reminded us of the episodes of Knights of the Zodiac that we watched in front of the best show in France, Club Dorothée .
Athena's transformationAnother moment that we really liked: when Athena transforms. During this scene, the film seems to briefly regain the aura of Saint Seiya . Some might argue that given the box office , these moments don't make up for the film's shortcomings. Nevertheless, they demonstrate that there was, in certain places, a desire to respect the characters and the story so beloved.
Like most animated films , Knights of the Zodiac does not seem to live up to fans' expectations. However, it is crucial to salute the rare moments where the film surprised positively .
❌ A big fail!
Knights of the Zodiac , the film is another failed attempt to adapt a manga dear to our hearts. After this film was announced, many had high hopes. Is the cinematic future of our favorite manga doomed to a series of disappointments? Only the future will tell us.
While waiting for the next releases, fingers crossed for One Piece on Netflix ... but without much hope. Maybe some stories should stay in the pages of manga and not in cinema . This only reinforces a widely shared belief: animated films often remain superior to their adaptations.