What’s it about? When they were children, Shoko and Kyoko were visited by a mysterious man in gold armor claiming Shoko was the key to an evil god being unleashed. Kyoko vowed to become strong to protect her sister; five years later, Shoko is reunited with her sister as mysterious forces begin to target them.
While Netflix is off introducing a new female character to its new Saint Seiya show by cisswapping a single male character (the gentle pacifist wearing pink armor, of course; gotta make sure we get those gender roles re-aligned), Crunchyroll has licensed Saintia Sho, which focuses entirely on the reincarnation of the goddess Athena and her protectors.
This show seems designed to appeal to a roughly middle-grade audience, painting its battle of good and evil in broad strokes along familiar emotional beats and centering on a strong familial bond. There’s not really anything overtly objectionable, beyond longstanding annoyances like molded boob-plate armor and the rather tired unspoken tension of the female villain being sexually coded in comparison to the chaste heroines (she’s also naked, but it’s nudity of the tame and convenient-hair-placement sort, not unlike a Sailor Moon villain). A ten-year-old could probably enjoy this just fine.
That doesn’t make it bad, however. While the plot setup is by-the-numbers, older viewers may find the throwback visuals appealing. There’s a very ’90s shoujo vibe to the art (despite the manga beginning serialization in 2013), with lots of lavenders and cool pinks in the color palette and rose petals flying across the screen.
This misfires in some of the character designs, where the wide-set eyes, broad faces, and short necks can look quite unappealing in certain shots, but it’s likely an inevitable holdover of being part of a legacy series. Probably. I’m not entirely sure.
The question of how much Sho is tied into the Saint Seiya universe is a question hanging over the entire premiere. Premiere reviews generally only cover franchise installments if a new viewer can jump in and enjoy the story with no prior knowledge, and while Shoko and Kyoko’s story is a clear access point for newbies, whether it will stay that way is definitely an open question.
The prologue already features a pointed cameo from flagship regular Scorpio Milo, who shows up to deliver the series-starting grim prophecy. Fine. Athena mentions the regular knights, but the focus is on her personal guard, who are newly introduced to the viewer along with the basic concept behind their powers. Okay. The opening theme prominently features the rest of those gold armor guys…
It’s definitely a gamble. While there’s been a clear attempt to introduce fresh protagonists and center the overarching conflict on the two sisters, there’s still a chance that new viewers will find themselves neck-deep in unfamiliar lore halfway through the series. If that doesn’t bother you, though, this is an old school-style shoujo premiere that might scratch your nostalgia itch, and certainly seems to be making a better effort with its female characters than the other upcoming franchise installment.