If you’ve been paying attention to the show, the revelation in this episode shouldn’t come as a surprise. After mentions from Episode 1 (Van moments before going off to slay some dragons) and Episode 3 (the conversation before meeting with Emperor Dornkirk), it is finally revealed Van and Folken are brothers. The former’s pretty pissed off that the brother he thought died during the very ritual he went through episodes ago is on the other side, and the latter just likes to be enigmatic as all get out because of some big Gaea-saving Plan the dear Emperor has. It cements all those floating bits of info into one of the major conflicts of the show in a natural way that unveils quite a bit but not TOO much.
That’s what I love about Escaflowne: it starts off vague, but always intrigues, and slowly dripfeeds information you’ve either consciously or subconsciously notice whenever there is a need for it. It gives no desire in wanting to shock YOU, the viewer, but instead the characters in its story. By telling the story this way, all we’re doing is asking questions about what all these plans are, wondering how the CHARACTERS will react to it, and depending on if our reaction is positive or negative, whether or not what was executed works for the show dead last. If a show is able to do that, then it is an admirable success in getting a viewer to become invested.
Boy does this episode do a LOT to sell the series. While the first few episodes are either good or VERY good, this is the first EXCEPTIONAL episode of the series. Everybody gets a chance to shine in this one. Hitomi is a class A heroine here, taking advantage of her amplified prediction powers through proving its worth to a skeptical Allen, and even goes so far as to long jump a huge gap between the Crusade and the Floating Fortress just to warn Van to watch his back. Allen reveals a bit of himself as well, showing a bit of discomfort when Hitomi hits some nails on the head regarding his past life, but never giving into anger, remaining dedicated to saving Van from Zaibach. The rescue mission, from the first descent into danger to their miraculous escape, is one of the great moments of Escaflowne. The music, the action, the fact it’s all hand-to-hand combat and not one big guymelef fight, the daringness of it all? Amazing! Then it actually has the first instance of Van actually being aggressive for the first time in the show, by way of his striking Dilandau across his right cheek with his sword. It is a nice small moment for him, solidifying his second major rivalry in the series asides from his one with Folken.
Then there’s all this stuff.
This episode does such an amazing job with the way it sets up these dynamic scenes. The lighting, the facial expressions, the positions they chose to animate them in, then juxtaposed with the incidental silence and music? Terrific. All of it terrific. I know all this panegyric can be a bit overblown in these reviews, but like the first episode, this episode deserves all the love.
Wings – Yes, the very track that played when Hitomi began her long jump onto the Floating Fortress. Why talk about this episode if you’re not going to talk say anything about THIS track? This is personally my favourite BGM track, in that it hits all sweet spots not just in the show but as a standalone piece. It’s those beginning strings that sound the call to begin the take off then once it hits the smoother string patch, things are already in flight. It’s a wondrous piece that accents desperation and eventual triumph in how Hitomi took that risky flight to warn Van. Then that chorus starts playing, as if it is safe for them to do so now that flight has been achieved.
It’s a shame that Fox didn’t think the same and COMPLETELY GUTTED IT from this episode.
Notes of Escaflowne:
- I love all these little details! I always thought Folken was just able to casually open the Escaflowne with no problem. Yet in this viewing, I notice that this seemingly odd scene at his waist level shows how he pricks his hand with his obscured robot hand to draw blood like Van did in Episode 2.
- Then there’s this great scene during the Crusade’s descent, where Hitomi hangs on for dear life. Then Mole Man slides down below her and she instinctively covers his skirt. Little touches. I love em.
- Now for the ‘fun‘ parts of the Escaflowne dub. For some reason, during the chase Dilandau (in both versions) ALREADY KNOWS Van is on Escaflowne. He mentions it twice, but when Folken opens up Escaflowne and Van is ejected out of it, he shows shock and surprise. How can you do that, when you already know he’s Van, Dilandau!? Did you read the script?
- Then in the Fox Escaflowne dub, the show went out of its way to intersperse the scene with clips from future episodes about how Folken failed the Fanelian Rite of Passage, and how he got his metal arm. Man they just can’t trust kids these days to sit and find out for themselves! I do appreciate though how the dub at that point wasn’t afraid to show a bit of blood on Saturday morning TV. Yet that’s not enough to save such a cheap way to telegraph later events.
- Also I just got the joke. Aaron Dismuke and Vic Mignogna are playing brothers again.