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What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Saint Seiya: Legend of Sanctuary is the sixth movie in the popular Saint Seiya anime franchise. It will attract fans of prior/tie-in works -- including the manga series, TV shows, and video games -- but it could frighten younger viewers. Although the characters and action aren't real, the CG animation gives them more authentic features and facial gestures than in earlier versions. There are also lots of battle sequences in which characters are injured and killed in explosions and superpower-fueled warfare. But teenage warriors band together, embodying allegiance and teamwork as they confront enemies. And a female teen discovers her own superpowers and evolves into a leader.
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What's the story?
In SAINT SEIYA: LEGEND OF SANCTUARY, Saori Kido (voiced by Japanese idol singer Ayaka Sasaki) has long been aware of her special powers but only finds out on her 16th birthday that she’s the reincarnation of the goddess Athena. She also discovers that she’s the target of an imposter pope who wants to kill her and wield power over the Sanctuary world with his own false goddess. Saori is protected by a group of Bronze Saints recruited by her adoptive grandfather Mitsumasa (Ren Osugi) and trained to employ mystical powers in her defense. Saori and her saints must travel to the Sanctuary and battle a series of Gold Saints in the Temples of the Zodiac to defeat the false pope.
Is it any good?
While this film's fantasy world is complex, anime fans don't need to be familiar with the whole series to appreciate the action and effects of this sixth installment in the franchise. The backstory of Saint Seiya: Legend of Sanctuary is explained succinctly early on, following a tense three-minute battle sequence between armored warriors hurtling through outer space that opens the film and sets the frenetic pace of the next 90 minutes.
New viewers may find the anime genre's cultural differences refreshing. Beyond one entertaining song-and-dance number midway through the film, the self-aware jokes and insider winks of many American children's films are largely absent here. Made several years before female-superhero blockbusters like Wonder Woman and Captain Marvel, Legend of Sanctuary also feels restrained in the way it handles its main characters, including one of the movie's only females. In fact, gender feels almost irrelevant. The initially fearful Saori/Athena discovers that she wields stronger powers and must save the lives of some of her male protectors, who themselves are strikingly androgynous (one will reportedly be made female in Netflix's new adaptation). With humility, sincerity, and inner strength, Athena simply takes her rightful place as leader at the end of the movie.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how the characters and animation in Saint Seiya: Legend of Sanctuary differ from previous versions. Does the CGI make the violence feel more realistic or different from other Saint Seiya films and shows? What effect does that have on viewers?
Do the movie's heroes always do good? Can you think of any scenes where you felt the heroes could have managed their way out of a situation without violence?
Do you think this film is too violent? How do you think violence in movies can affect you and others?
What do you know about the mythological gods and goddesses referenced in the film? In the Temples of Zodiac, did you recognize the zodiac signs? If so, what was your opinion of how the signs were depicted in "human" form?
Why do you think the series uses religious terms like "saint," "sanctuary," and "pope"? What would you say to someone if they found these references disrespectful?
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