If there’s any Top 10 List of anime characters who are the greatest in being foils to protagonist whether in life or in love triangles, Allen Schezar has to be in it. Like Hitomi and Van, from the get go Allen leaves a positive impression. His nobility is endearing in its unflappability, he’s easy to look at and listen to (thanks Nobuteru Yuuki and Miki Shinichiro), and he is such a welcome diametric opposite of Van. Where Van is impetuous, inexperienced, and not really sociable; Allen is reserved, worldly, and congenial. Like Hitomi and Van, Allen’s reputation is established by the way his subordinates act around him. Despite their churlishness, their respect for their commander is palpable. Once more my lovelies, we have another main character who is not some strange, social outcast or weirdo who gets sucked into something because of some preordained fate or whatever.
I remember this episode fondly, but then I also remember it is a bit of a lull. Given the events of the past two episodes, this is to be expected, but wow did they take it down a notch. Hitomi’s foreshadowing this episode, while intense in its hearkening back to the first episode, doesn’t come to fruition… yet. Instead, we get some fleshing out of two particular entities: the aforementioned Allen Schezar, and the NOW NAMED DON’T LISTEN TO OCEAN DUB’S LIES Zaibach Empire. Unlike the possibly European themed (we don’t know we’ve yet to visit Asturia proper) and the Japanese themed Fanelia, the Zaibach instead takes on a more techno industrial theme, akin to Industrial Revolution England with a possible splish splash of the early 20th century Soviet Union. While markedly advanced from Fanelia, the technology employed by Zaibach still feels at home in Gaea, what with not only those cloaked Guymelefs, but also a massive floating fortress, and more importantly, the best villain view screen in all of animu:
The perspective; the grainy sphere-shaped screen of a mysterious, bearded, god emperor; the distance between him and the subordinates? That’s iconic shit right there, my lovelies. Also iconic are those trio within that shot: Dilandau, Folken, and Emperor Dornkirk. Dilandau needs no introduction, with his malevolent gaze, his maltreatment of his subordinates, the strangeness of his voice, and his implied bloodlust. Folken, played by Jouji Nakata before he rocked Alucard in Hellsing, provides for a sturdy presence between Dilandau and his Emperor, as an intermediary for any and all future actions by Zaibach. Donkirk? Hard to say, but with his introduction now we know there’s something amiss in Gaea, and that whatever issues regarding fate and destiny will reside in whatever he’s planning, what with his Destiny Prognostication Engines and stuff.
Sadly if you’re interested in that, it’s all you’re gonna get of it right now. In lieu of it, we get Van being an impetuous knob again. Van manages to reacquire Escaflowne after some unexpected good fortune, and obviously wants to use it to return to Fanelia. Then, in a scene that emphasizes what I said about the two being foils, Allen puts the kibosh on Van’s plans in a spectacle that not only gives a connection between them (Balgus), but also provides a good callback to last episode about Van’s disinclination to be aggressive with human opponents. It’s neat, despite the value placed upon Escaflowne by various parties (him, Fanelia, and possibly Zaibach), Van doesn’t have much of a natural aptitude for piloting it. Guy has to grow into the suit, and the more experienced Allen provides a great foil to him without having him be a rival pilot of the enemy forces.
Either way, good job everybody. Now it’s time for them to put it to the test when Dilandau decides to wreck shit up next episode.
Ask the Owl: If I remember this is the only time this track is ever played. There’s a festive Middle Eastern motif in it, which works perfectly with Van and Allen’s fight since it downplays the tension and informs us this won’t be too terrible a battle. The frivolity of the track also helps to accentuate how much of a nonevent the fight is with Allen’s men. They see it as an amusing side spectacle, taking up bets on who’s going to win the fight, and unshaken in their confidence in Allen. It’s a bit of fun under the hot Asturian sun.
Goddamned shame it had to be replaced by Dance of Curse in the Fox Kids dub.
Notes of Escaflowne:
- The more I think about it, the more I don’t really care for Brian Drummond in a normal voice. As much as he FITS Allen, he comes off as… very bland. I kindof felt the same way when I think about his Zechs in Gundam Wing. I can’t really comment much on Sonny Strait being Allen. I know he can do serious roles (Bardock), but all his iconic roles (Krillin, Usopp, and Lupin) sound the same. I think one guy said he was more fitting for Mole Man (who I CAN say was well-casted in the Ocean dub).
- Dilandau. One of the most horrific misfires in all anime dubs (second is perhaps making Kitsune in Love Hina, a rather subdued Osakan, into a boisterous Southern Belle) is here in Escaflowne. Dilandau is supposed to be a malevolent deep-voiced adolescent, not some nine-year old child. It’s even worse when you find out they did the EXACT same thing when casting his Dragonslayers. They’re supposed to sound like pretty boys, not pretty LITTLE boys. Unsure about Joel McDonald as him, but I did his Meow on Space Dandy. The tragedy of it all is that in the Escaflowne movie, the actor, Andrew Francis, is TERRIFIC as Dilandau. It’s a shame he couldn’t redeem himself in the TV series as well.
- Folken I’ve no qualms with. Paul Dobson is a nice enough casting choice for it, but doesn’t reach the levity Jouji Nakata gives to the character. I’ve NO idea how Vic Mignogna will sound as him, since all I hear out of him is Edward Elric or Tamaki from Ouran. Same with Dornkirk. Richard Newman was a fantastic choice. I hope his FUNi voice is just as good.
- During Van’s conversation with a seated Allen on a balcony had this awful dub line: “Give me back my Escaflowne. AND give me back my guymelef!” …Escaflowne IS a guymelef, dub writer.
- Also, in the dub, when Mole Man appears in Hitomi and Van’s room, the former notes “It’s that THIEF, again.” In the original Japanese she refers to him as a pervert. Seems fitting, I wouldn’t exactly call somebody who held me down on the ground a few hours ago a pervert, especially when I don’t even know what he was after.
- What the hell do you keep inside of you, Van?
- I despise the tear tattoo on people. Makes them look lame. Folken however was the only one who could pull off looking cool with it. (I’d have included Hisoka from Hunter X Hunter, but I’ve yet to watch that).
- Use the following link for a website that chronicled the edits of Escaflowne back in the day.