In Thrace, Arion is taken from his mother Demeter by the god Hades. In the Underworld, Arion is trained to be a warrior. His training is driven by revenge: Arion was told that his mother's blindness was caused by Zeus and Zeus' death will remove the curse. Finally, Arion and Geedo (a huge ape-like creature who had become Arion's friend and companion) left the Underworld to find Zeus. Seneca, a small thief, makes off with Arion's sword and this leads Arion to his first encounter with the forces of Zeus, commanded by his daughter Athena. Arion is captured but is later set free by Lesfeena, Athena's mute serving girl. As Arion rejoins Geedo and Seneca (and worries about Lesfeena), the forces of Zeus and Poseidon face each other in battle. In the background sits the scheming Hades, and the calm Apollon who seems to have plans of his own.
In mythology, Arion was the name of an immortal, divinely-bred horse. In the late 70s, early 80s there was a manga of the same name by Yasuhiko Yoshikazu. In 1986, Sunrise worked on an anime film based of of that manga. If this is actually starring an immortal horse, that could be amazing but I doubt it actually is. So, let's see what this actually takes from the Greek myths.
We open with our young and disappointingly human Arion running around when he spots a sketchy looking fellow. This is Hades. Hades has a conversation with Demeter and then promptly whisks Arion away to the
Underworld under the pretence of helping him cure his mother's blindness. Because when you think of Hades, people being whisked away and Demeter all together, you think of a horse. Persephone who? Hades tells Arion that Demeter's blindness is caused by a curse from Zeus and the only way to cure her is to murder Zeus. Thus begins Arion's training.
The first big issue of this film is that the narrative arc is a complete mess. We jump from Arion being trained by Hades to fight Zeus to him trying to aid father Poseidon to him striking back at Hades and then a bunch of other major turns that barely make sense and have no good story backing behind them. It's like the focus changes every ten minutes. Another big issue is Arion's big motivational speech. Be forewarned, I'm going to have to give some spoilers here. It's the only way I can properly convey how bad this is.
So, we've seen this basic set up in a lot of media. The hero's getting ready for the battle of his life and has to rally his people. So, he gives them a powerful, eloquent speech to stir them up. Or, that's how it's meant to go. In this film, he stammers about how Zeus is hunting him and all he did was kill his own father. Don't you hate it when the authorities come after you for your murders? Also, he really wants to fuck his sister and she's in Olympus. So, he's gotta fight his way over there. Who would be persuaded by that? Besides Brian Michael Bendis and other creepy little weirdos with massive incest fetishes. Having some incest content in a work based off of Greek mythology is pretty much to be expected. Those myths are full of that. But you're expecting us to believe this is a speech that resonates with people and gets them fired up and that is absolutely imbecilic.
Another issue is with the antagonists in general. In a good story, you want an antagonist or multiple antagonists who are threatening in some way. Even if the work in question is aimed at children and you know the villains aren't going to succeed in any major way, you want them to be enough of a threat that it makes you curious about how the hero is going to overcome them. That's a very basic part of writing. In this, the antagonists never seem all that threatening. The one time one of them seems like they could win rapidly results in a major deus ex moment that immediately reduces them to a joke. And that's a big chunk of our climax.
Let's be generous and pretend that it doesn't matter that this adaptation's representations of its characters don't remotely resemble their portrayals in any myth. Let's judge them solely based on their appearances within Arion. Even giving them that much leeway, they're still absolute rubbish. Our antagonists are a bunch of one-note evil characters. Our protagonist is an easily led twit with no real personality aside from being a twit. Resphoina is the most generic of bland love interests. The reactions characters have to things, as touched on earlier, are completely unbelievable and stilted.
The only thing that kind of works in this film is the image of Cerberus firing mouth lasers. Aside from that, the artwork is about as bad as everything else. It's not just the janky animation, poorly constructed action sequences or boring backgrounds either. The entire aesthetic is off. And what I mean by that is that the film combines Greek visual elements with Roman ones. You'll have Greek tunics with Roman armour. Greek triremes with Roman hand held crossbows and stuff like that. They don't look like they belong in the same culture and it results in everything being a bit off.
If you want to hear some truly awful performances from talented actors like Nakahara Shigeru & Tanaka Mayumi then this is for you. Honestly, I put the blame on the horrendous characterisation and stilted dialogue but the ultimate result is undeniably that no one sounds good in this film. The music has a general issue of the sound balancing being pretty bad so it'll either be way too loud or have sound effects that are too loud thundering over it. If there was anything happening at any point that was worth watching, it would be annoyingly distracting.
There isn't any. Even the Gods who chased lovers of the same sex in mythology, like Apollo, don't show any interest in them here.
I've seen a lot of media based off of Greek mythology in my time. This is easily among the worst. The writing is terrible. The characters have nothing to them. The art is bad. Even the acting ad music are atrocious. This film has absolutely no redeeming qualities. Which is a shame because laser breath Cerberus should be a part of something amazing. My final rating is going to be a 1/10. Next week we'll start a new year off. We've had a lot of themes for January: Hayashibara Megumi, yuri, Studio Ghibli, magical girl, that year we watched one anime connected to each of those prior themes, girls with guns. Well, this year it's anime based off of video games. We're starting next week with Tales of Eternia.
Hey, Remember "Clash of the Titans", that silly Sword-and-Sandals action adventure fantasy movie from the 80s? Y'know the one. On the surface it was about how Perseus was a badass hero, but underneath, it was about how the Gods of Olympus were a bunch of sociopathically spoiled douchebags?
Remember how they made a grim and mean-spirited remake where the angry anti-theist "Gods are Douchebags" message was right on the surface?
Now, Meet "Neo Heroic Fantasia Arion", a grim and mean-spirited Sword-and-Sandals action adventure fantasy movie from the 80s that is about how the Gods of Olympus were a bunch of sociopathically spoiled douchebags?
Sure, you'd expect Ares (the
God of War) to be a prick, but so is Apollo. In Greek Myth, Apollo was the God of Truth and Light, and he's was supposed to be the most decent, upstanding, honest and even one of the most enlightened of the Gods.
Not so in "Neo Heroic Fantasia Arion"....in this movie, he's a callous, selfish dickbag. A Bishounen asshat you'll love to hate for his Oh-so-punchable face.
Also, incest. Yeah....incest.
So, anyhow, interesting movie.
Fun action flick with crazy villains. The Gods are jackoffs and they all get what they deserve.
(Note: This movie is waaaay out of print, and what I reviewed was a fansub with very, VERY sketchy subtitles. The story rating is probably lower that it would be if I could understand the plot better.)