This series is a hard one for me to rate at all. It is one of my all-time favourites, has amazing nostalgic values + I like to think of it as the father of all Shounen Fighting Anime. This is because it started a lot of storylines that have now become cliches Naruto, Bleach and many more use quite often. These include giving the opponent a backbone by giving him a backstory. Tournament arcs are touched on. The attacks of those shows are also very reflective of Saint Seiya and two other animes from its decade (DBZ and Fist of the North Star.) Even Yakitate Japan uses ideas born in Saint Seiya, but obviously in a more satirical way...
The animation for this series is obviously going to seem dated because of the poor frame rate and some jerkiness in its presentation. However new masters have been made available recently and I had a chance to get a look at them. Overall, it has stood the test of time fairly well. The only things that might be a problem for some viewers are the (as mentioned above) poor frame rate, repeated footage but also the fact that some episodes have inconsistent artwork.
Overall, these series has beautiful character designs for both the boys and the girls AND some beautiful backgrounds to match. It's just that some episodes reflect those better than others. Of course, at the time the series was made and with the demand for more episodes, its fidelity to the art is amazing. It does not make the characters look cheap so that they stay on budget. This already makes it better (animation wise) than later shows like Ranma or Naruto where the quality just drops as the series progresses.
In the second and third series of Saint Seiya (criminally not given their own sections by most sites) the animation quality raises a bar. The artwork looks a lot cleaner and sharper. The saints are given better armors (or cloths) to fight in. The backgrounds are even more detailed (the Asgard series just looks breathtaking).
The sound of Saint Seiya is made up of JRock intros, JPop outro and symphonic compositions within the episodes (with vocals on some tracks). Overall, this gives the series a magnificently epic feel as all types of music are produced incredibly well to suit the mood/s of the show. Soldier Dream is the stand out vocal track for me. The stand out composition in a sea of greatness is Athena's Theme. The only reason I did not give sound a 10 is because these symphonies are reused a few times and as lovely as they are to hear, I just kept wishing for more of them. This does not mean the series is a one trick poney as it does have about 13 soundtracks at last count.
The story is what will get you into this series as first. As the synopsis describes it is about a war for humankind (yeah I know, a cliche in today's anime climate but not so much at the time it was made). The interesting thing about this though is that it uses mythological aspects to move the story along. A lot of mythologies are explored, with the obvious ones being Greek, Norse and Bhuddist. The saints themselves wear armors that are derivative of mythologies but in an astrological sense. Like Seiya having the Pegasus armor, Shun having the Andromeda armor or Algol having the Medusa armor.
The best thing about the story is how it manages to keep a lot of mysteries to itself in the first series (the Sanctuary Arc) as you do not know if the protagonists are actually right until about episode 50. Preceeding episode 50 are wonderful episodes that develop the characters so well that its climax just moves you to tears.
The second and third series have different stories that are persued but despite the length (25 and 15 eps respectively) they still maintain the epic atmosphere and have some of the most touching characters in all of anime.
The characters in the Asgard series are probably the best antagonists (as a group) that anime has to offer. They are marvellously well developed so that you feel their triumphs and failures like they were transcending you. Mime, Fenrir, Thor and, Syb and Bud are the best of that cast and their respective stories have the potential to move you to tears (Think Now and Then Here and There). The best part of it is how they actually affect our leading team of five (Seiya, Shun, Shiryu, Hoyga and Ikki) which makes them connect with us even more.
The main five are also very successful characters. Of them my favourite is Shiryu because of his values and willingness to sacrifice himself. Shun and Hyoga are close seconds as they have interesting backstories and a powerful bond. Ikki has a very interesting personality that is developed very successfully as the series goes. Seiya, although the main, is my least favourite of the five as he is a little childish and annoying (yet, still well developed). I have grown to like him a lot more with the newer releases of the series though.
The great thing about this series is that you are sure to connect with at least one of the characters as there are quite a few of them and, even ones that don't feature for very long have enough of a story that you don't feel they are a waste of time.
The sanctuary arc has Aphrodite, Camus, Shura, Saga, Shaka, Shaina, Cassios, Aiolia and Aldebaran as stand outs for various reasons I do not want to spoil. The poseidon arc has Krishna, Scylla, Lymnades, Canon and Poseidon himself to keep you interested. All these characters are so well done that some of their characteristics have become cliches. So you should watch Saint Seiya to see where it all starts.
I own this whole series and it a definitely a must see. If you're unsure as to whether you will like it, ADV Films is releasing an affordable thinpak with the first 30 episodes for you to decide whether it is your cup of tea. Also try www.rightstuf.com for good deals on the singles. I think they are something like $5 at the moment for 5 episodes a disc, which is amazing value.
I thoroughly enjoy this show everytime I rewatch it as a whole or in parts so I think all of you shounen fans will find something to like too. The chracter design also allows for a few bishounens so the girls are thought of as well.