The Negative Reactions to Netflix’s Saint Seiya: Knights of the Zodiac

On December 9, 2018, Netflix officially released their first trailer for next summer’s Saint Seiya: Knights of the Zodiac, a CG remake to the original series by Masami Kurumada. For the past 30 years, the Saint Seiya franchise has been a big hit to younger Gen-X’ers and older millennials in Western Europe and Latin America. Unfortunately, it never hit that same stride in the US where it only achieved just a cult following (due to the series never airing in the US during its prime). In addition, many other manga artists and writers have published their own Saint Seiya stories with Kurumada’s blessing.

Debuting around the same time as the Netflix trailer, Chimaki Kuori’s Saintia Shou hit the airwaves in Japan. In addition, there is also the excellently received Lost Canvas prequel story arc by Shiori Teshirogi. However, the upcoming remake CG series trailer has been negatively received, and we’re here to share why.

Doesn’t need CG

While statistics can change in relation to when you read this, but upon the initial drafting of this article, the dislikes outnumber the likes 3-to-1 on the official trailer. For starters, many fans of the series and of animation in general are reasonably not fond of CG. We can acknowledge that the designs do a great job of capturing the style of the original series for fans to recognize, but based on the trailers, the animation feels stiff and feels more like a video game cutscene. Many prefer traditional 2D animation because it adds deeper colors, and makes it feel more organic in context to the original source material. We understand the appeal and novelty to CG, but traditional anime is not suitable for modern CG. You can say it’s like an excessive ingredient that does nothing to add taste, but actually makes it worse.


As some of you may already know, the main source of controversy happens to be that Shun has officially been changed to a woman for the Netflix series. It can be reasonably argued that the reaction to this can be considered as misogynistic and/or transphobic, but even some female fans have voiced disapproval. We understand viewers not familiar with Saint Seiya can be more open-minded to this change. When people first look at the original Shun, it’s easy to assume he’s a woman. Eugene Son, the head writer of this show (who has also written for the Netflix Voltron series and many recent Marvel related animated programs) who made the decision, did so to make it more “modern.”

Some fans have interpreted that as Son trying to push some sort of left-wing agenda down our throats, and that it insults the intelligence of the fans as well as the original source material. Everybody gets that gender roles have changed since the debut of Saint Seiya. However, for those familiar with the series, the mythos give women a distinct role as apart to the men, and we can say for certain it’s not to make them sandwiches.

As to Shun as an individual, he was very popular with female (and male) fans for numerous reasons, and changing him takes away a lot of novelties the character provides. In comparison to most masculine Shounen heroes of his time, Shun’s feminine qualities defied the archetypes in more ways than over 9000. He was the one who paved way for bishounen characters, and that male heroes don’t have to be like Kenshiro from Hokuto no Ken, or Gokuu from Dragon Ball. He challenges male perceptions! Though we can only hear one line from Shun who just says “told ya” in the trailer, that alone has been a turn off. Changing gender is one thing, but his personality is another. Shun, being arguably one of the most powerful saints, is a very reserved individual. When he fights, he’s tends to be defensive oriented because his offense could be catastrophic. He’s not the type to brag and is very humble and reserved. Just saying “told ya” alone just takes away that notable and likable aspect of him. Last, he’s the reason why Yaoi exists!

Pre-existing Strong Women

By changing Shun to a woman to “make it modern,” that’s pretty much saying pre-existing females in Saint Seiya had no presence or contribution to begin with, and it insults the female characters in the entire franchise and the fan base. If anything, the people behind this series know nothing about Saint Seiya in the same way that the Dragon Ball Evolution people knew nothing about Dragon Ball. How are they going to explain why she doesn’t wear a mask as female saints are required to do? Will this new version adapt the fact that the bronze saints are really siblings (manga only) and that siblings are an exception to the rule? If so, some fans can be theoretically open to this notion.

In addition to the original, there are other installments where fans can enjoy strong female characters, such as Saintia Sho. At times, Saori as Athena has shown strong resolve with doing what it takes to protect the Earth. She always put others first and is a caring leader! Seiya, the main character, was trained by Marin, a woman! There’s also Yuna in Saint Seiya Omega, another fun original female character who significantly contributes to her respective series.

Final Thoughts

Anime or not, the concept of remakes are largely unpopular (looking at you Ghostbusters 2016), especially when the original was perfect the way it was, regardless of social changes between its initial release and now. Instead of pointless remakes to make it politically correct, dedicated fans would rather have another season to Lost Canvas! The manga is over and not making an anime continuation is inexcusable! Instead of remaking something that’s already been done iconically (and making it appealing), give something fans demand and with a dedicated staff who understands the source material!

010 The Negative Reactions to Netflix’s Saint Seiya: Knights of the Zodiac


Author: Justin "ParaParaJMo" Moriarty

Hello, I am originally from the states and have lived in Japan since 2009. Though I watched Robotech and Voltron as a child, I officially became an anime fan in 1994 through Dragon Ball Z during a trip to the Philippines. In addition to anime, I also love tokusatsu, video games, music, and martial arts. よろしくお願いします

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