Saint Seiya, also known as Knights of the Zodiac, may not be that well known for American audiences, but in Europe and Latin America, it was one of the series that created the anime boom, together with Sailor Moon and Dragon Ball. In Japan, while not as famous as the other two, it also reached a cult following that has helped the characters and story to prevail in the form of spinoffs, alternative retellings, and, more recently, a complete CGI remake.
Netflix’s Saint Seiya’s story is mostly faithful to the manga. It’s quite short, with only six episodes that barely touch the beginning of the plot. However, the changes are quite noticeable: besides Andromeda Shun’s gender, which went from male in the original to female in this version, we have a new antagonist, Vander Guraad, Mitumasa Kido’s previous business partner. Vander is ready to wage war against Sanctuary, which adds a conflict that is completely unnecessary for the short season.
Most of the changes are in the first episode, which makes it seem like a completely different story. Once we get to the second episode, it goes mostly like the manga, from Cassius and Seiya’s fight to the arrival of the Phoenix which is the end of the manga prologue before the more famous Sanctuary Arc.
Leaving aside the argument of CGI vs. 2D animation, the designs are very good, faithful to the original designs. One of the biggest changes is the female saint's armors, which are more elaborate than the originals. Shaina, the female Ophidious Saint, doesn’t wear a mask like Marin. This is probably to avoid having Shun wear a mask, but it makes the contrast with Marin more obvious.
There’s a downside to the animation and it’s that, at times, the characters are not very expressive. There are scenes where they look emotionless and that can be detrimental to the story. The fact that the hair rarely moves—or if it does, it moves in one single mass—can be very distracting at times, especially with Shiryu and Saori, as they have longer hair.
The original opening, Pegasus Fantasy, is one of the most iconic songs for the fans of the series, and the new cover for it doesn’t disappoint. The instrumental pieces, which are subtler than the original, maintain the mood in each scene and don’t distract from the action. While there’s nothing as memorable as Athena’s Lullaby, which was the most recognizable of the original OST, every piece fits the atmosphere. The ending piece, on the other hand, Somebody New by the Struts, is very emotional and matches the series’ tone perfectly.
The Japanese seiyuu, mostly from the Hades OVA, do an excellent job and with the same quality we're used from Japanese dubbing. Unfortunately, the English dub decided to make some strange changes to everyone's names—except for Seiya, probably due to the title of the series being Saint Seiya—so if you are a fan of the original, it makes it near unwatchable. The emotion and personality of the characters are there, but the change of names and the dub script don’t help at all. Interestingly, the Mexican dub kept some voices, such as Shiryu, Saori, and Ikki, but changed others. Unfortunately, Seiya’s original Mexican voice, Jesus Barrero, died two years ago, and the replacement is not up to the challenge as he’s a complete newcomer to voice acting, which brought the ire of many Latin American fans.
This is a completely unnecessary remake of a beloved series so it's hard to be objective about the changes. Still, if you are a fan of the original, you should give this one a chance–if nothing else, if original anime is popular on Netflix, they can keep helping produce other series. Yes, it's shorter and the fights are less brutal; yes, it made changes that apparently make no sense if you know the manga, but they may bring interesting new plots if the series is allowed to continue. Just for that, it makes those six episodes a good investment of your time.