During the past weekend, the streaming giant Netflix announced a CGI adaptation of popular manga and anime Saint Seiya.
The adaptation, which appears to be focusing on the first season of the anime, features a peculiar alteration: one of the main characters, Andromeda Shun, has been changed from male to female.
This caused fans of the original Saint Seiya to express widespread malcontent, including bombarding the reveal trailer (which you can see at the bottom of the post) with over 11,000 dislikes. This is twice as many as the positive votes received by the video at the moment of this writing.
The series’ Writer and Producer Eugene Son justified the move on Twitter (before deleting his account altogether) by explaining that the idea of a group of dudes fighting to save the world with no girls around is outdated, also mentioning that the alteration was met with considerable resistance even within original publisher Toei Animation.
While some may be tempted to dismiss the extremely negative reactions among the fanbase as similar to the vitriol caused by the female combatant on the cover of Battlefield V, many pointed towards a very different reasoning.
While Andromeda Shun was definitely male in the original Saint Seiya, he was already seen as an inclusive character designed to break the mold of the stereotypical macho shounen hero, thanks to his feminine behavior and traits, his sensitiveness and love for peace. His empathy even towards his enemies has few equals in manga and anime from the same period or even nowadays.
Add to that the hot pink armor with a slender, feminine design, the long green hair, and the willingness to treat his fallen companion Hyoga by sharing his body warmth in an iconic and rather cuddly scene, and you get the picture.
While Shun is perhaps the one among the Bronze Saints with the highest raw power, his non-violent attitude and unwavering kindness created an interesting contrast that made him unique and beloved among fans of both genders for decades.
Many argue that changing him into a female conveys the potentially backward message that male heroes cannot be sensitive and kind, while female heroines need to always be sympathetic and tender.
This is compounded by the fact that Saint Seiya features several strong female characters, and the authors of this remake could have simply provided one or more of them with a more relevant role under the spotlight, instead of changing an established and beloved character and completely removing what made him unique.
A further, smaller change appears to have been made to Shiryu’s iconic technique “Rozan Shoryu Ha,” which has been adapted into Chinese as “Rozan Shenlong Ha.”
The original manga by Masami Kurumada was published by Shueisha between 1986 and 1990. The anime series aired between 1986 and 1989, featuring the sleek character design by beloved artists Shingo Araki and Michi Himeno. While it isn’t as widely known in North America, it’s extremely popular in Europe and Latin America, where it was aired on several TV channels back in the nineties.
Saint Seiya: Knights of the Zodiac is expected to air exclusively on Netflix in the Summer of 2019.