Much as how the Anime and Manga Versions of Saint Seiya can be very different histories, something similar has happened in the English Version of Saint Seiya against the other versions where this Anime has come, and also one of the reasons on why I believe the Anime of Saint Seiya wasn´t a hit and was relegated to a niche crowd on the English speaking countries.
Internationally speaking, Saint Seiya is more known by the name of “Knights of the Zodiac” translated to any language that it´s spoken in the country where it´s transmited.
So first let us begin what have in common Knight of the Zodiac with Caballeros del Zodiaco/Chevaliers du Zodiaque, etc!
Terminology: All of the versions had some changes in terminology through its localization; this was in order to reflect the same thing; but avoiding any kind of insult to the culture of the people. I will use this format “Japanese name= International name “So let´s check them.
Pope=Patriarch: The leader of the Saint Army while Athena isn´t there, a Man who is supposed to manage the Sanctuary while the Goddess reborn. He is the main villain on the first Story Arc. Since Latin America, France, Italy, Etc are Christian Countries, countries that have a Catholic population, It would offend someone if we hear Seiya saying :”Let´s defeat the Pope!” So they just changed the term “Pope” for “Patriarch” leaving his ideology, mission and personality unaltered.
Saint =Knight: The Saints, the warriors who fight for Athena and are divided in 3 groups: Bronze, Silver and Gold. While there are lots of Saints on East Asian and not only Christian but Budhist and so on too! In the west when one thinks on the word “Saint” I bet that 3 things come to mind: An Apostle, a Martyr or someone from the Cleric. So it was obvious to change the name, and since these warriors use protection on their bodies and even Kurumada admitted that the designs are based on medieval armors, and who uses the armors? The Knights. This comes very natural.
Cloth= Armor: The protection that uses the Saints/Knights and are inspired by the constellations. They are divided in three groups: Bronze, Silver and Gold. One stronger than the other. Now when I think on the word “Cloth” I think in a shirt or something made of Cotton, fabric or leather. Not a metal armor! So if the warriors are called “Knights” and they wear a protective wear, then it is obvious that these will change to “Armor” Logical, no?...Ironically the english speaking version kept calling the armors “Cloth”.
Now that we have seen the changes in Localization that a lot of the International versions has. Let us check now in what differs the English version with the other ones. Especially with the Spanish and French versions.
Music: Guardianes del universo and Les chevaliers du zodiaque/ Pegasus Fantasy Vs. I Ran: Ok. First let´s be clear and frank. The Guardianes del universo and Les Chevaliers du Zodiaque songs are hilarious!! Specially the French one. Still after that on the retransmission we got adapted versions of the Japanese song “Pegasus Fantasy” which was the original Opening in Japan. Check them:
The English version of Knights of the Zodiac had a Cover version of the song “I Ran” the band who sang on this cover was Bowling for soup:
Now while the “Guardianes del Universo” and Chevaliers du Zodiaque Chanson are hilarious and terribad. Their heart was on the right place…Which it was singing a song about the series, dedicated about it, while “I Ran” which is a song of someone who ran from a girl or something like that. I won´t talk much about the cover of “Pegasus Fantasy” which was also a song made specifically for Saint Seiya, or any other opening since the English version never made it so far to reach other songs like “Soldier Dream”; but you can see where the Hearth is.
Violence: Red Blood, kills Uncut Vs. Blue Blood, Jail and Cut: The English version was heavily censored with most chapters censoring the violent scenes, which is something bad because Saint Seiya is quite violent, so most chapters ended up being butchered left and right; other thing is that the enemies weren’t killed, rather they went to Jail…Which is dumb since a Saint/Knight can break those things easily enough! Lastly, the characters in the English version bleed Blue (or gatorade), the intention was to looks like sweat; but sweat isn´t blue! So it looked weird! Still one can say that all of those changes were made in order to give the series a PG Rating, since the Anime was on the morning Cartoon block. Which is funny because at the very least in México the anime was presented (alongside Sailor Moon and others) on the Cartoon Kids Block, which more than talking about Saint Seiya is about how the persons and their perception of what is able for a child to see differs from country to country. Needless to say in the other countries the anime was uncensored, the blood was red and the people get killed.
Still those changes the only thing it did was to make it look dumb.
Other Stuff: Names and Personalities: There are other changes regarding the “Knights of the Zodiac” Version. Let´s check them very quickly.
Death Mask =Mephisto: The name of the Cancer Gold Saint, Death Mask, was changed to Mephisto. This was due that on that time saying the word “Death” was forbidden (or so I was being told) so obviously having someone whose name has the word “Death” on it was a truly no-no, and for that a name change was the sensible thing to do, I have to say that looking at the changes that have been mentioned (and the ones that hasn´t) I liked this change in the name since “Death Mask” is a ridiculous name, right?
Cygnus Hyoga changes in personality: The Character of Cygnus Hyoga (or Swan Hyoga) received heavy changes in its personality. Hyoga was a Character that acted cool like an Ice King (not the one on Adventure time though) who deep inside of him deeply cared for his friends. On the English version he changed to a Surfer personality that well… Let me quote two lines of his:
“…Think of me as your own personal Ice Age Dude!”
“…´Cause the Ice Man incoming!”
… Yeah… Ok.
On to the next point we go!
Dubbing and Soundtrack
Soundtrack: We already talked about the opening and that it is not an original song or an English version of “Pegasus Fantasy” (The song of the Japanese opening); but more of a Cover. And let me say that the Soundtrack in Saint Seiya is one of the best not only for the year it came out; but I will dare to say of all time, since it is a beautiful orchestrated symphony filled with emotions and adrenaline that little series have matched! Also the soundtrack was encompassed so it could match the actions that happened on the screen. If you want to know more of the Soundtrack check this article dedicated to it!
Well, for the English version the Soundtrack got changed too, so the English viewers missed amazing songs like “Pegasus Ryuseiken” “God Warrior Vs. Saint”, etc,etc.
Dubbing: The Dubs where awful…So bad and hilarious that when I saw some snipsets I truly believed it was an Abridged series! Just look at this:
Redemption = Saint Seiya: We have talked big and loud about how bad was the Knights of the Zodiac version that appeared on Tv. What other people might have missed is that, at the same time while this version was being transmitted,another one was on DVD, the pure and original Anime, with the same dubbing actors and a truly testament on how a good direction can make wonders to any dubbing actor out there.
I am talking about Saint Seiya, with the same name of its Japanese Counterpart, this version was released on DVD and it was exactly the same version that Japan and the rest of the world received, from this version is the reason that the brand has a Niche following instead of disappearing as any other Tv Oddity out there. Sadly, both versions where cancelled. The Knights of the Zodiac before the battle of the 12 temples, while the Saint Seiya one by chapter 60, 15 chapters before the end of the Arc.
Knights of the Zodiac/ Saint Seiya was truly a curious way in both how to treat and how not to treat a franchise and a true experience on how some mismanagement can affect the perception and the destiny of a franchise in any given region.