The mythology of Gods having once walked around the earth is not something that is new to our sensibilities. Countless films have used the idea and created a magical world with great protagonists and sometimes even greater villains. The new film Knights of the Zodiac, adapted from the manga series and directed by Tomasz Bagiński, does a decent job of building the mythological world with the iconic characters taken from the manga and adapting it to a live-action format.
The plot revolves around a poor kid named Seiya, who lives with her sister Patricia. Unbeknownst to him, he possesses a power known as ‘Cosmo,’ which initially becomes responsible for his sister being abducted but later might turn out to be the only way to help save the Goddess of War, Athena, who has reincarnated as a mortal named Sienna. Let’s take a look at the characters:
Like the origin stories of so many heroes in the making, Seiya begins as a frail young boy who spends time with his caring sister Patricia, who starts to teach him the skills of martial arts from a very young age. He is no match for his elder sister, but the thing that makes him stand out is his never-say-die attitude, which later turns out to be a defining feature. Seiya is an orphan, and after his sister’s abduction, he is left all alone to fight for survival. Fortunately, he emerges as a strong young man who only has his unbreakable spirit to keep him going. Sure, the fighting skills he learned at a young age helped, but without that spirit, he would never survive. He earns his living by putting his life on the line to fight dangerous men in the underground boxing rings.
Seiya doesn’t know that he isn’t destined just to keep fistfighting people but is part of a much larger struggle that might alter the fate of the world. He isn’t ready for any of it, but the cocky and rebellious persona hides that fact well, or so he thinks it does. The truth is, he has been really scared of the world ever since his sister was abducted while he hid in his closet, watching it all happen right in front of his eyes. When he is saved from the tyranny of a woman called Vander Guraad by her ex-husband Alman, he is perplexed to hear that he is being called to become a warrior for their daughter Sienna. A non-believer at first, he is put to the test and almost emerges victorious to become the Pegasus Knight for the Goddess of War, Athena, whose spirit lies dormant in Sienna’s body. The myths and the legends might have become real in his mind, but all he cares about is finding his sister, and during his training, he remembers that it was Alman and Guraad who had abducted her.
Seiya might act vengeful, but he is open to reason at all times. When Sienna explains her side of the story, that she had Athena’s Cosmo inside of her, which burned her mother Guraad, he listens and understands. He realizes that Sienna is at no fault. Guraad abducted Patricia because she needed the Cosmo to heal herself, but as she did not have any Cosmo in her, Guraad let her go and she might still be out there. He was now split between two obsessions. One was to become a Pegasus Knight, and the other was to find Patricia. Were there two purposes in life for Seiya now?
During the course of events, he finally realizes that neither was his purpose. His one and true purpose for the time being was to comfort the inner child in him that was sitting in that closet where he saw his sister being taken away from him. He was left traumatized, but now he had to overcome that fear to become a true warrior, with his focus pinpointed towards one goal at a time, which is how he managed to control the Cosmo inside of him and became a Pegasus Knight for Athena. His confrontation with his past made it possible for him to make Sienna see her real Self. When she was abducted by Guraad and was on the verge of becoming Athena, unleashing her wrath on the world, it was Seiya who reminded her that it wasn’t predestined that she succumb to the Goddess of War. He essentially encouraged Sienna to get control over herself, even though, since childhood, she had felt terrified of Athena’s spirit residing in her and the destruction it would cause if it were ever to manifest. Now that Seiya had healed his inner child, he could do his duties both as a knight and as a brother. He will probably find Patricia as well, given that he has Athena’s spirit in Sienna to lead him.
Terrified of her fate as Athena, Sienna was just an ordinary girl burdened with an extraordinary destiny. Born to Alman and Guraad, she burned her mother’s hand while in infancy, revealing her potency at such a young age. She understands her father Alman’s struggles, who took her away from Guraad and kept her with him, even though she can bring destruction at any moment. Such a situation can definitely affect the psyche of a young woman. She was like a bomb ready to go off. This fact did not enhance her self-esteem.
When Seiya comes into her life, she finds a companion in him but is embarrassed because she knows that poor Seiya is in this conundrum because of her. His sister was abducted by Sienna’s parents, and now he was being asked to become a warrior for her. She was careful not to behave in a manner that would appear devilish to Seiya, for only she knows that she would rather self-destruct than harm anybody else, but she has no control over Athena’s Cosmo in her. Every now and then, the vision of a bleak future wore heavy on her heart, where she could be seen turning into Athena and destroying anything that came her way. She saw herself as cursed by this fate. She didn’t ask to be the reincarnation of Goddess Athena, but now she was left with no option. She was trapped in Alman’s house, and he didn’t let her outside because Guraad could track her Cosmo if the signal ever got out. Now that Seiya was there, she feared that her only companion would die by her hand when she violently transformed into Athena, but fortunately, with Seiya’s help, she was able to control her metamorphosis. Like Seiya, she too confronts herself and averts the self-fulfilling prophecy. She had always kept repeating that she couldn’t control her Cosmo, and it almost came true, but at the last moment, she understood that she could write her own fate and not what she knew to be her destiny. Now, she could help Seiya find Patricia and also discover Athena’s remaining knights, who would fight with other Gods who had started a battle against her.
The character of Vander Guraad could be seen as a straightforward villain who wanted to kill her own daughter. An evil mother who symbolized the complete opposite of what a nurturing female should be. But on closer inspection, we see her predicaments and the tough calls she had to make. In fact, everybody became her enemy because of them. Sienna had burned her, and she had needed Cosmo ever since to heal herself, which is why she tracked its signals and abducted every kid who showed signs of its presence. She sucked them dry of their Cosmo, but it was never enough. She needed more of it, which is why Seiya’s sister was kidnapped, who had worn his Cosmo locket, making it look like she was the one transmitting the signal when in fact it was Seiya who harbored the coveted Cosmo. Thus, she became Seiya’s enemy as well. Only when he learned that she had let her go did he become less vengeful.
She didn’t kill anybody unnecessarily. She wouldn’t have killed Sienna as well, but all the signs pointed to the fact that Sienna wouldn’t be able to control Athena’s Cosmo, which would mean the total destruction of humanity. So, in a sense, she was thinking in humanity’s favor, unlike the typical villains. Her grave mistakes were to create frankensteins that were sooner or later going to go out of control. She made Cassios, a fighter, into a cyborg to fight Alman’s men. She was strong enough to control him, but not Nero. Nero was her right-hand man and was a covert knight known as Phoenix who wanted Athena dead. When she abducted Sienna and started to suck her dry of her Cosmo, she saw her cry in pain and commanded Nero to stop the procedure, but he disobeyed her commands, and she was completely powerless against him. If it wasn’t for Seiya, Sienna would have died a painful death. When Seiya fought Nero, Guraad stopped the procedure before she died. Her sacrifice did not go in vain, as Sienna controlled her transformation, becoming the master of her Cosmo.
A businessman, a father, but above all a seeker, Alman can be viewed from all these perspectives. An optimist, he believed he could find the Pegasus Knight that would help Athena, whose spirit was lying dormant in Sienna. He found her in a golden armor near a knight, and he made a decision to raise Sienna as his own daughter. When Guraad got burned, he knew that Sienna was destructive and in all probability, she would bring destruction to mankind, but his optimism didn’t let Guraad kill her in infancy. He ran away from her, taking Sienna with him.
A shrewd customer, his pragmatism made him deal with the brash Seiya. He first saved him from Guraad’s cyborgs and then baited him by showing him Patricia’s locket, which ensured Seiya would stay. This was his first clue in years about her sister’s whereabouts. Alman used this opportunity to train him with Marin, a silver knight, who trained Seiya into becoming a Pegasus Knight.
His love for Sienna was unparalleled. He went against his wife, Guraad, and protected her. He ensured that Guraad couldn’t find her and that Sienna didn’t let the visions associated with Athena’s Cosmo get the better of her. He didn’t even hesitate to sacrifice himself if it meant that Sienna would be saved. If Sienna and Seiya ever manage to find all the other knights, the credit would have to be shared with the tenacious Alman, who never gave up and discovered the Pegasus Knight after years of struggle.