Athena (Saint Seiya)

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Athena
Saint Seiya character
Athena-manga22.jpg
Athena senses the menace of Hades, in a panel from Saint Seiya volume 22.
First appearance Manga
vol. 1, chapter 3
Anime
episode 1
Created by Masami Kurumada
Voiced by Japanese
Keiko Han (Original Series)
Fumiko Orikasa (Hades Chapter)
Aya Hirano (The Lost Canvas)
Shoko Nakagawa (Omega)
Ayaka Sasaki (Legend of Sanctuary)
English
Allison Sumrall

The Greek goddess Athena (アテナ Atena?) (spelled in Greek as Ἀθηνᾶ and Ἀσάνα, in the manga and the anime adaptation respectively, and occasionally as Ἀθάνα in both) is one of the main characters in the Saint Seiya series, a manga authored by Masami Kurumada, which was later adapted to anime and originated three other spin-off manga.

Kurumada created her character based on the Greek goddess of the same name. As in classical mythology, Athena is the goddess of Wisdom and Justice, daughter of Zeus and sister of Artemis and Apollo. In Kurumada's story, she is reborn on Earth every 200 years, when evil threatens the world, to protect it, restore peace and bring hope. To do so, she counts on the assistance of an army of eighty-eight youths of great strength and courage, whose fists rend the skies and whose kicks split the earth, who don powerful armors called Cloths and who are known as the Saints of Athena.[1] Athena is also the goddess of Battle, but she does not believe in conquest and fights only defensive wars. She hates weapons and thus only allows her Saints to battle using their bodies and Cloths. The only Saint allowed to wield weapons is the Libra Gold Saint. She has opposed the ambitions of other deities since the age of myth in Greece, earning herself the rejection of the other Olympian gods. She has especially had a long-standing conflict with the god of the Underworld, Hades.[2]

During her twentieth century incarnation she uses the name Saori Kido (城戸 沙織 Kido Saori?) as her civilian identity.[1] In the English-language version of the Saint Seiya manga and anime she is known as Princess Sienna.[3]

Athena was introduced by Masami Kurumada in chapter 1 of his manga, Saint Seiya, as the mythical Greek goddess, and then in chapter 3 of the first volume as Saori Kido, the head of the Graude Foundation, an extremely beautiful young woman, who radiates elegance, wisdom and serenity, and who is followed and protected by her dedicated Saints. In the anime adaptation, she appears in episode 1, initially unaware of her divine nature. She also appears in several other related works, such as a sequel, five films, video games and two manga by different authors. Saori is also a main character in the official sequel to the original manga, Saint Seiya: Next Dimension. In alternative spin-off series Saint Seiya: The Lost Canvas, written and drawn by Shiori Teshirogi, introduces an alternate eighteenth century incarnation of Athena named Sasha (サーシャ Sāsha?), an orphan from a small village of Italy who is adopted by the Sanctuary. The fifteenth century incarnation also appears briefly, whome Teshirogi refers to as "The previous Athena" (先代アテナ Sendai Atena?).

Creation and conception[edit]

Masami Kurumada once stated that, when he was in the process of creating Saint Seiya, Athena was not going to exist as a character, but she was rather going to be experienced individually by each of the protagonists in different spiritual ways. Later, he thought this concept would be somewhat confusing to readers and difficult to use, so he decided to integrate her into his manga as a character, with her own traits and personality.[citation needed]

In his manga, Masami Kurumada spelled Athena's name with the kanji for goddess (女神 megami?) and the furigana (forced reading) Atena (アテナ?). Kurumada also spelled her name in Greek using the Attic spelling Ἀθηνᾶ, Athḗnâ. In the anime adaptation, it appeared in the Doric spelling Ἀσάνα, Asána, and as Ἀθάνα, Athánâ, both in the manga and the anime. Both are correct, as they are simply calligraphic variations of the name used in the times of Ancient Greece.

Character outline[edit]

Backstory[edit]

Athena reincarnates on Earth when it is consumed by evil. Unlike the other Greek deities that Masami Kurumada used as antagonists, like Hades or Poseidon, she returns to Earth as herself, without possessing the body of a human. She comes to Earth with her own soul and body, but she usually has no real knowledge of her divine origins or mission until a certain event triggers those memories and reveals her mission and destiny to her.[4]

As Athena returns to Earth, the souls of her eighty-eight Saints also reincarnate to assist and protect her in the fulfilling of her mission when the time is ripe, as Masami Kurumada revealed in the sequel to the original manga Saint Seiya: Next Dimension. Pegasus Seiya's past incarnation has been featured by Kurumada in this story, who in the eighteenth century was known as Tenma.[5]

Masami Kurumada revealed in volume 1 of Saint Seiya that Athena had battled in the age of myth against the Giants, Ares and Poseidon, each in incarnations centuries apart. He also revealed later that she has battled Hades in the age of myth, then in the fifteenth century, eighteenth century and finally in the twentieth century. She battled Poseidon in the twentieth century, 2000 years after their battle in the region of Attica.[1]

In Saint Seiya, Kurumada presented her twentieth century incarnation as one of the main characters. Found as a newborn baby at the foot of Athena's statue in Sanctuary in 1973, her return to Earth was seen as an omen of great battles that lay ahead and was received with joy and preoccupation by Sanctuary. Pope Shion, survivor of the Holy War of the eighteenth century, took care of her until he was murdered by Gemini Saga.

After usurping Shion's title, Saga, afflicted by his evil split personality, schemed to kill Athena, to rule over Earth as a god.[6] The night Saga first attempted to murder Athena, who at the time was around one year old, he entered Athena's chambers disguised as the Pope and tried to stab her with a golden dagger, but was stopped by the Gold Saint Sagittarius Aiolos, the guard in charge that night. In disbelief, Aiolos tried to persuade the Pope to come back to his senses, but failed. In the following struggle, he discovered that the Grand Pope was not Shion, but an impostor. Realizing his plans had been thwarted, Saga attacked Aiolos and Athena and, to avoid being discovered by the rest of Sanctuary, used Aiolos as a scapegoat to cover his deeds; he told everyone that the Sagittarius Saint had tried to murder Athena and that he had to be captured and immediately executed for treason.

Aiolos fled Sanctuary, swearing to protect Athena, even at the cost of his life. Facing overwhelming opposition, Aiolos was not given a chance to explain the truth before he was confronted by Sanctuary soldiers and the mighty Gold Saint Capricorn Shura, his former best friend. Believing Saga's every word, Shura attacked Aiolos without mercy, mortally wounding the Sagittarius Saint. Aiolos was able to escape Sanctuary afterwards, managing to protect Athena and keep her safe. The next day, he found an old man who was visiting Greece as a tourist in the nearby ruins of Athens. That man was Japanese philanthropist and billionaire Mitsumasa Kido, owner of Asia's largest foundation, the Graude Foundation. With his last ounce of strength, Aiolos revealed to Mitsumasa the origins and destiny of the baby he was carrying and entrusted her to him, along with the Sagittarius Gold Cloth. Realizing that he had accomplished his mission and smiling at Mitsumasa's promise to take care of her and raise her until she could fulfill her destiny, Aiolos died in peace.

Mitsumasa took the baby Athena and the Gold Cloth with him back to Japan and adopted her as his granddaughter. Giving her the name Saori Kido, he was able to hide her from Sanctuary for thirteen years, until it was the time for her to fulfill her destiny and overthrow the agents of evil that threatened peace on Earth.

Abilities[edit]

Athena dons her Cloth, in a panel from Saint Seiya, volume 28.

As Saori, she is the head of the Graude Foundation and has been ever since Mitsumasa Kido's death. Before coming to know she was Athena, she was regarded as a successful businesswoman by the media of the world, with an interest in horseback-riding and playing the piano. As a deity, Athena has capabilities that surpass those of humans. She is a simple young woman, untrained for battle, but her Cosmo is immense. She is a being of compassion and love, and she will endure pain and show unfailing courage and persistence to protect Earth and its living creatures.[7]

Athena's attributes include Nike, the goddess of victory, represented as a golden staff she holds in her right hand and which can be used as a weapon (Athena uses it to kill Hades), and the Ægis shield, which is impervious to any kind of attack and can eliminate all evil. She also owns a powerful Divine Cloth, which is superior to all categories of Cloths worn by Saints (Bronze, Silver and Gold). When it is not worn by Athena, her Cloth transforms into the giant statue in her image that lies beyond Athena's Chamber, at Sanctuary. To revive it, it is necessary to spill Athena's blood on it, as shown by Kurumada in the Hades arc.[8]

Athena has exhibited great mastery of her Cosmo. In both the manga and anime adaptations, several techniques have been revealed: healing auras, defensive shields, teleportation (in the conclusion of the Poseidon arc and Hades arc), the Seal of Athena (used on both Hades and Poseidon to seal them away) and Misopethamenos, a divine gift bestowed upon Libra Dohko that slows his heartbeat and grants him great longevity. Athena's Cosmo is also awakened to the Eight Sense; thus she is able to descend to the underworld without being subject to its laws.[9]

Personality and relationships[edit]

Growing up as Mitsumasa Kido's spoiled granddaughter, young Saori Kido at first did not get along well with the children who would eventually become her protectors. Although they were her grandfather's children (this blood relation to Mitsumasa was omitted in the anime, in which they were orphans he picked up from different institutions), both in the manga and anime adaptations, she treated them like slaves. Seiya was among the few who resisted such treatment.[1]

When she turned thirteen, having learned the truth about her origins from her dying grandfather, Saori had already matured, renouncing her spoiled lifestyle and facing both her duty as the Kido heiress and the crisis in Sanctuary with the support of the children who by then had become Saints. They helped her reluctantly at first – for example, she had to lure a distrustful Seiya in by promising to help him find his sister Seika – but the chain of events that followed convinced them that she was the incarnation of Athena and that the change in her was genuine. They slowly found their devotion and dedication to her, and forgot the grudges they had against her for her past abuses.[7]

In Saint Seiya Heaven Chapter: Overture, the only one out of the five Saint Seiya films that follows Masami Kurumada's plot, it was revealed that Athena has two siblings: the deities Apollo and Artemis.

A very important figure in the life of the twentieth century Athena was Mitsumasa Kido, in whom she saw a father and guide. His memory burns brightly in her life, and she wanted the Bronze Saints to know that he was indeed an honorable and good man who did not abandon his children out of selfishness or ambition as they all believed, but because he devoted himself to the destiny imposed on him by the stars, to protect Athena. Saori has a loyal follower in her butler, Tatsumi Tokumaru, Kido's former right hand and the only person who knew of her heritage along with his master.[10]

Appearances[edit]

In Saint Seiya[edit]

Galaxian Wars arc[edit]

In the first arc of Kurumada's manga, Saori Kido completes her grandfather's dream of hosting a tournament of Saints to find a warrior worthy of donning the Sagittarius Gold Cloth, in 1986, thirteen years after incarnating in Sanctuary.[1] To that effect, one hundred orphans, in fact Mitsumasa's sons, are sent to the far corners of the globe to be trained as Saints and bring back the Cloths as proof of their Sainthood. After ten of the orphans successfully return, the tournament begins.

The tournament is never completed, first due to the vengeful attack and theft of the Gold Cloth by Phoenix Ikki and the Black Saints, and then due to an unexpected chain of events that end in the kidnapping of Saori by servants of the Pope, also out to steal the Sagittarius Cloth. Fearing that his scheme to rule the world in Athena's name would never come to fruition, the Pope, Saga, tricks the Silver Saints and the Gold Saints into thinking that Saori Kido is an impostor and usurper of Athena's name and, as such, had to be killed. Most are fooled and target Saori, but she is rescued by five of the Bronze Saints recruited by Mitsumasa Kido: Pegasus Seiya, Cygnus Hyōga, Dragon Shiryū, Phoenix Ikki and Andromeda Shun.

Athena then travels to Greece, accompanied by the Bronze Saints, to solve the crisis in the Sanctuary and challenge Saga.

Twelve temples arc[edit]

Upon arriving at Sanctuary, Saori is greeted by the Silver Saint Sagitta Ptolemy, who strikes her in the chest with a golden arrow. Defeated by Seiya and dying, Ptolemy reveals that no one but the Pope has the power to extract the arrow. The Bronze Saints would have twelve hours to bring him to Athena before the arrow pierced her heart and killed her.

The Bronze Saints are forced to cross the twelve Temples of the Zodiac in Sanctuary, each guarded by a Gold Saint. Some of the Gold Saints, like Aries Mu and Libra Dohko, already knew of the evil intentions of the Pope and help the Bronze Saints. Others oppose them, since they consider Saori an impostor and the Bronze Saints traitors. Finally, there are those, like Cancer Deathmask and Pisces Aphrodite, who know the truth about the Pope and Athena, but side with him anyway.[11]

Even wounded, Athena encourages the Bronze Saints and helps them to defeat the seemingly invincible opponents they face, sending them her Cosmo and reminding them of their mission to give them the strength to pull through. Meanwhile, she is guarded by Aries Mu and his pupil Kiki, and later by Tatsumi and the other Bronze Saints (Unicorn Jabu, Wolf Nachi, Hydra Ichi, Lionet Ban and Bear Geki).

Only Seiya and Ikki reach the Pope, who reveals himself to be the Gold Saint Gemini Saga. After a fierce battle, Seiya also discovers that it was not Saga who would be able to save Saori, but her shield which rests with Athena's statue. As he wields the shield and asks for it to save Athena, it vanquishes Saga's evil personality and removes the arrow from Athena's heart with its divine radiance. The goddess is saved and the Saints of Sanctuary recognize her as Athena and pledge their loyalty to her. Upon reaching the statue, she finds Saga bowing before her, claiming that there is no way he can make up for the evil he has done. He commits suicide by punching through his own heart.

Poseidon arc[edit]

Athena prepares to seal Poseidon's soul, in a panel from Saint Seiya, volume 18.

In the following arc of Kurumada's manga, Saori is invited by millionaire heir Julian Solo to attend his birthday party at cape Sounion, Greece, less than a month after the battles at the twelve temples. There, Julian proposes to marry her, but she politely turns him down, saying she is too young and too busy. Julian is then approached by Mermaid Thetis, who reveals to him that he is the vessel the god Poseidon, Emperor of the Seas, has chosen to reincarnate in.[12] After 2000 years of sleep, Poseidon was determined to take revenge on Athena for his defeat in their last battle and to cleanse the Earth of mankind, which he considered unworthy of the blessing of the gods. Poseidon sets his plans in motion by unleashing floods and heavy rains on Earth. One of Poseidon's soldiers also attempts to kidnap Saori, but he is thwarted by Gold Saint Leo Aiolia.

Athena returns to Japan and visits the Bronze Saints at the Graude Foundation Hospital, where they are recovering from the battles of the twelve temples. There, the Marina General Siren Sorrento attempts to kill her, but the Gold Saint Taurus Aldebaran protects her. Such events convince her to meet with Poseidon to resolve the crisis.

At Poseidon's Undersea Temple, the Emperor of the Seas proposes to marry her and to cleanse the Earth of humans, who have caused it so much harm. Athena refuses the proposals and instead offers herself as a sacrifice to delay the punishment on Earth, by receiving it herself. Poseidon accepts and locks Athena in the slowly flooding Main Breadwinner, the main support column of the Seven Seas, where she will eventually drown.

Sensing Athena's ordeal, the Bronze Saints wake up and go to her rescue. Poseidon sends Mermaid Thetis to inform them of his challenge: to stop him, they will have to defeat his Mariner Generals and demolish the seven Mammoth Pillars they guard. The Bronze Saints succeed, after terrible and bloody battles. As in the previous conflicts, Athena encouraged them and gave them strength to win their battles.

When only the Main Breadwinner remains, the Saints are confronted by Poseidon himself. Gravely hurt and no match to a god, the Saints face certain death, until the Mariner Sea Dragon Kanon, Saga's twin brother who was responsible for Poseidon's return, reveals to them that the only way to defeat Poseidon is to seal him within Athena's Amphora, an urn that she used 2000 years ago to hold his spirit and force him into an eternal slumber. Strengthened by the collective Cosmos of his friends, Seiya was finally able to throw himself at the Main Breadwinner and shatter it, freeing Athena. She then opens the Amphora and imprisons Poseidon. With the god gone, the floods and rains on Earth stop and the Undersea Temple collapses. Peace and order are restored.

Hades arc[edit]

In the final arc of Saint Seiya, Athena is recovering from her recent battle with Poseidon at Sanctuary, when Hades returns to Earth and launches an assault, aided not only by his personal army, the 108 Demon Stars known as Specters, but also by former servants of Athena, deceased Silver and Gold Saints that had pledged their loyalty to Hades in exchange for resurrection. The mission of the Specters and revived Saints was to take Athena's head to Hades.

Wanting to protect her Bronze Saints from yet another battle, Athena forbids them from taking part in the war against Hades, but, paying no attention to such restriction, the Bronze Saints gather on Sanctuary when they feel the ominous Cosmo of Hades's forces. They take part in the battle against Athena's will and help defeat the Specters along with their fellow Gold Saints.

The true intentions of the revived Saints are then revealed: they mean to reach Athena's giant statue and revive it with Athena's blood so it can transform into Athena's Divine Cloth. Realizing the sacrifice they have made and having received Virgo Shaka's message that only by reaching the eighth sense could a being travel to Hades's realm without being subject to its laws, Athena uses the dagger Saga had once tried to murder her with and takes her own life. Using the spilled blood of the goddess, former Pope Shion revives Athena's Cloth and sends the Bronze Saints on a mission to deliver it to their goddess and assist her in the defeat of Hades, who had caused a Great Eclipse to darken the Earth and extinguish all life on Earth.

Athena travels the Underworld with Shaka, searching for Hades to make him stop the Eclipse. They find him at the palace of Giudecca, inhabiting the body of Andromeda Shun. Athena uses her blood to free Shun from Hades's influence, but the god's soul flees to Elysion, where his true body has rested since the age of myth, to avoid harm. Retaking control of his body, Hades is able to defeat Athena and trap her in a large urn, where she will bleed to death.

The Bronze Saints follow her into Elysion to deliver her Cloth, counting on the help of the Gold Saints to cross the Wailing Wall. Upon reaching it, they are forced to overcome the god of Slumber, Hypnos, and the god of Death, Thanatos. The Saints then proceed to release Athena from Hades's Urn and deliver her Divine Cloth. A terrible battle ensues, until, imbuing her staff of Nike with their collective Cosmos, Athena manages to pierce through Hades's Surplice and body. With the defeat of Hades, the Greatest Eclipse is undone. Having saved all life on Earth.

In the Heaven Chapter prologue manga[edit]

In the short introductory manga authored by Masami Kurumada, published to coincide with the release of the Saint Seiya Tenkai-hen Josō Overture movie, Athena is shown by Kurumada taking care of Seiya. After the battle with Hades, he was left cursed by the god of the underworld with his Cosmo depleted and using a wheelchair.

This short manga is the only part revealed by Kurumada of the long overdue Heaven Chapter of his popular manga as he has yet to write and draw the entire Heaven Chapter, which will serve as a bridge to the future final arc in his manga, in which the Saints will face Chrono and Rhea, as the conclusion to one of his most popular works.

In early interviews about the eventual Heaven Chapter of Saint Seiya, the author Masami Kurumada said that he had envisioned it to start with Seiya sitting in a wheelchair, being pushed by his sister Seika over a field. This was apparently changed by Toei Animation, the producers of the anime adaptation and the movies, to include Athena instead of Seika, because Seika's true relationship as Seiya's sister had been revealed by Kurumada only in his manga, and the anime adaptation had yet to reach that point by the time the movie premiered. This important point of the plot was finally reached in the last episodes of the Hades arc adaptation in the anime, released in March 2008, 3 years after Tenkai-hen Overture premiered, and 16 years after Kurumada revealed it in his manga.

In Saint Seiya: Next Dimension[edit]

In the official sequel of the manga of Saint Seiya, Saori to save Seiya from the curse of the sword of Hades, he went first to the slopes of Olympus, from his sister Artemis the goddess of the moon, then, by the god of time Chronos, who sends her back in time, in the eighteenth century, at the time of the previous Holy War against Hades...

In the anime adaptation[edit]

Athena stands victorious as Poseidon is defeated, in a screenshot from the anime.
  • In his manga, Kurumada gave her light brown hair; in the anime adaptation, her hair color is purple.
  • In Kurumada's manga, the truth about her origins and destiny was revealed to her by her foster-grandfather Mitsumasa Kido, when she was 9 years old. In the anime adaptation, fulfilling Mitsumasa's will, it was Tatsumi Tokumaru who revealed it to her, years after Mitsumasa's death and in front of the Saints.
  • In the anime, Saori also assisted Silver Saint Centaur Babel's death, moments after she discovered her divine origins. In the manga, and in the anime as well, Babel is killed by Cygnus Hyōga, but it is only in the anime where Babel is helped by Athena to die in peace. Babel recognized her as the true Athena and died regretting having served evil unknowingly, but he found consolation in the arms of his goddess, and died peacefully.
  • In the anime adaptation, all the Bronze Saints are conscious at the end of the Sanctuary arc and Saga kills himself using Athena's Nike staff after Seiya vanquishes his evil side.

Appearances in other media[edit]

Athena, as Sasha, as seen in The Lost Canvas manga.

Athena has appeared in all five Saint Seiya theatrical releases: Evil Goddess Eris, The Heated Battle of the Gods, Legend of Crimson Youth, Warriors of the Final Holy Battle and Saint Seiya Heaven Chapter: Overture.

She also appears in the two spin-off manga of the franchise, which are not authored by Masami Kurumada, but authorized and supervised by him:

  • Saint Seiya Episode.G, written and drawn by Megumu Okada and which takes place in 1979, seven years before the events of Kurumada's manga. In it, Athena appears briefly after her incarnation in Sanctuary in 1973.
  • Saint Seiya: The Lost Canvas, written and drawn by Shiori Teshirogi and later adapted into an OVA series. It tells the events of an alternate holy war against Hades in the eighteenth century. In it, Athena appears both in her previous incarnation, as an orphan called Sasha, and briefly in her fifteenth century incarnation.

In the anime spin-off Saint Seiya Omega, not supervised by Kurumada, Saori Kido still serves as Athena, and, as such, is kidnapped by Mars, the main antagonist [13] and replaced by a girl named Aria, initially referred as Athena herself.[14] Saori Kido is also shown as a mother figure to Pegasus Kōga: reflecting the loving relationship between Saori and Pegasus Seiya, Pegaus Kōga seems to care deeply for her as Saori was shown to be quite caring towards him.

Saori/Athena also appears as a non-playable character in the three Saint Seiya games that were released for PlayStation 2: Saint Seiya: Chapter Sanctuary and Saint Seiya: The Hades and Saint Seiya Senki for PlayStation 3, and appears as a playable character in the Saint Seiya: Brave Soldiers for PS3.

Reception[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e Kurumada, Masami (1986). "Chapter 1". Saint Seiya, Volume 1. Shueisha. ISBN 4-08-851754-7. 
  2. ^ Kurumada, Masami (1989). "Chapter 68". Saint Seiya, Volume 19. Shueisha. ISBN 4-08-851534-X. 
  3. ^ Kurumada Masami. Saint Seiya Volume 1. Viz Media.
  4. ^ Kurumada, Masami (1987). "Chapter 26". Saint Seiya, Volume 7. Shueisha. ISBN 4-08-851760-1. 
  5. ^ Kurumada, Masami (2006). "Chapter 1". Saint Seiya Next Dimension. Shueisha. 
  6. ^ Kurumada, Masami (1988). "Chapter 44". Saint Seiya, Volume 13. Shueisha. ISBN 4-08-851766-0. 
  7. ^ a b Kurumada, Masami (1987). "Chapter 24". Saint Seiya, Volume 6. Shueisha. ISBN 4-08-851759-8. 
  8. ^ Kurumada, Masami (1990). "Chapter 80". Saint Seiya, Volume 22. Shueisha. ISBN 4-08-851539-0. 
  9. ^ Kurumada, Masami (1990). "Chapter 83". Saint Seiya, Volume 22. Shueisha. ISBN 4-08-851537-4. 
  10. ^ Kurumada, Masami (1987). "Chapter 27". Saint Seiya. Volume 7. Shueisha. ISBN 4-08-851760-1. 
  11. ^ Kurumada, Masami (1988). "Chapter 29". Saint Seiya, Volume 8. Shueisha. ISBN 4-08-851761-X. 
  12. ^ Kurumada, Masami (1989). "Chapter 47". Saint Seiya, Volume 14. Shueisha. ISBN 4-08-851767-9. 
  13. ^ Saint Seiya: Omega, episode 1
  14. ^ Saint Seiya: Omega, episode 8