When high school girl Hoshino Hitomi dabbles with tarot cards she suddenly finds herself on a strange world called Gaea. With her new found friend, Van Fanel, the young prince of the devastated kingdom of Fanelia, Hitomi becomes involved in the battle against the Zaibach forces, an evil empire bent on conquering the planet. So begins the epic saga that was spawned by one the most acclaimed anime series of the past decade.
Three alternate retellings of The Vision of Escaflowne have been released in manga form, with first two manga series developed at the same time as the anime. Due to the radical changes in the anime series during production, these two manga series are very different from the original anime series and each other. The first series, also titled The Vision of Escaflowne was one of the first manga series to appear in the then new Shōnen Ace magazine from Kadokawa Shoten. Despite the anime series itself being on hold, Sunrise gave artist Katsu Aki the existing production and character designs, resulting in the first manga series having the heavy shōnen feel and curvaceous Hitomi that was originally planned for the anime series. Given free rein to change the story however he wanted, Aki’s version is a violent saga focused primarily on fighting and has Hitomi transforming into a “curvaceous nymph” that is the power source of the mecha Escaflowne. The series premiered in Shōnen Ace’s first issue on October 24, 1994 and ran until November 26, 1997. The thirty-eight chapters were collected and published by Kadokawa across eight tankōbon volumes. It was licensed for released in North America by Tokyopop with the first volume released on July 10, 2003. The Tokyopop English editions were also imported for distribution in Australia by Madman Entertainment.
In 1996, with the premiere of the anime series, Messiah Knight — The Vision of Escaflowne was created. This shōjo oriented adaptation was written by Yuzuru Yashiro and serialized in Asuka Fantasy DX from April 8, 1996 through January 18, 1997. Unlike the first manga, it focused more on the interaction of the characters and severely toned down the violence to the point that the mecha are not used for battle at all and The Escaflowne only appears near the end of the series. It was abruptly canceled after only 10 chapters and the end of the anime, due to the slowing popularity of the series. The individual chapters were released in two tankōbon volumes, at which time the series was retitled Hitomi — The Vision of Escaflowne.
A final manga retelling, Escaflowne — Energist’s Memories, was a collaborative effort of various manga artist around Japan to create 15 “mini-stories” related to the anime series. The single volume manga was published in January 1997 under Kadokawa’s Asuka comics DX shōjo imprint. Artist’s who contributed to the volume include: Tammy Ohta, Yayoi Takeda, Kahiro Okuya, Daimoon Tennyo, Kazumi Takahashi, Masaki Sano, and Kyo Watanabe.