The Vision of Escaflowne (天空のエスカフローネ) is a 26-episode anime television series by Sunrise studio, originally aired in Japan between April 2 and September 24 of 1996. It is considered by many to be the best anime series of the decade, even surpassing Neon Genesis Evangelion. Not to be confused with Escaflowne, A Girl in Gaea, a movie done by the same people that was released later that retells the story with a darker twist.
It has elements of shoujo and mecha sub-genres. The story is a very good mix of literature and anime genres, getting even into mankind's history. The music, composed by Yoko Kanno and Hajime Mizoguchi, is of a decidedly Middle Eastern flavor, though incorporating such disparate elements as western choir and electro-pop. The anime marks the debut of Maaya Sakamoto as the voice of the main character Hitomi Kanzaki and the singer of the opening song Yakusoku wa Iranai.
Bandai's now-defunct Anime Village label condensed the entire 26-episode story arc into three subtitled VHS tapes in 1998, marketed as the Vision of Escaflowne Best Collection. This version was briefly aired on the Fox Kids network in another edited form between August and October of 2000, but was canceled while still in early plot development, probably due to the complex themes presented in the later episodes. A 23-episode version, heavily cut for content and timing, and with a different title sequence, aired several times on the Fox Kids channel in the UK.
The unedited 26-part series has since been released on US and UK DVD sets offering a choice of dubbed and subtitled versions.