I encountered the fantasy genre fairly late considering how often I'd steeped myself in fiction during my young life. Escaflowne appeared as the first fantasy anime to flash onto my television. It forged a powerful introduction: quick-moving action, blatant tension, and giant mechs I'd never seen on typical Saturday-Morning cartoons. Two emotive impressions I recieved from my early encounter are anticiption and disappointment: the prior from conclusion of one episode and the latter from the show's cancellation. With these two feelings I returned to Escaflowne years later.
The story remains altogether interesting because of the unique world, various characters, and steady usage of sturdy plot devices. My complaint with the category: many portions of the story feel convoluted. Much of the romance fizzles and starts hindering the plot while many eccentricities of the fiction take a "just because" mentality; such responses don't agitate many viewers but its distracting for me to view fantasy fiction that doesn't create its own context. All the characters support the world sufficiently, but spread the wealth over too many potential distractions. After watching the movie, which destroys the majority for three or four characters, I understand the potential depth and the sacrifice made in each.
The animation looks and feels old, but harbors an archaic originality that fits the world perfectly; I only wish a full series with the movie's animation could exist. The sound is fantastic. The voice overs don't distract and the music stands atop the mountain of anime soundtracks. Vaan's angry-emo-kid voice, the Georgian chants, and operatic scores alone were enough to win me over.
If you're interested in fantasy--especially fantasy anime--give Escaflowne a chance. Though I have qualms with portions of the narrative I don't regret watching the series. Remember to view with normal expectations and an open mind.
Note: There are catgirls in this series.