StarStorm (partially found pilot of cancelled live-action adaptation of "Saint Seiya" anime series; 1994-1999)

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Screenshot from the resurfaced footage from the pilot, showing the logo for the series.

Status: Partially Found

In mid-1994, with the growing popularity of the ever-so-popular super-sentai franchise, Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers, reaching the western front of the world the year prior, more and more Japanese media exports were making their way to the United States. One of which, with its notoriety among Japanese audiences, is the Saint Seiya franchise. To further advertise the franchise in the United States, a 15-minute pilot for a live-action adaptation based on the hit anime TV series, was produced and made although it was abandoned as the years went on due to poor reception from various audiences.[1]

This pilot was not widely known at that time until an interview from a French media magazine, AnimeLand, in 2003, interviewed the franchise series' creator, Masami Kurumada, confirming its existence.[2][3]


With more and more Japanese media exports reaching various other countries in the 1980s-1990s, it had yet to reach the United States until Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers[4], produced by Renaissance-Atlantic Films[5], Bandai Namco America, and Saban Entertainment. This ended up being a hit to the audience in America, thus creating an influx of more and more Japanese media being shown to the American audience, and western and Japanese companies monopolizing on hit Japanese franchises to be brought in America, two of which are the infamous Toon Makers adaptation of Sailor Moon, and Saint Seiya[6].

After seeing the positive reception for Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, which had been doing well commercially on both television and in their toy line, the then-president of Bandai Namco America, Frank Ward, had been pushing for the anime series, Saint Seiya to be brought to America, due to how popular it is in international countries in Europe and South America. More importantly, they were trying to increase their toy stocks, seeing how popular action figures, especially from Power Rangers had been. This was not an easy barrier to cross though, as serializing and bringing the series to the United States were met and faced with various copyright complications, and business restrictions due to the series' violent nature[7], and were difficult to be pitched, let alone approved and greenlit by toy markets and television executives.[1]

Due to restrictions and the series' violent nature, in order for them to advertise the franchise to a much bigger audience, Frank Ward and the whole Bandai Namco America team decided to make a live-action adaptation of the series, also in order to promote and increase sales on their toy line of Saint Seiya action figures.[1]

The Pilot

The company, Renaissance-Atlantic Films[5], was taken in charge of producing and making the pilot for the TV series to be pitched to various networks. The company had worked on various other TV works on various toy franchises before, and had been partners with Bandai Namco America on which both of them had produced Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers.[4]The series' name was picked to be StarStorm, as Ward claimed that the name was derived from the 1977 sci-fi film classic, Star Wars.

There is no resurfaced listing of people who had worked on the pilot, and the actors who portrayed the characters for the series. Frankly, Ward doesn't have any recollection of it. [1] Since the listing of toys are held in favor of the Bandai company worldwide, the copyright holders for the series, Toei, won't let them make the pilot or advertise the toys and had only reported to keep making American companies air and buy their works for audiences in the western front. With various copyright complications and placements on pushing the series to America, the pilot was postponed and eventually known to be abandoned as late as 1999.[1]


This attempt on bringing the series to America would fail, but it will eventually find its way and introduce to American audiences years later in 2003 by DiC Animation, airing on Cartoon Network, with the international name, Knights of the Zodiac. However, most episodes produced and brought by DiC are partially lost and being sought out by various communities. Two more English dubs have been produced, albeit uncensored; one self-produced by ADV films,[8] and another one, this time a complete dub, by Sentai Filmworks, with a brand-new cast.[9][10][11] Unlike DiC's dub, both of these dubs are preserved in their entirety.

It also has another Hollywood live-action adaptation, this time being a movie that was released in 2023, called "Saint Seiya: Knights Of The Zodiac"[12]


Page of Issue 97, an interview with Kurumada and James Pierre.

The existence of this pilot would be unbeknownst to people, until a French media magazine, AnimeLand, conducted by writer James Pierre who interviewed Saint Seiya's creator, Masami Kurumada, in 2003, in AnimeLand Issue #97, talked about the existence of the pilot. Saint Seiya is a really popular series in France.

In the following interview, Kurumada revealed the following:

James Pierre: What do you think about the spread of Saint Seiya in the United States?

Masami Kurumada: A few years ago, a project for a live-action film came to my office. Hollywood had produced a 15-minute pilot. But the essence of the series was not respected. The designs and the realization made us think of a kind of Ninja Turtles, the names were changed, etc. The project was abandoned because they could not get a result satisfactory. [2]

In another interview with Kurumada, conducted by Pierre Giner in 2005 that appeared on Animeland Issue #117, reveals more about the pilot, and revealed that Kuramada did show the tape to Pierre Giner. [13]

Pierre Giner: It seems that the company Bandai has made a pilot for a live-action film (film with real actors) of Saint Seiya in the United States...

Masami Kuramada: That's right, it exists. The characters used the clothes of the second series on their naked torsos. But the project will never see the light of day.
(Mr. Kurumada puts on a video and he shows me the film. The result is... surprising. All the actors have well-defined physique, and Andromeda is... a woman. Death Mask, on the other hand, looks pretty similar.)

That said, it is good that this project has never come out. [13]


No available footage was available until July 2018 when a demo reel for Renaissance-Atlantic Films was posted on YouTube by Marlene Sharp. The video included clips of shows and works made by Renaissance-Atlantic Films that included and revealed 20-second footage of the pilot and the logo for the series. This won't get as much attention until months later on where Brazilian and other worldwide Saint-Seiya communities had talked about it. This is the only footage of the pilot available as of 2022.. The footage reveals that Andromeda is indeed played by a woman.

Additionally, in the interview with James Ward, he had already stated that he doesn't have any of the tapes.[1]. It is unconfirmed too if Kurumada still has the pilot.

The website, SS Next Dimension[14], replied to a tweet asking if they had any luck finding the pilot in the Library of Congress, where many had believed that the pilot was archived there. Unfortunately, after contacting the Library of Congress, they replied that they had lost and had forgotten where they had put it and are finding them.[15]




Renaissance-Atlantic Films demo reel, uploaded by Marlene Sharp, that contains footage from the pilot (2:35-2:54).

Resurfaced footage taken from demo reel.


Part one of Ray Mona's video on the subject.

Part two of Ray Mona's video on the subject.

See Also

External Links