The story follows five mystical warriors called the "Saints" (聖闘士（セイント）, Seinto?, or "Knights" in some adaptations) who fight wearing sacred armors named "Cloths" (聖衣（クロス）, Kurosu?), the designs of which derive from the various constellations the characters have adopted as their destined guardian symbols, and empowered by a mystical energy called "Cosmo" (小宇宙（コスモ）, Kosumo?). The Saints have sworn to defend the reincarnation of the Greek goddess Athena in her battle against the other Olympian gods who want to dominate Earth.
Both the original manga and the anime adaptation were very successful in Japan and several Asian, European and Latin American countries, including Hong Kong, Singapore, France, Italy, Spain, Mexico, Peru, Argentina, Colombia, Ecuador, Chile, Brazil and Dominican Republic; however, none of them were translated into English until 2003. Four animated feature films were even shown in Japanese theaters. The anime was cancelled and left unfinished in 1989, leaving one arc of the manga non-animated. However, in 2002, Toei Animation continued the anime in the form of three OVA series (the final one ended in 2008) in order to adapt the remaining manga story arcs, and following this revival of the franchise, a fifth film was screened in 2004.