Saturday, February 23, 2013

Anime Review: Crest of the Stars

Oh geeze, I bought the first volume of this when I came across it at my library's bookstore two summers ago since I had heard good things and then grabbed the completely collection during a big Bandai sale after they announced that they were closing their doors and just haven't had the time to watch it since. But, since I crunched the numbers and realized I was going to need a few more series to tide my blog over until March I decided it was high time I watched the rest of this series, especially if it turned out I liked it and I wanted to get the sequels (Banner of the Stars I & II) before they went horribly out of print. So, better late than never!

Crest of the Stars

Summary: In the far off future mankind has spread all amongst the stars and, like the rest of human history, there continues to be tension and violence between various groups. One group has been steadily rising in power for centuries, the Ahb Empire whose citizens aren't exactly human after genetic modifications to make them better suited to live in space and they have been conquering as many places as they can in order to seize control of vital travel points. Jinto's planet was one conquered by them and, thanks to negotiations by his father, he's now an Abh nobleman on his way to military school when the slow rumblings of discontentment throughout the galaxy reach a boiling point.

The Good: I wasn't expecting the series to be as heavily character driven as it was but Jinto and Lafiel (an Abh who initially was there to escort Jinto to school but then the two of them end up stuck together even longer) really bounce off of each other nicely and the show balances out it's more dialogue heavy early episodes with quite a bit of action later (which still has a lot of talking in it admittedly, just more phasers as well). I feel like the 90s/early 2000s were the golden age of space opera anime (that is, science fiction set in the sprawling stage of space) and while there have been shows like Bodacious Space Pirates in the past few years they're all just lacking something, epic that these shows from that time period had. I'm curious how this story continues in the sequels, clearly this was one, big introduction arc to get the viewers familiar with the characters and the setting and I wonder how exactly this story is going to end which is enough motivation for me to keep watching.

The Bad: So a lot of people have been complaining about adapations of light novels lately, because people love to complain, and I'm not surprised to see that this anime was based on a series of what I believe to be light novels for two reasons, the amount of technical detail (not a bad thing) and a really random middle of the story arc (a bad thing) which I've seen come up in a number of other long running series. I kinda see what they were trying to do with the, erm, let's just call it the middle of the season, introduce more conflicts and ideas that will shape the characters later as well as set up the third part of this season, but it was just odd enough that I just wanted to finish it and I just feel like they could have written this much better. 

The Audio: I watched the Japanese sub (since I don't even want to think about the quality of dub, it might not be terrible but it must have been made before they started getting consistently good) and that was perfectly good. Actually I was rather surprised to see that Jinto and Lafiel were voiced by women in their 30s/20s respectively, they both sounded really realistic to me (they had a lower pitch to their voices that I normally associate with a real child/teen doing voice work) and, this might sound a bit silly since I've never read the original novels, but their voices sounded like they were perfect for the characters to me. They were able to give the characters extra dimension, emotions, suggest things through the voice acting alone that I wouldn't have picked up just for the animation, I feel like I'm stating the obvious here but there was real acting involved here and I'm more impressed here than I am with most anime I see for that reason. Aside from that, I found the intro music terribly boring, skipped the ending most of the time so I'd have more time to watch another episode and thought it was cool how the opening narrations were in a completely made up language (which I think was based on French but don't quote me there, I still thought it was cool regardless).

The Visuals: As far as I can tell this show hasn't received a remaster (it's from 1999 or 2000 if I recall correctly) and obviously the DVDs I have aren't which is sad since while the art isn't terrible it is rather dated and some clean-up would make it look nicer for sure. The art style itself is dated but I didn't see anything wrong with the animation itself and it's not like people won't watch a show more than 10 years old (especially if you're a sci-fi anime, American, fan) although I do think that this art style probably helps turn some people off of the show.

So a solid 3 out of 5 stars for this show, now for me to figure out how I'll watch the rest of it (buying it is the obvious option but my budget for entertainment is now non-existent so this is going to take longer than I'd like). 

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