Saturday, November 22, 2008

Ging’s Large Short Serious Business Review #7: Banner of the Stars


Note: Before I review this, I should tell you that I am reviewing this having seen the first season, Crest of the Stars. One who would watch Banner of the Stars before Crest of the Stars is a foolish person. I advise watching crest of the stars beforehand. If you haven’t seen either you can still read this. It is spoiler-free. Also be sure to listen to podcast #13 to hear the anime pulp review for Crest of the Stars.

Synopsis: The story of Banner of the Stars takes place in a science fiction space world and is literally the next chapter in the seikai series (the first being Crest of the Stars). This particular space opera is set in a universe divided by two. One side is the four nations alliance, which is comprised of four major nations of mankind. The other side is the Abh empire which is ruled by the Abh, a race that evolved from humans and taken over half of the known universe.

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In Crest of the Stars, a young man named Jinto is thrown into the ordeals of becoming an Abh noblemen after his planet was taken over by the Abh. He must be sent to the capital of Abh to become a trained solider of the Abh army. A young lady named Lafiel, who is the princess of the royal Abh empire as well as a space pilot trainee, is assigned to take him to the capital of Abh. Unfortunately a war has started between the two main forces of their universe and the path to the capital – and safety isn't such an easy task. Crest of the Stars is a wonderful dramatic anime that focuses more on the journey to the destination than the destination.

In Banner of the Stars, three years have passed and Lafiel is now in command of a spaceship going into war. Conveniently enough, strings are pulled so that Jinto can be the supply officer of her ship. This chapter of the story, unlike Crest of the Stars, is focused more on the actual war. Another difference from Crest of the Stars is that the main focus is divided amongst different characters than just Jinto, Lafiel, and their friends. Instead, it also focuses on the leader of the entire Abh army, Dusanya, and his second in command discussing viewpoints on the war as well as their strategies. The other focus aside from Jinto and Lafiel are two twin brothers, Nereis and Nefee, who are given orders to protect the war consumed region despite the fact that they are from a family known for their “spectacular insanity”

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Plot: The Plot of the Banner of the Stars is one of my favorites and while it isn’t very easy to get into, once you do, you will be hooked. Banner of the stars has a lot more action than Crest of the Stars, but the story and dialogue do not suffer from it at all. One complaint I do have about the plot is that they took the focus away from Jinto and Lafiel too often. The romance part of the story was practically ignored. What is worse is that the other two focuses were often more entertaining than Lafiel and Jinto. I usually wouldn't complain about a show having well thought out characters, but when they take the focus from the main characters the whole story seems to hurt. Another thing I disliked was the lack of a proper conclusion, although it is clear that this is leading directly into the third season so I am not sure how bad that really is for the overall plot. 7.5/10

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Characters: The characters in Banner of the Stars are all well thought out, however the problem with the characters is that Lafiel and Jinto make no progress in their relationship and are not as fleshed out. This seems to be compensated for via the newly introduced characters. Other than the well developed main focuses I have already spoken of, the crew on Lafiel’s ship is also very entertaining. The other main members of her crew include a mechanic who always seems drunk, an extremely shy girl who takes care of Jinto’s cat, a flirty woman, and a cat that always gets into shit. The downside to this is that it also takes away from what the main focus is supposed to be, however I think that the characters are entertaining enough you don't really worry about where the focus is, all of the characters are very well done. 8.5/10

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Sound: The sound was never a point much focused on in Crest of the Stars, and it isn't in Banner of the Stars. I would like to have heard more music that wasn't reused though. The only mildly annoying thing is that the music is just reused from the first season. While I can understand budget was most likely the culprit, it would have been nice not to have to hear the same orchestra number during every space scene. With that said it didn't necessarily take away from the experience too much, it just didn't add anything to it. 6/10

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Animation: Ah, sweet cel animation how much I miss you. I think that the animation was fine. It wasn't anything spectacular but it did the job for sure, especially since the show is mostly based on dialogue and the many conversations. There isn't really much to talk about here, the animation was good. 7/10

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Overall, the show is a very enjoyable science fiction space opera that has a solid mixture of both action and drama. While I thought the first season was better, this one is by no means bad. I think that once you get past some minor flaws you should be able to enjoy this anime a lot. If you saw and liked the first season I would definitely recommend watching this, you will probably like it. Over All Rating: 7.3/10

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