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[R1 DVD box art]
AKA: 星界の紋章 (Seikai no Monshou)
Genre: Epic science fiction space opera
Length: Television series, 13 episodes, 23 minutes each
Distributor: Currently licensed by FUNimation.
Content Rating: PG-13 (violence, some adult themes, brief nudity)
Related Series: Banner of the Stars, Banner of the Stars 2, Chapters of the Stars: Birth
Also Recommended: Banner of the Stars, Banner of the Stars II, Legend of the Galactic Heroes
Notes: Based on the series of novels by Morioka Hiroyuki. There is also a manga based on these novels by Ono Toshihiro.
Rating:
 

Crest of the Stars

Synopsis

As a young boy, Lin Jinto looked towards the stars and the spectacle that was the Ahb forces surrounding the planet. In an invasion that took place in a single day, where not even a single shot was fired, the Abh took control of the surrounding airspace surrounding the planet of Martine.

Seven years later, Jinto finds himself somewhat uncomfortable thrust into his role as Abh nobility. On his way to millitary school, he meets with Lafiel, an Abh by blood, and through their travels, they are caught up in a dawning war against the United Mankind.

Review

Like most other genres, Space Opera/sci-fi comes in a lot of different types and sizes. Even when you take Star Wars and Star Trek out of the equation, you have your Fireflys, your Babylon Fives or your Farscapes, and that's only the newer shows.

Crest of the Stars leans more towards the Star Trek kind, the TNG series in particular. (Though the general feel of its sequel; Banner of the Stars adds some of the waiting game nervousness of Das Boot to the mix. It's chock-full of technobabble and seems to be structured quite meticiously. In fact, that might very well be selling the show and the novels it was based on short. Morioka Hiroyuki actually created a whole language for his novels, partially based on ancient Japanese. The show is also rife with politics and war strategies, the latter perhaps being more prominent in Crest's sequel; Banner of the Stars.

Visually, Crest of the Stars looks nice, though the DVD does occasionally suffer some very visible compression noise, thankfully not often. I didn't really connect with the music, but it was alright, the best pieces being the omnious orchestral pieces and the worst, to me, represented by something that sounds like it's played on pan flute. And yes, you are going to want to stick to the subtitles, because the dub is so dry, it should be considered a potential fire hazard.

For now, be prepared to receive extensive character introductions to our two main characters, as well as a few of the side cast, some of who will become quite infamous in their own right.

We first meet with Jinto, who is our male lead, and one of the two you will be seeing the most often in all the shows. He's a fairly typical down-to-earth guy despite his nobility, and while his encounter with Lafiel -- as well as the first time they spend together -- is more than a bit awkward. His mannerisms are mostly typical western fare, which makes the chemistry that develops between him and Lafiel so much fun to watch. Added to that, he's been a lander all his life, so his reactions to actually going into space is what you'd expect from any normal Earthling who is offered the same oportunity.

Lafiel is in many ways Jinto's exact opposite. Like most, if not all, Abh, she is the most comfortable in space. She seems almost unnaturally calm and confident, a trait that is shared between the Abh in general. We quickly learn how different they are, as a lot of Jinto's viewpoints and opinions puzzle her. ("What's so rude about asking a woman her age?") Nevertheless, beneath that generally calm demeanor lurks a temper you'd be unwise to ignite. And yet, she shares Jinto's love for keeping things informal, which she is more than happy (in the "irritated" kind of happy) to remind Jinto of when he figures out just who she really is.

In many ways, the relationship between Jinto and Lafiel isn't entirely unlike a more recent relationship I've seen in another title. I'm referring to the one that grows between the characters of Lawrence Craft and Holo from Spice and Wolf. This is not because Lafiel and Holo are much alike, nor Jinto and Craft, but there is a very familiar sense of two people asking, prodding and gauging each other's reactions, the only kind that can arise from two different races. (So to speak.) Though that's probably a stretch, given the Abh's origin history.

Mostly, Crest of the Stars is centered around Jinto and Lafiel's little trial-by-fire, and any supporting cast appearances are minimal as of yet. The two worth noting, however, is Admiral Spoor and Captain Lexshue. They can in many ways be considered two fairly opposite characters in the whole Abh personality spectrum. While Captain Lexshue is an honorable and duty-bound captain who carries a warm personality behind her demeanor, Admiral Spoor could possibly be considered one of the more eccentric personalities among the Abh --even counting the twins in Banner of the Stars -- and it's not really all that surprising if both of them should have their fan following.

Crest of the Stars and its three sequels can be a fascinating watch if you're up to digesting a lot of world and character-building. Crest itself has a rather sparse main cast -- most of them aren't introduced until Banner of the Stars while the rest have very short appearances onscreen, but that does in no way imply that Crest is boring unless you are unable to watch anything without heavy amounts of action in it. The show is mostly seen through Abh eyes, but that doesn't mean it's taking sides either, though this won't be apparent until you've watched the sequels.

Do I recommend this show? Absolutely, if you can accept the fact that the anime will most likely forever remain an incomplete show, since the novels themselves seem to be in a state of incompletion as well. Added to that, the third Banner of the Stars, a short two-episode OAV, has not been officially released in English either. This isn't as bad as it sounds -- Crest and both of the Banners series are standalone stories -- but you'll be a little worse for wear if the shows leave you wanting more, which it most certainly will.

A solid sci-fi opera.Stig Høgset

Recommended Audience: Space battles are not as sterile as you'd like to think. People get sucked into space or vaporized with each cannon hit, and the action gets incredibly fierce. And it's very personal. The preview of the episode six showed just a -bit- of nudity (those Abh are -very- human if you ask me). Overall, parents should really view this first (and enjoy it), and then decide whether it's all right for their children. Teens shouldn't have any problem with it, unless they aren't into sci-fi.



Version(s) Viewed: R1 DVD, bilingual
Review Status: Full (13/13)
Crest of the Stars © 1999 Sunrise / Bandai Visual / Hiroyuki Morioka / Hayakawa Shoten