Star Ocean EX
Claude C. Kenni is an ensign on his father's spaceship. While on an away team investigation, he comes across a strange artifact which transports him to another world. Once there, he comes across a young woman who is being attacked by a large monster. He saves her using his laser handgun, but on this world no one uses such advanced technology, which leads to confusion. The girl, Rena Lanford, believes him to be a legendary 'Warrior Of Light' sent to save her world from an evil artifact known as the Sorcery Globe. Together, Claude and Rena set out to solve the mystery of the Sorcery Globe and meet and recruit lots of party members along the way.
It is impossible for me to convey just how much I was looking forward to this anime series. I am a diehard fan of the Playstation video game this anime was based off of, and I even have a rather large homepage dedicated to it. I saw all the promos, collected the goods, and did all in my power to find a copy of the series to watch. When it finally arrived, I was near tears, I was so happy! Finally, Star Ocean EX! My holy grail of anime! It's based off my second-favorite video game of all time, so it couldn't POSSIBLY suck!
Actually, Star Ocean EX doesn't suck, but either I had my expectations too high or the animators didn't have enough. It is at best an adequate show, which disappoints me beacuse unlike most anime based off video games, Star Ocean EX has a solid storyline and interesting characters. However, the video game has two versions, one from Claude's point of view, and one from Rena's. The anime chose to follow Claude's story, which I hate to say turned out to be a bad thing.
Of all the characters in Star Ocean EX, Claude is the weakest in terms of development, and it's very hard to care about what he does in the series. In some parts the anime would make more sense if he wasn't around, and he's the main character for pete's sake! It doesn't help that his voice actor, Yuuki Hiro (most famously known as Omi from Weiss Kreuz/Knight Hunters) gives one of the weakest performances I've ever seen from him. He was terribly miscast as Claude. While Claude is supposed to be a nineteen-year-old soldier, Yuuki plays him like he is a twelve-year-old spoiled brat who is to busy whining about being to hero to actually do anything. You can't understand why anyone would want to follow him.
Thankfully, the other characters more than make up for Claude's shortcomings. Rena starts out as the typical clingy, weak heroine, but becomes more well-rounded as the series progresses. She should have been the focus of the show, as she has a far more at stake personally than Claude does. But you wouldn't know it from the anime! :(
Celine, the prissy sorceress, and Precis, the hyper-genki techno girl, really make the show for me. They steal all the scenes they are in, and are absolutely adorable. I'm also glad that Dias, the show's resident angsty bishounen swordsman, isn't as gloomy as he sometimes is portrayed in the game. He comes across as more of a strong, silent big brother archetype, which is good, but later in the show he nearly kills himself to give Claude ... a feather! (Why?) But the one who seems to get the most attention is Ashton, a frantic, spazzy swordsman who is possesed by two dragons and is without a doubt the most original character in the show. Seki Tomokazu (Chichiri from Fushigi Yuugi) portrays Ashton's triple personalities with great skill, and I can't imagine anyone else in the role.
It's a good thing Star Ocean has strong characters, because sadly, the animation quality is almost nonexistent. It seems like a lot of the animators learned their techniques from the crew who animated Crying Freeman: lots of still images shaking on the screen to simulate movement. I swear in some scenes they had to digitally edit out the popsicle sticks the characters were glued onto the movement was so stiff! Horses don't gallop, they just hop up and down with their legs still ... it's THAT bad! The show obviously had a budget, because the scenes are rendered beautifully. Everyone looks absolutely breathtaking as they are standing still ... but this is an anime! It would be so much better if they actually moved!
The music is all over the place, as if they couldn't decide on which style to stick with. The opening and ending are stock J-pop (as to be expected), but the actual music in the series varies wildly. They mix music from the game (which is beautifully orchestrated) with rather cartoony music which reminds of the background music from Fat Albert for some odd reason. It's incredibly annoying, and at times I had to fast forward through the scene because I couldn't stand the soundtrack.
Overall, the series isn't anything special, but it's not completely worthless either. It's one of those series that you really have to sit through every episode to appreciate it, but every other episode you question whether it's truly worth it or not. I would only recommend this series to diehard fans of the video game or anime fans who are really into the RPG genre.
Saved purely by the winsome characters (not counting the lead). — Christina Carpenter
Recommended Audience: Some violence (mostly of the swords-and-sorcery type, and very stylized), no nudity or sexual innuendo that we noticed. Fine for older children and above.
Version(s) Viewed: Prerelease fansub
Review Status: Full (26/26)
Star Ocean EX © 2001 Azuma Mayumi / Studio Deen / TV Tokyo / Enix
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