Monday, September 2, 2002

Crest of the Stars (Sekai no Monshou)

Genre: Space Adventure
Parental Guidance Recommended
1999. Hiroyuki Morioka (novel writer). Yasuchika Nagaoka (director). Bandai Visual. Sunrise. WOWOW.

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Cover Description:
Jinto Lin's life changes forever when the Humankind Empire Abh takes over his home planet of Martine without firing a single shot. He is soon sent off to study the Abh language and culture and to prepare himself for his future as a nobleman - a future he never dreamed of. Or wanted. Now, Jinto is entering the next phase of his training, and he is about to meet his first Abh, the lovely Lafiel. But Jinto is about to learn that she is more than she appears to be. And together they will have to fight for their very lives.

(13 episodes)

A different kind of space adventure. >>> by firesenshi

Based on the renowned novels by Hiroyuki Morioka, Sekai no Monshou (Crest of the Stars) is more of an epic story set in space than a space action-packed adventure anime like that of Outlaw Star. As mentioned in the synopsis above, the story starts with Jinto Lin. The first episode recalls his past in his home planet and how a race of beautiful and powerful humans takes over his planet. His first interaction with an Abh won't be that fateful day of conquest but will only happen 7 years later, when he meets an Abh named Lafiel. This first meeting will be the start of a very meaningful relationship.

Of course, there will be scenes describing the history and culture of the Abh race. In fact, each episode starts with an introduction revealing important facts about the Abh people. The introduction is spoken in a language that is like German or Latin as if in the style of an ancient documentary with only Japanese subtitles telling you what the narrator is saying. As in great space sagas, the story introduces an elaborate political system that governs the stars under one ruling Empire, under threat of rebellion. That however, only serves as a background story under which the main characters Jinto and Lafiel move into. The anime, in fact, focuses on their relationship and does a good job at concentrating on these two main characters -- from their instant connection to a deeper friendship. The dialogues between them, even their nonsensical musings and thoughts aboard their transfer shuttle is the main subject of the episodes NOT the galactic wars that are happening. The episodes deal more with their adventures and how the intergalatic political events affect them.

The episodes in Sekai no Monshou (Crest of the Stars) will still treat you to fine battles in space. You will be introduced to the military attitude of the Abh and see firsthand how they battle in space. Morioka-san is very good at defining how different an Abh is from a Terran such that you will learn of a different battle strategy unlike those of the space adventure anime you have seen. Sekai no Monshou (Crest of the Stars) also created a very comprehensive universe that introduces new concepts in space wars like gebrels as units of measurements, time-space clusters, and even new terms for weapons. I got lost in these terms at first but you will understand the context of these terms later on because you will get a good view of the battles in space where they show collisions, explosions and landings in detail.

The animation is very good. I was surprised that for a recent anime, they did not employ a lot of CG. Everything is just drawn in spectacular color. What bothered me though is how they drew the characters. The heads could be drawn too big and not proportional to their waif-like bodies.

The music uses symphonies which suits the mood and theme of Sekai no Monshou (Crest of the Stars). Symphonic music always fits a grandiose theme such as the space wars or the elite Abh race.

What I don't like in Crest of the Stars is that it's more of a space soap opera than an action-packed story with various twists. My fault was of course, expecting it to be as a solid action adventure since I only saw its finest battle moments in space from the trailer. It does focus more on the development of the relationship of the main characters Jinto and Lafiel such that you are involved with all their conversations and thoughts. Sometimes you feel like an eavesdropper than anything else. It could have been more fun to watch if the grand events in the space wars between the Abh and its breakway group had a deeper connection with the two characters. But you finish all 13 episodes and you can see that these two are negligible to the political war if it weren't for the fact that Lafiel is an important member of the Abh race. The main characters are not even part of the main battle scenes that are happening there but are involved in a less exciting trouble of their own. At one point, you will feel happy that there could be something 'more' going on between those two. You just have to read between the lines in their lengthy dialogues. Too much dialogue can be boring. That of course is part of the buildup of the plotup, but too much buildup before the action only brings impatience. (In other words, "When do we fight? When do we fight?!!")

However, I must say that I still think it's one good anime to try because it takes a whole new perspective on space adventures. It just has a milder and more intimate temperament than any of the space adventure anime I've ever seen.

Individual Rating: Art/Animation 8; Story 8; Characters 7; Sounds 8

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