Banner of the Stars, the sequel to Crest of the Stars, is a mixed bag to say the least. On the one hand it’s slow, tiresome, badly paced, and boring; on the other it boasts some of the best space combat I've seen since Star Wars. Hailed by some as one of the best anime series ever (Crest of the Stars, Banner of the Stars, and the next in the series Banner of the Stars II) this show certainly has its strong points, but ultimately its flaws hold it back considerably to the point where I found it very hard to enjoy the story or sympathize with the characters.
Set three years after Crest of the Stars (which you'll have to see before tackling this series) Jinto is a supply officer on the quick attack ship Basriol, and Lafiel is the caption. the war between the Abh and the United Mankind has reached a stalemate, with both sides taking heavy looses in a failed UM attempt to take the Abh's capitol. For three years these opposing forces have been building up their strength, preparing for the day when the fragile cease fire will end and they can resume their conflict. Now, that day has come as the Abh launch a devastating attack called "Operation Phantom Flame" against the UM. Jinto and Lafiel, along with their loyal crew, are thrust into the midst of battle to fight for their lives and their nation.
The series never really seems to know what it wants to do with its scenes, one minute there's an enormous space battle involving hundreds of ships all firing their pulse cannons and space mines, the next you see the commanders sitting calmly in their flag ships, talking endlessly about completely random things which have absolutely nothing to do with the battle outside. Its these interruptions in the action that spell doom for the series; the transition from the frantic pace of battle to the slow, dull, boring pace of the conference room is done so often, so abruptly- often at the worst possible moments- that the grand scale of the war is lost. You’d think that a show like this, which is really all about one huge battle, would have focused on, well, the battle. The endless politics, the mood swings of the commanders, the twenty minute conversations, the characters taking brakes in the middle of battle to fix themselves a drink (no kidding), it all wore down on what should have been the series main focus.
Although not perfect, the soundtrack for this series is very fitting and nice. When I first heard it, it reminded me of ET and some old 70's sci fi music, but I also heard a lot of similarities to Star Wars and Now and Then, Here and There. Very nice music, with woodwinds and strings being the most present instruments. Unfortunately, if also suffers from repetition. Although I really enjoyed listening to it, I didn't enjoy it so much that I wanted to hear the same exact songs every single episode. I suppose that's to be expected, but still I would have liked to hear a little more variation with the song selection. the opening has a very old fashioned sc-fi sound to it, which makes it seem like an old classic as opposed to a futuristic tale, while the closing delivers yet another mediocre song to go along with a whole host of mediocre anime closers like Cowboy Bebop, and EVA, but that, too, is to be expected.
As for animation it’s a notch above average, nothing great mind you, but the space battles are really memorable, even though they do recycle a lot of their scenes. You'll see the same UM ship blow up about twenty times in this series; just try to ignore it.
The three stars this show gets are for the music, animation, and the space battles which were nothing short of incredible. The Stars series isn't amazing, certainly not up to par with a lot of anime I’ve seen, but it’s still a show worth giving a look. If you can find it cheap then go for it.
Replay Value; Low.
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About the reviewer
Jonathan J.D. Lane (A1CJonathanLane)
I am a member of the US Air Force and presently serve overseas at RAF Mildenhall about three hours north of London. I grew up in Pappilion Nebraska and Crestview Florida, but since joining the Air Force … more
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Banner of the Stars (星界の戦旗, Seikai no Senki?, lit. Battle Flag of the Stars) is a series of science fiction novels written by Hiroyuki Morioka, which serve as sequels to Crest of the Stars. The series is ongoing. Three of the four novels in the series have been made into anime.