Crest of the Stars starts out very promising, with a mysteries empire known as the United Mankind Empire Abh launching a surprise invasion of our main characters, Jinto, home planet. When it becomes clear to the defenders that fighting back would result in the destruction of their planet, they decide to surrender without firing a single shot. The first episode, without question, is very engrossing and manages to catch the viewer's attention early; however, the follow up is hardly as noteworthy. The rest of volume one is as boring and dull as the first episode is captivating and exiting. I can 100% appreciate a slow, well thought out show, after all, Haibane-Renmei is one of my favorite animes, but there comes a point where the story has to move forward and for the longest time this one didn't. For three episodes after the opening we are given very little besides horrendously long conversations that go on and on and on without any sort of break in between. Many times I felt like yelling, "Get on with it already" as the show sloshed its way forward. Although we get to learn a lot of history behind our characters, information that is very good to know, there is really little actual development until later in the show. Their personalities, their fears, their hopes and their dreams are all put away to the side in favor of their histories.
Lafiel, an Abh princess and female lead for the series, and Jinto, the male lead, make a pretty good team throughout the story, each playing upon each other's strengths in order to find ways out of tough situations. Although Jinto seems pretty useless during the first three volumes, his weaknesses as a character are more than made up for in the last volume when it's his turn to save the beautiful (and let's not forget smoking hot) girl instead of her saving him all the time. It is also to be noted that Lafiel plays the strong female as well, if not better, as any Miyazaki character I've ever seen. She reminded me a lot of Nausicaa from Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind, or San from Princess Mononoke. How could such a young, skinny, beautiful girl be so darn deadly? Japan has a thing for beautiful worrier princesses, and Lafiel fits in with the best of them.
The story seems to pick up around episode five when there is a battle between an Abh space ship and a small fleet of United Mankind ships, an alliance of human nations which have put aside their differences to fight the aggressive Abh's. Unfortunately the battle itself is very dull, most of it only being shown on radar screens as if they were submarine battles, and the main characters go on a four episode sub plot that, quite frankly, was unnecessary and derailed the main plot considerably. The middle part of this series has little in the way of entertainment, substance, or character development, its just a really long and really annoying subplot. The one thing this part of the series really does well is give us a better understanding of how the Abh live, what their culture is like, and what their motivations are. At this point, I would have given the series a three star review, but fortunately it really picks up in the final volume.
Where the beginning and middle part of the series seemed overly long and boring, the final picked things up to a pace fitting of a sci fi classic. Gone are the fifteen minute conversations and stupid scantily clad bimbos prancing around without a clue as to what is going on, replaced by a generous dose of good action, some real character development, and well thought out scripts. No longer is Jinto some useless piece of meat who gets in the way all the time and always needs saving, now he is the one who's needed, and Lafeil might as well be Cinderella. As an Abh, she has lived her whole life in outer space, so when these two end up on a surface world they are on Jinto's home turf, and he shines like never before proving to himself and Lafiel that he isn't so worthless after all, not to mention Lafeil is even more striking in black hair if that is in any way possible. The last three episodes really do a fantastic job of wrapping up the series and making me want to see the next two installments, Banner of the Stars - Anime Legends Complete Collection, and Banner of the Stars II - Complete Collection. Although it doesn't quite end on a cliff hanger, it does give you enough of an incentive to want to finish what you've started, which is what I plan to do some time soon. Do not get this show if you don't want to watch all three installments. If you don't like it, you'll have wasted your money, if you do like it you will have to see the other two.
Whatever you do, please for the love of all things holey, do NOT watch this series in English. I am normally very tolerant of English dubs, but after five minutes of watching this one I had to turn it off. There is really nothing good I can say about this dub, the acting is bad, the voices are bad, and the main character comes off as gay in it, which he most definitely is not. It's a shame that a show like this gets such a bad dub, but I suppose that not every dub can be as good as Kino's Journey - The Complete Collection or Serial Experiments Lain - Boxed Set (Signature Series).
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 (Complete Collector's Boxed Set). Very nice music, with woodwinds and strings being the most present instruments. Unfortunately, if also suffers from being played too much. 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 - The Perfect Sessions (Limited Edition Complete Series Boxed Set), or EVA, but that, too, is to be expected.
Overall I'd make the same advice for this show as to someone looking to see Haibane-Renmei, if you HAVE to see action in every episode, if you NEED to see people get their arms ripped off and huge space battles, then this isn't a show for you. It isn't Star Wars, and it isn't Star Treck, there isn't a lot of action at all and is very limited in regards to its space fights as well. It's also very slow and hard to get into, but the rewards are there for those patient ones who are willing to sit though the fifteen minute conversations to get to the gold at the end. There's a light at the end of the tunnel in this series, but you have to struggle though the muck to get to it.
Re-play value; high.
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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