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Crest of the Stars


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Title Info

  • seen: 1-13 of 13
  • type: TV
  • grade: exemplary
  • form: sub
  • made: 1999
  • Review created: Mon Dec 10 16:26:35 EST 2001
  • mod: none

It's a sad fact that good, hard edged sci-fi is a relatively rare creature. Sure there's occasional space opera about some hick finding out he's got psychic blood-bugs and is now a bona-fide super-hero, but that's not the sort of thing I'm talking about. I mean a vision into a `could be' version of the future. And I'm delighted to admit that this anime is not only a member of this neglected genre it does an awfully impressive job at it.


At some point in time humanity discovered the existence of a new order of matter. This allowed for the efficient generation of energy and the discovery of `holes' in space, all the requirements for humanity to spread throughout the galaxy. And, as can be expected they did just that. But unity has eluded them with humanity splitting into factions and planets who are as likely to regard each other as enemies as much as allies. A fact that comes clear to one young boy as his planet is invaded by an offshoot of humanity called the Abh.

However this boy has a interesting future ahead of him. For his father, the leader of the planet, makes a deal with the invaders even though he knows it will cause him to be regarded as a traitor. The planet will retain some degree of sovereignty and be ruled by a member of the population, in point of fact himself. To the regimented Abh this means he must become a noble, and his son brought up as if he were born of the Abh people. It looks like our lead is going to get some unusual insights, although given that war seems to be brewing, the potential for conflict and danger is palpable.


The first thing to mention is that this is some of the strongest anime I've seen in quite a while. Ages ago I saw the first two episodes and I thought they were skilled, intense and gave an immense feeling of depth. And much to my delight this only got better. If you like `hard' sci-fi, full of detail and complexity, then I seriously suspect you'll enjoy this one.

Why is it so cool? Well, it's really the combination of many things done well. The sense of reality is solid, the design of hardware, of societies, of worlds and of high technology is just superbly realised. A wealth of detail, a sense of `it could be so' and a strong and solidly paced story to tie it all together. And it's so damn cool about it, the detail is simply `there', some is explained in the course of the story but much remains unspoken. It avoids the flaw of getting over-impressed, or even fixated, on the technology and design as so many others have.

However the most memorable elements is almost certainly the Abh themselves. They're not aliens, being in fact humans genetically modified for space travel, but they're actually impressively alien in terms of being different. While they look a touch unusual, a bit elf-like in fact, their minds and society work in a very different way. Ruthless, but not cruel, strong, logical and warlike but self aware of why they have built a society that way. At the same time aware that while they have formed a mighty empire they have consciously rejected much of their heritage. They're exciting, the way in which they think and act makes perfect sense and the story really brings out many facets and forms of their people. Simply fantastic, and the affectionate and romantic way in which these truths are revealed is a master-piece of story telling.

And, for those who fear the character and conversation will reduce the excitement, there is action and danger. Even more surprising it's really good. The Abh are not super-powered, but they are plenty militaristic. And it seems sizable forces in humanity want them not only defeated but humbled or even destroyed. Then again there are forces in humanity that prefer the Abh. As a result we get conflict, betrayal, gunfights and starships blowing each other apart. And in each case it is done well and it is exciting. The initial starship combat is perhaps one of the most detailed, thrilling and intense portrayals of starship warfare I have ever seen, in anime or in any other format.

Does it have weaknesses? precious few, this is really good stuff. The only real possibility is that you don't like sci-fi. If you want good fun, super-heroics and lots of action this might be a bit too talky and serious for you to enjoy. It also has the problem of only being 13 episodes. While it does a brilliant job of cramming story and conclusion into this span it is obvious it can only tell a small section of a much larger story. Still, if you've got any tolerance for the genre this is one worth keeping an eye out for. And apparently this is only the first of three seasons, so even the `too short' complaint may be very temporary indeed.

So the animation lets it down right? Once again the answer is a resounding negative. The best word I found to sum it up was dignified. It doesn't aim for immense flash, or even hugely attractive, but it has an air of solid reality about it. Things that might be visually impressive, such as warp-gates, are impressive. Ships and technology are detailed because such things would be detailed. And people can be attractive, and expressive, without looking like models of perfection. It's imposingly skilled, restrained and beautifully balanced to let the story and character be the focus. And along the way it has no shortage of memorable scenes and visual moments. The voices are excellent and expressive, the music sets the scene and stirs the soul at the same time with lots of nice orchestral work.

Other Reviews

  • Anime Review review The Anime Review is worried that so many sci-fi anime go through all the same motions and well established cliches, but is delighted to announce this isn't one. He picks out the depth of design, of character and the animation as reasons to give this title a good look. It's a good review, a warning about dodgy disc pressings and a solid recommendation (5/5).
  • THEM review An excellent review from THEM, best summed up in their final paragraph. "wow". The paragraphs before this summary give a good explanation of their feelings with which I am in complete agreement. They also give the name of the second series, and the fact it is popular in Japan (5/5).


Words by Andrew Shelton, Web by Ticti, Last Compile: Wed Aug 5 12:39:16 WST 2009