Hm, a somewhat artificial mix of elements...but this movie about anime babes in space, and their first contact with strange alien entities, has a certain energy and appeal. It's not something i'm going to champion, but I will happily watch more.
The first thing to know about the story is that one of the alien elements they have to deal with is men. It seems that, at some point in the past, male and female humans had a rather vicious row. From which point on they went to their own planets to sulk. This has now degenerated into a full on state of war where neither side would think of offering any mercy to the beasts that make up the other side. Mind you from what we see of the male planet it looks like they're eminently dislikable, having a militaristic bent and an agressive caste system. Certainly our lead, a citizen third class, isn't overly impressed with them. It also happens that he was backing up a boast, by stealing a mecha on their latest war ship, when he was suprised by its sudden launch. Having been discovered he now faces execution for totally disrupting the celebration party.
Thankfully, perhaps, the ship is attacked by vicious pirate females. Pirates in that it seems the female planet also has problems of its own. These pirates seize the new ship, but the human command is determined to deny them any victory and primes it for destruction. At this point a secret hidden deep within this ship, which was apparently the very first colony ship, emerges from slumber with dramatic effects. It's `plot device' crystal that seems to have a will and agenda, and the ability to make changes, all on its own. And the first change is a bit of ship redesign and flinging them into another star system. And, in this far off system three men and a ship full of female pirates finally find exactly what they need to bring them together. That being a powerful alien race that hates both branches of humanity, and is planning to act on this hate, without any discrimination between male and female.
I hate to give so many spoilers, but I felt I should lay out the core elements that make it work. However the most important factor is a (very) large cast of generally interesting and intriguing characters. They're caught between the unknown power of their own ship, the unknown power and intent of the aliens, and the legacy of a complete alienation between men and women. It's quite a good basis for some character dramatics, plus the normal thrill of discovering the characters of the cast. It's not deep, no danger of that, but it draws you in and keeps you entertained. And while the female crew seems to have a suprising number of ditzes and comedic characters, and needless to say all but one are beautiful, there are some interesting character examples in there. And it is also nice that they are definitely the ones in charge.
One possible problem is that the three male character who remain on the ship might have been gifted with too much power. This is somewhat required to make them relevant to the plot but it does mean that they often seem to have too much power and authority. This means that the women, who are intended to be tough and competent, often end up being dependant on them, which leaves a bad taste in the mouth. For example one male is the only one who can navigate the ship (although not under his full control), another one seems to be supremely intelligent and knowledgeable (and a bishounen) while the reckless young lead has discovered superior abilities in the ships `mecha'. Still, this is fun and energetic rather than deep stuff, so reading too much into it is probably unfair. But if you were hoping for deep ruminations on the difference between men and women this is not the place to be looking.
As indicated the plot is both familiar but sure to draw you in. Attractive women, interesting characters, a brutal alien race and a bucket load of mysteries in a very different reality all have a certain pull. And the alien race provides lots of dangers for both action and crew `bonding', although their ability to have nameless `extras' killed off rivals that of Star Trek. It should be noted that the story also has a fairly fast pace and is happy to use plot device to enhance this, or perhaps to cover up average writing. Things will happen as they must even if the reason comes from nowhere and doesn't follow any story logic. This is especially true for the ship, which is an amazingly convenient source of plot twists and escapes. It's light, it's fast and it's fun, but it is not without a reasonable degree of skill.
One other thing worth mentioning is that this anime matches the current trend towards 13 episode seasons. Yet the story doesn't seem to feel restricted by this number, with the plot still being in full flight when the series comes to a sudden end. As such the conclusion does not feel very satisfying and there's lots of elements left hanging. Apparently the creators are making a second season, and they must have been feeling relatively confident that they would get more time, but it's something to be aware of.
I'm somewhat less impressed by the animation production. I saw some of this on digital video which always looks a bit weird, and exhibits supreme arrogance of the fansubbers with aggravating animated watermarks. Even so the pace is fast and the style is all over the place. All sorts of scenes flash by and many of them look very different in style. Some moody pieces clash with super bright cheesecake or comedy and all of them collapse in front of the dismal computer animated combats. The combats themselves are skilled computer graphics, but they're way too flashy, too complex and too stilted for the eye to comfortably follow them. Since the computer does all the `flash' it is unwisely applied to everything, which adds energy (and obviously flash) but makes it largely incoherent. It's got money, it's not without skill and it is watchable, but a strong directorial hand and a unified style might have made it much better. Character designs are quite good (love the engineer) but certain females are clearly `fan service' compatible and the anime is not afraid to get some mileage out of this. Then again there's also a bit of male nudity, so I guess it works both ways. The voices are quite good, especially given the large number of characters. The music is pop stuff in general although the ambient sound effects are pretty agressively loud.