Flashbacks and background information abound in this first episode of Crest of the Stars. Introducing not only the main character Jinto, but also revealing much of the Martine people's history of events in the year 172 when the Abh first came to the planet, viewers are quickly caught up in the story. With so much of the story spent in flashback, we have very little idea about Jinto's personality as he is now, although his personality as an 8 year old child is fairly clear. Rather, most of this episode is truly devoted to giving background history of the people and to introduce the idea of the Abh empire. Exactly who the Abh are and what their motives are must wait for subsequent episodes.
Because so much of the episode is spent in flashback sequences, viewers may start losing track of which scenes are in the "present" compared to which are in fact flashbacks or of historic sequences. While the animation does make use of "static" in images of flashbacks, not all images are portrayed this way which makes it difficult to differentiate between the two. While the scenes with young or older Jinto are obvious as to time frame, those where he isn't present may not be so clear. Even so, given the amount of the episode that is spent in flashback, the use of the "static" in the picture starts to feel a touch overused.
Overall, the animation quality is a bit mixed. While there is heavy use of CG graphics early in the episode, the usage is well suited to the scene and doesn't distract viewers. Later however, while some scenes are smoothly executed, others tend to be of limited shots, involving heavy use of stills and even recycling of certain sequences. Rather unusual for a first episode, which normally tends to be slightly better than later episodes, the animation quality is more towards the lower side of average TV quality.
Perhaps the first thing to truly catch viewers attention in this episode is the opening scene with a number of comments being exchanged in the alien Abh language. Unfortunately, as no subtitles are given, viewers are left guessing as to the actual dialogue and circumstances of the scene. While the subsequent narration is subtitled, this approach could become a touch tiresome for some if overused. Even more interesting than the initial narrative, is the opening theme song for this show. Unlike most anime which opens with a j-pop song, the opening theme for Seikai no Monshou is a gradiose orchestral piece. All in all, there are some very nice orchestral pieces in the soundtrack. The soundtrack CD for this series could well be worth looking into if the music continues in the same vein in subsequent episodes.
The voice acting in this first episode is on par with most Japanese anime with the cast being fairly well in character. While Tale Colint's character sounds a touch flat on occasion, it is also fairly representative of the feel of the episode. Eight year old Jinto's character may mildly annoy some viewers as being whiny. However, the voice acting is well done, and the portrayal of the character is quite understandable given the character's age and circumstances.
All in all an intriguing start to the story with a lot of information for viewers to ponder and many unknowns for future episodes to develop. More than anything, the soundtrack and the primary melody really carry the feel of the episode and initial story. By no means the most exciting or action packed opening episode to a series, but certainly one of the more intriguing. On to the next episode and more development!
- JN, 2002.02.04