I can honestly say that Crest of the Stars is a sleeper of a show, in the sense that not too many people will pick it up, but that it is perhaps one of the more enjoyable series available today and arguably one of the boldest.
The story picks up in Episode 2 with Jinto waiting to be picked up by an Abh officer, so he can be taken to the capital and trained to become a war secretary. Traditionally, an episode such as this would have involved him meeting the officer, having some kind of event that would demonstrate both of their skills, and then they would be off in their ship, but instead they would be kidnapped, so on and so forth.
This is where Crest of the Stars shows its boldness: it does none of these things. It takes its steps one at a time, like a newborn child, and every step means something. First, we are treated to one of Jinto’s friends, Dorin Ku. Dorin played some kind of sport with Jinto when our hero was just a kid, and they seem to have that sports-buddy thing going on. While their exchange is humorous and retrospective, in the sense that they are friends but from two totally separate areas of the galaxy (and their own personal worlds), Crest shows it’s boldness once more by having these two guys share a friendly hug when they meet, but not taking it the yaoi step that other shows may have gone.
After meeting with Dorin, and receiving a ball autographed by all of his old teammates, Jinto continues to wait for his “driver.” In a quick action scene, we see that Dorin was indeed correct: Jinto is a lousy player at whatever game they played, when he tries to bean a little kid who stole a woman’s bag and completely misses, and instead almost hits a young female Abh officer (can we say “This is the girl that Jinto’s been waiting for all his life?”). The girl chases the kid down and beans him pretty darn good from a distance.
After an awkward meeting, the girl simply tells Jinto that she’s here to pick him up, but doesn’t say who she is. This makes Jinto curious, and we see how human these characters really are when he stumbles over his words to try and ask her for her name without insulting her in some way. When she figures it out, she promptly turns around, faces him, and proclaims that he shall call her Lafiel. The humor of the show also shines in Jinto’s narration, as he says, “It was as if she were declaring a victory in war…”
Lafiel and Jinto have some great moments here, and you can tell that these two are going to be a laugh riot due to their unique backgrounds. One line that stands out is when Jinto tries to guess Lafiel’s age, and then mentions that it’s rude to ask a girl about that. During an acceleration sequence in Lafiel’s ship that prompts Jinto to scream for her to stop, she then asks him why it’s rude to ask a girl her age. The expression on Jinto’s pained face had me chuckling to myself for days after I had watched this.
The second episode then takes a strange turn as we see what was in this lady’s bag…it looks like some kind of Beta VHS tape, and we are presented with a large amount of propaganda images of war and destruction and human suffering (nothing too extreme, mind you), that points every possible finger at the Humankind Empire Abh. This is obvious foreshadowing, and it seemed a bit out of place when compared to the lighthearted feel of the rest of the episode, but it was nice to see that the writers cared enough to have this scene in there, rather than just springing something like this on you when they felt the plot needed to be advanced.
After the slight snoozer that episode one had been, Crest of the Stars really impressed me overall with the courage it had as a small anime series. It does not rely on action to carry the story, it did not follow a single anime cliché, and best of all, we have characters that are human in an inhuman world. The animation continued to be vivid and flowing, much like that of Yu Yu Hakusho, especially with the costumes and uniforms that Jinto and Lafiel wear. The music, from the opening theme to the small romantic and slightly goofy numbers that play during Jinto and Lafiel’s discussions and finally the ending Japanese ballad with an acoustic guitar, really shine here as making the show even more unique then it already is…I was refreshed at hearing something different than guitar and synthesizer-induced Japanese pop themes that rarely have anything to do with the program at hand.
One thing worth noting is the range of acting on both sides of the cast. In the English version, Jinto and Lafiel are not cast as being kids, but rather teens that are on the threshold of adulthood, although they themselves may not be aware of it. The second episode is an improvement over the dubbing of the first, which had many moments of over-acting and under-acting, but is still not up to the quality and emotional range used by the Japanese cast. There is a drawback to the Japanese cast, however: Jinto and Lafiel come off as being far too young to be a pilot trainee and a nobleman for the Abh Empire, and Dorin sounds more like a Japanese version of Adam Sandler then a sports buddy who is actually a decent friend, like he is played in the English version.
Crest of the Stars was a breath of fresh air for me, being something of a mecha enthusiast and certified Yu Yu Hakusho addict, and with the combination of all of its elements, it is working to be one of the most dynamic and unique Anime series I have ever had the pleasure to watch.
- JS, 2002.12.04