If you thought Crest of the Stars was something that you could pass over without missing much, think again. The improvements made in the small span of two episodes, in conjunction with the third, will intrigue and hook you into watching more, and envelop you into the world that Jinto and Lafiel inhabit.
The episode opens a bit awkwardly, picking up where the second one left off with Lafiel flying her shuttle to the battleship that will escort Jinto to the capitol. Jinto continues to be more human with each passing animated minute, as he has no idea how to act as a nobleman, especially when he meets the crew of the Gosroth, the escort battleship; he’s bowing to them and standing ramrod straight, as if at attention.
There’s a sequence that follows that introduces you to all of the crew members, including Captain Lexshue, who is the best drawn Abh I’ve seen on the series yet; if there were a competition for best “anime charisma character”, she would fall within the top five, guaranteed. While the sequence itself is rather cheesy, if you can sit through it you’ll be treated to a humorous exchange between Lexshue and Jinto as he confesses to the entire bridge that he has no clue what to do in his position.
Lafiel then escorts him to his room, and when Lexshue calls her to the bridge, she uses a particular family name that the audience is assumed to recognize, since it has never been mentioned previous how the Abh ruling class works. Apparently, Lafiel is some kind of princess to the royal house, and Jinto has been addressing her by her first name this entire time. The exchange between them during the walk to Jinto’s room shows that these two are the best reflection of any “real” couple I’ve seen in anime. Not only do they get along and talk like a healthy couple should, but they also display quite a bit of stubbornness.
Jinto and Lafiel have an amazing conversation in his room, and by amazing I am referring to the talent in the animators, the writers, the direction, and the English voice cast. We get some much-needed information about how Abhs are born (through genetic manipulation and artificial insemination), and this leads to an insight on Lafiel’s character as she tells Jinto a story about how her father would never tell her whom the donor of her genes was. Traditionally, an Abh will ask for the genes of the person they love so that they can create their child, but they do not become wed in any way. This process then brings to light the phrase “daughter (or son) of love.”
Both of the characters, in the span of about ten minutes, grow leaps and bounds over what most anime series take a season or two to accomplish, and its this growth that makes Crest stand out again as being a very bold series: the baby steps seen in the first two episodes have grown to sprinter’s strides, and it’s all for the good.
The episode finishes off with a bit of a cliffhanger, as Jinto and Lafiel have a bit of a staring moment, brought on by Lafiel’s mention that her father told her who her gene donor was, and Jinto’s confession of being glad for her (with the romantic theme playing) while Lexshue and the bridge crew are worrying over something, until Lexshue turns to her first officer and simply says “The United Mankind.” Like I said, sprinter’s strides in the plot here, and it doesn’t feel the least bit rushed…that kind of feeling is hard to nail down.
Crest continues to dazzle with the animation, although this time the character designs were a bit off from the last episode…it looked as though Jinto’s head kept getting smaller and larger with each passing scene. Lexshue was a bit off as well from time to time, but the overall look of each character continued to be consistent with previous episodes. There’s some heavy CGI used in this one when the Gosroth travels in “plane space,” the Crest term for, simply put, traveling faster than light…it seems a bit out of place for the lush visuals of the show.
The music is becoming familiar to me, like a warm blanket on the snowy winter’s eve, and that’s the sign of an excellent musical score. The ending theme seems a bit stand-offish when compared to the dramatic music played during the cliffhanger, but I assume that this is just due to the nature of the episode’s ending. I’ve also noticed that there are two distinct endings for this show: one with pictures of Jinto growing up (my personal fav due to the last shot of him standing against a space backdrop), and Lafiel growing up. Both feature very nice paintings of the characters, done by the head character designer himself.
The English acting is impressive this time around, and Jinto and Lafiel’s voices have become so familiar to me at this point that it’s like I know them from a round of sodas at a diner. There’s familiarity and warmth to them that’s lacking in the Japanese version, as they still both come off sounding a bit too young. The downside to the English dub this time is the lack of cast members…it looks like there are only ten at the most listed in the end credits, and this is reflected by hearing several voices from previous episodes used for the crew members. While this isn’t really a big problem, it comes off initially as annoying and redundant, but the crew doesn’t play too large of a part to impact the overall acting.
Pushing the plot forward a huge bit and giving us some good quality time with Lafiel and Jinto (the obvious friend-couple of the series) really made this episode stand out above the others seen so far. The quibbles with the animation, the cliffhanger-end theme juxtaposition, and the small English dub cast really don’t tip the scales much on the “against” side of Crest of the Stars. While this may still be a slower series to some, it retains its boldness in not rushing anything and giving the characters, the driving force of this series (as it should be with any series), time to grow and shape themselves for the viewer, as you have plenty of time to get to know them and their voices.
I’ve enjoyed the ride so far, and I can’t wait for more.
- JS, 2002.12.04