I’d like to preface this review with a little tip for those who may be misled by the episode title. There is no attack here. There is no battle (yet). I don’t know why they decided to name this episode in such a manner, but titles aside, this is the best episode of the series so far (or so I had thought, until I saw the next one).
We open the episode at almost the exact point where the last one left us, with Lexshue turning to her first officer and saying “The United Mankind.” Before the opening, we get a little blurb about the United Mankind, which is a group of four planets that have managed to retain their independence from the Humankind Empire Abh. Since the Abh conquer planets only for trade and economic domination and not for military purposes, one has to wonder what the United Mankind’s goal is by resisting Abh rule. One also has to wonder why this makes the Abh worry; an emotion the viewer was not presented with until now.
Lexshue’s napping when her first calls her up, and in an odd moment we get a bit of fan service as she slips on her uniform. I was a bit put-off by this, since the show had not followed any typical anime conventions, such as fan service or “blush because you love them” until now. That aside, we get a good idea of how this crew works together as Lexshue is provided with information about the situation. Apparently, when traveling in “plane space” you can detect other ships as things called space-time orbs. There are a few of them heading in the direction of the Gosroth, and they appear to be the size of military vessels.
From here, the episode breaks down into scenes of tense dialogue between Lexshue, her crew, Jinto, and Lafiel. When Lafiel resists Lexshue’s order to escort Jinto to a safer place (since he’s a non-combatant), Lexshue’s character grows in her rapid-fire response to Lafiel, about her being nothing but an extra body, and how she’s running away from an extremely important task if she resists. The scene shows Lexshue, the charismatic and sharp commander, as the concerned commander, and also suggests some kind of emotional attachment to Lafiel.
Lafiel accepts the assignment, and Lexshue also asks Jinto to watch over Lafiel and keep her safe, but in typical Jinto fashion, he says that he can’t imagine a situation where she would need him. Once our two leads are safely away in their own ship, the situation shifts from character building and back to the threat of the United Mankind, where a simple Gosroth introduction signal is met with a deadly challenge signal, leaving you with an easy to digest, low-fat cliffhanger.
The animation came back up a notch, and the characters were looking better than they ever have. I haven’t talked much about the directing of the show, because it’s very subtle…while not very dynamic in shot choices or epic in tense sequences, the goal seemed to make to you, the viewer, divert your attention to the dialogue and the characters on the screen, not necessarily how dramatic the shots were or whether there were any big, flashy explosions.
Crest of the Stars is a nice blend of character drama, space opera, and an introduction into a completely different universe than most Anime series. The series continues to improve with each episode, something that is hard to find in more recent animation from Japan or otherwise.
- JS 2003.05.31