It’s rare that I get up and cheer for anything except the Pittsburgh Steelers. It’s even rarer that I cry over an Anime show.
Of course, Crest of the Stars is a rare show, so all of the above applied to me when I watched episode five. I had heard some buzz about this episode containing the best space battle sequence people had seen since some of Leiji Matsumoto’s early works, or even contending with the battle scenes of the original Star Wars trilogy. This is one time when the buzz was actually true, and everything that has been said is to be believed.
But, as with most things, you have to see it to truly believe it. I have said that this is one series not to pass up, and this episode proves it above all the previous ones. Lafiel is feeling rather depressed over leaving the Gosroth, and Jinto is trying to cheer her up. Meanwhile, we have the oncoming United Mankind fleet and the desperate battle that the Gosroth is facing. Right away we have the “A” plot and “B” plot set up, and you know that you’re going to get a decent amount of both in the twenty-something minutes this episode runs.
The episode begins with a recap of the crucial events of episode four, featuring the argument between Lexshue and Lafiel again. While watching the dub, I noticed two things that were quite different. One is that Lexshue’s reprimand, which I had enjoyed so much, was acted in a different manner than before, but with the exact same footage. As if this were not strange enough, Lafiel started pronouncing her last name differently, which was something I hadn’t noticed in the other episodes. This was obviously something that was changed after the first episodes had been released, and I’m grateful to hear it pronounced properly, but it was quite a sharp change.
The true episode begins after Gosroth receives the challenge signal from the United Mankind, and I blinked when I realized that the animation had picked up a couple dozen notches and was now shining, shadowed, and with more vibrant colors. The budget had obviously been stuffed in a vault somewhere and with a sticky note that said: “Do not open until episode five.” The animation had been becoming progressively more detailed as the series went on, and this far exceeded any expectations.
Now, there is one complaint I had with the direction of the episode, and that was in the insertion of title cards denoting the current time and date of the action. While this is used for dramatic effect later in the episode, it rudely interrupts the tension and flow of the episode as a whole.
The preparation for the battle, however, is worth noting. Lexshue really takes charge here, and her charisma really shows as she readies her ship and crew for the conflict ahead. Abh ships are equipped with some kind of mine that can travel in space-time like most vessels, and they are apparently quite deadly and accurate. Gosroth has lost six of its ten mines in a mock battle, which puts them at yet another disadvantage. The look in Lexshue’s eyes when they launch the mines says so much, and we’re just talking about her eyes.
Soon, the battle begins, and we get great shots of the crewmembers steadying themselves at their consoles. The coolest out of the bunch had to be the gunnery officer, who has the greatest gunnery console known to man. This isn’t a Star Blazers Nintendo gun, and this isn’t some Star Trekcontrol panel. No sir, this is an actual barrel complete with grip and trigger and slung sideways, gangster-style, from his monitor. This was very original, and made for some great shots of this guy.
During the battle, Lexshue’s charisma just engulfs the screen, as she unsheathes her sword and is swinging and spinning it around, almost as if her commanding of the bridge was some kind of strange ballet. The direction of the show deviated from the previous episodes here, as it became epic and sweeping, with some clever tracking shots of the Gosroth weapons and camera angles pointed near or right against gun turrets, which put you there in the heat of the battle.
After some pitched planning and a great scene of waiting until a ship comes into range of the rifles (the dub actor for “gunny” shines here with his impatience), there’s one ship left. All of the deflecting shields are gone, forty sections are closed, and fifty-five are dead. Lexshue leans against her monitor, looks forward, and grips her sword for one desperate stand.
The scene itself displays the kind of dedication in military officers that you dream your own armed forces have. The episode’s end, with the cut between the Gosroth’s stand and Lafiel and Jinto’s bonding, blends with the shiny animation and the show’s gorgeous musical score to make for a terrific ending that is simply too good to spoil.
What had made Crest an interesting series before had been the development of Jinto and Lafiel’s relationship and the unique setting this universe had provided. While those same elements existed in episode five, there were so many new ones added and displayed that it may come as a surprise to some people who had been expecting the same quiet and deliberate pacing from before. The episode wraps you up in Gosroth’s story and crew so vividly that you can’t help but feel as if you’re really there, on the bridge, feeling the sweat and tears.
- JS 2003.05.31