At its heart, Crest of the Stars is about the bond that develops between the two main characters: Jinto, a human, and Lafiel, an Abh princess -- both who are adolescents at the start of the series. Their interaction begins casually: Lafiel is assigned to pick up Jinto, because it's time for him to go to space academy as a stepping-stone to his life as an Abh nobleman. Being totally unaware of Lafiel's heritage, Jinto talks in the somewhat awkward way that any adolescent boy talks to a girl he thinks is sort of cute. Needless to say Lafiel rather enjoys being talked to as a normal person for once, and thus, the bonding between the characters begins. Jinto and Lafiel's bond is then further cemented through overcoming a series of tribulations that force them to rely on each other for their very survival.
On the surface, this may all seem like a somewhat unoriginal anime, but the real genius in the series is how the trials unfold and force the characters to grow as individuals and as a team. It's a subtle thing really, but in the end you realize that you're not watching some sort of kids-in-space classic; rather, Crest of the Stars presents a very unique take on the typical boy-meets-girl saga, showing you violence and death through the eyes of children who are caught in the middle of burgeoning intergalactic war. The story and the unique point of view from which it's told make it a truly worthwhile series and a real must watch for true anime fans.
Anyone who watches this series has to watch it with the understanding that it is an older anime, originally released in 1999; thus, Crest of the Stars does not have any CGI goodness or sharp crisp colors that are prevalent in newer pieces. In fact, if you watch closely enough they do re-use some battle sequences which was a commonly used cost-saving practice in the pre-CGI era. Beyond those minor nits I can't help but think that the anime was intentionally drawn with a bit of a retro-look. The uniforms closely resemble something you would see in an early 80's Star Trek movie and the ship and weaponry are very round and simple, almost Star Blazer-esq. That said, the animation does nothing to detract from the story itself, but for the hard-core anime fans it is obviously a bit dated; though in retrospect I'm not sure that wasn't by design.
Just like the animation, the sound is a bit dated. That said, the soundtrack does a couple of very key things. One, it instantly identifies the story as a space odyssey with an orchestra based opening that reminds me a lot of something out of 2001 or other early 80's space movies where the theme was more exploration rather than conquest. Two, the producers open every episode with a narrative not in Japanese, but in Abh which really sets the tone of the piece by immediately demonstrating that this work isn't about earth-bound humans. Aside from these two key contributions the real in-series soundtrack definitely compliments the story, but unlike other series this soundtrack doesn't carry the series or really stand out in anyway.
Characters and character development are why you watch Crest of the Stars, as the bond that forms between Jinto and Lafiel is truly admirable. I think many people will come away from watching Crest of the Stars wishing that they had a "friend" who felt the same way about them as Jinto and Lafiel felt for each other. That said, the one thing that I find truly redeeming about this anime is that despite the horrific backdrop and the potential loss of innocence that you would expect, Crest of the Stars actually takes a surprising turn where the characters turn inwards and find the hope and strength to go on. This turn serves to focus the viewer on the characters and their relationship instead of the space odyssey itself.
Truthfully, as an anime fan I'm much more interested in good story telling than flashy animation or high production value. Moreover, I tend to give high marks to stories that do a good job of getting me to identify and sympathize with the characters. As a result, I give Crest of the Stars great overall marks despite being a somewhat dated production because it got me to buy into the characters and story from the start. As a result, I give Crest of the Stars an 8.5 as it's a great story. At its heart, Crest of the Stars is a well-told boy-meets-girl saga; and while boy-meets-girl sagas may be totally over-done in the world of anime, this one's worth watching.
ANIME MINOR JEWELS
Full list of the review series can be found on this page, 3rd post from bottom:
Consider this review a full synopsis of all seasons of the franchise. That is Birth of the Stars, Crest of the Stars, and Banner of the Stars 1, 2 and 3. Man, that’s a lot of stars …
…Which is ironic since the story has hardly anything to do with stars. The whole space thing is used purely as dressing for an otherwise simple tale of two youths and their weird romance. Which is pretty much the same for any other space opera out there and…
…Hey, wait a second, did I just write romance? Where are the interstellar wars? I mean space operas are about wars and thousands of spaceships blowing up right? Well, yes, there is a war going on and you do get to watch many battles between humans and aliens using high-tech weaponry. The thing is… like the stars, they are also dressing. So this anime kind of sticks out from the rest of the same genre as warfare is not a vital part of the storyline. You could remove it with little change in overall. The meat of the story is the romance.
Hey, wait a second again, am I telling you this is some sort of an average tearjerker that simply differs in the setting? Like, instead of high schools the background shows stars and planets? Yes and no. Mostly no. The main duo is a boy and a girl in their teens, which slowly fall in love with each other. Their social status is what keeps them apart as she is an imperial princess and he is a commoner. So far the premise is just like a corny romantic flick for teenage girls or something. But the catch is, she is also an alien and he is human.
Now, you may be wandering why that is a problem. Is it because she looks like an octopus with five heads and pincers for hands? Nope, aliens in this anime look pretty much human-like and almost behave the same. Only thing… they live 10 times longer than humans. And by their looks you would think they are cat-loving space Elves or something. So the thing is the boy is in love with a girl which by the time he is an old man, she will hardly be an adult. As if their social status and lineage weren’t enough of a problem, now this whacks them on the head. Very interesting as a premise I must say.
So now you may be asking, besides that annoying stomp, is it otherwise playing like a typical romantic comedy around a spoiled tsundere princess and a good-hearted wimp of a servant? Yes and no again. Although they do cover the prerequisites, they are still far more colorful and developed than any other similar master-servant anime-pair out there. Their background stories are looked upon with a rather deep manner that expands to their entire species. Learning about princess Lafiel is like learning about millions of years of Abh alien history, and learning about Linn is like learning about thousands of years of human history. Which is kinda funky as it’s practically the symbolism of how two very different civilizations try to coexist.
But let’s leave this aside a bit and talk a bit about the civilizations and what the heck is going on with them. The humans have been expanding throughout the universe and still don’t miss the chance to eat each other’s hearts out as usual. The Abh on the other hand are living quite peacefully amongst themselves. After being liberated by their creators’ control (by blasting their whole civilization to stardust) they decided they were wise and civilized enough to offer balance to the universe. And thus began a conquest of galactic proportions in order to bring peace and order the rest of the brutal races. Linn’s homeworld was quite low-tech in weaponry and surrendered almost right away, while most of humanity is now at a stand-still. Linn tries to get along with his new masters, which look like nice fellows as long as you don’t insult their superiority, a thing which may result to turning your planet like their ex-masters’. So this is where he meets Lafiel, during moments of hostility. The series is basically how he keeps trying to help Lafiel get back to her royal family and taking part in her goal to unite the universe under their rule.
Now, as much epic as all that sound, I’m afraid nothing complicating happens in practice. Birth is just an introduction where nothing much happens; Crest is how he tries to protect her from his colony and Banner how he goes along with her to various missions of warfare and negotiations with other planets. It sounds a lot but in reality it isn’t. In fact, most of the duration is spent on getting to know them, as well as the over a hundred allies and relatives, how they are thinking, living and striving for a better world. It’s all quite interesting from the point of sociology but if you prefer action and suspense, you will not get much here. By the end of Banner 3, you will know a lot about their past, a lot about themselves, and practically zero about what the heck is going on with the war or their romance. The main story elements are not developed much and left open enough to the point where they frustrate you. Where is the rest of it? What happened in the end? Am I supposed to learn Japanese just to read the books?
As much as one can enjoy the premise and the characters, the story is by far slow, dull at points and half-done as a whole. So as a warning, do not start watching in hopes of seeing major battles or great romantic developments because you will get very little out of it. I mean, there actually is a major war shown in Banner 1 and 2 yet it hardly matters story-wise and is not blood-boiling to begin with. You need to get into this with the proper mindset because space operas for most mean lots of spaceships blow up and characters betraying one another every 5 episodes. You WON’T see much of any of that.
The art is of course dated after all these years and many scenes seem to be stiff in terms of smooth animation or 3D objects moving around. Other than that, the atmosphere is great at sucking you in the mood of the story and most sceneries are fine in depicting the civilizations and their traditions. The music is definitely better as the music score does not age that easy and the voice actors did a fine job at keeping the mood serious and intelligent. Overall, I have no problems here besides making something memorable enough to keep listening or watching again and again.
In all, the “Something” of the Stars series is great in terms of looks, music and characters but surely loses points in story. There isn’t that much of it and is left incomplete, thus taking down the score in characters as well. The value is high for being quite unique in a genre that is rare in anime, yet follows some conventions that this title stands separate from. It surely feels inferior next to Legend of Galactic Heroes and Babylon 5 but it’s still top material next to Tytania and Glass Fleet.
And now for some excused scorings.
ART SECTION: 7/10
General Artwork 2/2 (well-done)
Character Figures 1/2 (generic)
Backgrounds 2/2 (basic but fitting with the feeling of the series)
Animation 1/2 (basic)
Visual Effects 1/2 (basic)
SOUND SECTION: 8/10
Voice Acting 3/3 (mature and intelligent)
Music Themes 3/4 (not great but fitting with the feeling of the series)
Sound Effects 2/3 (ok I guess)
STORY SECTION: 7/10
Premise 2/2 (interesting)
Pacing 1/2 (erratic)
Complexity 2/2 (lots of things going around)
Plausibility 2/2 (ok I guess)
Conclusion 0/2 (doesn’t exist)
CHARACTER SECTION: 6/10
Presence 1/2 (generic)
Personality 2/2 (rather cheesy but well founded)
Backdrop 2/2 (ok for what they are)
Development 1/2 (overblown but it’s there)
Catharsis 0/2 (doesn’t exist)
VALUE SECTION: 8/10
Historical Value 3/3 (all-known)
Rewatchability 2/3 (high if you dig its style)
Memorability 3/4 (it has a nice feeling to it so it is quite memorable)
ENJOYMENT SECTION: 6/10
Needed more plot and less goofing around but it is still good.
Let me start off by saying although this is an anime produced in the late 90's, it's characters and story arc deserve praise.
So, the story it takes off by introducing us to the main character, Jinto, as he was a child. This anime wins points by introducing us to character backgrounds off the bat; Jinto is the son of a politician who sold out to the Abh empire during the invasion of his homeworld Maritime, and Jinto inherits the opportunity to be an Abh noble. Jinto meets the series' second protagonist Lafiel, an Abh noble, when he is a few years older and is undergoing training to be an Abh noble. Lafiel is to be his escort to the school where he is to be trained.
I tend to give more interest towards character devlopment/romance in stories, and from the moment Jinto met Lafiel I knew these two were going to be a couple I adored. Their relationship feels real and natural, where their experiences and learning of one another contributes to the growth of their partnership. Although the tighter romancing takes place in Banner, Crest lays the foundation for a great series.
Sometimes the action and diplomatic factions can be hard to follow, but upon re-watching the series I managed to identify each with clarity, and since the anime is just that good re-watching was a great experience anyways.
Crest is in no way an innovative art work; but from a 1999 series, what can you expect? Sometimes the way Lafiel is drawn looks awkward as well as Jinto, but adjusting to it is fairly easy. I give it a 7/10 because there are better quality anime out there, but this aspect is easily forgiven in lieu of the narrative.
The sound for the anime is good, but I wish there were more variety. I know the studio had to save money by repeating certain scenes and music, but more variety would have been nice. However, this is easily forgiven as well.
Sometimes it sounds as if Jinto and Lafiel are speaking to each other through an old transistor radio; the voice acting is not so clear at times, but not enough to make me cringe.
For an English nerd, the lack of contractions in the dialogue was irksome. Lafiel would always say "I am" instead of "I'm"; "Cannot" instead of "can't"; so on and so forth. It seems too formal for two close friends to be speaking without any use of contractions, but back in the day I suppose the use of contractions was unpopular among writers.
The sounds are not unpleasant, however they are not the best.
In this category, Crest of the Stars takes a major win.
Jinto and Lafiel are definitely in my top 10 favorite anime couples, due to their real and naturally progressing romance. From the moment Lafiel gets excited about being spoken to like a normal person, proudly telling Jinto "You may call me Lafiel!!" you will be hooked on the characterization and development.
Crest creates real, solid characters which are not present in many modern-day anime. The supporting characters are not memorbale, though their role in the story fits well as the focus remains on Jinto and Lafiel throughout.
The best thing about their relationship is it leaves room for more, giving the audience something to look forward to in Banner of the Stars.
Crest of the Stars is a truly unique anime among its peers. It has a solid story with compelling narrative, characters who are believable, and two protagonists who are lovable and certainly memorable. What the anime lacks in technical details, it makes up for in its well-done cast and magnificent narrative. If you've seen this or are wanting to see it, make sure you take a look at Crest's sequel, Banner of the Stars.
I've recently received my Crest of the Stars dvds, so today I decided to watch the episodes I had on "hold" for a while. Wow... usually I really (and I mean REALLY) dislike space operas, but there's something special about this series... I can't quite put my finger on it, but I literally fell in love with it!
It's definitely not the artwork, to be honest it plain sucks! Lafiel is actually supposed to be gorgeous looking, right? Well, visually it doesn't seem like she is that much of a babe to be honest. :/
BE WARNED, the very first episode was soporific. Not only that, it's also confusing as hell and not pretty to watch, but every single episode after that was just sublime.
I guess it's the storytelling and the characters themselves who made me like this show so much. That, and a stellar performance by Lafiel's seiyuu, Ayako KAWASUMI.
Now I need to find the rest of the series for a decent price somewhere. I loved it so much, it just wouldn't feel right to watch fansubs >.
SECRET SANTA REVIEW
To be honest, I have never expected this kind of recomendation from my Santa. I've never heard of Crest of Stars before, so I must praise my Santa for makin an effort and picking something like that.
Crest of Stars is your clasic space opera - some foreign, alien race invading your home planet, lots of spaceships ang space battles, wierd languages. I was impressed with made-up language the Abh were using. I mean, there were even japanese subtitles to translate the history of Mankind. I'm not content with charaterisation. Even with only 13 episodes, we barley know something about the main characters, their background and why are they acting the way they are. And other characters are just passing through. This is a story about two kids who face the hardships of war, invasion, being treated with hate and distrust, lost and unsure were they belong anymore. I guess the animation is like all end-of-the-century anime, feels a bit blurry at times, and blue colour is often used.
The anime in a whole reminded me a lot of Voyager (Star Treck Voyager). Following the adventures of one starship (or, in this case, the daughter of the geneticaly-altered-human emperor and a human boy who was unwillingly on a path to became one of Abh royality).
For those who prefer reading over watching there are 3 Crest of Stars light novels I recomend reading.