Stellvia of the Universe

Alt titles: Uchuu no Stellvia

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sothis's avatar By sothis on Nov 16, 2006

Story
On the foundation Stellvia, young people train for the most important mission of mankind: protect the solar system from a devastating shockwave. Close to two hundred years ago, a supernova sent an initial shockwave that destroyed the Earth, prompting the survivors to design the Great Mission that will save humanity from being utterly annihilated. The story of Stellvia follows a bright-eyed and talented cadet who is lovingly known as Shipon, as she makes new friends, experiences life on the foundation, and most importantly, discovers her place in history.

You can think of Stellvia sort of like Harry Potter in space. Like many slice of life series before it, Stellvia focuses on both plot elements (which are very serious and dark at times), and the daily life of the students. Relationships, hardships, tests, and rivalry all come into play. The series has a balanced mix of lighthearted moods and serious tones, so you don’t get overwhelmed by one or the other. It’s common, for example, to watch a dark story arc which is followed by a few episodes dedicated to watching the students prepare for tests. There are two main story arcs, both of which are engaging and interesting. A similar series in that aspect would be Gunparade March. A great ending is also included, which can be a rarity for anime.

The crux of Stellvia is not the sci fi plot; rather, it’s the character development. Yes, there’s a giant shockwave coming that can destroy the solar system, but that isn’t why you’d watch Stellvia. Rather than get into that here, I’ll continue down in the characters section.

I really enjoyed Stellvia. I’m a big fan of sci fi, especially when it involves something that could really happen. For all we know, a star COULD go supernova in our lifetime, and we’d be totally unprepared to protect ourselves. Thus, the story was very interesting for me. I also like slice of life series, so I enjoyed the downtime episodes as well.
Animation
Stellvia’s visuals are gorgeous and colorful. The futuristic sci fi environment was portrayed incredibly well, with lavish ships, sleek outfits, impressive cutting edge technology, and more. The series mixes regular animation with various 3D elements, including the space scenes and the occasional others. Though it’s no Final Fantasy Advent Children, for its time the 3D was very well done. That being said, if you are spoiled with watching anything from the last few years, the 3D scenes will probably look cheesy. Character designs aren’t super realistic but are still the kind I love. Brightly colored clothing, solid shading, interesting hair styles and large eyes.
Sound
Stellvia has an intro song that I adore. In fact, I always make it a point to watch the intro with each episode, just to hear the song! It’s catchy and somehow different from a normal intro song. This same song is repeated throughout the series in a variety of speeds and tones to match what’s going on at the time. Other songs are very appropriate for any scene they are paired with. Voice acting is superb. No complaints here!
Characters
Stellvia has a compelling and lighthearted story, but where the series truly shines is the characters. A group of friends is formed on the foundation, and we experience their growth over the course of many events. Shipon arrives at the foundation alone, but soon gains a good friend. She falls in love, doubts herself, and achieves success all in the course of 26 episodes. We see the same growth in each of her friends as well.

Now, I do have to make one note in this section: a lot of people didn’t like Stellvia for one reason alone: the "whiny" factor. Specifically, there’s a period of a few episodes where all of the girls go through a PMS phase and are all fighting, which culminates into a huge crying fest where they are all crying at once. Though I can understand why all of the girls might have gone off the deep end in a state of emotional weakness, I still don’t see any cause for a crying session. In addition, Shipon sometimes is a bit whiny throughout the series, but in general I can understand why she feels the way she does as far as pressure on herself to succeed, not living up to her own expectations, etc. So, though the whiny factor IS a part of Stellvia, in my opinion the story and character development should dwarf it.
9/10 story
8.5/10 animation
9.5/10 sound
8.5/10 characters
9/10 overall
Otaku108's avatar By Otaku108 on Oct 3, 2009

Story/Plot: 8

It was refreshing to find a story not about man vs man, or man vs hostile alien in a space sci-fi anime. I'd give it higher marks if it didn't use the same doom and gloom to all of human kind 3 times in a row but as it stands, this is just a personal taste thing. Over all the story and plot were excellent.

Animation: 9

The designs, the fluidity, the over all scope of the show was highly enjoyable. Everything seemed to have a purpose and not just some randomly techy looking junk thrown in for atmosphere. It was highly thought out and it showed. Plus, their attention to space scapes were very much appreciated.

Sounds/Music: 7

Pretty good considering that, as most space shows do, they forget that explosions in space don't make sound. Minor really and I don't care so much about it but I still deduct points for it. The sounds in general were good and the music was ok. The change overs from scene to scene weren't bad either.

Characters: 5

Here's where the show fell apart for me. The two "main" characters, or perhaps I should say the two "genius" characters, were both annoying a lot of the time. The girl was mainly an emotional basket case while the boy was an emotional dip shit... common trend for most "genius" characters in many anime/manga. There were other characters which also had a lot of lime light but they didn't seem to change a bunch, a few did but not by a whole heck of a lot. Having very little real development/growth I can't say I was impressed here. It was mainly done, in my opinion, to keep tension high and interest in the anime up.

Overall: 7.5

This was one of those shows that skirted the line of noteworthy for me. All of it's facets were pretty good, and it kept me wanting to watch more but it lacked one thing for me. Likable main characters, even the side characters sometimes irked me randomly.

End Note:

It was a good show and worth watching if you enjoy space shows. It had a fair bit of romance to it but nothing beyond puppy love, and a few comedy elements but it's not a gut buster. Mainly this was a unique show to it's space fairing peers.

8/10 story
9/10 animation
7/10 sound
5/10 characters
7.5/10 overall
Dralha's avatar By Dralha on Nov 11, 2009

Two hundred years after a nearby supernova devastated Earth, orbital space stations known as "foundations" are built. Students who pass the Space Academy entrance exams are given the opportunity to study and live in space. Katase Shima is one such student, and it is her hope to work towards the prevention of another such disaster. This was a fantastic tale, with scifi action, coming-of-age romance, and intense teen angst.

9/10 story
9/10 animation
8/10 sound
9/10 characters
9/10 overall
galacticdude7's avatar By galacticdude7 on Jul 10, 2010

-Story-

I found the story of Stellvia of the Universe to be very compelling, especially in the last few episodes. Before that however, I felt that the creators had trouble deciding on if the series was a slice of life type story in space or a hardcore science fiction, and it felt that the storylines for both aspects got in the way of each other and prevented either one from growing to a meaningful level. I feel that the hardcore science fiction aspect had the stronger story to it, and that the slice of life in space should have played more of a secondary role in the series. However, I was pleased when they left the slice of life styled story was abandoned during the most crucial parts of the hardcore science fiction story, with the slice of life story permiating at the most opportune times to give the overall story a nice flavor to it.

-Animation-

The animation was above average, but not the best that I've seen. The depictions of the technology were very good, but the characters needed to look a bit better to convey the emotions of the characters properly. There were times that I felt that the characters were robots and they didn't convey emotions in the best way.

-Characters-

The characters in Stellvia of the Universe were pretty much hit and miss. Some characters were ok, but others were not so good. Few if any characters left much of an impression on me. The female lead, Shipon, was a character that I could hardly stand, especially right before the climactic finish, and I especially found her annoying at that part of the series.

-Overall-

Not the best anime, but you can do worse.

6.5/10 story
6/10 animation
?/10 sound
5/10 characters
5.5/10 overall
kirant's avatar By kirant on Dec 10, 2012

Too much of anime these days are "cute girls doing cute things".  I'm sorry, but don't get me started on the "moe" trend, or fanservice.  I take refuge in the wierd, the strange...the psychological and the melodramatic.  That's where I met Stellvia.  It's a wonderful place, atypical of anime trends.  

Background of the Show

Stellvia takes place after a "big impact" basically levels much of earth.  Since the catalysmic events, humanity has to protect itself from the remnants of the shockwave.  To do this, they train and raise school aged kids to pilot spacecraft for them.  The story follows Shima Katase, a meek girl, and her adventures...and subsequent transformation into an adult. 

There's not much to it in this regard.  Though I will identify that this is directed by a personal favourite of mine, who also directed Martian Successor Nadesico.

Story - 6.0/10

Expect this show to get slow very fast.  The spacing is very odd.  You'll spend many, many epsiodes on seemingly nothing.  Of course, you can chalk this up to the fact that it's intended to simulate much of a school year, but still...you'll probably want to marathon the show to get a real sense of adventure. 

The story itself is nothing mindblowing.  It's actually quick black and white...or grey and white morality, I guess it should be.  There are no antagonists or bad guys...just a bunch of good guys doing what they think is right in a fairly reasonable manner.  And this creates an interesting dynamic that I think works - it's not so much a space opera...it's a space drama.  The adventure is thrown to the side in an afterthought and something to do.  The real story is the interactions between characters and how they change over time.  For example about 6-7 episodes total are spent in actual conflict, on the survival on the entire human race.  About that much time is spent having the characters throw fits at each other.  That should tell you what the real story is.

Giving this a score for its story is so hard.  On one hand, what it attempts to draw you in with is so horrible and flawed in its approach that you'll probably turn off the TV/computer before you reach the first climax.  On the other hand, that's not what it's trying to make the story.  And that story that it's hiding is so much better.

Animation - 5.5/10

The animation is nothing special, nothing bad.  Characters are very unique and distinguishable.  There's never going to be a "who's that?" moment that some anime have.  It grabs from all aspects of anime, the funny hair colours, the wierd hair styles, and the general acceptable escapes from reality you love you have and puts them in an inoffensive standard. 

One thing that can and will grate you, if you're a fan of new shows, is the combat and flight scenes.  If you're ever thought "well, that CGI is out of place", you'll get thrown up the wall with Stellvia's space animation.  They're fairly rare, but the CGI is stilted as is expected of anime of the era. 

That being said, the rest of the show is acceptable.  Looping or digital copying of animation is fairly obvious when it occurs and details are cut as needed.  None of these take away from the whole experience.  If you don't mind the phrase, it gets from A to B in an efficient, non-extravagent manner.

Sound - 5.0/10

This ranking incorporates many sections.  Brief, quick overviews are provided:

 - Songs: The songs aren't anything special, but do the job.  The opening by Angelica is one of my favourites of the time period (I do have a bit of a soft spot for her, I admit), and the ending does its job.  Don't expect anything high level or exceptional in this regard.  One note, if you're familiar with translations and dialogue, is that the opening brings the tone into play quite a bit.

 - Sound Effects: The sound effects don't stand out.  A laser shot sounds like a laser shot, and a pile of stuff in a closet falls out like, guess what?  A pile of stuff. 

 - Original Sound Track: Not outstanding or worth note really.  So much of the show is dialogue based that if an OST was made prevalent, it'd probably detract.  Actually, let me revise my thoughts: this show is a great example of how less can be more.  Not everything needs to have something playing in the background. 

 - Voice Acting:  Nothing stands out really in either version.  You'll have a nice smattering of common English voice actors, but they don't stand out much.  I'll hold exception for a single actress...Laura Hudson (well, her official name anyways.  I think we all know it's Kari Wahlgren), who plase Arisa Glennorth.  The raw energy drips off from her performance.  Yet, one drop of exceptional play doesn't take down a group's worth of middling acting.  In either language.  It's another case of "getting the job done, but not standing out". 

Characters - 9.0/10

This is where, as the phrase goes, the rubber hits the road.  Stellvia lives off characters.  It thrives off characters.  It's the only reason you SHOULD watch Stellvia.  I can't emphasize this enough.  If you're going to watch the show for cuteness, for action, or for moments of heart stopping action, stop now.  It's not going to happen in enough quantity to matter.  The show's primary, and only, stock is in how the characters interact. 

As I mention in the story section, this is a story about characters and how they act with each other.  They all come in children.  Mere, innocent, wide-eyed children.  We're greeted with a family establishing moment of Shima taunting her mother, then her mother falling apart as soon as she leaves.  We're dealing with kids...people, as the psychological world might describe, as less mature and with their own mindframe.  Over the course of the show, we see how these characters thrive and become one of their own.  The "wimp" we see in Shima fades into a mature, calm, and fairly confident adult.  We see this evolution through her trials and challenges.  Higher ups go after her (though, this being a fairly optimistic anime, they're not considerably evil), rivals appear...and ultimately the question of perfection, and how we deal with our inability to reach it, is asked.  And, again, we play witness to how the girl unceremoniously given the nickname "Shipon" deals and grapples with it...how she internalizes her story and makes it something more than just an event.  We stand by as friends get jealous, Shima gets upset...then buries the hatchet.  Yes, it get a little melodramatic at times, but it's still an experience and thrill to behold.  It's a rarity and a treasure in this regard; Stellvia is a story that deals with realistic people and how they evolve in the presence of experience and of each other.  Tough questions and human development play out, and pull you in through these mirrors.  And, past a story, that's your take home message...what YOU get out of the adventure of a naive teenager in a coming of age story. 

Long story short: Expect a mixed bag.  On the front, it's a facade...an illusion.  It pulls you in with a storyline about saving the world, of high school girls.  But it transforms into an entirely different beast - one of deep, meaningful psychological questions.   If you don't like the concept of characters and how they interact, I urge you to not watch.  If you want to see characters evolve and develop in front of your very eyes though in a manner you can probably relate to, then this could easily be the show for you.

Overall - 7.5/10

6/10 story
5.5/10 animation
5/10 sound
9/10 characters
7.5/10 overall