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Five Star Stories Review

by: sothis
March 14, 2005

story 9/10

Five Star Stories screenshot To say that Five Star Stories’ story is expansive would be the understatement of the year. Based on a manga that has lasted well over a decade, this hour-long OVA covers what leads up to the most massive war of mankind – or so the story claims. I haven’t read the manga, but quite frankly, I might just do so after seeing this a few times. Without a doubt, I’ve never seen many things this epic or compelling, that’s for sure.

Unfortunately, unless you read the liner notes ADV supplies with the R1 release or check somewhere on line, the story won’t make a lot of sense. Why? Well, just imagine that you are reading Dune, but instead of having hundreds of pages to get to know the characters, names, places and things, you only have 15. Think you could really get a handle on what everything is? Probably not. Five Star Stories is no different. We are immersed in a rich fantasy world full of names and places that we aren’t familiar with and don’t understand, and due to the length, have no ramp-up time to help us along the way. Again, I can’t stress enough the importance of reading the liner notes ADV provides, or read something on line extensively both before and after you view this, for the best effect.

I’ve beat around the bush enough... what’s the actual story? Five Star Stories takes place in the Joker Cluster, a group of four solar systems that contain a variety of worlds. The main story takes place on one of these worlds where a fatima debut is about to take place. I suppose I should back up a bit. Fatima are android women who act as intermediaries between Headd Liners (pilots) and Mortar Headd (the mecha of sorts that these Headd Liners pilot). They are bred to be emotionless and to obey humans, but can choose their own master in a ceremony known as a debut. Ladius Sopp is a young man who is on his way to visit the debut, and is consequently on a quest to find a fatima from his past, Lachesis. I can’t say much else without spoiling, but along the way, he runs into a variety of new friends, enemies, and hardships that stand in his way.

Watching Five Star Stories reminded me of reading Dune or the Myst books, or in general, experiencing something completely epic in so many ways. It’s like seeing the tip of what surely is an enormous iceberg, and if anything, the open and epic ending is nothing but a frustration for that reason. I wanted to see more. I wanted to see what this huge war was all about, and how the characters I’d seen would be a part of it. Unfortunately, to do that, I’d need to read the manga, so that’s probably my single complaint about the OVA. It was epic, compelling, a wonderfully detailed story and overall great, but it had no ending and enticed me to read the manga! Curse you, creators of Five Star Stories! As if I need another reason to spend tons of money!

Overall, a really fantastic story that holds up to the test of time, and is epic and amazing in almost every way. My only complaints are that it had no ending, and in general, was way WAY too confusing for newcomers to the universe. Unless you have a guide handy that can explain terms, people, and places, just attempting to understand what’s going on would be exhausting at best.

animation 9/10

For something that was made in 1986, I was absolutely shocked at how amazing the animation was. Only They Were Eleven has withstood the test of time as Five Star Stories did, and that’s not very many series total (two?!). First, the level of detail was superb. Backgrounds were beautifully constructed, from the ruined wastelands of the desert to the planets above. Colors were vibrant and beautiful, impressing me throughout the OVA. Character designs look older and very bishounen, but also were very unique at the same time. One of the knights, for example, was partially cybernetic and looked perfectly badass.

Violence reigned supreme in certain parts of the OVA, and fights in particular tended to get quite bloody and grotesque (in a kickass way, of course). Quite a bit of the scenery and items, in general, reminded me a lot of Star Wars. Fight scenes were wonderfully coordinated. Overall, wonderful animation, even for its old age.

sound 7/10

Musically, Five Star Stories was good, but also a bit weird. The soundtrack was primarily orchestral, but almost had a 60s Disney movie feel to it. It was epic and booming, but also was a bit cheesy and kiddie-sounding at the same time. Overall, the music was probably better than worse, but could have done without the overly cheesy factor to it. Voice actors were fine for everyone involved.

characters 6.5/10

I’m torn on what to rate this section. In general, we are introduced to a variety of characters whose roles aren’t fully explained. Then again, me saying that is an understatement, since we know almost nothing about the characters by the end of the OVA. I learned the most from reading the insert in the DVD, and that’s probably how you’d have to learn too. Like the story, it feels like you are seeing the tip of a huge iceberg with the characters, and at the end you wish more had been revealed. I rated this section on the lower side for that reason. There definitely are a lot of characters who have their own unique roles and quirks, but we just aren’t shown enough to really get a good feel for the type of characters they are. As an introductory look into the world of Five Star Stories, it would have been nice to get a better idea of the characters from the anime itself, as opposed to extra material or the web.

overall 8/10

As a one shot OVA, Five Star Stories shined. From the immense epic plot that teases you to read the manga, to the wonderful animation, there’s something to be said for this piece of art. Then again, the strength of the anime (the story) is also the weakness, since it ends on a very unfinished note. I guess the bottom line from me is that although Five Star Stories is quite good, it’s not for everyone, and it’s certainly not for light anime watchers. Unless you’ve seen quite a bit, or can appreciate non-mainstream works of art, you might find Five Star Stories not very accessible (as far as understanding it) and could get frustrated. Regardless, the animation is impressive given the age, and in general, FSS is an epic journey that will capture the hearts of many anime fans out there. Watch it for the visuals, watch it for the epic feel, just don’t watch it unless you have a lengthy attention span and can handle looking up names and places for reference!

Anime Info

  • OVA (1 ep x 66 min)
  • 1989

The Joker Cluster is a group of 4 solar systems, inhabited by thousands of countries and millions of people. Amongst the kingdoms, men called Headd Liners pilot mecha known as Mortar Headd, which are also manned by fatima, android women who act as the bridge between the machine and its pilot. Ladios Sopp is a young man on his way to an android auction, where he hopes to retrieve a fatima from his past, Lachesis. But retrieving her will be no easy task, and along the way, he will meet new friends and make new enemies before reaching his goal.

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About the Author

sothis's avatar


My fav genres include sci fi and horror, but you'll find a lot of obscure reviews from me too, given I watch a ton to add to the database. My new reviews are written a lot better than my old ones, so when in doubt, sort by date! ^_^ Enjoy, and I welcome any and all feedback.

More Reviews


Singan avatar Singan
May 22, 2013

Absolutely incomprehensible unless you've read the manga or some detailed extra description, and I personally don't recommend watching unless you do so.

On another note, the animation is very good indeed. The only point of controversy is that it features tons of shoujo fluff when it comes to character designs: some may like it, some may not.

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