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.
In the distant future, mankind has mastered space and spread empires across the galaxy. While many choose to colonize distant planets, others choose to remain amidst the stars, ultimately giving rise to a new brand of humanity known as the Abh. Both genetically and culturally different from their Earth-dwelling peers, the Abh soon find themselves engaged in a bloody war that rages across hundreds of planets and set out to restore peace by means of conquest. Enter Jinto, a nobleman and ambassador of the recently acquired Hyde system whose duty is to represent his peoples' interests and rule on the Abh's behalf. In order to be officially coronated to this position, a cold-but-beautiful Abh princess named Lafiel arrives at Hyde to escort him back to the empire's capital. When they are suddenly attacked by an anti-Abh liberation front, however, the festivities are cut short, and the two must flee for their lives against all odds.