After planet Kiba is invaded by a poorly defined "Kingdom," a crew of teenage cadets rebels against their nations surrender by stealing a state of the art battleship and forming a government in exile. After selling themselves to a reality TV network in episode 1 the premise is complete and doesn't progress much farther. After that, much of the series is split between character backstory, romantic interactions, and political posturing. There isn't much time to go around and most of this development is superficial.
Starship Operators delivers very little quality animation, especially for a high action sci-fi series. They cut corners by delivering much of the space combat to you by the ships interface reminiscent of 80s arcade games. You would think a state of the art battleship could manage a better GUI at least. Some of the ship designs are interesting, but the blocky looking CG is terrible. Explosions and weapons are all similar and unimpressive. The sets and backdrops are very generic looking, especially the CG ones. Character models aren't completely bland at least, though most of the costumes look pretty generic again. Character animations are awkward to completely bizarre in outer space - people levitate and move around without effort.
I didn't like either the title or credit songs and the score was generic and unnoticeable for the most part. Sound effects were bland, a common theme for the show. The voice acting isn't terrible, though the dialogue is usually silly and cliché.
While some effort is made towards developing characters, there are far too many of them and not enough time. Characters are introduced and then killed off. The most attachment I felt towards any character would be to hope they were the next to die. With a cast as big as this they would need another 13 episodes to develop them, though I'm thankful they didn't.
Starship Operators attempts to blend space sci-fi with high school romance and reality TV, but instead of bringing you an innovative story it serves up a hodge-podge of tired stereotypes and stale action. The various genres split what little time there is and most of the reality TV stuff has a very naive perspective or is just pointless filler. Everything seems rushed and poorly conceived, the result is painful to watch. I had to finish Operators just to see how bad it could get.