Five Star Stories

OVA (1 ep x 66 min)
3.243 out of 5 from 585 votes
Rank #11,477

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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StoryTo 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. AnimationFor 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. SoundMusically, 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.CharactersI’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. OverallAs 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!


The Five Star Stories is an OVA that came out in 1989, based on a still "ongoing" manga that started in 1986 (for as far as you can call it ongoing, with only one volume being released in over 10 years). Given those circumstances, you can only expect the OVA to be an introduction to the series: it only adapts 1 Japanese volume (or 3 of the North-American volumes).  So, is the story here any good then? Simply put: I found it to be one big teaser. We get teasers for big mecha fights, teasers for an epic war, teasers for intricate political debates and even teasers for cool fights between lightsaber-wielding warriors. The rest of it is just a basic story of a guy saving the girl he likes from some evil guy, while some friends help him to save the day. All the "fights" amount to is curbstomping some small-fry, until they suddenly need the deus-ex-machina (or is that a mecha-ex-machina ?) for the final fight.  The ideas put in the world-building are fine, and the story has enough twists and turns to keep you interested, but when you get down to it there's not that much to be found here in terms of story. Lots of the worldbuilding stuff is also just info-dumped, and never gets much expansion beyond that. I also have a big problem with the characters: a guy we know nothing about comes to save the girls from their ivory tower, and gets the help of some other people we know nothing about, plus some motivation from some kind of ghost... It's also very annoying to see how helpless the girls are acting. The entire time, those girls do absolutely nothing except for running, crying and shaking.  When we get to the animation and artwork department, my soul tears apart because this section has some things that are exceptionally good and some that are really bad. When you look at the overall picture, the artwork and animation are very good (especially when you think about how old it is): the backgrounds, most of the movements, and the mecha designs are very well done. But then you look at the character designs and... BLERGH. Why do two guys look like girls? Why do the girls and those two guys have those screwed up proportions? I don't think anyone could be that thin, have such long necks, or have no hips or butt. And don't even get me started on those gooey "shoujo-eyes". I know it's anime, and it doesn't have to look realistic, but there are points at which even I think it's too much. Those character designs were just distracting imo, although there will probably be people who like it.  (By the way, the bad guy looks like a generic evil fatass too.) On the sound part: music was ok , although often a tad cheesy. VAs were good too, although I felt like Ladios Sopp's VA didn't really fit here. Overall: it was an OK watch, but I feel like it could have been so much more. The story was enjoyable, the characters unknown or annoying, and both sound and animation had their good and bad parts. The fact that I'd need to read a manga with tons of hiatuses to get more also doesn't really motivate me to pick it up to get what was teased here.

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