Stellvia of the Universe - Reviews

Alt title: Uchuu no Stellvia

sort
sothis's avatar
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.
Overall
Stellvia is definitely one of my favorite series of all time. Like Gunparade March, Gunbuster or a variety of other series, Stellvia combines, almost flawlessly, an amazing sci fi plot with just enough "kids in space" moments to make a great final product. The animation is gorgeous, the music is (in my opinion) damn good, and you’ll leave the series having watched a satisfying ending that won’t fail to please. Do I think you should watch Stellvia? Absolutely!
9/10 story
8.5/10 animation
9.5/10 sound
8.5/10 characters
9/10 overall
ThatAnimeSnob's avatar
Jul 23, 2012

Animated by Xebec, aka the studio which never made an above average show in their whole lives. It is directed by Satou Tatsuo, who has made lots of mecha shows, most of which are unorthodox but otherwise slow and usually anti-climactic (Martian Successor Nadesico, Gekiganger 3, Shingu, Lagrange). So you kinda know right away this is not going to be a masterpiece.

Stellvia is a show that doesn’t know what it wants to be. Although to its core it is the coming of age tale of a teenager girl, it throws that premise amongst a rather complicating and confusing sci-fi setting that expands to philosophy, humanitarianism, and the end of the world. It eventually loses itself amongst the weight of it themes and gets crushed by a lot of themes that were never developed as they could have.

The story is about Earth recovering from a devastating space phenomenon that caused tremendous damage on its surface. Since a second wave is expected to appear after a few years, mankind comes together to prepare for it and manage to survive. Thus the beginning of the show finds all people in peace for centuries, as they build shields in space and train their young to pilot robots that will take out any debris the space event will leave behind. One of those youngsters is Shima, who gets a big vase of rock candy and goes to space to train as well.

A big part of the plot is about her interacting with her fellow pilots and crying… a lot. The whole thing about saving humanity ends up being nothing but an excuse to have a plot somewhere in there and fancy robots doing stuff. Despite the serious premise both slice of life and sci-fi end up being too light for their own good, as the first is unremarkable in its presentation and the later is just a vague objective. Eventually the most memorable scenes of the show end up being her crying, eating rock candy and OWNING EVERYONE WITH HER MAD SKILLZ! You see she seems frail but eventually becomes a top pilot who blows meteorites with her eyes shut and her hands tied behind her back. How the hell she does that; I don’t know; it is supposed to be an inborn talent. She even gets herself a boyfriend, believe it or not!

All that happen in the middle of the story by the way and the rest appears to be what follows after the destruction is prevented. At this point the expectations are really high as the story left open several interesting windows for continuation and further analysis. Despite the average slice of life, we got to see how she slowly matured to a more secured person, she is now famous worldwide, she has a boyfriend, she has a jealous best friend, mankind no longer needs to be friendly and cooperative with each other and then hostile aliens appear… WOW there is something really good cooking here! The series can very easily turn to an amazing space opera full of betrayal, death, civil war, and pondering about the folly of mankind!

… And none of that happen. The rest of the show is almost like a rehash of the first part, where she again needs to train, her relationship is hardly looked into, the world has forgotten her, the jealousy part never occurs, the aliens never make sense or do anything major, humanity never tries to get violent again, and I wonder WHAT THE HELL WAS THE POINT OF ALL THAT??? Surely, all the good ideas in the show were not only presented light but also never developed further, ending up to a soup of a plot. The cast is also nothing remarkable past the main three teenagers, who are again nothing worth remembering because of the simplistic things they do.

The production values are nothing worth remembering either; the soundtrack has a good opening but dialogues and BGM are forgettable. The robots flying around in space (and not fighting because there is no fighting in this show) is cool all things considered. The characters are drawn too simple, with huge eyes that makes those crying scenes to feel ten times more overblown. They obviously went for semi-moe here but because they don’t blush or eat cake every ten seconds the result is plain passable.

In all, it is an average to boring series. It had potential to be great but gave up and just went for beers and more rock candy.

And now for some excused scorings.

ART SECTION: 6/10
General Artwork 1/2 (generic)
Character Figures 1/2 (generic)
Backgrounds 2/2 (basic but fitting with the feeling of the series)
Animation 1/2 (basic)
Visual Effects 1/2 (basic)

SOUND SECTION: 7/10
Voice Acting 2/3 (corny but fitting with the feeling of the series)
Music Themes 3/4 (not great but fitting with the feeling of the series)
Sound Effects 2/3 (ok I guess)

STORY SECTION: 4/10
Premise 2/2 (interesting)
Pacing 0/2 (loose)
Complexity 2/2 (rich context)
Plausibility 0/2 (none)
Conclusion 0/2 (lame)

CHARACTER SECTION: 6/10
Presence 1/2 (generic)
Personality 2/2 (rather cheesy but well founded)
Backdrop 1/2 (generic and simplistic but it’s there)
Development 1/2 (overblown but it’s there)
Catharsis 1/2 (overblown but it’s there)

VALUE SECTION: 2/10
Historical Value 0/3 (none)
Rewatchability 0/3 (too disappointing to bother watching again)
Memorability 2/4 (the themes are interesting but everything else simply lacks)

ENJOYMENT SECTION: 2/10
Art 0/1 (looks typical)
Sound 0/2 (sounds meh)
Story 1/3 (interesting themes but lame presentation)
Characters 1/4 (they could be great if the story didn’t forget their development)

VERDICT: 4.5/10

4/10 story
6/10 animation
7/10 sound
6/10 characters
4.5/10 overall
Otaku108's avatar
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
0 0 this review is Funny Helpful
DGFischer's avatar
Aug 18, 2023

I took an interest in animes produced around the turn of the millennium and in particular Stellvia (Xebec, 2003).  I caught these shows on Retro Crush and other Roku Channel networks.  Twenty years separate, but the visual quality was outstanding, pairing the vastness of the cosmos and the angst of those high school years.

Stellvia was a neat blend of boy meets girl and humanity meets killer space anomalies (I counted three, including bizarre space invaders who threaten the Space Foundation on a lark (what were those cicada-like knockoffs up to?  I couldn’t figure).  The key match-up is Shima and Kouta, one feisty up-and-down relationship.  Shima is a girl who attends Stellvia Academy first as a typical airhead student trying to come to grips with the high school experience.  She battles to improve her grades and becomes an elite student.  Kouta is a boy whom we meet as a mediocre student whose charisma makes him the hope for mankind's survival.  They meet, they kiss, and then disaster keeps rearing its ugly head.  A recoil supernova that threatens to finish off Earth as it had the planet reeling 150 years prior.  Space invaders threaten a Foundation space station which introduces the final space rift that will reduce the solar system to dust if it isn't destroyed by the united efforts of the Space Foundation.  By the end of the last hazardous episode, Shima and Kouta are half-way through their academy experience, and, if not in love, they do know they make a great team.

Stellvia supplies a fine crew of supporting cast.  Girl pals as frantic Arisa, knowledgeable Yayoi, spunky Rinna.  Boy chums as clueless Joey, noble Kent, ninja-wannabe Ritsuo.  Faculty as wise Mr. Jomes, hard-nosed Jinrai Shirogane, hardcore Leila Barthes, flirty, Ren Renge.  And all those politicos, technicians, pilots, and family members.  Watching them act and develop is a marvel, especially as characters mature (or the immature stay stuck … which is cool too).

The animation, granted its time, was eye-popping in many respects.  But this is assured when you deal with the vastness of space.  Undulating colors, dazzling scenes of the Foundation's efforts to dispel the onslaughts of the recoil and rift, and some of the greatest mecha effects I've seen.  Granted, I might need to see more from the more recent anime, but, ironically, sci-fi is not my thing.  It was just that Stellvia was so compelling an original premise.

The music just unified the whole project, from the hauntingly beautiful 'Brilliant Road' with its closing ethereal 'Go Far Way' ... to the closing 'End of the World' advocating enduring love in times of doom (much better than the closer to the final episode with the happily ever after verve).

The plot does have its limping moments, as no one is sure of the characters as they roll from academia to battle-mode.  Typical teen-age hijinks seemed so out of place in the massive, well-regulated Stellvia.  And yet such is to be expected from Shima and company.  Galactic crises just seemed to get in the way of adolescent behavior, but these crises made the story jump.  A good anime for its technique, if not storyline.

8/10 story
9.5/10 animation
9.5/10 sound
9/10 characters
9.2/10 overall
0 0 this review is Funny Helpful
galacticdude7's avatar
Jul 11, 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
0 0 this review is Funny Helpful