Banner of the Stars Vol. #3 -

Anime/Manga Reviews

Mania Grade: A

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  • Audio Rating: B+
  • Video Rating: A
  • Packaging Rating: A
  • Menus Rating: B+
  • Extras Rating: B+
  • Age Rating: 13 & Up
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: Bandai Entertainment
  • MSRP: 29.98
  • Running time: 100
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Banner of the Stars

Banner of the Stars Vol. #3

By Chris Beveridge     May 21, 2003
Release Date: May 20, 2003

Banner of the Stars Vol. #3
© Bandai Entertainment

What They Say
The Imperial Star Forces has suffered a catastrophic blow under the might of the United Mankinds new weapon! Admiral Bebaus is faced with losing nearly half his fleet and the main battle has only just begun! On the front lines, the Basroil's doing the best it can, but despite their valiant efforts it looks like the battle may be lost! Lafiel, who is an Imperial princess, isn't used to losing and she isn't about to start now. And just when things look their darkest... disaster strikes! Will Lafiel and Jinto survive this latest challenge?

The Review!
Bringing the second season of the series to a close, Banner of the Stars highlights its last few episodes with beautifully staged fleet battles mixed with events on a more personal level.

For our primary review, we listened to this disc in its original language of Japanese. The vast majority of the audio on this disc is really dialogue with some ambient subtle music playing along. There are many moments when the music is subtle enough that you almost don't hear it. What may confuse some people however is that there's a third language spoken in the tracks, the alien Abh language. Many times when Abh is spoken it's not translated. It was the same for the Japanese viewers as well. Times when it is translated, there are burned in Japanese subtitles. If you don't see those but hear someone talking in a different language, it's Abh.

The transfer here looks great, with so much of the shows blues and blacks shining through without looking soft or blocky. The source materials provide a very sharp looking image here with vibrant colors throughout. With so many shades of blue, it becomes striking just how vibrant it can be yet still sit right next to a much softer shade. Cross coloration sneaks into a few very minor areas later in the disc, but overall this looks great. The grainy space battle sequences look fantastic as well.

This cover is one of my favorite images, particularly since I also have a poster of it, with Lafiel and Jinto entering an embrace of sorts in the foreground while we get a close up of their faces in the background, all set against a stellar backdrop. The reverse side of the cover has a great image as well of the commander of the entire fleet with his chief of staff set against the image of their fleet rising and the shadowed image of the Basroil?s command crew. The back cover provides the episode numbers and titles and some good summaries of the shows premise. The discs features and extras are clearly listed as well as a chunk of the production credits. In a real plus, the spine is designed in the same fashion as the Crest series, making it easy to keep them all together. The insert provides another look at the cover and opens up to provide a gorgeous space shot and a brief piece about the basic Abh ships. The back of the insert provides more full credits.

The main menu layout is a fair bit nicer this time around, as we get the lush instrumental music playing while the background pans across the various Abh fleets. Moving between menus is nice and fast, with most submenus set up like Abh computer screens, which can be a slight bit confusing at first since it?s based on colors. Access times are nice and fast and overall very responsive.

The only extras included in this release is a brief illustration gallery and the continuation of Morioka?s ?newsletter?, which provides more interesting points and realizations that he comes up with upon re-viewing the series after some time. His comments really help to flesh things out from the novelist perspective of what he was trying to achieve and what the scriptwriters managed to convey.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
My love of this series only continues to grow, especially in the way they managed to nicely deal with having less than a half season in which to do this particular arc. The pacing and overall plot fit nicely after going through the more personal Crest of the Stars and has done a solid job of showing the growing maturity of our two leads.

The final four episodes to this season are very hard to talk about as the bulk of it really is the space battles, which is chock full of beautifully choreographed movements and sequences. This is about as ?action? oriented as this show tends to get, but it doesn?t provide one with much to really comment on outside of how it came across. With the basis of the movements in the Aptic system being one of facing overwhelming odds, there is a good sense of urgency to things here. This is particularly strong early on as they realize that a good portion of the overall battle, a battle that will last hours and hours, is being fought against simple mines.

The episodes follow quite a number of characters throughout, though our primary focus is always on the Basroil and her crew. Moving between them and their commanding officer, Atosuryua, we also shift to the twins leading the defense of the Aptic Gate as well as the heir to the throne who is in charge of the entire overall operation to reclaim lost Abh planets and systems. Each of them has their own particular quirks, such as Nereis opting to take a bath in the midst of battle to Dusanyu continually questioning his chief of staff as to which of the twin brothers she has had a previous relationship with.

Watching the mass movements of the fleets here, listening to the plans being made, particularly the ever enjoyable dialogue between Spoor and her second, makes me long for another series that this is very reminiscent of at this point, Legend of Galactic Heroes. The similarities are strong at many points between the two, and what made me love that series is showing up here, something that?s very rare. The epic scale to the battles, the simple telling of casualties in text and the somber nature of what a war is really like are powerful here, just as in that series. With each episode and battle, I continually find myself getting closer and closer to the edge of my seat, eager to see how things will be played out.

This season closes perfectly based on the events contained in these final episodes. There are genuine moments where I was ready to yell at the screen based on what was happening, swearing vengeance if a particular character was to be killed, which only made me realize how involved I have gotten with it. This arc of the Stars series compliments the Crest arc perfectly and is something I think most people should see. This is one of those series that truly reinvigorates me and reaffirms my love of what anime can accomplish.

Japanese Language,English Language,English Subtitles,Reversible cover,Production art gallery,Textless ending #2

Review Equipment
Toshiba TW40X81 40" HDTV, Panasonic RP-82 Progressive Scan codefree DVD player, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Monster component cable and Sony speakers.


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