Crest of the Stars Vol. #2 - Mania.com



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Info:

  • Audio Rating: B+
  • Video Rating: N/A
  • Packaging Rating: A-
  • Menus Rating: B
  • Extras Rating: B+
  • Age Rating: 12 & Up
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: Bandai Entertainment
  • MSRP: 29.99
  • Running time: 75
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Crest of the Stars

Crest of the Stars Vol. #2

By Chris Beveridge     September 04, 2001
Release Date: September 04, 2001


Crest of the Stars Vol. #2
© Bandai Entertainment


What They Say
The situation worsens and Jinto finds himself at the center of events he doesn't really understand. Lafiel has been ordered to escort Jinto, a non-combatant civilian, to safety before the battle begins.

Despite her protests, Lafiel finally agrees and the two set off to warn the Empire of the impending attack. But the baron has plans of his own, and he won't allow anyone - not even a member of the Imperial Star Forces and an Imperial Princess - stand in his way...

The Review!
While the first volume won us over handily with its storyline and content, we were rather underwhelmed with the quality of the video. With this volume, the story is only ratcheted up several notches, but under the capable hands of the folks at POP/Cinram authoring, the show looks so sweet. I'm a ultra happy camper now.

Audio:
For our primary review, we listened to this disc in its original language of Japanese. Much like the first disc, 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.

Video:
Now this is what I'm wanting. Other than some rainbows in various sequences, primarily along the edges of hair, this is a gorgeous looking transfer. All of the problems from the first volume are gone. The massive amounts of macroblocking are nowhere to be seen on the opening, either on our Skyworth on the HDTV or the crappy Apex on the 19" set. The blues hold together very well and look wonderfully soft and solid. The general hue of the show, especially aboard the starship, looks great here. There's hardly anything else that was bothersome. I found myself enthralled with the picture this time around instead of cringing every 30 seconds. Now I can look forward to the rest of this series.

Packaging:
Keeping in style with the first volume, we get a great shot of Lafiel in the front saluting while the crew of the Star Forces ship as well as the ship settle into the background. This is a rather "down" feeling cover, somewhat somber and almost feels heavy. The back cover replicates the first volume with a string of images along the top while a good summary is below it. Features and extras are plainly listed and the episode numbers and titles are provided as well. The insert folds out to provide a brief talk about Plane Space and provides another shot of a Star Forces ship.

Menus:
The minor problems of the first volume, such as not being able to tell which language options are selected, have been nicely corrected here and made the menu experience less frustrating. The general layout and style remains similar if not exactly the same as the first volume, with the Abh language selections and the overlaid English text, and it looks very much in the style of the show.

Extras:
There's two good extras included here. The first is the textless ending, which I can now take into more appreciation without the credits going by. The other is a multipage history of the Abh, which I did skim through more than I usually do these things. This appears to be pretty spoiler-free, and goes into detail about things that were probably page 1 material in the series of novels.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
This volume proved to be very engaging, so much so that we actually thought we missed an episode. With only three episodes here, the show goes by very fast.

The opening episode picks up just before where the last episode left off, with Lafiel and Jinto heading off in a different ship to make sure Jinto is safe from their pursuers. This entire episode deals with the cat and mouse game played by the Abh and the United Mankind fleet that's stalking them through plane space. It's an engaging style of combat rarely seen in anime, and will bring back fond memories for fans of Legends of Galactic Heroes.

The captain of the Gosroth sets her ship up to take on the now larger number of pursuers. The battle takes place over approximately three hours or so, with various feints and other maneuvers allowing the ship to continue to fight against the overwhelming odds. There's some great style done to the engagements, as its not until the second half of the episode that we even actually see any of the enemy ships. The only thing we see of them prior to that is just blip representations on scanner screens, which adds to the tension as they continue to multiply.

The progression of the combat sequence, with bits in between from Lafiel and Jinto, provide good insights into the Abh mentality and the way they perceive themselves and their enemies. Coming from the beginning of the first disc where they Abh are presented as rather inhuman and as overlords, their fleshing out through these experiences brings in some interesting elements.

The next two episodes went by so fast and meshed so well together we didn't even think they were two episodes, but one really fast one. Lafiel and Jinto arrive in the Febdash area, a recently "authorized" location of space where a noble family is building their claim. While they're initially rebuffed, when it's learned that it's actually princess Lafiel, they're quickly brought on board for refueling so they can continue on and warn about the invasion fleet.

Or so they had hoped. Upon entering the station, things start seeming a bit odd. While there appears to be a quite able crew aboard, it's comprised solely of women and in servant uniforms most of the time. They do anything that Lafiel requests for the most part, and treat her as the princess she is (though she hates it), but with Jinto they do the opposite and ignore him completely. The Baron and his son set up a dinner for them all, even though Lafiel is trying to move on as quick as possible. The series of delays end up holding her there though.

Prior to the dinner, Jinto finds himself manhandled and removed from the situation, which leaves Lafiel all dressed up for the Baron's son... who is now the Baron himself, claiming his father no longer is in charge. Through these two, we watch a battle just as hard fought as the one in the first episode here, but done verbally. The sparring matches are wonderfully done and bring some new details to light about the setup of the Abh empire and the way the various nobles interact with each other as well as how life is in these "frontier" territories.

For all three episodes, we were very engaged in the show and couldn't pull our eyes away from it. With the excellent video quality, the great storyline and the subtle performances of the Japanese actors, this disc shows off one of the better dramatic storylines I've seen in ages. While these episodes are essentially a detour along the way to greater intrigue, they're important for establishing a lot of things that will follow.

Crest of the Stars has been just as great as I had hoped, and I can't get enough of it. This volume fulfills the promise that the first one had in spades. Very highly recommended.

Features
Japanese Language,English Language,English Subtitles,Textless Ending #1,History of Crest of the Stars

Review Equipment
Toshiba TW40X81 40" HDTV, Skyworth 1050P Progressive Scan codefree DVD player, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Monster component cable and Sony speakers.

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