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



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Info:

  • Audio Rating: B
  • Video Rating: B-
  • Packaging Rating: B+
  • Menus Rating: B
  • Extras Rating: B-
  • Age Rating: 12 & Up
  • Region: 2 - Europe
  • Released By: Beez
  • MSRP: ¬£19.99
  • Running time: 100
  • 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 Bryan Morton     June 22, 2006
Release Date: April 24, 2006


Crest of the Stars Vol. #2
© Beez


What They Say


The Review!
The epic science fiction adventure continues for Jinto and Lafiel...

Lafiel has been ordered to escort Jinto 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. As the crew of the Gosroth prepares for what may indeed be their final battle against overwhelming odds, Jinto and Lafiel head toward the Baron Febdash Territory in an attempt to refuel and get word to the main fleet. But the Baron has plans of his own and he won't anyone to stand in his way.

A big depiction of science fiction drawn from the works of Hiroyuki Morioka, directed by Yasuchika Nagaoka (New Cutey Honey).

Episodes Comprise
5 - The Battle of Gosroth
6 - Mysterious Conspiracy
7 - Fortunate Revolt
8 - The Style of the Abh

The review
A battle in deep space as the Gosroth takes on a United Mankind fleet, and a battle of wills as Lafiel deals with an Abh with an inferiority complex, in the second volume of Crest of the Stars.

Audio:
Audio is provided in Japanese and English stereo tracks " I listened to the Japanese track for this review. Very little use is made of directionality in this release, even during the more action-based sequences, but the soundtrack is clear with no obvious problems. Quite heavy use is made of background music, but it's kept at a low enough volume that it never gets in the way and does add to the atmosphere of the show.

Video:
Video is presented in its original 1.33:1 full-frame aspect. There's some shimmer on the Japanese text that appears during the credit sequences and whenever the Abh language is being translated, along with some minor blocking in some scenes. The transfer itself has a slightly soft-focus, washed-out feel to it, although it does seem slightly better than volume one. There were no noticeable problems with the subtitles, which use a good-sized white-on-black font that is clear and readable

Packaging:
Lafiel stands to attention on the front cover of this volume, with the Gosroth & Lexshue behind her. The back cover has the usual promotional paragraph, episode titles, screenshots and technical information, while the reverse side of the cover is used to give short episode summaries.

Menu:
The disc menus are provided in French and English versions, selectable when the disc loads. The menu opens with a series of clips from the show before the main menu finally appears. On the main screen, a central panel runs more clips, over a background image of Lafiel and Jinto. Submenus are provided for language setup, episode select and extras. The chapter select screen uses a series of animated scenes for each episode, while the rest of the submenus use static pages with different pieces of background music from the show.

Extras:
There isn't a huge selection of extras on this release. Along with the standard creditless versions of the opening and closing credits, there is a set of character profile pages for Lafiel, Jinto, Lexshue, Baron Febdash, Spoor and Dusanyu.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review will contain spoilers)
While Jinto and Lafiel make their way towards friendly territory, the Gosroth prepares for battle against the oncoming United Mankind fleet. With the odds tilted heavily against them, Captain Lexshue does what she can to gain any sort of advantage, but with just one ship against ten the chances of her crew surviving look bleak.

I'm a sucker for epic space battles, and despite this aspect of Crest of the Stars being almost secondary to the story (it's all about Lafiel and Jinto, after all), the Gosroth's last stand goes a long way to proving the series' credentials as serious science fiction. A lot of the battle is presented as symbols on a tactical display, in much the way a crewmember would see it. This also helps to give the battle a somewhat claustrophobic feel, which is certainly different from how such scenes are usually presented. Fans of beam weapons and torpedoes are also well catered for with some very impressive outside-the-ship scenes. There's also no attempt made to sanitise the battle, as the consequences in terms of human life are also clearly shown. The end result is probably the best episode on this disc, despite the lack of screen time for the real stars of the show.

With the battle sequences out of the way, the story switches back to Lafiel and Jinto and slows down considerably, as they arrive in the territory of one Baron Febdash, the lord of a remote domain with only a few gas giant planets and a fuel resupply station to call his own. From the moment Lafiel and Jinto arrive at the station, it's clear that all is not right " from the overly-subservient vassals to the string of unfortunate delays that plague their efforts to refuel, the Baron has a few strange ideas about what it means to be an Abh and how to protect his own position in the coming war. Jinto's the first to feel the direct effects of his attitude " the Baron firmly believes that those who are Abh by position are inferior to those who are Abh by birth, and takes steps to get Jinto out of the way so he can deal with Lafiel without any unwelcome distractions. Unfortunately for him, that only angers Lafiel " and she's not someone you ever want to see angry.

We're back to the dialogue-heavy side of the show with these episodes. That's something that a lot of shows get wrong " if it's not particularly well done, looking at two or three characters locked deep in conversation for ten minutes can be deeply boring, but fortunately that's not a problem here. The verbal sparring between Lafiel and Jinto (usually quite light-hearted) and Lafiel and the Baron (where Lafiel is deadly serious) is something I could watch for hours on end. Lafiel's dealings with the Baron also bring out a side of her personality that hasn't been shown before now, as his treatment of Jinto and his antics to protect his own position bring out a ruthless streak that you really wouldn't want to be on the receiving end of. There's a particular scene (complete with ominous voiceover about the folly of angering the Abh) where Lafiel's eyes simply burn with a cold fire that really captures the moment where the Baron passes the point of no return and becomes an enemy to be dealt with, and marks Lafiel out as someone who shouldn't be trifled with.

The final episode sees the Baron get his due rewards courtesy of a rebellion amongst his vassals, stirred up by Lafiel, ending with another trip into space as Lafiel rather creatively takes on the Baron in an unarmed shuttle. All along the way we're learning more about the Abh, their attitude to certain things, and seeing that perhaps there's a little bit of madness in all of them. The disc ends at a natural break point in the story, leaving the final arc of the story for volume three.

In summary:
The volume of Crest of the Stars genuinely has a little bit of everything " tender moments between Lafiel and Jinto as their friendship continues to grow, tense moments between Lafiel and Baron Febdash, action scenes of all sorts, and a healthy dose of girls in maid uniforms " all rolled into a package that for the most part is very easy to watch. Although the long dialogue scenes may be a bit tedious for some, there's so much good here that it really does deserve to be seen by any anime fan.

Features
Japanese Language 2.0,English Language 2.0,English Subtitles,French Subtitles,Character Profiles,Creditless Opening and Closing Sequences

Review Equipment
Panasonic TX-W28R30P 28" widescreen TV; Pioneer DV-626D player; Acoustic Solutions DS-222 5.1 speaker system.

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