Crest of the Stars Vol. #3 -

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Mania Grade: A+

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  • 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: 140
  • 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. #3

By Bryan Morton     October 20, 2006
Release Date: July 03, 2006

Crest of the Stars Vol. #3
© Beez

What They Say
An incredibly rich science fiction universe where the development of the characters is both enthralling and deep.

Admiral Trife, commander of the Abh fleet, moves his ships into position for the upcoming battle. He will take no risks and wants victory to be assured before he fires a single shot. But not everyone on his staff believes in this battle plan. On the planet surface, resistance fighters have captured Jinto and Lafiel! Jinto and Lafiel have one last chance to escape their would-be captors. Can they make it back to the fleet before it's too late?

Episodes Comprise
9 - To the Battlefield
10 - Escape: Just the Two of Us
11 - Sufugnoff Gateway Battle
12 - Lady of Chaos
13 - Trouble Soaring Through Heaven

The Review!
An emergency landing leaves Lafiel and Jinto on a planetary surface " very much not Lafiel's territory, and suddenly Jinto finds himself in charge...

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 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. The transfer itself has a slightly soft-focus, washed-out feel to it, although it does seem slightly better than volume one. The subtitles use a good-sized white-on-black font that is clear and readable. There are a few grammar & spelling issues, a Beez tradition it seems, but nothing too serious.

Admiral Spoor takes pride of place this volume, with the fleet and Admiral Trife behind her - not the best piece of artwork I've seen of her, but still a nice cover. The rear has the usual disc information, screenshots and promotional blurb, while the reverse of the cover has episode summaries and another piece of Spoor goodness.

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.

As with previous volumes in the series, extras consist of a set of character profiles for the major characters, and clean versions of the opening and closing animations.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review will contain spoilers)
The ambassadors for the other human nations appear before the Abh empress, who is in no mood for threats or negotiations and immediately declares war. When the Abh go to war, they do it in style - and with victory the only option. Led by Admiral Trife, the fleet begins preparations for the first counter-attack against the United Mankind.

A sizeable chunk of this disc is given over to events in space, where it quickly begins to look as though the other human nations, led by the United Mankind, may have bitten off more than they can chew by antagonising the Abh, who are very much inclined to make sure they never get the opportunity to annoy them again. There are two main characters on this side of the story " Admiral Trife, the man in charge but who doesn't really seem to have much in the way of tactical nous, and Rear-Admiral Spoor, who has a lot of fun at her crews' expense but is more than competent in the field " and hides a rather ruthless streak under her calm exterior.

One thing that stands out here is that I've yet to see an Abh who could be considered entirely sane " they all have some aspect to their personality that's just a little bit unhinged (even Lafiel " just watch her reactions when someone truly angers her). That's a large part of what makes them so appealing as characters, I think, and definitely one of the show's stronger points.

We also get the first major engagement of the series here. The Gosroth's destruction earlier in the series gave a little taster of how Crest of the Stars handles space combat, but that was a one-sided skirmish which what we get here is on a much larger scale. Most of episode 11 is given over to portraying the battle for the Sufugnoff gate and is suitably epic in feel " fans of space combat will have very little to complain about here.

Meanwhile, Lafiel and Jinto leave the Febdash territory to continue their mission to Sufugnoff. On approach to the Sufugnoff gate, they detect a number of space-time clusters - enemy ships, part of a United Mankind fleet blockading the planet. Even after running the blockade, Lafiel finds that the planet has already fallen to the attacking fleet - leaving her and Jinto short of options. With no fuel to fly to another Abh base, Jinto suggests landing on the planet, where for the first time Lafiel, for all her knowledge of life in space, becomes dependent on her Lander friend. The pair head for a town and try to hole up there until they can find a way off the planet, but with the United Mankind now in control and hunting down any Abh sympathisers, Lafiel's presence soon causes more than a few problems.

Things get complicated very quickly for Lafiel and Jinto " as well as having to evade capture by United Mankind forces, led by the obsessive Inspector Kyte, they also have a run-in with the local independence movement, who recognise Lafiel as royalty and hope to make use of her status in advancing their cause. There's quite a bit of fun had here, as Lafiel tries (and fails) to adjust to life on the surface, and reacts badly to Jinto's plans to make her look less Abh-like. There are moments, though, when the pair are genuinely in danger, so there's some good tension in proceedings too as their pursuers get closer and closer to them.

The final episode of the series is double-length, and covers a lot of ground in terms of both tying up the series storylines, and in providing "where are they now" segments for most of the characters that Lafiel and Jinto met during their little adventure. Crest of the Stars is perhaps different in that it's lead characters are never really the heroes, they're just caught up in events around them and reacting to them as best they can. Instead, the appeal of the series comes from Lafiel and Jinto's relationship, which is seen to grow throughout the series and eventually becomes something that could well be described as some form of love " even though neither of them would openly admit it in quite those terms. The space scenes with Spoor and Trife provide a break from the heavier character moments and are almost a separate story that helps paint the backdrop to the events that Lafiel and Jinto take part in.

In summary:
I've been a fan of Crest of the Stars since the first moment I saw it, and seeing it again here hasn't done anything to dampen my enthusiasm for it. It's richly-developed world and multi-layered characters create a series that simply draws you in, and it's very easy to just forget about time passing while you watch. The episodes tie up the series in a very satisfying way, and while Beez's release does have one or two minor niggles I still can't recommend it enough.

Japanese Language 2.0,English Language 2.0,English Subtitles,French Subtitles,Character Profiles,Creditless Opening & Ending 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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