Crest of the Stars Vol. #4 - Mania.com



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Info:

  • Audio Rating: B+
  • Video Rating: 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: 80
  • 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. #4

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


Crest of the Stars Vol. #4
© Bandai Entertainment


What They Say
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! They have one last chance to escape their would-be captors. Can they make it back to the fleet before it's too late?

The Review!
With the concluding volume in the opening series now here, things race towards a good point for stopping while still giving more than enough to tease the hardcore fans that are flocking to this series. There's both good payoff and a lot of anticipation for the shows viewers here.

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:
As with the rest of this series as authored by POP/Cinram, the transfer here just looks great. There's a bit more softness this time around but a lot of it looks to be intentional with the soft interior lighting of the Abh Star Forces ships. Colors look good and blacks appear pretty solid. Cross coloration is also thankfully non-existent. This is a good way to end the series with a transfer like this.

Packaging:
The front cover here gives way to the Star Forces with a great shot of Rear Admiral Spoor and Admiral Trife while the Futune flies through between them. The back cover is set up similar to past ones with a couple of animation shots and a summary of the episodes. Episode titles and numbers are included as well as the series being prominently numbered by volume on both the front and spine. The insert provides another shot of the front cover while it opens up to talk about how the Abh regarding serving in the Star Forces and about dealing with war, all with another nice shot of Spoor.

Menus:
The menus function similar to past ones, with a bit of animation playing into the menu and then some simple background animation running. The theme is set up as the Imperial symbols, with Abh language for selections that turn to English when you click over them. Access times to the menus are nice and fast and the layout works nicely.

Extras:
There's only one extra included in this release, being a couple of text pages talking about the Abh and essentially being a recounting of the episodes in this series with some static pictures showing various sequences from it.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
This series is probably one of the biggest surprises for many people who picked it up without knowing much about it. I still remember taking the chance in ordering the first region 2 disc (with only two episodes!) based on a half-page ad for it in NewType awhile back. The look of the character designs just grabbed me and I had to try it out. Those two episodes, with my meager skills in the Japanese language, fascinated us and made us all the more eager for the US release. And now it's come and gone.

With the final three episodes, there's two main storylines that are being dealt with. The first is with Jinto and Lafiel on the planet and dealing with the United Mankind military forces that are taking over control of the planet. The other is the impending battle between the starships of said military and the Star Forces squaring off and sizing each other up.

On Sufugnoff, Jinto and Lafiel continue their somewhat leisurely paced avoidance of the authorities in their hotel room. Jinto continues to watch the propaganda put out by United Mankind about the Abh and their origins, going on about them really just being living machines that should be brought back under control of real mankind and put to serving their desires. Jinto can't take anymore of the lies when Lafiel starts telling him just how much of it is truth, and we get a brief history lesson on the origins of the Abh race.

Of course, they don't just dawdle in all of the episodes about this. Their luck has definitely run out as a group of anti-Empire rebels has decided to take advantage of their being on the planet and tries to kidnap them so they can use them as hostages to secure their own private starship. Amusingly, this shows just how little the kidnappers know of the universe as Lafiel explains that not even the highest nobles own their own starships and that everything is leased from the Empire. Even with this development, a mutual sort of hostage-taking occurs since these "rebels" can help them hide out while the military and police search them out. This leads to several action sequences that get some physical stuff done with the two characters who so far have mostly just engaged in dialogue.

While all of this is going on, the largest of the battles between starships is shaping up that we've seen so far. With war declared in the previous episodes and Sufugnoff being the obvious place to start the reclamation of stolen systems in the Abh's eyes, Admiral Trife is sent there to take down the United Mankind forces. While there is a good amount of ship to ship battles going on and lots of scenes of it, that's not where the real action is for all of this. It's watching how the Abh plan and plot and react. In fact, we don't even see aboard the United Mankind ships at all.

We're given two completely different styles to watch here as our perceptions of what the Abh are like are widened from just Lexshue earlier in the series. Trife has a large staff with him that reads him a variety of data and statistics and possibilities and then he eventually makes his decision when things are only absolutely sure. While he leads the fleet and begins the battle with United Mankind, we also spent a fair amount of time with Rear Admiral Spoor, who is also a duchess. The Spoor family we learn is second only to the Abh and that there's something of a long held rivalry/distaste between the two families. And though she's essentially royalty and in charge of a good portion of the fleet, her command style is playful and almost whimsical at times. She does adhere to the strict standards of Abh conduct in war, but things tend to get the better of her as she gets into things.

In fact, if you pay really close attention and use Spoor as a basis for the rest of the family attitude, they place themselves above the Abh Empire. Her command seat is rather ornate and has a canopy over it, but behind it are the markings of the Spoor family alongside the Abh Empire markings. Based on size, the Spoor coat of arms is noticeably larger, something that I'd guess very few could get away with. Spoor is also markedly different from Trife and we see this through her recently transferred executive officers eyes as he gets surprised by her orders and questions her several times.

The story here isn't about the battle but about learning more about the Abh. The battle in the end is practically meaningless.

And for those who tend to stop the disc once the credits roll, the final episode has an additional couple of minutes of show after it that sets up the next series perfectly.

Crest of the Stars has been a fascinatingly engaging story that's challenged a lot of fans to look for things in the episodes that normally would be telegraphed with bluntness. Verbal sparring takes precedence over physical violence and characters are wonderfully fleshed out. This 13 episode series is essentially the first chapter of a much larger story and does feel that way as there's so much more to deal with. I can't recommend it enough to those willing to take the chance.

Features
Japanese Language,English Language,English Subtitles,History of the Abh

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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