Seikai: Crest of the Stars Novel Vol. #01 - Princess of the Empire -

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  • Age Rating: All
  • Released By: TOKYOPOP
  • MSRP: 7.99
  • Pages: 220
  • ISBN: 1-59816-575-5
  • Size: B6
  • Orientation: Left to Right

Seikai: Crest of the Stars Novel Vol. #01 - Princess of the Empire

By Jarred Pine     September 19, 2006
Release Date: September 13, 2006

Seikai: Crest of the Stars Novel Vol.#01 - Princess of the Empire

Creative Talent
Writer/Artist:Hiroyuki Morioka
Translated by:Sue Shambaugh
Adapted by:Benjamin Arntz

What They Say
Princess of the Empire: Planet Martine is suddenly attacked! The alien invaders are known as the Abh. They are of human origin, but have been genetically modified so that each Abh has superior talent, skill, beauty, and longevity.

Martine's president surrenders completely in the face of the Abh's awesome military power. Through a bizarre twist of fate, his son Jinto becomes a nobleman in the Abh's vast, intergalactic empire.

This heart-racing space-opera adventure is the first novel in the Seikai: Crest of the Stars series.

The Review
A mix of space opera, hard sci-fi, adventure, romance, and epic military battles, Seikai: Crest of the Stars so far delivers exceptionally and hits all the right spots.

Contents (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers):
In 2001, Bandai Entertainment released the 13-episode anime Crest of the Stars, and it has since remained a high point in R1 releases for sci-fi anime, especially of the space opera variety. While watching the DVDs, I couldn't help but get the feel that I was reading a novel while trying to keep up with the subtitles. Now thanks to TOKYOPOP, I can experience the original source novel that inspired the anime adaptation. This is the first book of three of the Crest of the Stars storyline.

There are two great strengths to Hiroyuki Morioka's tale that make this epic quite an engrossing read: world building and strong characters. The world, like space itself, is immense. From the first chapter Morioka begins constructing not just his world, but his universe! Humankind has expanded into the far reaches of space and has cultivated new empires, but of course only one empire can rule them all. Enter 10-year old Jinto Linn, son of the President of Planet Martine, whose home planet is being invaded by the master space-dwelling empire, the Abh. Cloaked with long blue hair and equipped with a special sensory mechanism for space travel, the Abh are of human descent and have adapted to living in space through centuries of genetic engineering. As such, they dominate the stars and control all the gates to Plane Space, the means of hyper-speed travel from one galaxy to the next. However, with domination comes those who rebel--the Four Nations Alliance who are led by United Mankind. The stage is set for a massive militaristic space opera in which Morioka only begins to scratch the surface with in this first book.

Even in Morioka's vast world of battling empires, he keeps the story intimate and personable by focusing on two strong character leads in Jinto Linn and Princess Lafiel. Fast-forward seven years after the Martine invasion, the "lander" Jinto has become an Abh nobleman. On his way to officer's training, Jinto comes into contact with Lafiel, who is doing a bout of military training herself. Together these two characters find themselves smack in the middle of a burgeoning war, and it's their close ties to each other that will help them survive in what turns out to be quite the enjoyable space adventure.

By using clever and witty dialogue, Morioka immediately breathes life into his characters with the mostly dialogue-driven prose. I was really caught off guard with just how quickly I attached to the characters and enjoying listening in on their conversations. While there may be an interstellar war brewing in the background, the true focus of the story is on Jinto and Lafiel's budding relationship, both as noble representatives of a great militaristic empire. There are multiple layers to be explored just between these two characters alone--it's truly fascinating! The dynamics between Jinto's frightened-cat personality and Lafiel's sarcastic bullheadedness are quite engaging and both are instantly loveable.

For those who aren't familiar with this work, Morioka actually constructed a whole written and spoken language to build out his world, called Baronh. TOKYOPOP has left the Abh words within the prose, using phonetic spelling for accessibility, but you should be ready to flip frequently to the glossary at the back of the book. The editor's letter at the front of book talks about including English counterparts in parenthesis, except when Baronh is introduced in dialog, but this process seems to have been abandoned partway through the book (I assume to conserve page count). While it may be possible to sometimes guess the meaning based on context, I still found myself flipping constantly. For some this could be an aggravating experience; but for those who really like to submerse themselves completely in a creator's world building, this will be a rewarding read.

While Princess of the Empire is definitely not the quick, "light novel" style of reading I have grown accustomed to, it is most definitely one of the more rewarding and engrossing entries into the growing line of Japanese light novels. A mix of space opera, hard sci-fi, adventure, romance, and epic military battles, Seikai so far delivers exceptionally and hits all the right spots. TOKYOPOP's work on what is considered one of the hardest translation jobs out there definitely deserves a round of applause and sets a high bar in quality, and more importantly effort.


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