Starship Operators Vol. #3 (also w/box) - Mania.com



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Mania Grade: B+

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Info:

  • Audio Rating: B+
  • Video Rating: A
  • Packaging Rating: A-
  • Menus Rating: B+
  • Extras Rating: B
  • Age Rating: 13 & Up
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: Geneon Entertainment (USA), Inc.
  • MSRP: 29.98/39.98
  • Running time: 125
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Starship Operators

Starship Operators Vol. #3 (also w/box)

By Chris Beveridge     May 05, 2006
Release Date: May 02, 2006


Starship Operators Vol. #3 (also w/box)
© Geneon Entertainment (USA), Inc.


What They Say
With the Kingdom's negative campaign against Amaterasu gaining galaxywide support, even AGI decides to end their sponsorship. Cut off from any supplies and badly damaged from endless battles, Amaterasu goes into the final battle against Kingdom's five elite battleships on her own.

The Review!
Starship Operators draws to a close with a fairly conclusive ending that settles many of the issues but leaves others open just as any war situation would.

Audio:
For our primary viewing session, we listened to this show in its original language of Japanese. Though there is a good amount of action in the show overall, it is more of a dialogue driven piece and when it does have the action effects, more often than not they're "sound cues" in the show itself so it doesn't have quite the same impact. In addition, for several scenes, they observe the reality of no sound in space so there are some areas that normally would have sound in other shows that leave it nice and quiet here. Overall though, this is a good sounding track as there is some good minor directionality across the forward soundstage with all the dialogue and various character placements. We had no problems with dropouts or distortions during regular playback of this show in either language track.

Video:
Originally airing during the early part of 2005, the transfer for this series is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and is enhanced for anamorphic playback. The transfer for the series is simply clean and clear and reflects well upon what the source materials are trying to convey. Series like this, the black levels are very important to be done right and they look fantastic here with the backgrounds of space. Like most science fiction shows of this nature, there is a lot of CG material in it such as the ships themselves and numerous computer screens, all of which look quite good and sleek. The colors throughout the show look bright and vibrant and maintain a great feel as they're solid and don't display any bleeding or cross coloration. This transfer overall looks quite good and showcases some of the most recent TV animation very well.

Packaging:
The last of the Japanese covers used for the series gives Sinon a stage by herself with the Amaterasu behind her. The character artwork takes up a good deal of the landscape, especially with the hair-flowing-in-space motif, but I continue to like the design of the uniforms and the characters in general and this looks good combined with the background material. The back cover potentially indicates a change in layout for Geneon titles as there's something close to a technical grid available through the center of the cover which contains the technical information that's usually hard to find scattered about. The top half has several shots from the show and a basic rundown of the plot while the bottom half has the standard production information, episode titles and a list of the extras. The cover for this is reversible with the artwork from the another Japanese DVD cover provided as the main panel while the other one provides a list of episodes and titles along with several images from that episode. The insert replicates this in slightly different form and opens to a two panel spread of the female cast set against the ship. The back of the insert has the release date information and usual contact bits.

Menu:
The menu layout for this show isn't a surprise as it takes the console screens from within the show and utilizes the computer graphics and clips from the show to provide various bits of animation as a rousing piece of instrumental music plays along. What is surprising though is that it completely omits the shows name from the menu, something which the majority of menus always sneak in somewhere. The layout is otherwise straightforward and looks good as it's very much in theme with things. Access times are nice and fast and the disc correctly read our players' audio preset but erred on the subtitle set as the sign/song subtitles are the first track instead of the full subtitles.

Extras:
The extras for the final volume close things out nicely since there doesn't seem to be many extras in general for the series. There are two music videos, "Bravery Wings" and "Blue Star", which are fairly standard pieces in using series footage to music from the show. The last episode doesn't have a standard closing sequence so it's provided in clean format here as well.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
The gimmick of Starship Operators is something that certainly made it easily accessible in terms of what the shows plot is all about but as the series progressed, it moved well between making it a key part of the show to moving away from it to explore other areas of the story. As the show moves info the final five episodes, the broadcast aspect of the plot becomes key once more in a number of well used ways.

The last volume had things moving along in an interesting way on the Palmyra station where they were able to finally re-supply having found a nation-world that would support them against the Kingdom in at least this manner. The downtime while this is going on has allowed the prime minister to head off to Earth in order to try and broker some kind of deal with the Alliance while some of the other senior staff end up on the station itself for a party. Events are whirling around them though that they're unaware of as the Supreme Chairman of the Kingdom has suddenly died of an illness and it's put the entire political spectrum of that realm into a state of flux as power plays among the advising staff kick into gear.

What's been enjoyable about this series is that even if the focus is small, they do keep to a number of real world kinds of activities that would happen in order to weaken the other side. While the Kingdom at the moment cannot launch a full out assault on Palmyra to get to the Amaterasu and any potential diplomatic issue is up in the air even more so now that the Supreme Chairman has died, there are efforts underway to still get at them. The launch of a small strike on the hangar where the Amaterasu is docked causes a lot of damage that is used to influence opinion about letting them stay. It's a basic guerilla tactic and one that works well. But this is also tied into the broadcast aspect of the series and what some executives would call "really great TV" happens during it.

The launch of such an attack pushes the crew into wanting to resolve things once and for all. They're getting boxed in by the Kingdom's new plans for resolving the issue and are forced into the kinds of scenarios you expect from the last run of a series like this where they come up with some creative ideas in order to deal with. The last five episodes of the series manage to work rather well as a whole as it deals with the last arc of this storyline and it comes to a good solid conclusion. What I ended up finding the most appealing is that it's the kind of ending where even though things end in a positive way, it's not without costs and there's little cause for real celebration. I'm not a fan of killing off characters just for the sake of adding drama, but this series has done a good job of dealing with casualties during a period war and a tense situation in general as well as touching lightly upon a fledgling romance over the course of the show without letting it become the dominating aspect.

A lot of what helped this series to be enjoyable was that it has definite arcs across its thirteen episodes and for the most part we did get them split up across the volumes. The early episodes were a bit weak in trying to get the premise across and introducing a large number of characters quickly since they were all serving on board the same ship. Being able to get the show in three volumes also helped a lot as we got into the better part of the storyline more quickly than we would have otherwise. The storyline is one that even while it does have some downtime is one that plays out pretty quickly so getting this series out with fewer volumes and so quickly has helped.

In Summary:
Starship Operators is the kind of show that plays up well to the entire Crest of the Stars kind of audience though it doesn't exactly hit the same kind of notes. There's very little out on the market these days that's actually straightforward science fiction as opposed to big harem style space operas so this is a welcome change of pace and one that's just in an area that's appealing in general since when I got into anime there were far more of these and the OVA market exploded with them in the 80's. Starship Operators isn't the kind of show that will have a big long term appeal to it but it's one that's easily revisited. Though it does seem gimmicky at first, they did a good job of taking that aspect and making it work well within the show throughout.

Features
Japanese 2.0 Language,English 2.0 Language,English Subtitles,Music Videos,Clean Closing for Episode 13

Review Equipment
Panasonic PT50LC13 50" LCD RP HDTV, Zenith DVB-318 Progressive Scan codefree DVD player via DVI, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Monster component cable and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.

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