Stellvia (aka: Uchuu no Stellvia) Vol. #01 - Mania.com



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Mania Grade: B+

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Info:

  • Art Rating: B+
  • Packaging Rating: B
  • Text/Translatin Rating: C+
  • Age Rating: 13 & Up
  • Released By: DrMaster
  • MSRP: 9.99
  • Pages: 196
  • ISBN: 1-59796-060-8
  • Size: B6
  • Orientation: Right to Left

Stellvia (aka: Uchuu no Stellvia) Vol. #01

By Eduardo M. Chavez     November 13, 2005
Release Date: September 01, 2005


Stellvia (aka: Uchuu no Stellvia) Vol.#01
© DrMaster


Creative Talent
Writer/Artist:XEBEC/Akitsuki Ryo
Translated by:Michiko Nakayama
Adapted by:

What They Say
Stellvia is a space academy and one of the space foundations dedicated to saving the Earth from a second wave of supernova explosions that is scheduled to hit the planet in 70 days. Shima Katase is a newly-enrolled student at Stellvia with exceptional skill as a programmer and lackluster latent as a pilot. Her dream – to be chosen as one of the elite pilots needed to help save the Earth. This is Shima’s story of struggle and perseverance – a touching story of friendship amongst unbeatable odds.

The Review
Packaging:
One thing I have noticed about DrMaster is how they continue to try to improve their manga presentation. Stellvia could have been a great looking manga, but a few things really dropped the quality a bit.

First, this title is printed in a B6 sized book in right to left format. this The front cover has an image of the main character Katase Shima in her school uniform throwing kompeitou. The opposite cover has a huge jar of kompeitou with tiny SD versions of the rest of the cast hanging in and around around it. The image is on a green and white background above the volume description.

Inside the printing is about as bad as I have seen in quite a while. The first chapter or so looked fine. Actually, DrMaster even includes a color plate in this GN (one with Shima holding a mini Stellvia between her thighs). Most of the manga suffers from real dark printing and some funky moire effects (specifically on pages where with light grade screen tone). I found this very frustrating as even the lines seemed to have this dirty smudgy look to them.

DrMaster keeps a pair of nice extras. First, there is a thank you page from the mangaka. That is followed by three ato-gaki 4-panel manga. Very nice.

Artwork:
Akitsuki’s art does a fine job representing Uno Makoto’s anime character designs. The proportions and body shapes are pretty much in line with those done by Uno and Xebec. Moreover, Akitsuki adds his own style to the designs by making them a little more friendly to manga readers, by using thicker lines and less detail to eyes and expressions. Speaking of expressions, while they tend to have more negative space (because of the greater use of close ups) their tends to be more variety especially in regards to comical expressions. Costume designs are very well done. Akitsuki keeps the form fitting costumes and even makes sure to emphasize the proportions of specific fan favorite characters (Yayoi fans rejoice!!).

Backgrounds are not great, There are times when I wonder if Akitsuki even really bothered much with them. At the same time the mech. designs are not bad. While the mechs look a little flat, they tend to retain the designs from the anime well and seem to be properly set to scale.

Text/SFX:
My history with DrMaster titles has been hit or miss - horrid in one title and excellent the next. Unfortunately, this one might fall on the negative way. While there were few if any grammar or syntax issues, I did notice some inconsistencies in the spelling of machinery and character names. Outside of that, the personalities were done rather well from the start. This is important as these characters are going through their growing pains in this series. There are moments when they make friends, work together and have to work on their own shortcomings to achieve success. Unfortunately, inconsistencies like the spelling mistakes will be remembered more often than the other details.

SFX are translated with subs in this series. Generally, DrMaster does this better than most studios and this series is no exception. What makes them unique is their use of smaller subs, so they rarely compromise art in their smaller sized GNs. The use of small subs usually gives readers a chance to take in all of the artist's work - character art, background art, layout and writing. This is one rare exception where even their subs could not find places to hide around Akitsuki’s very hyper panels.

Contents: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Katase Shima is about to take a major step in her personal development. Much to her mom's dismay she is about to study abroad for a while. Under normal circumstances kids who go abroad tend to go to another country, maybe even in another continent. As we will soon find out, nothing is ever simple when it comes to Shima, for she is going to go study in outer space. Moreover, she is going out there not just to take learn how to pilot a space craft but to help save humanity from the dangers of space. No pressure... Sure!

Well actually there really is no pressure; at least none coming from external sources. All the pressure is coming from Shima. Poor girl feels has to live up to the test scores that brought her to the Stellvia. And now here, she feels she has to compete with everyone else. Those with higher scores tend to get prominent roles in the defense and project planning for the space station. So being in the middle of the pack might be fine for some because that should mean no more work than is necessary to stay on board. Shima is caught in a strange predicament though. She just happens to be the best at one subject (programming), so it is embarrassing to be the worst in another subject (piloting). The lack of consistency frustrates her to no end for she tries just as hard (maybe even more) in the subjects she is lacking in.

Fortunately, with the support of her new friends and those mad programming skills Shima is able to not just take her piloting to another level, but she quickly shoots up to the highest ranks amongst the entire Stellvia student body. Her new found confidence ends up giving her a chance to represent the Stellvia in competition and she is also the heroine for all the freshmen on board the space station.

Maybe, she works best under pressure? Maybe Shipon just needed to loosen up a bit? Either way, we now know Katase Shima is capable of bringing a new future to Earth. Will she get a chance to accomplish her dreams, though?

Comments
Man, do I wish this series were a bit longer.

As a big fan of this series, I have to say I liked what I saw from Akitsuki in this first volume. At the same time I felt that the pacing was just break neck and it left very little time for much plot or character development (two of the anime’s strongest points). What I experienced instead was a compact story going through the struggle of the main character, Katase Shima, and her apparently quick and comical ascent from awkward no-name outsider to one of the elite in her space colony academy.

The process was very simple. Akitsuki basically narrowed the focus specifically onto one character. Akitsuki then moves onto the main points from the anime – her flight to Stellvia, her early failures as a pilot, how she made new friends, her success as a pilot and the Sports Festival. Each one of these chapters puts into focus the development of Shima’s character. We get to experience how this seemingly average girl, without any real pressure began to work harder than anyone else to become one of the best in space. She changes through hours of additional practice and even more hours of serving punishment for all the trouble she has caused. Her determination to see her dreams becomes clearer with every new obstacle she has to overcome. Sure there are times when anxiety and even panic sets in, but through her personality she creates a support system of friends and training that ends up serving her well in almost every situation possible.

The results end up speeding this series dramatically. Through the first 196 pages we get to go all the way to the Sports Festival, where Shima gets to seriously show off her talents. At the same time, we get to see a more humorous side of Shima and the gang, as the chapters really zoom in on her problems. Sometimes things go well and her friends are there to pat her on the back. Then there are times when she fails miserably and the gang is there pointing it out (sometimes laughing) ready to help her out for the next time. It creates for a more personal story in regards to Shima, while it sacrifices the subplots that made the anime so intriguing.

In the end, Stellvia should be seen as a compliment to the anime series. It does what it intends to do rather well (even though I think it’s still a little short for my tastes). However, if you are looking for a more comprehensive story, one that even expands on the existing property, you will have to look elsewhere. This title is more of a journal of who Shima is than what Stellvia is about.

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