In the distant future, humanity is under attack by the Abh Empire, a race of advanced humanoid beings possessing vastly superior technology. As countless worlds fall to the Abh, mankind establishes the Four Nations Alliance—a resistance faction made up of the United Mankind, the Republic of Greater Alcont, the Federation of Hania, and the People's Sovereign of Union Planets.
Seikai no Monshou tells the story of Jinto Linn. When he was young, his father—the president of Martine—sold their world in exchange for a high position in the empire. Now a young count, Jinto must learn the ways of Abh nobility and live among those who subjugated his people. Helping him is Lafiel Abriel, an austere Abh princess whom Jinto quickly befriends. While traveling to Jinto's new school in the Abh homeland, their ship is caught in a violent space battle between the fleets of the Alliance and the Abh. Jinto and Abriel are thrust into the conflict, unaware that this skirmish marks the beginning of a full-scale war between the Abh Empire and mankind.
While it was by far not magnificent in terms of its appearance or in terms of a number of those other elements that we greatly take for advantage from the more recent anime with improved graphics and sound, this older "space drama" drew me in from the first episode, beguiling me with its interesting story and interesting cinematography and storytelling. It's hard-pressed to find an anime like Seikai no Monshou, with its same blend of both serious and entertaining drama and dialogue, and its very intense space battle action scenes.
Seikai no Monshou has a story that was both pure in its innocence and compelling in
its complexity, featuring a not-so-simple delving into the politics of humankind and interstellar relations, as well as the genetically-enhanced race of the Abh, something just as interesting in its own right. Following closely, none of the episodes (as few as there were with only 13) failed to entertain me and none of them seemed off-key at all, blending into a story that was wrapped up without fail with the final episode, transitioning gently and with ease into the next "season" or series of the saga.
Like I said earlier, however, the art was lacking, but even then I was surprised by how much it fit and how little I was distracted by it. It's not something that I would entirely dock many points off for. Too, the cinematography and interesting angles used to portray the story would also help buoy this particular area up. The sound too was fairly "old", but still managed to fit with the show quite well; the voices, on the other hand, were done magnificently (in the subbed version, definitely not the dubbed).
The characters in this show, while not completely original, did progress and were developed well, the main two characters and their relationship even more entertaining to watch and feel how well they manage to grow into each other and balance each other out so nicely. They definitely did not feel flat, which I always hate.
Overall, this show is one I recommend to anyone who'd like to watch an intellectual sci-fi space show (with no mechas) that brings together politics and drama well enough to both entertain your adrenalin and give some practice for your brain. A great show that I really enjoyed!
A rating of 1/10 is way too low to be left unjustifed and that is why I wrote this review.
One of the oldest tricks in the trade is to create an overly intricate setting to try and mask the bias and deceit in an artwork. In my opinion, Seikai no Monshou does this and worse. I will try to explain why I came to this conclusion and I hope to do so in a way that will not seem offensive to anyone.
"Crest of the Stars" takes place in an imaginary future where a race, formerly engineered by humans, has created a
feudal empire which has become the greatest force in the galaxy. Opposing this empire are different human groups whose leaders are elected democratically. The Abhs are the genetically modified humans who rule the afore mentionned empire and the show focuses on a young human called Ghintec as he is escorted by the Abh princess Lamhirh. The story basically revolves around this duo and the evolution of their relationship as they are caught in a galactic war between the Empire and an alliance of democratic groups. I believe I can say this much without spoiling the show.
Throughout the 13 episodes, we see the Abhs portrayed as galant, prideful and beautiful beings (well people seem to think they are in the show) who are both impulsive and martial but also reasonable and compassionate (yes, it seems the author doesn't realise that the former are the opposite of the latter). We learn about their reproductive habits : basically they can reproduce with just about anything in any way imaginable. We also learn about their strength and their longevity: they are very long-lived and almost eternally young - yes, pretty creepy when your progenitor - can't really say parent - looks as young as you. Finally, we are told of their social structure which, on a private level, is just about non-existent and on a national level is exactly that of any monarchy of our past. We also learn that their violent campaign of colonization of the galaxy is justifed by saying that it is for the good of humankind and that it is carried out with the intention of bringing peace and development. That will sound familiar to any history students as basically all former colonial empires have justified the horror of their actions in that same way. The only (willingly) negative portrait of an Abh, is that of a noble from a recently created barony who basically loathes humans because his father was one and suffers from an inferiority complex. It really seems as if the author showed him to convince us that he wasn't completely partial but it's the exact opposite that transpires. He doesn't criticize in any way the Abhs or their society but only tries to convince us that only pure Abhs can make it work and that lowly humans can tag along as long they admiringly obey every command.
The democratic alliance on the other hand is portrayed as a rag-tag team of envious and imperfect (meaning normal humans) beings who stage an attack to create a conflict. All members of this alliance are shown as rather ugly people both of mind and body (one of the ambassadors actually has a scar and eyepatch...). Their reasons for going to war against the colonial empire ruled by another species are shown to be greed, cowardice and envy. Their words are shown as being those of hypocrites and all their speeches and annoucements sound like propaganda. The author tries to convince us that only despicable beings can fight against a colonial empire that plans to rule by destroying all existing social structures and imposing its culture and values and denying the human race its basic right to have a voice in the organisation of society.
Throughout the show, humans of the democratic alliance are portrayed in a very unflattering manner and the main protagonists are put into situations that further imply the "greatness" of the Abhs and the inferiority of the humans. The pure Abhs are never made to look bad and all their strange behaviors are passed off as the delightful quirks of rightful lords and ladies. The author went so far as to create a new language for this race in what seems like an obvious attempt to make this show seem awe-inspiring in its form so people would accept the content more easily. Indeed, a person is likely to be astonished by the effort taken to create such a detailed fictional world and not realise that it was done to push through some very twisted ideas and concepts.
It seems obvious to me that the author is a nostalgic of imperialism and this imaginary galaxy and its imaginary genetically superior race was his way of trying to make something so fundamentaly wrong as a feudal and colonial system seem to work just fine. Unlike in shows like "Legend of the Galactic Heroes", there is no debate here, only a mockery of one. Had the Abhs really existed, this anime would have made great propaganda for them. Furthermore, the fact that the Abhs are a GENETICALLY superior race of rulers reminds one of rather unpleasant memories of the past...
The work on these was rather pitiful in my opinion but still very much in accord with the purpose of the show. All Abhs (except for a black sheep) are grand beings and all humans are either dying of envy and hatred or are in unabashed admiration before the greatness of the Abhs... Ghintec would be one of the admiring ones. Lamhirh is a typical member of the ruling class of a colonial empire, sure of the righteousness of her purpose and unquestioning of the principles that govern her life.
I cannot comment on the animation as I have too little knowledge to do so. I very much disliked the art of the show. The exaggerated ugliness of the "inferior" humans was pretty annoying. The Abhs looked pretty freakish to me but I think it quite possible that perveted humans might create such beings to serve them.
Can't really says much about it except it didn't strike me in any way. I don't have much knowledge of music and the show was so annoying to me, no music could have salvaged it.
I have rarely ever been so annoyed by a show as this one. All that it tried to convey was in complete opposition to the values and principles I care for and defend.
One of the things I appreciate most in any work of art, even if the opinions conveyed are not ones I share, is honesty. To me "Seikai no Monshou" is a very dishonest work.
I believe that if you like intricately designed imaginary worlds then you might like this show. I also believe that if you value human freedom and the right to democratically elect your representatives and leaders, if you hate propaganda and dishonesty, if you hate being taken for a fool or when someone tries to fool you then you probably should not watch this anime.
Overview: Crest of the Stars is by far one of my all time favorite anime. That said it is not for everyone. The show is set far into the future were humans have colonized the entire galaxy. The two main characters Jinto and Lafiel are well developed and entertaining to watch. If there is a down side to this show it is that it is rather slow paced, and involves a great deal of dialog. Although there are action scenes in the show, this is not for people with short attention spans.
Story: There are two stories taking place in crest
of the stars, both of which are connected and continue into the squeals. The first story is that of Jinto and Lafiel, without giving to much away, suffice to say that a good deal of the show focuses on there journey as they are tossed around by the events around them. The second story is that of galactic politics. Both stories are well told, and they intertwine throughout the show.
Art: Although it is a bit dated by todays standards the visuals are still as stunning as when i first saw the show several years ago. This is a prime example of aged excellence.
Sound: Crest of the stars simply would not be as good a show if not for the amazing orchestra in the background. The opening theme song does get old after a while, but the music during the show is some of the best iv herd in an anime. This is not to say the music in and of itself is superb, but rather the fusion of art, sound and context of what is happening on screen at the moment is masterfully executed. (But the music is the strongest part hear because it invokes powerful emotion in various parts).
Charecters: All of the characters in crest of the stars are well portrayed and developed. The show even hints at cast members back ground just to give you more feel for the world. Also Jino and Lafiel are two of my favorite characters out of any anime.
Enjoyment: The reason why enjoyment is lower than the other areas is simply because crest of the stars is a slow anime. It can in certain places drag on a bit, when a more modern adaptation would be paced a bit quicker. Despite this all of the other elements that make up the show more than compensate for it. (once again though if you have a short attention span you will probably get board before any of the really intersecting things happen).
Crest of the Stars is a show that starts off with such great artistic promise, and such effortless mastery of the art of storytelling, that it might seem downright insane of me (or anyone, for that matter) to ultimately award it a score of 1. The problem then, is that it presents a distorted picture of its own premise, and it isn't until close to the very end that it reveals itself to be something that's shockingly nasty and horrifying, and in a way that makes its artistic accomplishments come across in extremely horrible taste. And till then, it comes across as an especially
charming and thoughtful show, carrying you along for a rather fascinating ride through its strange and curious world. But as I now intend to explain, it is this very "journey" that is a misdirection, and one carried out in unbelievably bad faith.
The show introduces a very intriguing concept - a race of genetically modified space-faring humans called the Abh, who are long-lived, youthful-looking and generally confine themselves to space colonies rather than live on terrestrial planets. These Abh have advanced far ahead of ordinary humans by utilising their genetic modification technology and the freedom of their space habitats to create a population of humans who are superbly adapted to even the most challenging conditions in space, and virtually never age until very late into their lifespans. Their society is also unbelievably permissive, where they can breed with just about anyone with the help of artificial wombs.
On the other hand, they are shown to be territorially aggressive, invading terrestrial planets where the regular humans (called Terrans in the show) live, and claiming them as territories of their Empire. They don't even want to live there (they seem to prefer their Space habitats), but they nevertheless exert their authority over the planets, going to the trouble of toppling the existing governments in place and appointing Terran puppet figureheads to rule on their behalf. This much is verifiable fact. This is also the premise around which the show revolves - just who are the Abh really, and why do they act this way? To demonstrate where they go with this premise (and ultimately get to WHY I'm denouncing this show in such strong terms), I'll need to give at least a general outline of the plot, but I'll try and describe only the broadest strokes, without giving away any spoilers:
In the beginning, the show focuses on the atmosphere of political upheaval caused by the Abh invasion and takeover of governance in a planet called Martine. Subsequently, we get to see the effects of this change on the fate of a young boy (our protagonist, Lin Jinto) caught in the middle of all this, an unwitting pawn in the game. Due to various events, he is thrust into a position of civil service, and is awaiting transfer to Abh country for further education and training. Here he meets our other lead, Lafiel Abriel - an Abh cadet assigned to escort him - and they develop a spontaneous but believable cameraderie and friendship. The stage then shifts to the inside of the Abh spaceship transporting them, where Jinto gets to meet the Abh in person for the first time, and through his interactions the audience gets to learn of their strange and curious ways. It's full of interesting little details that add a sense of charm to the whole thing.
Then, the ship they are travelling in is put in danger, and the focus shifts to the immediacy of the situation - how our leads are going to survive and reach their destination to carry out their duty. This setup makes for some genuinely gripping adventure, that carries this show into about three-quarters of its 13-episode length. The scenes are genuinely tense and suspenseful, and you really don't know what to expect next. And through all of this, you have gradually come to care for the two leads. They seemed really likeable to begin with, they are put through all sorts of danger, and then really come through for each other in ways that you can't help but be moved by. And so you find yourself caring about what happens to them when they finally reach their destination...
And it's here that the show delivers its killing blow: the trials and tribulations of our young heroes are ultimately relvealed to be nothing more than convenient plot devices to showcase the baseness and cruelty of the Terrans opposed to Abh rule. They are shown to be deeply envious of the eternally youthful and long-lived Abh race, and want to subject them to their own dominion and make them their slaves (I swear I'm not making this up). Any humans who are less than enthusiastic to the idea of Abh dominion are portrayed as grotesque caricatures of spite, envy, prejudice, greed, selfishness and cruelty, and even their visual portrayal looks obnoxiously cartoonish and ugly. And the Abhs, in contrast, are made to come off as larger-than-life beings who could do no wrong (unless of course they have half-human ancestry...), and they are accordingly animated to look stately and elegant, with their elf-like features, blue hair and proud but noble bearing. The show goes out of its way at every turn to illustrate how impeccable the Abh are in their character, and how even do-gooder humans are inwardly driven by rather unflattering motivations.
But as the show progresses, the Abh's own behaviour starts to seem increasingly strange, until somewhere along the line you realize with shock and horror that the Abh never had any real justification for their aggression to begin with: all the show's unexpected twists and turns were meant to turn your attention to the immediate danger facing the leads, and make you forget that it never actually provided any valid justification or redeeming context for the invasion shown in the beginning, and never had any plans of doing so. And consequently, all the seemingly nasty and unfounded things the Abh-haters said about them...were actually true. There is one scene in particular early on, where an old woman is overcome with an inexplicably hysteric reaction of sheer loathing and even dread, just at the mere sight of an Abh. In the context of the show's later developments, this reaction suddenly makes a frightening amount of sense. And in the face of this, the show continues to portray the Abh as humanity's only real hope - on one hand, it tries to pass off all their horrifying actions as extremely smart moves that are beyond the comprehension or appreciation of lowly mortals; and on the other, it tries to suggest that their enemies are actually driven only by bitter jealousy of the Abh's apparent "greatness" and superiority.
An important device for furthering this illusion is the show's own narrator, who speaks in Abh-language with an air of lofty detachment. At various points throughout the show, he plays the role of providing historical context to whatever is being depicted on-screen. But as the show progresses, he starts inserting one sneaky insinuation after another into his narration; until by the end, he is quite explicitly showering unconditional praise on everything Abh, and utter contempt for all Terran institutions. The show also executes another crafty sleight-of-hand to maintain the audience's sympathy towards its protagonist - through the course of the 13 episodes, it subtly shifts from portraying Jinto as an unwilling hostage of the Abh system, to a regular Earthling helping a stranded Abh out of ordinary decency, to an outright Abh sympathiser who implicitly approves of all the atrocities they would commit in the name of a "wronged" people, to a full-fledged member of a nobility that is subjugating his own home planet. And in the end, the show would have you believe that it was Jinto who was wronged by the anti-Abh faction.
And then there's the Abh themselves - initially portrayed as romantic star-faring gypsies dragged into a war they didn't want ("Kin of the Stars" is what the show poetically calls them), they are subsequently shown to be brave, chivalrous and decisive when pushed into battle...until somewhere along the line you realize that all the Abh you get to see are in fact soldiers in some or the other capacity, and their entire society is in fact organised along militaristic lines. The show has an enigmatic and bombastic prologue scene depicting the Abh fiercely engaged in what appears to be an epic and heroic battle for their lives - but all they were actually doing was destroying the defences of an unwary and ill-equipped planet that barely even knew of the Abh's existence. Quite the heroes, these guys...
Now let's just say that none of this really matters to you, and all you want to know is if this is an enjoyable show on the simple level of an adventure story, or perhaps a romance. Whatever the angle with which you may initially have approached the show - be it sci-fi, politics, drama, romance, or whatever else - in the end you'll find that your hand closes in on empty air. Why do I say this? Because when you get to the last couple of episodes, all the show's initial promise of thematic exploration and character development is crudely cast aside, because it's time to push their ultimate aganda. You can see this for yourself - the plot regresses into something jaw-droppingly preposterous (that is, until the conclusion, when the intent becomes sickeningly clear), and the characters are reduced to being zombie mouthpieces for the author's ideology. The transformation is quite shocking and hard to miss, and it's at this point that you're suddenly snapped awake, and suddenly become aware of the underlying immorality of the whole thing.
On a technical level, the show is extremely accomplished at evoking just the right kind of mood and ambience. The visuals are low-key and present an air of nocturnal tranquility, both in the surface worlds and in space (though in the later episodes it goes for the opposite effect). The music is equally serene, and has a distantly operatic feel. But that's precisely what makes the experience so jarring when you get to those last few episodes - the disconnect between the horror that's being shown on screen, and the way the show expects you to feel about it, induces a feeling of disorientation and nausea even at a basic sensory level. It's not an experience I'd recommend, to say the least.
As for the characters - Jinto initially comes across as an innocent and unwilling pawn in a game that he had no control over, but in the end you get to see his fawning admiration and sycophancy towards the Abh, to the point that he counts himself as one of them, and overlooks the fact that they are in fact invaders and unlawful rulers of his homeworld (I can only guess he will end up fathering another patricidal Abh in his own turn...) Likewise, Lafiel also initially comes off in a similarly sympathetic light as someone who is grateful to someone who saw her for the individual she was rather than for her status in Abh society, but by the end you see another side to her - a blindly self-righteous aristocrat who notes how her people were wronged in the past, but thinks nothing of the atrocities and injustices that her own people are committing on innocent populations. Ultimately, her purpose in the show is revealed to be that of a Starship Troopers-variety "Paragon Soldier", existing only as a mannequin model to exemplify all that is supposedly "noble" about the Abh. The Terrans are grotesquely ugly both in appearance and character like I mentioned earlier, but it's the Abh who will creep you out big-time when they finally reveal their true colours - only to get passed off as noble heroes by the show. Even creepier is the hornet symbolism of their emblems, which captures their shockingly blind hive-mentality, as well as their impulsive vengefulness and ferocity, rather too uncannily.
So there you have it - Crest of the Stars started out as a grandly ambitious and extremely promising Space Opera show that seemed to challenge even Legend of the Galactic Heroes in its scope and emotional impact. Instead, it turned out to be something so nasty it beggars belief, and leaves you feeling sickened and horrified. The world of this show is a quietly creepy theatre of cruelty, populated by ugly and horrible people on both sides, where fairness and decency never stood a chance because the stakes were rigged all along. If, like me, you feel nostalgic for 90's-era animation, or have a soft corner for shows with a tranquil and reflective atmosphere (and this show has it in spades), this show may seem like the best thing the anime medium has had to offer - at least initially. But in the end, you're left feeling thoroughly cheated at an entertainment level - and not to mention utterly appalled at the horror you had to witness.
Park the Enterprise and power down the X-Wing because our anime spaceships are coming in for a landing. These ships may not be blowing up Death Stars or battling the Borg Cube but they are each taking mankind (and sometimes also aliens) where they have never gone before.