R1 DVD Reviews
Tuesday, 11 May 2010 00:00
And so the English-language release of Banner of the Stars reaches its end. With Jinto trapped on Lobnas II and Lafiel powerless to do anything to help him, she's got issues to deal with, while Admiral Spoor has problems of her own trying to prevent the advance of the United Mankind fleet...
8 - Things to Protect
Lafiel is busy overseeing the final stages of the withdrawal from Lobnas II, while Admiral Spoor has the thankless task of trying to buy them the time they need. Heavily outnumbered, Spoor tries to negotiate with the United Mankind fleet in an effort to avoid a needless battle, but while she manages to gain some time, it's not enough, and she's forced to fight. Lafiel, meanwhile, has received word that the planet's authorities (what's left of them) have been unable to trace Jinto. Unable to take the time to search for him, she's forced to leave without him....
9 - To Lay Down the Bow
Lafiel's group manages to leave Lobnas II just in time to avoid a confrontation with the United Mankind fleet, but she's appalled by the damage that's been taken by Spoor's fleet - or what's left of it. Meanwhile, the rest of the Operation Hunter fleets are busy clearing up the last of the United Mankind's opposition & the current stage of the war is coming to an end, giving Lafiel an opportunity to take leave from the military & return to Lobnas II, in a effort to try and track down Jinto...
10 - An Abriel's Tears
Jinto's managed to escape his captors and is wandering aimlessly around Lobnas II, trying his best to survive but without any way off the planet. With nothing else to do, he's reduced to writing poetry on walls and reliving his memories of his time with Lafiel - but with no more food or water it appears to be the end of the line for him. What he doesn't know is that Lafiel and Samson are both on their way to search for him...
Passage of the Stars: Birth
A little trip into the past, to when Lafiel was on the verge of becoming a twinkle in the eyes of her parents. While on a trading mission, they discover an ancient colony transport - an important archaeological find, but it's in poor shape and in a decaying orbit around a sord which will soon lead to its destruction. While they're investigating it, the ship's systems reactiviate & the connection to their own ship is broken, leaving them stranded on board, searching for a way to get off the colony ship before it's destroyed...
I vote the final scenes of this series as some of the most touching in anime, but then I'm a Crest of the Stars / Banner of the Stars fanboy, so I admit to some bias. Each episode on this disc focuses on a very different setting - there's very little of Lafiel or Jinto in the first 2 episodes, as the end of Sppor's battle and the end of Operation Hunter are dealt with - which means there's plenty of variety & very little opportunity to ger bored. Spoor's word games & the combat scenes in episode 8 are the highlights of the non-Lafiel scenes. Episode 9 would be the weakest of the bunch, with its focus on the wider events around Lobnas & the end of Operation Hunter, but the final episode is an all-time classic guaranteed to tug at your heartstrings, as Lafiel and Jinto are reunited and we finally get to see an Abriel's tears.
Away from the primary story, there's a treat buried in the disc's Extras section: Passage of the Stars: Birth, an OVA episode - technically not part of Banner of the Stars II, this 1-episode story is also known as Sekai no Danshou or Lost Chapter of the Stars. It's more of a treat for the fans than a serious sidestory, and consists mainly of Lafiel's parents talking to each other, while their predicament on board the colony ship is really just background. It's a must-see for fans of the show, though, particularly as it's a freebie. Full marks to Bandai for resisting the urge to release this on its own.
While this disc is good, though, I have to say that this series is probably the weakest of the three Crest / Banner outings so far - with so much of the appeal of the franchise based on having Jinto and Lafiel together and bouncing their thoughts off each other, having them separated for the vast majority of the series leaves the distinct feeling that there's something missing. The weakest of three classics is still a classic, though, and overall I really can't recommend the series enough. I can only complain at the apparent lack of progress in getting the latest installment - which was released in Japan a few years ago now - licensed for an English-language release.