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Stratos 4 #2: Turbulence PDF Print E-mail
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R1 DVD Reviews
Friday, 31 December 2004 10:54
Stratos 4 - Volume 2After a pretty-much 'slice of life'-style first volume, Stratos 4 starts to change tone a little with these episodes.  While there's almost a complete absence of spaceflight and comet blasting, there is a feel that a story is beginning to emerge from under Mikaze's happy life on base - and it isn't the story you may have expected when you started watching the show...

5 - Go Around
After the 'incident' on her last mission, Mikaze's been summoned to appear before an investigation committee - but rather than focussing on what Mikaze did or what may have happened to Karin, they seem to have a particular interest in trying to pin the blame onto someone else, and won't accept Mikaze's assertion that she made her own decisions during the mission. When they don't get what they're looking for from Mikaze, other members of the class are called in. Meanwhile, the Comet Blasters are in town - and their treatment of the Meteor Sweeper girls when they meet leaves a lot to be desired...

Stratos 4 - Episode 5Stratos 4 - Episode 5

6 - Checking Six
Cat-of-the-show Alice is smarter than you'd think - for a start, if it wasn't for her no-one would make it out of bed in the mornings. She seems to want to get herself into space, though. Phase One: hitch a lift to the base - and all the better that the girls don't notice her do it. Phase Two: steal lunch & vital data chip - no, wait, the data chip wasn't part of the plan, but when one goes missing while she tries to make a clean getaway from the kitchens, the search is on for one catburglar...

Stratos 4 - Episode 6Stratos 4 - Episode 6

7 - Mach Speed
Mikaze's back on flight duty after her disciplinary grounding - but she's got other things on her mind at the moment. She's just found out what Mr Sako's been up to over in the hangars - he's been working on the Stratos Zero, the original Meteor Sweeper craft. Unlike the current MS craft, it was capable of flying to space - and since that's something Mikaze's always wanted to do, she's suddenly discovered an interest in helping Mr Sako refurbish it. Meanwhile, up on the Comet Blaster station, strange things are beginning to happen...

Stratos 4 - Episode 7Stratos 4 - Episode 7

From happy base life to military tribunal and the first stirrings of something deeper - put your slice-of-life expectations to one side, this volume of Stratos 4 starts to dig a little deeper.  The first indication is when Mikaze faces the tribunal, who are digging for what really happened during her last mission.  Seems they know that the meteors approaching Earth aren't what the public has been led to believe, and are more trying to find out what the base cadets may know, rather than what actually happened.  How much this ties in with the strange things that are beginning to happen up on the orbiting Comet Blaster station remains to be seen.

After an episode of darker stuff, comic relief returns in the form of Alice the cat (an episode that's much more fun that you may expect), while the final episode on the disc almost returns to the show's original feel, while the gang try to help Sato get the Stratos Zero back up-and-running.  I say 'almost', as this is also the episode where the hints of something strange happening in orbit begin to get stronger.

Studio Fantasia have so far managed to keep their usual OTT fanservice pretty much in check (the panty-shot count is minute compared to Aika or Najica) - I wonder how long that will last.  Stratos 4 is still an very good-looking show, though, and so far at least they're managing to back up the looks with a show that's fun to watch.  There's nothing really earth-shattering here, but there's a nice, relaxed feel to most of the show that helps to make it as enjoyable as it is.

If you were drawn in by the nifty CGI of the Comet Blaster missions that was quite heavily used in the first few episodes, or by Mikaze's antics while on her Meteor Sweeper missions, you may feel a bit robbed here, as those aspects of the show have been pushed into the background a bit, but what's left is still well worth watching.

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