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R1 DVD Reviews
Monday, 14 February 2005 12:19
Stratos 4 - Volume 3 (Cover Art)Time for another installment of Stratos 4, and Studio Fantasia's abilty to restrain themselves from ramping up the fanservice to their usual level continues to surprise me.  Of course, whether this is a good thing or not depends on how well you enjoyed their previous shows (Najica, Agent Aika)!  With this disc, though, conspiracy theories abound...

8 - Go Gate
Even the Meteor Sweepers have their Cultural Festival - they are just school-age kids, after all.  The main problen with festival time, though, is that it brings everyone's relatives to the base, and some of them just don't know how to behave - including Mikaze's hot-shot-pilot sister.  For Karin, it's the opposite problem - she has no family to visit her, and she's not quite herself.  There's more bothering her than just being along, though.  Later, Mikaze's father is less than impressed with her plans to take the Stratos Zero back into space...

Stratos 4 - Mikaze proudly presents, Stratos ZeroStratos 4 - Karin, all alone

9 - Vapor Trail
Onsen!  The girls get the chance for a break to a hot-springs resort, leaving the boys behind to use their imagination about what they're missing.  Instructor Kisaragi isn't relaxing completely, though - she's been looking into how Mikaze's failed mission was investigated, and she isn't happy about the way the Cosmic Emergency Management Agency have handled things.  They're not the only ones who are suspicious, either - a group of conspiracy theorists have followed the girls to the onsen, and they have their own theories about what CEMA are up to.  Meanwhile, Karin's behaviour gets stranger - and she's not the only one...

Stratos 4 - Onsen shockStratos 4 - Conspiracy theorising in progress

10 - Mission Abort
The Orbital Interceptor Tests are approaching - effectively, the entrance exam for the Comet Blasters - but Mikaze's simulator missions aren't going too well.  There's just too much difference between her Meteor Sweeper airplane and the CB spacecraft for her to get the hang of yet.  The rest of the girls aren't doing any better, either - but with a swarm of nearly 200 comets approaching Earth, there's no time for them to rest.  Especially when there's no response from the CB stations, leaving the Meteor Sweepers to handle the swarm on their own.  Meanwhile, Mikaze's been looking over the recording of her failed mission, and what she sees on the tape doesn't make sense - can a comet really change course on its own?

Stratos 4 -  Bad day at the simulatorStratos 4 - Trouble in orbit

Even with the fanservice-favourite onsen episode on this disc, there's a growing list of hints that the comets bombarding the Earth aren't all they seem to be, and that CEMA seems to know exactly what's going on.  How this ties in with events in orbit & with Karin isn't clear yet, but you just know they're going to be related.

In between all the conspiracy theorising, though, Stratos 4 manages to keep hold of its simple, slice-of-life feel for most of the three episodes here.  With Karin being my personal favourite character, its good to see her becoming a core part of the story, while Mikaze's definitely progressed from being the uncertain girl she was at the start of the series.  Character development is always a good thing.  :)

This is my second time through Stratos 4, and I'm glad to say it hold up to repeat viewing very well - even though I know what's coming, it's not spoiling my enjoyment in any way.  If you're new to the show, you'll enjoy it even more.  Well worth checking out.

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