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R1 DVD Reviews
Saturday, 02 October 2004 00:00
Stellvia - Volume 1I raved about Stellvia when it was in its fansub days. Now the DVD release has begun, I've a chance to rave about it all over again. Provided you can all hear me over Shipon's crying, that is...

1 - Welcome
It's 2356, 189 years after the First Wave - the devastating effects of a supernova in a nearby startsystem - hit Earth, laying waste to much of the planet. Mankind has rebuilt, and just in time, too - the Second Wave of supernova debris, more devastating than the first, is due to reach the Solar System in a few short months. Earth has prepared, with the Foundation space stations built as part of the Great Mission, a plan to hold the Second Wave back. Meet Shima Katase ('Shipon' to her friends), on her way to space as one of a group of students assigned to Foundation II, aka Stellvia... 2 - Hesitation
After the excitement of the welcoming ceremony, it's down to school routine for Shima and her new friend and roomate Arisa, with subjects to be chosen and classes to attend. Add two more classmates to the 'friends' list (Akira & Yayoi), and their first attempts at flying Stellvia's training ships - embarrassing flight suits and all. To say Shima's first flight doesn't go according to plan would ba an understatement... Meanwhile, what's the story with the mecha being stored in the station's hangars?

3 - I'm Sorry
Time for mid-terms (time flies in space, I guess). And what do all students do before exam-time? Study. And lots of it. Turns out Shipon's quite the whiz at programming, too, so manages to get roped into hosting a study session. When Shipon tries to make their simulation exercise more realistic by hooking into the station's main server, you know something's going to go wrong. Cue a clandestine trip to the server room, in an attempt to repair the damage caused and cover their tracks. Meanwhile, planning for the Great Mission proceeds, with just 70 days remaining before the wave reaches Stellvia...

4 - I'll Do My Best
Shipon still hasn't quite got the hang of controlling her Bianca - with her latest mishap being a collision with Leila's ship. It's enough to make Leila suggest that desk work could be the best thing for Shipon, but a barbed remark from another instructor leads to her reconsidering. Shipon, meanwhile, isn't in the best of form after her recent failings, but a chance talk with Kouta & some words of wisdom from Yayoi help encourage her...

Okay, so I over-stress just how much Shipon can cry, and she doesn't do that until later in the series anyway - but don't say you weren't warned!

What you get on this disc is a lot of character introduction, at lot of classroom learning for the leads, and a lot of little hints thrown in as to where the show is going to go. You know that Shipon's going to play a major role in whatever happens, which will probably have something to do with the Great Mission, but past that the viewer isn't told a hell of a lot. That works out quite well, though - it gives you a chance to get used to the people and setting before getting another batch of information thrown at you.

If you've seen the series before, pay extra close attention, as there are little comments thrown in here and there that take on a significance when you know how the story pans out. It's nice to see these - it keeps the interest up even when you know what's going to happen.

If you're looking for a show this can be compared to, think Battle Athletes, as there are a lot of similarities in the setting & characters. Stellvia is a good bit more serious in tone, though - no hiding in a cardboard box for Shipon.

This is one of those shows I really can't recommend enough. Well thought-out setting and characters who are far from perfect (there are actually a few very messed-up kids in this group, which becomes more apparent as the show goes) makes for a good combination - well worth getting.


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