Stellvia Anime, Foundation 1 (English)

September 28th, 2004

I reviewed Stellvia almost a year ago. Well, now it has been released by Geneon, and so, I thought it deserved another look.

Geneon had a big-ass booth at Otakon this past year, and even sponsored a mini-concert by Angela, the singer for the opening and Ending themes for this anime. I hadn’t watched Stellvia since the very first time I saw it, and was pleasantly surprised at how much I liked the music. It’s a strange OP, sort of yodel-y and it was appealing in an unusual way. When I watched the DVD, I found myself turning the volume way up on the opening credits.

So, Stellvia of the Universe, or Uchyuu no Stellvia, is, as I mentioned in my previous review, a space opera. Katase Shima has always wanted to see space “head on,” so she applies to “Foundation Stellvia,” a space station academy, to learn to become a pilot. The plot hasn’t changed much since my last review, so I’ll focus only on the actual DVD release.

Right off, I decided to purchase the plain DVD in a case version, eschewing the DVD in series box. I cannot imagine that whatever extras you get with the box is worth the $15 more in price. That’s practically a whole ‘nother DVD, for pity’s sake! And pencil boards go for around $3…, so…. You get 4 eps for your $20, which isn’t jump for joy great, but it’s not like I feel like I’m being taken to the cleaners, either.

The no-frills DVD is definitely that. You get nada with it. No liner notes, no anything. Just a notice of future release dates and a market research card. (Dear Geneon, Please license Maria-sama ga Miteru, I have lots of money to spend. Thanks so much. Love, Erica.). The cover of the DVD is the same as the Japanese version – a sort of lurid green with Shima-chan floating uncomfortably alone. The DVD itself is really lovely…the green sky theme repeated as a green DVD with cut-outs where the prismatic DVD is visible, like stars glowing in a green sky. Cle-ver…

The soundtrack was fubared on my DVD and I’m not really sure why. It would only play in monotrack on my TV, but worked fine on my computer. Other DVDs worked fine on the TV, so it had to be the disc. No clue what was going on there…and I didn’t lose much, just a few background noises.

The translation was, for the first episode, stunning. Absolutely fan-tastic. Shima-chan was appropriately translated as Shima-chan, the twice it was used. Honorifics in place, all’s well. And then the episode ended and aliens took over the translation for the next three episodes. Can we say, “wtf”?

Episodes 2-4 were dreadful. Translation was bland & colorless, and the honorifics were disappeared and carted off, never to be seen again – I cried when I realized that they were never coming back. I don’t know WHAT on earth happened to the translation, but clearly they need to find the folks who did the first episode and apologize for offending them and get them back on the job!

One last note – I had originally commented that the characters looked too young for my taste. I guess I had never noticed before, but the art looked about the same level as Digimon. The same faces and bodies on the characters, the same high-end CGI, but low-end character design…all very weird when put together.

I had also forgotten how GOOD the script was. For all my bitchin’, the story is still solid, the voice actors are still decent and Machida Ayaka, the hyper-competent, bitchy (and ultimately psycho lesbian, so you KNOW I like her) in the big 4 is voiced by Toyoguchi Megumi, who also voices Satou Sei in Maria-sama ga Miteru! (For the record, Kuzuhara Yayoi is voiced by Orikasa Fumiko.)

The DVD release is only a 6, but the story still gets an 8, for an overall 7.

This series is definitely worth a rent and, if you’re willing to wait for the payoff, a buy. I know I’ll look forward to the next volume, just because the story is really damn decent.

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