Remarkably, Stellvia, Volume 2 really *is* the good, the bad and the ugly all at once.
What with the utter dearth of anything interesting at all this new anime season, it’s a good thing that so many of last year’s best series are now available on DVD for decent viewing for the western yuri fan.
Before move into today’s review, let me just plug two things:
To purchase this DVD and other fine yuri anime series, please visit the Yuricon Shop where the new Yuri Anime page has opened! We’ve included some of the best yuri-related series available and more will be coming in the near future, including Stellvia. (In fact, I’ll make sure to add Stellvia tonight, in case this review makes you want to run out and buy the DVD! LOL)
Secondly, if you’ll notice in below this article, there is a single Google advertisment. Yuricon and ALC take a tremendous amount of time and money to run, and so, I am doing every possible thing I can to make a few cents to help get Yuri manga, events and community out there to you. If each one on you clicks the link in the ad, and futzes around at that site for a second or two, I’ll get a few cents that I can put into new Yuri manga or events. It will only take a second or two and trust me – I *really* appreciate it! So, if you enjoy this blog, click the Google Ad and help me out. To those who do, I give my heartfelt thanks.
All that having been said, let me get back to the good, the bad and the ugly of the second volume of Stellvia.
Let’s start with the good.
I had forgotten how much I actually enjoyed this series the first time around. As cynical as I am, I found myself getting into it all over again. Yes, I know the story, yes, I know all the (few) twists coming in the plot, but you know – the characters are really quite interesting and I found myself getting really into what was going on, despite myself. :-)
I realized that, at least here back at the beginning of the story, the lead character, Shima, is really more interesting than I remembered. Even though Shima is another idiot savant-type character who fails utterly every first time she tries a thing, but then, inexplicably, excels beyong everyone else, she’s still someone you can care about.
The Yayoi/Ayaka story is more compelling than I remembered, as well. I’m a sucker for a rich backstory – and of all the cast members, really, only these two have a life prior to Shima’s arrival. The fact that they are a Yuri couple notch them up in interest level for me. The fact that they are voiced by Orikasa Fumiko (Meia in Vandread, Ruki in Digimon Tamers) and Toyoguchi Megumi (Layla Ashley in Avenger, Satou Sei/Rosa Gigantea in Marimite, Meg in Bakuretsu Tenshi,) puts them right there up on the top ten for me.. The fact that their backstory isn’t a happy one makes it that much more interesting to me.
However, the absolute best thing was *exactly* as I remembered – the dialogue. For all that the characters do not look their ages – they definitely, definitely *sound* their ages. It was really refreshing…even though this was a re-watch.
Now for the bad – this DVD has three episodes, no extras and boring packaging. It looks like we’re getting the same exact nothing they got in Japan…and given the full price of the DVD, it hurts a little.
And the ugly – The CG art is way better than I remembered, but oh my god, is the regular animation…inconsistent. No, wait, it’s just plain terrible. I mean, the characters start out looking five years younger than they are, which I find annoying, but…but in episode 6, the art simply collapses into appallingly shoddy, unforgivably awful work. This was particularly distressing as the plot is really thickening just about then too. Shima’s neck was disturbingly long, the faces were frequently askew, Arisa almost never had a whole face at all and Yayoi looked like she spent the episode wearing a wig that kept sliding. Awful, awful, awful. The bad art was genuinely distracting, which is not a good thing.
Yuri-wise, this series is definitely still worth a look. In this volume, we are getting serious tension building between Yayoi and Ayaka, and I even have to admit that Arisa’s reactions to Shima and Kouta’s growing closenesss look awfully like resigned jealousy, something I missed completely the first time around.
Like I said way back when I reviewed it the first time, Stellvia is still a space opera, but still a really, genuinely enjoyable one.