Yuri Anime: Stellvia. Volume 5

September 16th, 2005

The reason this review took so long to get to was simply that I had a really hard time finding this volume! Amazon had it on backorder and at Otakon, not a single vendor had a copy by the time I got to go shopping. It was really irksome. (Amusingly, at the Geneon booth, the sales guy tried to sell me Vol.6, but I kept saying I wouldn’t get it until after I had Volume 5. He was like, “But you’ll need it eventually.” ^_^)

Let’s get right to it, shall we? This volume has a lot of good things, but I’m about to start with the bad.

The art. Where do noses go when they aren’t on faces? Is there a graveyard of lost anime noses? The art is *so* inconsistant in this volume. The older characters are fairly treated, but the main characters…ecch. It definitely looks like we had more than one group doing the art – and one of them sucked. Specifically the group handling Shima and Arisa.

There’s a scene in the second episode (which otherwise has better art than the first) on the volume where the girls are teasing Shima about Kouta. Shima and Arisa are all over the room, while the background characters are all stock still for nearly the entire scene, with fixed faces. Obviously, they didn’t bother animating anyone who wasn’t absolutely necessary. And it looks it. Awful, awful, awful.

The other major bad thing is Kouta. He’s heading into major idiot savant mode and from this point on, I really don’t like him. He’s so…autistic…about people, and about Shima in particular. So while she’s growing, and trying harder and harder to reach him, he’s just being a nothing. But he’s a main character, so we have to watch him being a nothing all the freakin’ time! It’s downright distressing.

But that’s about it for really, really bad.

On the good side, all the little relationships are starting to mature – there’s a fair amount of time given over to taciturn Akira and runty Jojo. The volume starts them off on a rough foot, but they really get to spend some quality time onscreen. And along the way, they have a couple of short, but quite meaningful and interesting, scenes. With really good dialogue and everything.

There are some moments in this volume that approach excellent – particularly the political fragmenting of the humans involved in the different aspects of this “war.” People who feel its necessary vs people who feel its a plot by the military, vs people who think its a hoax, vs people who think war would be fun. With our current situation here in the US, it reads as quite realistic.

The most well-executed scene is towards the very end, when the war becomes a reality for our young characters. Seeing a battle, in which “our” forces take a thorough and fatal beating, through Shima’s eyes is quite painful, even as it is exceptionally well-executed.

For our yuri couple, Yayoi and Ayaka, there is only one scene towards the beginning – but it’s a good one. ;-) With a short, fanservicey, flashback to when they originally met, we get a tearful and emotional reunion between them. Otherwise they are never seen together…but later when Arisa teases Yayoi about Pierre (who has a openly-acknowledged crush on her) Yayoi basically says that he has no chance. Everyone laughs and moves on. They know he has no chance – they just think it’s cause he’s a doofus and Yayoi is a lady.

Art – yucky to not too bad
Story – fun, interesting, emo
Characters – real
Music – doo-doo-doo

Overall – just watch it

In general, this volume is good, solid space opera fare. The aliens are bugs, humans are torn over what to do, and the kids…are kids. All in all, a good story that stays good with ocassional moments of excellent and awful.

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