The Nihon Review - Anime Reviews & Editorials

Banner of the Stars

Title: Banner of the Stars aka Seikai no Senki
Genre: Action/Romance
Company: Sunrise/Bandai Visual/WOWOW
Format: 13 episodes
Dates: 14 Apr 2000 – 14 Aug 2000

Synopsis: Three years after their adventures, and in the midst of an intergalactic war, Jinto and Lafiel are reunited. This time they meet, not as nobility and royalty, but as officer and commander. Together, they have been assigned to the superiority assault ship Basroil, to take part in the Imperial military campaign Operation Phantom Flame. The mission itself is going to be anything but easy. And the lives and livelihoods of their commanding officers can only make it more difficult.

The Highlights
Character relations: As good as ever, if not better.
Pacing: More evenly paced.
Ship battles: Chaotic, though sensible.
Focus: More character specific.
Flashbacks: Oh boy.

It is unfortunate that when it comes to pure space opera, anime doesn’t have the most abundant selection. It’s only by a stroke of luck that the few available are among the most compelling anime out there. And Banner of the Stars is no exception.

Taking off where the previous season ended, the space combat element takes precedence in this second installment of the Seikai(1,2) saga. Generally confrontations in space operas take the form of naval battles. Banner displays a variation of this by utilizing the nature of Planar Space to create the feel of skirmishes between submarines. The way the battles are presented does well to create a sense of uncertainty and chaos… sometimes a little too chaotic. But this is how it should be, especially since the Basroil is never in a situation where the crew has a clear advantage.

But space combat takes up only so much of Banner of the Stars. The bulk of the story, much like the predecessor, is spent on character drama. The crux of Crest of the Stars was rooted in the relationship between Lafiel and Jinto. And here, it is only more so. Thanks to the more static location, things can evolve with greater ease, not only for the two protagonists, but for the rest of the cast as well. Supreme Commander Abriel and his Chief of Staff, the eccentric Admiral Bebaus and his cold brother, the ever so entertaining Admiral Spoor and her first officer, among others get their own time in the limelight, no doubt with moments full of wit and charm. Chemistry is there for everyone, and is only made better when coupled with truly brilliant dialog. Saying that something is all talk is generally an insult. This is the exception.

In comparison to its previous entry, Banner is certainly the better paced of the two. Granted the pacing still falls somewhere between that of a snail and a Galapagos tortoise. But at least this time, there is greater consistency. In theory, this would make Banner superior to Crest, if it weren’t for one glaring problem: flashbacks. It was quite the issue in Crest, and here it is only worse, sometimes taking up as much as five minutes per episode. I understand that this is a pensive show, but it does feel like a real waste of time when episodes could have been utilized to instead further expound upon the situation at hand rather than tread previously trodden ground.

This is only a minor quibble really, because in the end, Banner of the Stars is a real treat. Many anime could have the exact same situation with the exact same cast, and end up being horrifically boring. The fact that the Seikai series manages to do what others would fail at is a feat of its own. And for that reason alone, does Banner deserve such a strong recommendation.

The Rating: 8

Reviewed by: Kavik Ryx

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