Title: Stellvia aka Uchuu no Stellvia aka Stellvia of the Universe
Company: Xebec/Foundation II/Studio Galapagos
Format: 26 episodes
Dates: 2 Apr 2003 – 24 Sep 2003
Synopsis: In 2167 AD, the Earth was bombarded by a devastating electromagnetic shockwave caused by the supernova of a nearby star, Hydrus Beta. 189 years later, humanity has slowly built up a defense system to block the predicted “Second Wave.” To confront this bleak future head on, humanity has established space academies that train the most promising youths to become the next generation of defenders. Among the students of the pilot program is a young girl, Katase Shima, who will eventually carry the future of humanity.
Animation: Good 2D; decent 3D.
Characters: Well characterized and adequately developed.
Story: Starts off with an interesting conflict, but makes some inane decisions later on.
In all honesty, Stellvia is a production I should have enjoyed more than I did. The show falls into my niche of action, slice of life and drama, and it is blessed with solid 2D animation, good music and competent writing. A drama about a group of teenage students may not seem like grade A material, but there have been shows that do impressive things with such a setup… and Stellvia is not one of them.
The initial episodes of Stellvia are an exercise in entertaining mediocrity. They’re usually centered on some random adventure sprung by homework or space training, and they are used to introduce the massive cast and establish their (clichéd) quirks. Even though the first few episodes are far from strong, they provide the foundation for the intricate relationships the characters form as the series progresses, and for a good portion of the second half, the show manages to capitalize on the well established cast by putting their sense of morality and companionship on the gallows.
Where the show falters is essentially the direction of the plot in the final arc: the show could have opted for a full scale war and broken a few necks in a powerful display of melodrama; however, the series scraps this direction and goes with an internal struggle where the main character wallows in angst as the story rewinds to a bigger, badder version of a previous conflict. Now, I have nothing against watching a character go on a self-pitying streak, but the conflict better be tragic enough to warrant such a response. Whining because your friends are dying in a space war? Fine. Whining because the guy next to you can play a modified version of Space Invaders better than you? Hell no.
There are many things Stellvia could have done to become a memorable anime, but as it now, the show is only slightly above mediocre. The romance, the drama and the story are half baked, and the melodrama near the end becomes insufferable. The only thing that prevents me from disemboweling the anime outright is the fact that, despite all its faults, Stellvia is well executed; misguided – certainly, but the show’s not bad as a medium substance snack.
The Rating: 6
Reviewed by: Shadowmage