This is the first year I participated in the Reverse Thieves’ Secret Santa Project, and unfortunately I can’t say that I loved the show I picked to watch. That isn’t to say that I hated it, or that it was even bad, but it wasn’t really my kind of show and wouldn’t have been something I’d have selected to watch on my own. That being said, I’m glad I participated in the project and look forward to doing it again next year. On to the review!
Uchuu No Stellvia, based on the short description I read on animeinfo, sounded like a somewhat promising sci-fi drama with a bit of school life mixed in. The story begins in the somewhat distant future, after mankind has experienced a catastrophe of a star going super nova and the Earth was bombarded with all kinds of cosmic radiation. Much of mankind perished in the stellar event, but things aren’t over because the “second wave,” basically the shockwave of debris and more cosmic radiation is going to bombard the Earth in another 200 years or so. Mankind has become united due to this revelation, and has worked endlessly to prepare for the coming disaster by building multiple space stations, called foundations, where students are trained to become pilots, engineers, programmers, etc., all to participate in The Great Mission of defending the Earth from the coming second wave. The foundations are basically giant space colleges which also act as pseudo-military bases.
Enter our protagonist, Katase Shima, who at the beginning of the series is boarding a space transport to embark to the Stellvia (the foundation nearest Earth) to begin her training. She’s generally shy, soft spoken, but is also a genius when it comes to programming, but more than anything she wants to be a pilot and wants to see space. On board the transport she meets Arisa Glennorth, who is basically the opposite of Shima. She’s loud, outspoken, energetic, and not particularly skilled at anything. The two of course become best friends, and then naturally are assigned as roommates once on board the Stellvia.
There will be some crying about every other episode.
We’re quickly introduced to the rest of the students/staff, who pretty much fill every cliché role imaginable. On the girl’s side you have Kayama Akira, a tall, somewhat stand offish, serious girl. Fujisawa Yayoi, who’s the smart, well endowed glasses chick. Machida Ayaka, one of the upperclassman who’s a star pilot and is basically driven to be extremely competitive due to some kind of inferiority complex. Later we’re introduced to Kazamatsuri Rinna, a wunderkind who initially views Shima as her rival but quickly becomes another friend. Lastly is Najima Gable, another one of the upperclassmen who’s trait is that she randomly quotes lines of Shakespeare or the Bible and never seems to have any kind of reaction to anything.
They somehow made a show with a space ninja and made it boring.
On the boy’s side we have Pierre Takida, the suave lady’s man who unfortunately always seems to fail in his romantic endeavors. Joey Jones, aka JoJo, the short, fiery tempered comic relief. Masaru Odawara, basically the blandest character in the series, his defining characteristic is that he eats a lot. Otoyama Kouta, a good-natured, but somewhat socially awkward guy who is generally average at everything but turns out to be a phenomenal pilot due to his “sight.” Kent Austin, basically the super hero upperclassman who’s good at everything and handsome. Finishing off with Ritsuo Shojin, another upperclassman who’s a ninja always doing physical training and who rarely speaks.
Everyone meets, everyone likes each other, yay. Shima initially stinks at flying, but then becomes a pro after some tips from Kouta and her reprogramming of the flight software for her ship. There’s a brief point where we learn that Ayaka is a psycho, when she basically tries to kill Shima in a jousting game, but she gets over it and everyone’s friends again.
The first half of the series is basically going through the initial training of the new students, Shima struggling with flying, overcoming her problem, and then making the final preparations for The Great Mission, which goes off without a hitch (though of course with a bit of melodrama thrown in). Overall, I actually liked the first half the series. Again, not really my cup of tea, but it was still enjoyable.
The second half of the series is where, for me, things kind of took a turn for the worse story wise. Initially, it looked at some intriguing ideas, introduced some political aspects to the series, and toyed with the fact that mankind has essentially not known war for almost 200 years because every moment had been spent with mankind working towards a common goal (The Great Mission) and almost immediately after that goal was achieved, mankind started acting like mankind usually acts…for like a few days, then everyone was fine again. It’s around this time that aliens show up and destroy one of the foundations after everyone evacuated. Then there’s a new impending cosmic catastrophe that threatens to destroy the entire solar system and mankind only has a few months to prepare to face it, during which nobody seems to be really concerned (until the last week or so). The fend off the disaster, the aliens were really trying to help us in their own way, and everyone lives happily ever after in a new era of space exploration.
If it seems like I really hated the series, I didn’t. It’s just that I found it rather mediocre. Part of the reason I think it came off that way to me is that it tried to do a bit of everything, but didn’t really excel at any one aspect. I also didn’t really like any of the characters, because for the most part they were all just caricatures. With the exception of Shima, Kouta, and Ayaka none of the characters really “grew” throughout the series. Shima always broke down and started crying whenever something was hard, but then would overcome it. Kouta finally learned how to express himself a bit. Ayaka accepted the fact that she isn’t the best there is.
I know a lot of people really liked Stellvia, though it’s somewhat unknown, but for me it wasn’t really anything exceptional. Again, I wouldn’t say it’s a bad series by any means, just rather forgettable. The art/animation is adequate, and I will say that when CG was used it the series it was done fairly well. The music wasn’t really anything standout, though I really didn’t care for the opening song. The singer does what, to my ears, sounds like the Japanese equivalent of yodeling. The voice acting was fine, nothing bad nor anything great.
On a scale of 5, I’d give Uchuu no Stellvia a 2.5. Not bad, but not great. Right in the middle.