BANNER OF THE STARS (2001-2002)

 

Format: 13 24-minute episodes on 3 DVDs

Rating: PG-13 (BN, AC, V)

Type: Sci-Fi

American Production: Bandai Entertainment

Japanese Production: Sunrise

 

Grading

 

Premise:

C+

Story:

B

Writing:

C+

Character Design:

B+

Animation:

B

Artistic Merits:

B

English Dub:

C

Musical Score:

B+

Opener:

C

Closer:

C

 

 

Humor Content:

C+

Action Content:

B+

Drama Content:

B

 

 

DVD Presentation:

B-

DVD Extras:

C

 

 

OVERALL:

B

 

Synopsis

NOTE: This series is a sequel to Crest of the Stars, taking place three years after the events in that series. If you have not already seen Crest or read its review check it out here first.

 

      Shortly after the events in Crest a devastating space battle took place which severely damaged the military forces of both the human Triple Alliance and the Humankind Empire Abh. Three years of cease fire have passed as both sides rebuild their forces, but that time is about to come to an end. As part of the Abh rebuilding, an operation referred to as Phantom Flame, Lafiel has become a Captain of the attack ship Basroil. Jinto, his training complete, joins her officially as the ship’s Supply Officer and unofficially as Lafiel’s confidant. Also accompanying them is Diaho, the cat who made a brief appearance at the end of Crest. Joining them on the Basroil’s bridge are Abh-by-birth aviators Sobaash and Atosuryua and congenial Chief Technician Samson, who like Jinto is an “adopted” Abh. Things get interesting when Lafiel and Jinto find themselves under the command of the sister of the Baron Lafiel had to kill in Crest, and they get even more interesting when the Basroil finally becomes involved in battles both minor and epic in scope.

 

The Long View

      Based on a popular series of novels, Banner of the Stars shows all the signs of being merely the second chapter in an epic space opera on the scale of Star Wars or Dune. For the most part the story is allowed to progress at a leisurely pace with a heavy emphasis (sometimes overly so) on character dialogue and development. When the big defining battle comes in the late episodes, however, the viewer is treated to one of the grandest space battles ever waged in animation. It is a marvel of choreography. There’s even a bit of romantic tension thrown in, too, although Lafiel and Jinto still have not hooked up in that sense by the end of the series.

      Both the strength and flaws of Banner are in its character development. Though Lafiel and Jinto are the central characters, significant time and emphasis are given to the other bridge members. The best new addition is Samson, a laid-back and jovial individual who is a good contrast to the more serious nature of the other key characters. Also given significant screen time are Commander-In-Chief Dusanya Abriel (who is from Lafiel’s family line and is considered first in line to the throne of the Abh) and his aide Kenesh, who banter about strategy and, much to Kenesh’s annoyance, her past love life. Nerees and Nefee, Abh-born twins who serve as Fleet Commander and aide-de-camp for the fleet that includes the Basroil, spend considerable time playing off each other as they debate strategy, insult each other, and struggle to avoid their noble family’s reputation for “spectacular insanity.” Admiral Spoor and her aide Kufadis, who made significant appearances in Crest, return to chew up a somewhat lesser chunk of screen time with their continued commentary on events around them. (Spoor’s blasé attitude on matters is a continued breath of fresh air.) At times these side diversion are interesting, but they are overused and slow down the overall flow of action. This is not a major flaw, however, since the storyline is interesting and well-executed beyond that. Unfortunately the dialogue could still use a bit of work, hence the lower rating in the Writing category, but there is a bit more humor here than in Crest.

      Most of the comments I made about Crest concerning the sound and technical merits still apply for Banner, although I would add that Lafiel dresses up particularly well for the 6th episode – kudos to the character designer on that! The English dub is a bit of an improvement, but that’s only an improvement to “average;” as with Crest, the voice work is the weakest aspect of the series. On the plus side, the series continues to emphasize development of the distinctive Abh culture. The opener and closers are different than those in Crest but still of the same style.

      A comment about the rating is also needed: although the violence in Banner is relatively mild, I have given the series a PG-13 rating because of its heavy use of panning shots of the figures of female characters, whether in uniform or not, and because of more mature themes. It is a mild PG-13, though, and could probably be shown to, and appreciated by, most children 10 or older.

      If you liked Crest of the Stars then you will almost certainly like Banner. If you have not seen Crest, you can probably still make sense out of Banner, but I don’t recommend that. A sequel series has already become available in the U.S. as I write this, so the story is certainly not over.

 

DVD Extras

·  Production Art Gallery

·  Newsletter of the Stars – mostly contains commentary by the original author about the adaptation of the series to anime.

·  Company Trailers

 

Principle English Voice Actors

Role

Voice Actor

Captain Lafiel

Jessica Yow

Jinto

Matthew Erickson

Samson

Keith Hamill

Ekuryua

Maizun Jayoussi

Sobaash

Elinor Holt

Commander Atosuryua

Kris Hamill

Admiral Spoor

Mariette Sluyter

Kufadis (aide to Spoor)

Paul Hunter

CIC Dusanyu Abriel

Ethan Cole

Kenesh (aide to Dusanyu)

Meridith Taylor-Parry

Nerees/Nefee

Jonathon Love

 

 

 

 

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