A group of space cadets (the majority of which are girls) discover that their home planet has been overthrown by an opposing empire and resulting in them, and the ship they are on, being forced to turn into a one ship resistance force, funded by an unscrupulous television company who document their lives and battles in a bizarre reality TV show, and trying to fight a war that they were both ill prepared or properly experienced to wage.
Now on paper this sounds like a good couple of first episodes... Its just odd that all of the above takes place within the first episode!
Now I will have nothing too critical said about this series – the production staff reads like a who's who of the animé industry from technical designer Kimitoshi Yamane (Cowboy bebop and Gundam SEED) and his incredibly realistic and realised ship and systems designs – even such seemingly simplistic factors like gravity and the ins and outs of space combat are well researched and realised – through to the musical score by Kenji Kawai (Ghost in the shell, Ranma ½ ) which supply drama and the appropriate mood to each scene.
Additionally, despite the majority of the cast being female, the series doesn't fall into the trap of descending into a harem anime, with each of the members being well thought out, realistic people – even the lead character, executive officer Sinon Kozuki, is female.
So why, I hear you ask, have I not given this series more credit?
Well to be blunt I don't know if was either fault of series writer Ryo Mizuno (Record of Lodoss War), the director Takashi Watanabe (Slayers, Boogiepop Phantom) or the fact that this series is still being published in its original light novel form in the Japanese magazine Dengeki Bunko, but I can’t see how this series, complex as it is, can be properly resolved in just 13 episodes. (Though Serial Experiments Lain managed it – Ed).
Still, if you’re up for a more realistic take on science fiction in the same sort of vein as planetes, or are just curious, then I can definitely recommend this series – just don't go into this expecting a long running epic. But for those who want a short, sharp sci-fi shock, give this a go.
Full speed ahead!
Extras for this volume are relatively Spartan – textless ending and opening, the trailer for the original US release for this series and trailers for some MVM releases – the only unusual extra being a (albeit short) music video of the series' ending tune “Chi ni Kaeru ~on the earth~”.
There's some interesting information here - many of the ships and planets names are taken from real life and, in some cases, ancient sources – for example the ship that the cast crew, the “Amaterasu”, is named after the chief deity of Japan's main religion Shinto – beat that Enterprise!