Posted by psgels on 18 October 2008 with categories: Anime Reviews



Well, when I first started watching Starship Operators, I wasn’t exactly positive: the premise told about a spaceship, piloted by unqualified teenagers with extravagant hairstyles. My first thought was something along the lines of “oh, here we go again, with the subplot of having teenagers save the world because of some convenient superpower they receive”. Afterwards, Starship Operators continued to violently mutilate any sort of stereotype I could have had about the premise and threw them unceremoniously in the garbage bin.

Really, this is something I never suspected, but the focus on politics and realistic space-battles is huge. In fact, the creators actually succeeded in making a spaceship that’s piloted by teenagers plausible, by resorting to legal actions, and letting them buy their own spaceship with the help of a sponsor (a media-broadcasting network, which also makes sure for a number of subtle jabs against the modern media-culture). The rest of the series also continues to be moved very heavily through complex politics. It happens often when an entire episode is spent, just trying to sink one ship, because of all the preparation and planning that goes into trying to defeat the enemy.

Also, make no mistake: this is a series where people die when they’re killed, and the creators have made sure to let this sink in with both the viewers and the cast. None of the characters individually are particularly well-developed, but as a group, they absolutely shine. There are so many different characters with all their own roles. There’s a bit of angst here and there, but it never distracts from what’s important (which is exactly how you should handle angst: it can really make you care about a character, but if it’s overused it becomes disastrous and just plain annoying, which is something this series manages to avoid excellently).

Also, if you want to watch this series, you obviously have to like politics, because the production-values aren’t going to make up for it, save for a few very powerful songs (the ED, for example). Some of the CG doesn’t blend in well when it’s used alongside regular drawings, and there really isn’t any budget wasted on making the fight scenes flashier and more sensational. In this series, you have to be captured by the characters and politics, otherwise it’ll become a bore-fest.

Still, the power of politics is especially apparent in the excellent final episode, which definitely is the best one of the entire series, which is something nearly every series should aspire; everything the series has built up comes together like a charm, leaving no bad taste whatsoever. Overall, what we have here is a short but very powerful space-opera with an incredible focus on planning, rather than brainless action. It’s something you have to like, but if you do, then it’s going to be an excellent watch.

Storytelling: 9/10
Characters: 9/10
Production-Values: 8/10
Setting: 9/10

6 Responses

  1. Avatar Lika says:

    Just wondering, even though you changed your ratings for single episodes, will you continue to rate entire series like you are right now? Because if you decide to change, then it might become confusing for newcomers who wouldn’t understand how for some series you like, you only gave it around 60 to 70 and others around 80 to 90.

  2. psgels psgels says:

    Lika: for the sake of consistency with my other reviews, I don’t think that’s going to be possible.

  3. Avatar Lika says:

    May I suggest for the old reviews to put at the beginning “this is graded by the old standard” or something like that if you don’t want to go back and regrade everything? That would make things a lot easier on people, especially since you reviewed so many anime that keeping tract of which ones were before and which ones were after the grading change can get a bit difficult.

  4. Avatar jp says:

    “make no mistake: this is a series where people die when they’re killed”

    haha, damn sunrise, we actually have to specify now.

  5. Avatar Loblaw says:

    If you enjoyed this, then I’m sure you’ll like Planetes

  6. Avatar gandalf8 says:

    I just finished marathoning this series, and it was certainly a great watch. A rather realistic take on space battles, this series really drives home the point that in battle, you have to use your wits to win, not just one overpowered mecha with a genius emo teenager piloting it. This show will probably be a hard sell for most casual viewers, but people who do have the patience to weather through it will find a fascinating tale of a group of youths who with their own power want to protest against a powerful empire that is oppressing the planets in their system. The stories focus is mostly on the battle’s that the young crew faces, especially their battle strategy, with some political shenanigans and little bit of drama on the side. The story was a bit underdeveloped though, while the transitions between scenes were a bit jarring in the way it frequently skipped and jumped ahead probably due to the limited episode number. The characters were also not developed much, as the focus is more on the storyline than character growth. Nevertheless, I would still recommend this to anyone who enjoys a bit of thinking in their anime, and enjoy the chronicles of the young crew on the starship Amaterasu.

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