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.