Posted by psgels on 8 August 2009 with categories: Anime Reviews



Xebec is a strange animation company after all. You never see them among the big guys and most of their works are seemingly mediocre, and yet as I watch more of their works I have to admit that they somehow hit the mark a surprising amount of times. If I had to mention something at which most of their great works stand out at, it’s the way in which they put in a lot of slice of life and quiet scenes in seemingly action-packed premises; only Pandora Hearts doesn’t have this and I have to admit that it’s not really the best thing to advertise your series with. Still, it does work; Stellvia again shows how when it takes a premise doomed for failure and yet turns it into a very enjoyable series.

Stellvia of the Universe starts out with a really flawed premise: in a certain science fiction setting, a seemingly average girl boards a space pilot school, suddenly turns out to be a l33t hax0r and somehow ends up piloting the mecha that holds the fate of humanity in its hands. I watched the entire series and still find it hard to believe how far she came in only one year. On top of that, this series also has some utterly horrid character-designs to work with, along with CG that really doesn’t try to integrate with the rest of the show.

And yet the characters made this premise work somehow. The above mentioned slow pacing really allows for the creators to show the daily lives of the protagonists, which allows the characters to get fleshed out really well; this doesn’t just go for the main characters, but also the side ones, and because of this they become able to carry the faulty premise of this series. Obviously you don’t want to watch this just for the drama, but eventually the drama that does come out is poignant and genuine.

Near the ending however, the series does get a bit annoying, though. It keeps focusing on the angsty romance between the two lead characters a bit more than what’s healthy for this series, especially because the romance tends to get in the way of just about everything else that also needs attention. Because of that, the finale lacks a bit of the impact it could have had.

Nevertheless, this series definitely has its good points and even the graphics don’t get much in the way as soon as you get used to the horrible designs. Science fiction is obviously a very popular genre in anime, but Stellvia does stand on its own amongst some of the behemoths of this genre, rather than being a mish-mash of other series. It’s neither the best from Xebec or science fiction obviously, but a very nice watch nonetheless.

Storytelling: 8/10
Characters: 9/10
Production-Values: 7/10
Setting: 8/10

11 Responses

  1. kistories says:

    Another review! Is there multiple writers on this blog? Do you actually watch all the series you review? You must have amazing time management skills, I have no idea how you can get through so many series like this.

  2. psgels psgels says:

    Actually, I watched the first half of this series around four years ago, after which I for some inexplicable reason dropped it, so it might seem a bit too fast this time.

    But yeah, I’m currently having my holidays, which probably never are going to this long again (the next year is going to be my final year in university), and I’m going to make use of it!

  3. astrocurrent says:

    I myself would rate Stellvia a little higher than 80. It’s a very enjoyable show, and original, compared to the other shows that aired at the time, especially since this is a robot show without any evil enemies lol, but focuses on the students themselves. The characters feels really connected and alive. And I actually like the character design. It does reminds me of some galgame character design, but it’s also rich and unforgettalbe.

    I wonder if you are going to watch nadesico. It is directed by the same guy who did Stellvia and also produced by Xebec. Actually Nadesico is the one anime made Xebec stood out in the first place. I watched it when I was still in high school and didn’t understand it. Then when I watched it again 10 years later, it became my favorite anime of all time ever since. You can call me silly, but yeah, I see Nadesico beyond the defination of average anime. The annoncement of “there is not going to be a sequal ever again” really boke my heart…

    As for Xebec, the director of Production I.G once said Xebec’s works of the celluloid’s time are better than right now, which is just the oppisite of most other prodcutions. The words are not confirmed, but it does show some of the aspects of the Xebec now. Production I.G is very connective with Xebec. As a matter of a fact, Xebec became a subsidiary company of the IG Port in 2007.

  4. astrocurrent says:

    And there is one thing about Nadesico, it never ages. Everytime you watch it, there is alwayes something you don’t find the last time. It is one anime that you can take with you forever. And I’m not saying this just because it’s my favorite, well, at least it is not the whole reason.

  5. ojisan says:

    Nice post, and so true of Stellvia. Although has its flaws and follows the ancient anime cliche of Child Soldiers Do Space Camp, I get caught up in it every time. I put it alongside other flawed yet moving slice-of-life space operas like Infinite Ryvius or even Twin Spica. I’d add PlanetES, but PlanetES is the one that really gets it right.

  6. Jabba says:

    I had actually dl this series a few years back because i really liked the songs in it… XD

    BTW, i thought the reason Stellvia was chosen to enter the school is precisely because of her “l33t hax0r” skill?

    But i’m REALLY annoyed at the ending… What about those aliens???
    They left that issue hanging! >_

  7. Kalandra says:

    Psgels, are you gonna stop blogging once you start working? Oh the woe!

    If anything, you can reduce the series that you blog every episode, but still write a semi long review for those anime during monthly summaries. Honestly I think its better cause its put things into perspective, and even if I like a series, I rarely reads every episode review. I just go for the entire series review.

  8. psgels psgels says:

    Kalandra: to be honest, I have no idea what’s going to happen to this blog once I start working. It’s all going to depend on how much free time I’m going to have left, but at this point I have no idea. I have no intention to just quit, though. ;)

  9. Windspirit says:

    What do you study, psgels ?

  10. psgels psgels says:

    Windspirit: computer science.

  11. Hettan says:

    Psgels. Have you watched Fafner in the Azure? It’s another Xebec production and even though it’s not an original take on the genre, the focus they placed in slice of life scenes makes it quite enjoyable.

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  • Firechick
    (Sunday, Feb 1. 2015 03:00 PM)
    Uhhh…I wasn’t impersonating Bam. I don’t even know who he or she is.
  • Emma
    (Sunday, Feb 1. 2015 10:48 AM)
    This is a fairly minor complaint but in some older anime I always noticed “flashing light syndrome” and “Epilepsy visuals” , “Animes equivalent to flash photography”, it can sometimes bother me alot/hurt my eyes watching old shows, then again I am susceptible to epilepsy…
  • Emma
    (Sunday, Feb 1. 2015 09:14 AM)
    @Bam: Emotional involvement and rewatch value are very important to me in a film, which is my preference for synecdoche over birdman.
  • AidanAK47
    (Sunday, Feb 1. 2015 04:05 AM)
    “Firechick, answer: Hell no. And don’t impersonate Bam. You suck at it.
  • Bam
    (Sunday, Feb 1. 2015 03:05 AM)
    Yeah guys! Why aren’t you reviewing Go! Princess Precure?
  • Firechick
    (Sunday, Feb 1. 2015 02:51 AM)
    Is anyone gonna review Go! Princess Precure? I hear it just aired.
  • Bam
    (Saturday, Jan 31. 2015 11:14 PM)
    Synecdoche is incredibly rich in detail, and keen return viewers can find a lot of things they missed the first time thru. Kaufman didn’t have a single teacup in a shot that didn’t mean something. Pacing is a bit of an issue, but if you notice the passage of time you can see that was deliberate as well. The movie could’ve been livelier, but for a movie about death and decay that would’ve been a bit of a sell-out.
  • Bam
    (Saturday, Jan 31. 2015 11:01 PM)
    @Emma: Birdman and Synecdoche have a lot of thematic elements in common, and given that Synecdoche was released in 08 makes me realize that Alejandro González borrowed quite a bit from it; although in the end they are different enough to justify Birdman’s existence. Where Synecdiche was a better written movie, I feel that Birdman was the better directed one.
  • Emma
    (Saturday, Jan 31. 2015 04:15 PM)
    And I’d go as far to say this beats out birdman for me by miles.
  • Emma
    (Saturday, Jan 31. 2015 04:14 PM)
    The film is a solid mood piece thanks to the in tone cinematography, a great performance from Hoffman that along with his characters drama makes for an emotionally investing film. And before it gets TOO sad theres all those bits of dark humour fitted in there that work out pretty well. This is probably my favourite work by Kaufman currently.

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