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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  • Ebod
    (Tuesday, Mar 3. 2015 08:22 PM)
    V for Vendetta for me has always been a more “literary” work than Watchmen, but Watchmen is spectacular because it’s a story that can only be told in full scope in the comic format. While I feel like many major themes and events from V for Vendetta could easily be adapted into, say, novel format, the same could not be said of Watchmen. Also, the racist whitewashing Hollywood does of Asian characters really has to stop.
  • Bam
    (Tuesday, Mar 3. 2015 06:30 AM)
    Watchmen was deemed ‘unadaptable’ for about thirty years, so just getting what Snyder got out of the material is a huge success; it is said that what he did was to write a book version of Ingmar’s Holy Mountain. Watchmen is the only graphic novel to ever win a Hugo award and is easily the most intricate and multilayered Alan Moore comic, so it’s no surprise that it continues to top ‘best comics of all time’ charts to this day.
  • Bam
    (Tuesday, Mar 3. 2015 06:20 AM)
    I beg to differ. Doctor Manhatten is the most intriguing character of Watchmen and the comic is a giant in ,not only in the comic world, but the history of literature itself. It is a deconstruction of superheros and Dr. M shows how afraid the world would really be when faced with a ‘superman’ and how a creature in such a higher realm of time and perception would show apathy toward humans and their foolish struggles.
  • Bam
    (Tuesday, Mar 3. 2015 06:15 AM)
    GitS just won’t work. Maybe in a world before the Matrix, but not now with so many elements of it borrowed liberally by so many franchises in various mediums. Scarlet Johansson is decent in roles that fit her. She was enjoyable in Lost In Translation, but race aside she has nothing in common with Kusanagi. This is a travesty and the franchise is dear to me so it especially burns my ass.
  • Emma
    (Tuesday, Mar 3. 2015 06:10 AM)
    While I am no fan of man of steel, Nolan and Snyder, just about anyone would have a hard time taking a difficult character like superman and making him work on screen.
  • Emma
    (Tuesday, Mar 3. 2015 06:08 AM)
    Apart from Veidt and Rorshach I could never get into the characters all that much in watchmen. I also found the film overly long and mediocre acted for the larger part. But to each there own. For Alan moores works I always preferred his Miracleman, swamp thing, V for Vendetta stories.
  • Bam
    (Tuesday, Mar 3. 2015 06:06 AM)
    Nolan can produce the action plus personal and dark story that Alita would need, and he also brings talent such as composer Hans Zimmer and Cinematographer Sally Pfister to the table. Him and Snyder have too much combined integrity to make a mockery out of Alita like Spielberg did with the GitS license.
  • Bam
    (Tuesday, Mar 3. 2015 06:03 AM)
    Well Snyder has respect for his source materials and that is key in anime-to-film adaptations. Hell I’m a big Watchmen fan and I thought his version was (almost painfully) close to the comic. You’re not going to get that anywhere else in Hollywood. Also the combination of Nolan/Snyder is quite different than them individually.
  • Emma
    (Tuesday, Mar 3. 2015 05:34 AM)
    And directed it as a co-production with America, using a Japanese cast.
    Yeah…this is impossible…
  • Emma
    (Tuesday, Mar 3. 2015 05:32 AM)
    The only way a live action ghost in the shell film would work is if Mamoru oshii directed it.

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