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Saturday, April 9, 2011

The Stories of the Top 80 Anime: Crest of the Stars

10. Crest of the Stars, Bannerflag of the Stars, and the entire "Sekai no. . ." series is a wonderful alternate look at mankind's future. Rather than pushing ahead towards a world of universal equality, diversity and democracy, like say Star Trek's Federation, Sekai no Monshou, Sekai no Senki, and Sekai no Danshou offer up a pleasant alternative. Genetic engineering has created a race of space elves, a biological machine branch-off from the rest of mankind, who all have similar looks, all of which are exquisitely beautiful. This race of space elves, known as the Abh, have no interest in equality. They are ruled by an empress, who oversees a constantly competing and shifting aristocracy, who derive their nobility not only by blood but by deeds. Those who are of most service to the empire can compete for the title of Empress, when next it becomes available, and by no means does the heir of the current empress inherit. Any Abh from any aristocratic family has a chance, only being the best guarantees success. With this in mind, the Empress's granddaughter, Lafiel, just leaving adolescence, is trying to make a name for herself and live up to her blood, honor and duty. The entire world of the Abh is so different from mankind, they are ruthless in their willingness to use any means to enforce their will, which they feel is also their morality -- rather than fighting a defensive war when attacked, the Abh decide to conquer all of their opponents in entirety and assimilate them into the Empire. When Abh are blackmailed, they threaten a torture twice as bad in response. When Abh are negotiated with, they barter like Furies in an Arab desert.

These people of the stars have their own way of life, their own type of life, that has simply transcended our existence. Their talk is witty, their manners elegant, their fighting courageous and intelligent, their upbringing unique. . .they are just a refreshing new example we, as humans, could aim to become. When our representative, a normal human named Jihnto, meets Lafiel for the first time, and is assigned to the same ship as her, an epic love story begins. Not just Jihnto's love for Lafiel, who is in some ways the epitome of what makes the Abh great, but his love for the Abh culture and Abh values in general. As he gets to know them, he wishes to become one of them, and he succeeds admirably. By the end of the series, Jihnto is a true Abh at heart, though not physically, and Lafiel loves him in return, as two equals. In Crest of the Stars, their military ship is ambushed by the United Mankind warships, who have chosen to start a war without declaring one, which kills everyone but Jihnto and Lafiel, including Lafiel's mother, the captain, in a tear rending scene. Jihnto and Lafiel escape in a smaller ship to warn the Empire of this sudden new war so that the Abh can mobilize in self-defense, but the United Mankind forces are determined to stop them to preserve their element of surprise. Jihnto protects Lafiel as they hide and run about, and the two exchange many conversations about their past, their hopes, and their worries. The music is incredible, and has the same emotional scope and impact as the visuals. There is nothing bad to be said about any part of the story, except that yet again, it has no satisfying ending.

In battleflag of the stars, Jihnto and Lafiel are manning a small destroyer sized ship in the middle of a vast war. They are called upon to help hold a strategic warpgate that is soon put under massive attack by the United Mankind. As the fatigue and stress of the battle continues, Lafiel and the Abh hopelessly outnumbered by the overwhelming opponent, trying to buy time until reinforcements arrive, the watcher is coiled tight like a spring, feeling everything they are feeling, sick to their stomachs with the wish that the reinforcements could arrive sooner already. And when Jihnto gets stranded on a prison planet, in the midst of a series of bureaucratic foulups, Lafiel desperately has to abandon him to do her duty, for the sake of the planet and the Empire. When she returns, months later, she and the viewer both fear Jihnto is long dead. But he's not, he's still clinging to life, sick and wasted, and her tears for him as she retrieves him back into the safety of civilization and the Abh Empire is a relief to the viewer as well. The characters are so wonderful, so deep, that you simply become the story. There's no gap between you and the space epic set before you.

Unfortunately, the author of Sekai no Monshou, at some point, just gave up on the series. Perhaps he ran out of ideas. Perhaps he got tired or sick or dispirited and doesn't want to write anymore. In any case, it's a tragedy. The Sekai series is some of the best literature ever written, and its anime adaption was flawless and perfect. But without any conclusion as to who wins the war, if Jihnto and Lafiel marry, or if Lafiel eventually ascends to the throne as Empress, you're just left with a bitter taste in your mouth. The story hasn't ended, it hasn't even begun. It's sort of like if Wheel of Time had ended when Robert Jordan died, instead of been continued and finished by Brian Sanderson. You would just eternally wonder what might have been. The series would never be satisfactory, because no story is satisfying without a proper ending that wraps everything up. There is a little bit of the Sekai story that has been written, but not animated, but I agree with the industry that there's no point animating it, since it isn't enough to resolve any of the important questions. At this point, one stopping point is as good as any other.

Lafiel will go down, like Deedle, as one of the all time most beautiful and captivating women in art of all time. Sekai no Monshou/Senki/Danshou will always have a special place in my heart.

1 comment:

pete said...

i like this one, i write a blog too.. titled Anime Crest please check it thx.