I lived in Japan when the Crest of the Stars anime television series was first released. I even have a promotional VHS tape for the series! This series follows Jinto—a human who becomes heir to a disputed planetary system—and Lafiel, granddaughter of the current Abh empress and future heir to the throne. As they try to reach the Abh capital so Jinto can attend military training, they find themselves embroiled in the beginnings of an interstellar war.
The first thing that attracted me to this series was the art of Takami Akai, one of my favorite Japanese artists. Something about his art really captured the feel of the series, making it at once familiar and mysterious. He created the art for the novels on which the anime series is based, and he also did the original character designs for the Crest of the Stars anime series.
Next, the music of Katsuhisa Hattori gave the opening animation and each episode a grand feel. I could imagine sailing throughout the galaxy in the sea of stars, having exciting adventures and accomplishing great things. The soundtrack to this series is one of my favorites of all time, right up there with the music to Star Wars. I listen to it regularly.
The setting is solid. I could tell Hiroyuki Morioka, the author of the original books, gave the creators of Crest of the Stars a lot of material to use, even more than what was in the books. This series has an immense depth to it. The long history of the genetically-modified members of the Humankind Empire of Abh is shared in part through the narration at the beginning and ending of each episode. I found it fascinating how much thought had been put into developing this universe.
Akai spent a great deal of time working on the various uniforms used for the Abh. The simplicity of the uniform, combined with the subtle details for the various ranks, really helped ground the series. The uniforms were very utilitarian, but had a strong style that really worked well. Having a wife who does costuming makes me notice things like this. Again, such attention to detail!
The story itself was told through 13 episodes. The pacing was steady, with no dawdling about in filler episodes. Crest of the Stars reminded me a lot of my favorite parts of the Honor Harrington series: political intrigue, a lot of military science fiction, immensely-likeable and real main characters, and great battles in space that felt far more realistic than most of what you see in films. Important people, people I had grown to care about, were killed. Everything was not roses and sunshine, but there was a thread of hope and optimism throughout the entire story.
If you like military science fiction and space opera, Crest of the Stars is a very solid series you will like. Yes, blue-haired elves in space and all that. Get over that, and you’ll enjoy a wonderful adventure with excellent music. I need to watch this series more often.
Original Air Dates: January 2, 1999 – March 27, 1999 (Japan)
TV Parental Guidelines Rating: TV-PG
Language: Japanese, English
Original Title: 星界の紋章 (Seikai no Monshō)
Alcohol/Drugs: 1 (some social drinking)
Language: 1 (brief, mostly minor, deity)
Nudity: 1 (brief, back shot, bath scene with strategic light reflections)
Sexuality: 1 (brief innuendo, 3 episodes with vassals in revealing clothes)
Violence: 3 (multiple firefights, space battles, extreme peril, death)