Stellvia

StellviaType: TV Series
Episode Count: 26
Genre: Sci-Fi / Drama
Vintage: 2003

Version reviewed: Japanese Subtitled
Date of Review: 22 Dec 2006

Grade: A

An excellent example of a space drama, Stellvia took me completely by surprise and surpassed all of my expectations.

Plot Summary
Shima Katase is a somewhat clumsy and insecure girl with a dream of looking forward in space, not up at it. She is about to begin attending an academy in the Earth-orbiting space station Stellvia a short time before the approach of the “Second Wave”, an aftereffect of a supernova that exploded in Earth’s vicinity nearly 200 years ago. The year is 2356. Shima and her classmates will soon be a part of history as they prepare to defend the Earth from the shockwave that approaches.

The Review
Blending the school comedy and space drama genres, Stellvia is a series that exceeds every expectation I had of it, and is one of the most well-written shows I have ever watched.

It starts out unassuming enough. The first part of the series almost feels like what Harry Potter might have been if it took place in the future at a space academy instead of an alternate present day at a magic school. Characters are introduced, as well as all of the dynamics between them. As a character drama, Stellvia succeeds.

Then, there is the science fiction aspect of the story, which is as engaging as any space series I have seen, animated or otherwise. There are multiple story arcs over which the story of the students at the Stellvia is told. One thing leads to another, and none of it is easily predictable. It is also extremely well written, and the suspense is very real as you watch events unfold. As a science fiction story, Stellvia succeeds.

The final piece of the puzzle is the flawless meshing of the two aspects of the story. The story about the characters is equally as important as the story about the space missions, and neither takes away from the other. They complement one another, which results in a plot that is very solid and combines the two aspects in such a way that one cannot exist without the other. Stellvia is one of a few shows that I went into expecting to enjoy, and then surprised me by going further than I ever thought it could, with excellent writing and directing. As a result, it ranks among my favorite science fiction stories in anime. Don’t let the ‘kids in space’ appearance of the show fool you; Stellvia is a prime example of how to do a space drama the right way.

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