So, yeah, turns out that I got some additional reviews coming out this month at least. Both this and other one that will be out next weekend on my anime pen pal Ramo Zemog’s website, so yeah I have been a busy beaver. But I think it is worth it, as I am covering two shows this month that are overlooked by the anime fandom at large here in the West. First up is the next show in a series that I have covered before, which would be…..
Banner of the Stars II (2001 TV Series)
Director: Yasuchika Nagaoka
Script: Yuichiro Takeda
Yes our look into the Crest/Banner of the Stars saga comes to an end. I am aware there is a Banner III, a 2 episode OVA from 2005 but that hasn’t gotten a release here and I doubt that it ever will. I got to say it’s a bittersweet end it here, but hey what can you do? So Banner II is the last actual series based on the novels by Hiroyuki Morioka. Banner II adapts the second book of the Banner of the Stars novel series titled aptly enough, “That Which is to be Protected”.
Of course, the first episode is a bit shaky as it tries to recap Banner I and at the same time set up the story for this show. Of course this is conveyed by supporting cast characters in the series and it isn’t until the end of the episode that Jinto and Lafiel appear and get the story rolling. I understand that it had been a year since Banner I came out but really the first episode is kinda redundant especially if you conduct a marathon of this anime series. But as far as first episodes go, it’s ultimately serviceable.
It is with episode 2 that we embark on possibly the best political drama I have seen in anime yet. You see, Jinto and Lafiel are being sent as ambassadors on their first mission to a newly acquired planet in the Lobnas System. However, when they get there, they discover said planet is a former prisoner planet formerly managed by the United Mankind Empire. The current governing body is run by the former prison guards while they exist factions of prisoners led by a leader with their own motives and plans, in due to some of them not particularly pleased with the situation and the drive of rebellion could explode into full-on conflict. So yeah not a very great situation they land in.
So what really works in Banner II’s favor is the character work on Jinto. He and Lafiel end up separated shortly after things go to shit on the planet and so we get to follow Jinto as he tries to negotiate the best possible resolution to the problem. I do like that he gets his moments to shine and Banner II offers that many folds. Granted some time is given to Lafiel at points, particularly in revealing some additional information about her backstory and her people the Abh. Though I got say the finale is the most touching and dawww moments of their relationship over the course of this long series.
The story is certainly nothing to sneeze at. In fact, next to the Jinto character development it holds up as the strongest element of the show. It is essentially the magnification of Murphy’s Law, which states that if everything can go wrong, it will. Banner II creates an addition to it which amounts to ‘if it will go wrong, it will do so spectacularly. Watching this show is like watching a war broadcast and just when you think it can’t get any worse, it does. But it serves a point in getting across the message of the show which is how reality and experience changes us, sometimes for the better we hope but we prepare for the worst as a result, at least when it comes to Jinto. Even though it ends with 10 episodes the story flows so well that it doesn’t feel like not was left out or rushed in any way. There is a bonus OVA entitled “Passage of the Stars” which is a nice novelty but not really needed viewing, if only to provide some backstory to Lafiel’s parents.
Production is about the same level as Crest and Banner I, nice solid Sunrise production around the turn of the recent century. In fact the 10 episode run makes the production look a bit more steady both in art and animation mostly. And being a political drama/war story means that there exists a nice balance between action and dialogue sequences. The music is great as usual, using some new and different tracks. Granted it uses the same theme but that’s alright as it is an awesome anime theme. The English dub is also on about the same level as Banner I, with some standout work by Matthew Erickson as Jinto and Jessica Yow as Lafiel.
Overall the Crest/Banner of the Stars series is a fantastic science fiction show with a very deep and thoughtful character study inside it. It has been a nice experience going back to look at this show that I remember back in my youth and to give it a proper critique now that I can do that more effectively.
Hint for next review
Now, next weekend you can my piece on Ramo’s YuriNation website. Til next time, dear readers…..