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"Stellvia Foundation IV": The Lighter Side of Sci-Fi Anime Still Delights

by on July 20, 2005

The previous volume of Stellvia of the Universe concluded with our heroine, Shima Katase (known by her fellow spaceship pilots as Shipon), and her friend Kouta Otoyama fending off a possible apocalypse via the secret, super-powered mecha Infi stashed at Space Station/Academy Stellvia. Anyway, with that little event out of the way, and with it being so close to the holidays (even the future has Christmas), all the students head down to Earth to visit family and such. Should be a bit of a throw away filler disc, right?

Hardly. In this volume, Shipon learns how to use the more advanced piloting system for her ship, deals with a challenge from one of the top pilots at Stellvia, celebrates Christmas in outer space with her classmates, has a lovely holiday vacation, and even confesses her love to– Well, I’m not going to spoil everything. Furthermore, Shipon’s not the only confessing her love. Seems the holidays have everyone in love trying to confess their interest before returning to Earth. Shima and Kouta even have to deal with their newfound celebrity as everyone on Earth now knows they were the ones responsible for keeping the planet safe from the Second Wave. Still, one might say, “They fended off an Extinction-Level-Event! Romantic entanglements aside, where could Stellvia possibly go from here?” Well, the disc ends on a heck of a cliff-hanger when Shipon and Kouta are called back into space after events suggest the Second Wave may have only been the beginning.

So, lots of stuff happens on this volume, and Stellvia maintains its writing and animation quality. It’s not just romantic relationships being played with in this volume: Stellvia’s got a big ensemble cast, and almost everybody in it gets screen time and development in this volume, and gets it without things feeling rushed or uneven. If anything, the writing and story are brought up a notch in this volume. They even maintain the little details in the backgrounds and such that give Stellvia such an excellent, far-future sci-fi feel. Visually, it’s the same nice digital animation of out Xebec with great movement and compositing and the same weird looking 3/4-views, though they seem a bit more natural in this volume, so I guess earlier problems were a key-frame issue, not a design issue. The music is still quite nice as well; I can’t enough of that opening theme.

Alas, Geneon still gives it no extras except trailers, but I’ve gotten used it. Stellvia is a great enough show to make up for it. Of course, the audio and video quality are terrific, so at least Geneon is still coming through with quality on those elements.

So, if you’ve been following Stellvia, keep following it. It just keeps getting better. If you’ve not been following it, give a shot. I can at least tell you the first half of the series is great.

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