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The Journal of the Lincoln Heights Literary Society
Miscellanea and Ephemeron

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06/21/2006 Archived Entry: "Anime review: Starship Operators, Vol. 3 Truth (DVD)"

Starship Operators, Vol. 3: Truth (DVD)
Geneon

Review by Tom Good

Since it is World Cup time, I will attempt a soccer metaphor. If Volume 1 of Starship Operators was a brilliant defensive play to win possession of the ball, and Volume 2 was solid, precise passing through the midfield to set up the attack, then Volume 3 is the daring sprint down the wing, the perfectly placed cross, and the spectacular bicycle kick that scores the game-winning goal. I sat down intending to watch one episode, and I could not tear myself away until I had watched all five episodes in one sitting and reached the conclusion of the series. It is that good. Starship Operators is one of the best short anime series I have seen.

The art is crisp and appealing, and the English voice acting is so good, if I didn't know better I'd think the series was originally in English. But it is the writing that really makes this series unforgettable. Anyone who watched the first two volumes has probably figured out by now that this series is unlikely to have a happy Hollywood ending with a cute song-and-dance number. But other than that, the plot eludes easy prediction. The young cadets on the starship Amaterasu must inevitably be pawns in some larger schemes, but the way this ultimately plays out is both surprising and believable.

The military tactics and political machinations grow ever more complex as the series nears its end. But no ridiculous plot twists appear purely for shock value. Instead, the plot unfolds to reveal an interesting structure beneath the events of previous volumes. By the end of the final episode, everything falls into place to create a satisfying finish.

Starship Operators makes heroes and heroines of its young protagonists, but not by portraying them as 40-year-old superhumans in teenage bodies. The characters resemble actual young people, smart and tough in some ways, yet vulnerable and naive in others. They willingly took on an interstellar conflict, not because they felt certain of victory, not because they had no other choice, but because it seemed like the best option at the time. Later, when there was an opportunity to leave the group, I expected to see the movie cliche where everyone immediately vows to continue on no matter what the odds, but the plot took a more realistic direction. All the small choices like this add up to make a good series great.

I highly recommend Starship Operators. Whether you are a newcomer to anime or a hardcore fan, the series has a lot to offer.

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