Recently I’ve been watching an older anime called “Stellvia of The Universe”, produced by XEBEC and released in 2003. In the anime, human civilization was nearly wiped out in the year 2167 AD when the shockwave from a nearby star going supernova reaches the Earth. Nearly two centuries later, in the year 2356 AD, humanity has recovered from the first shockwave and has banded together to carry out “The Great Mission”, a plot to shield the Sol system from a second shockwave. The story follows a young girl by the name of Shima Katase (nicknamed Shipon) as she struggles though an intense program designed to train pilots for The Great Mission. The training takes place onboard the Stellvia (a large space colony), which is where the anime gets its name from.
While Stellvia of The Universe is categorized as a sci-fi anime, it’s really more of a drama (think BSG). Most of the show is focused on the ups and downs of relationships between friends, family, and lovers. That’s not to say that there isn’t much action, as bitter rivalries between the pilots leads to a few violent space battles.
The characters are really varied and have certain traits that escalate the tension in the anime. Shima starts out as a ditzy character that fails in nearly everything she does, but then rises through the ranks to become the top pilot in her class, bringing about the envy of many others. One such person was Ayaka Machida, one of the four top pilots on the Stellvia and a very proud character. Ayaka sees anyone that gets close to her in terms of skill as an enemy and would do anything to dispose of them. Other characters include Arisa, Shima’s best friend and supporter; Kouta, the best pilot on the Stellvia but hides his talent by performing poorly during training; Yayoi, a former rival of Ayaka’s who was hospitalized before returning to pilot training; and a few other characters that act as comic relief. The thing I really liked about the characters was that none of them fit the perfect “lets save the world” hero role. They all have worries and insecurities that make them so much more human, but not so much that they seem emo.
All of the conflicts between the main characters already adds quite a bit of drama to the show, but Stellvia of The Universe takes it a notch further by introducing the threat of war. From the very beginning, they show a weapon onboard the Stellvia that was designed to protect the Earth from an attack by one of the other human settlements in the solar system. It really goes to show how much (or little) people trust each other even when they’re working together to prevent the human race from being wiped out.
If you like drama, then you should definitely consider watching Stellvia of The Universe. There’s good character development, conflicts between all of the characters, and a touch of romance near the end. There’s also some good ol’ alien blasting if you watch the second half of the series.