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DVD Review

DVD cover

Starship Operators
Volume 1


Starring (voice): Akeno Watanabe, Masumi Asano and Shizuka Itou
RRP: £15.99
Certificate: PG
Available 08 September 2008

Returning home from a training mission the 73rd class of the Defense University of the Planet Kibi finds that their planet has been invaded by the Henrietta Alliance of Planetary Nations. When the main crew acquiesce to the conqueror's demands that they abandon their ship, the trainees decide to take the ship and continue fighting. In order to pay for the venture they enter into an agreement with the Galaxy Network who will provide them with funds in return for turning their ship into a reality programme...

Starship Operators is an anime science fiction series, based on the Ryo Mizuno novels, which ran for thirteen episodes. The show is presented in high rendered CGI, though it has to be said that the character design is a little generic making it difficult to distinguish some of the characters.

I wasn’t really sure what to make of a show which seemed to be a mix of Blake’s 7 and Big Brother, though it turns out that the deal with the show has real consequences for the crew as they loose the right of free will - with a producer more interested in viewing figures. He sees the crew as product as he intervenes in all their decisions for better ratings. That said, by the end of episode four I was intrigued enough by the concept and presentation to want to see more.

Episode one, Countdown, and the episode is pretty much the same as the synopsis. We get introduced to the various crew members of the Amaterasu and watch them take the ship and strike their unusual bargain to become a reality show. The opening shot of the show is very light hearted and highly implausible, as the new crew survive their first attack.

Although on the surface it would seem to be a silly premise for a show, the idea works quite well. This is undoubtedly helped by the fact that the makers have gone some way to make the physics of space war as accurate as they can.

Episode two: Trafalgar Crisis. With the arrival of the Prime Minister the ship now constitutes a legally defined government in exile. Unwilling to fire on their own, Kibi ships the Amaterasu jumps to the planet Phoenicia where it is confronted by the Kingdom warship Trafalgar. While the crew fights for their lives, the producer continues to interfere trying to get better shots, even if it is tactically nonsensical. And whilst they have victory they discover that it comes at a price.

Episode three, Call From Home, and having failed to beat the ship in head to head confrontation, the Kingdom uses pressure to get Sanri’s father to beg her to return home.

Episode four, Final Answer, and the Kingdom sends out its new stealth ship Aboukir. So how is the crew going to hit something which they cannot see?

Audio is either an Dolby 2.0 English dub or the original Japanese track with subtitles.

On the extras front you get a music video by Kotoko singing ‘On the Earth’ (1 min, 48 sec) which was surprisingly good; the US trailer (2 min, 24 sec), which sets the scene for the show; textless opening and closing sequences; and a couple of trailers for other shows.

It’s not a bad start for the series, though we will have to see how the next nine pan out.


Charles Packer

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