on May 8, 2006
I have to admit that I wasn't very impressed with the first volume of this series. It seemed formulaic what with the battleship duel of the week format and also the contrived filming of a reality show as these young men and women strove to stick it out against a powerful enemy, and outnumbered and alone, tried to gain back some dignity for their humiliated nation. But there was something about it, just a gleam that made me reluctantly try the second volume. I am very happy that I made that decision because this second volume which plays less episodic and gets the characters involved in life or death decisions hits the mark. That was another thing I had against the first disk: These kids didn't really have much empathy for their enemy and would just blow them away, killing hundreds or even thousands with hardly a bat of an eye. In the second volume we actually see some remorse and reluctance to take another's life, which makes all the difference in how you feel about these characters.
The Amaterasu has finally found a friend, at least what "seems" like a friend on the Planetary Nation of Shu. Not everyone in the galaxy supports the right of the Kingdom to invade and annex another state. Some of the highest ranking officers of the battleship are split up attending various functions on the planet which doesn't make for a very safe situation. The situation worsens as civil unrest, stoked by the Kingdom and its agents in the Shu government, breaks out among the populace, with some supporting the Starship Operators and others deadset against them. The crew must make some deadly choices if they all want to make it back to the Amaterasu in one piece. Even if they do make it back, they will have to face a contingent of Kingdom starships, one of which is equipped with an unknown weapon.
The personalities of the crew members really come across so much clearer in this volume. For example, Renna and Akiho go looking for supplies, and when hostilities break they are put into a situation where Renna gives Akiho a gun to take out some soldiers but Akiho can't handle it and breaks down. Renna comforts her and goes out into the open to take them on by herself. It was a really nice touch to show that not all these young adults are prepared to kill, even if their lives are on the line. Shinon is also a pretty cool character who is really the brains behind the ship, most of the time telling the figurehead captain what to do (although he is getting better at making his own decisions). Meanwhile, the backer for the reality show is surely a villain you hope gets his own medicine by the end of the series. This is turning out to be quite an entertaining anime about sacrifice and a willingness to fight for one's country, even against impossible odds.