Crest of the Stars + Banner of the Stars

Genre: Serious, Sci-fi, Romance
Length: 3 seasons (12-14 episodes each) plus OVAs
Score: Beyond Excellent

When his world is annexed by the Abh, Jinto finds himself propelled into Abh aristocracy as part of a political deal. The Abh are a post-human race artificially adapted to life in space: they live for two hundred years, can take much more acceleration than the human body, are invariably young-looking and beautiful, with distinctive blue hair and a reputation among planet-dwelling humans (‘landers’) for arrogance and cruelty. But when Jinto finally meets an Abh, she’s very different than he expected: Lafiel is proud and serious, but she’s also vulnerable and well-meaning. Unfortunately, Jinto and Lafiel find themselves caught up in the start of a war.

The first season of this is actually quite old now, but I discovered it recently – and now have three box sets. The fourth part, Banner of the Stars III, is sadly just an OVA, mainly meant to bridge the gap in plot before they can make Banner IV. The story is actually adapted from a series of real science-fiction novels rather than manga, and it shows in the depth of the characters. The means of interstellar travel is one of the most original I’ve ever seen, and its effect on the strategies and realities of their life is impressively detailed. The differences between the human and Abh cultures is well thought out as well – the way in which the Abh subtly depart from human nature are fascinating and revealing, and this doesn’t stop Lafiel from being at times a touching character.

The first couple of episodes of this are slightly confusing. Give it a chance to episode 5 and you’ll find yourself hooked.