Banner of the Stars II - Prey
Pioneer // Unrated // $29.98 // October 21, 2003
Review by Don Houston | posted November 11, 2003
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Movie: In my continuing quest to see a lot of varied anime in order to better serve readers, I often try out series that I haven't seen the earlier seasons of. That sometimes means I don't quite understand where all of the characters are coming from in terms of how they interact and what their motivations are. This can be a good thing for a reviewer since I don't have as much baggage, both good and bad, with the content of the earlier, often better, series. This halo effect is much noted in literary criticism but it applies elsewhere too. Thankfully, a show like Banner Of The Stars 2, Volume 2 is good enough to stand on its own merits.

The show details the end of the war that occupied the previous season, with the Empire performing clean up duties on remaining enemy forces that have scattered about the galaxy. While the other seasons took a look at the big picture, this one takes a look at a much smaller scale, a single planet that is liberated by the Empire's forces. For political reasons, someone of royal blood must govern the area and the lucky candidate this time is Lafiel. She, along with Jinto, must come up with a solution for the problems faced when the newly liberated planet, Lobnas II, is found to be a prison planet with a number of groups that want to take control over it. Their policies forcing them to take sides and govern in a just manner challenge the two to deal fairly with various factions. The main focus on the second volume is a rebellion in the prison, with the prisoners doing everything they can to alter the outcome of the previous episodes emigration. Sadly, there are only three episodes here but here's a quick breakdown of them for you:

Episode 5) Rebellion:
Jinto, acting in his official capacity, tries to see what's happening with the scores of prisoners rebelling. Apparently, not everyone wants to leave the planet and those staying want to keep the women in order to breed with them.

Episode 6) Abh Hell:
Jinto, now in the hands of the rebels, is a pawn in a much larger game for the forces at hand. Lafiel and her crew prepare to handle the matter when it becomes obvious that they aren't properly equipped to deal with it. While they won't negotiate for Jinto's life, they have no problem with describing, in great detail, what will happen to the kidnappers when they are eventually caught.

Episode 7) The Flag Of Gasarus:
With a small fleet of royal ships in the area, Lafiel attempts to get their help in the emigration and rescue of Jinto. The enemy has a fleet coming their way and a power struggle between the two factions of the royalty will decide the outcome both in the space above the planet and down below.

With only three episodes and no corresponding extras to compensate for it, I can only give this otherwise solid DVD a rating of Rent It. The technical qualities were solid and the creativity of the show good but the fact is, when you strip away a lot of background, the show is more about administration and talking head than action. That makes it an acquired taste. It's well made but if you've ever sat through contract negotiations, you'll know why some sides break faster than others. This is for the patient only.

Picture: The picture was presented in 1.78:1 ratio anamorphic widescreen color. Aside from a few minor issues, it looked great. I saw no compression artifacts and the colors were very fitting for the shows darker subject matter.

Sound: The sound was presented with a choice of either Dolby Digital English or Japanese with optional English subtitles. The vocals were clear and the music quite well done, both contributing to the feel of the show as much as the visuals did. There was some separation of the audio tracks, especially in the battles, and that made it almost feel like a movie rather than a series.

Extras: There weren't a lot of extras on the dvd. The best was a text section called "Newsletter of the Stars" that provided some background to the show, allowing those of us that haven't watched the previous seasons to understand the basics of what's going on. I wish all anime had something like this although it does contain spoilers. There was also a bit of a production art gallery where some of the artwork was displayed and some trailers.

Final Thoughts: If you liked Banner Of The Stars 1 and the previous series relating to this one, you'll like this one too but it doesn't have the depth they have so keep that in mind when making your decision to purchase or rent this one.

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