“Dreaming Of The Stars” – Gunbuster (anime) – 9/10 Snowballs


No one, it has been said, will ever look at the Moon in the same way again. More significantly can one say that no one will ever look at the earth in the same way. Man had to free himself from earth to perceive both its diminutive place in a solar system and its inestimable value as a life -fostering planet. As earthmen, we may have taken another step into adulthood. We can see our planet earth with detachment, with tenderness, with some shame and pity, but at last also with love. ~Anne Morrow Lindbergh

Genre: Sci-fi/Action/Mecha/Shounen

Review Status: Complete (6 Episodes/6 Episodes)

Licensed: Yes, this anime is licensed in the US.

Art/Animation: Both are excellent. The animation has stood up to the test of time, and this title was the pioneer in many animation techniques that are still widely-used today. The art, while slightly dated and showing its age in terms of clothing design and the technology on earth, is still very good. A lot of fuss will be made that during the last episode, it was done almost entirely in black and white because the budget had been used up. Even without color, the animation and art is just as good as the rest of the series, and I felt that it was used to good, dramatic effect, since it made everything feel off and made me anticipate the final battle even more.

Dub Vs. Sub: I only watched the dub, but couldn’t find any issues with it. All the characters and their voices fit terrifically.

Summary: In the very near future, a race of huge, insect like aliens is discovered traveling the galaxy. These aliens seem dedicated to the eradication of the human species as it takes its first steps away from the solar system, and they are getting closer and closer to Earth. Humanity has responded by developing spacegoing battleships and giant fighting robots. These robots are piloted by the best and brightest of Earth`s youth, picked from training schools around the world.

The story begins in the year 2023, not long after the first battles with the aliens, and centers on young Noriko Takaya. Although Noriko`s father was a famous Captain in the space fleet who was killed during one of the first battles of the war, her own talents as a pilot are questionable. Nonetheless, she has entered a training school. Through the series Noriko, joined by the beautiful and talented Kazumi Amano, will fight to overcome the trauma of war, the doubts of her peers, and her own lack of confidence. (AniDB)

Review:
This is a landmark title for all the right reasons. This is a compelling story of a girl who needs to fight her own weaknesses in order to go into the military, like her father did, and by doing so discovers her own inner strength and determination. While this does have some of the anime clichés, such as calling out attack names, hidden ‘inner abilities’ that are only apparent to a mentor, etc, this still manages to use them in a way that really doesn’t detract from the story. It’s also one of the few anime to keep the realities of science in mind, using theories and facts that are still well-known and believed today in order to move the story in interesting directions.

Noriko is an oddity- a female lead in a shounen anime. She seems to be a more fleshed-out character for it, with an inner strength that you would normally find in shounen stories, while the writers also have her navigating the issues that come with being a girl. They manage to do this remarkably well! There was a scene in the baths where the girls were sitting around and talking, and it sounded just like other conversations my friends and I have had. I was both startled and pleased by how real it sounded- something that is usually lacking in this sort of thing. Her friends are as well-rounded and interesting as Noriko is, with ambitions and fears of their own. While their growth is shown in moderate doses, and not in the same amount or depth as Noriko’s, it really shows the passage of time and makes them characters you can sympathize with.

These great characters are given an equally great plot. Not much is known about the alien invaders, and various troops are being gathered around the world, undergoing specialized training and only the best of the best being taken into space. More about them is revealed as the story goes on, as various encounters and clues appear. Alongside this, there is the struggle Noriko has, trying to consolidate the feelings about her father with what’s happening now, and gathering the courage to fight like she needs to. While the death that sends her into a downward spiral feels like a contrived plot device, her emotional downfall and climb back out of it feel real and had me rooting for Noriko the whole time.

Set to a soundtrack that sounded a little like a Star Wars rip-off, the battles and choices Noriko makes are touching, moving, and exciting through and through. Once small measures are no longer enough against the enemy, she makes a decision that is bittersweet for everyone involved- her companions, her peers, her friends on earth. I couldn’t help but tear up slightly at the sacrifice that was made and the implications of the ending. It still managed to be hopeful, and that was the best part.

Overall, this is a classic and something every sci-fi fan should see.

Recommended: 16+. There’s pretty much no language, violence is kept to explosions and offscreen death. What will concern people is how much boobage is shown. This brought about mixed feelings, since actually showing breasts can be considered fanservice, but the scenes where it happened didn’t feel exploitive or dirty at all- they were scenes that for the most part happen in real life. The bathing scene, for instance, brought about memories of the high school locker room, changing during slumber parties, and discussions that my friends and I have had about our own bodies. Which is a good thing, since those scenes were never meant to be fanservice anyway.

Other titles you might enjoy:
Diebuster (anime-sequel to Gunbuster)
Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann (anime)
Neon Genesis Evangelion (anime)
Heroic Age (anime)

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