Light Novel: Crest of the Stars
The main heroine being elegant.
Once upon a time there was a traveler crouching in pain by the roadside. A man who was walking by sat next to the traveler before he could ask for help. The man lectured the traveler at length about having a healthy lifestyle in order to avoid sickness. Satisfied with his speech the man stood up and left. His name is the United Mankind. Next, a very beautiful woman approached the traveler with an inquisitive look on her face. The traveler said, "Well, don't just stand there, help me." The woman replied, "Do you want me to help you?" She then discussed at length the situation with the traveler until she fully understood the problem. And then she nodded and left. Shortly after, the woman brought all the doctors, nurses, and staff of the closest hospitals with her. Her name is the Humankind Empire Abh.
— A political allegory from the planet of MidgratCrest of the Stars
(aka Seikai no Monshou
) is a novel written by Hiroyuki Morioka as a prologue to his Banner of the Stars series. It was later adapted into a twelve episode anime in 1999. Anime adaptions of his Banner of the Stars novels have followed and a prologue to Crest of the Stars was produced titled Lost Chapter of the Stars.
Crest of the Stars follows the story of Jinto and Lafiel as they get themselves involved in a war between the Abh and the United Humankind. Jinto Lin is a young boy living on the planet Martine when one day his planet is visited by a massive fleet of the Humankind Empire Abh. The Abh announce that they are annexing the system and demand the planet's immediate and unconditional surrender. After anxious deliberation Martine's president Rock Lin, Jinto's father, surrenders the planet without firing a shot. In exchange for their surrender Rock Lin is accepted into Abh society as a noble and his son is sent off to an Abh integration academy to learn the ways of the Abh.
Flash forward: Jinto has completed his initial education and is on his way to the Abh capital to begin his military training and an obligatory 10 years' service in the Abh navy. He will also meet his first Abh. That Abh is the Princess Lafiel, granddaughter of the Abh empress, who is herself in training and serving her military obligation as an Abh noble. They set off together on what is supposed to be an event-less courier mission to take Jinto to a military academy at the capitol. But then the brown stuff hits the fan and things begin going very bad very fast.Crest of the Stars
and its sequels, Banner of the Stars, Banner of the Stars II
and Banner of the Stars III
, focus on the developing relationship between Jinto and Lafiel against the backdrop of an interstellar war between the Abh and the allied powers of the United Mankind. Lost Chapter of the stars however, is a prologue to Crest of the Stars and deals with the relationship between Lafiel's parents.
One of the most interesting conceits of the franchise is that, in basically any
other kind of space opera, the imperialistic, militaristic Abh would be the unquestionable
villains; and, indeed, at times when the bigger picture is put on prominent display it can be a bit uncomfortable to realize just what Jinto and Lafiel are a part of. In the latter Banner
series, even the residents of Jinto's home planet want to know just why the hell he's loyal to the all-conquering Abh at all
. A large part of the point of the show is a refusal to fall into easy stereotypes, however, and no side of the great conflict is black-and-white pantomime evil.
The franchise is known for its deep characterization, colorful characters, and ability to go into long conversations over very trivial matters without seeming bland (in the second series, two characters get into a surprisingly interesting
conversion over wine). There is some action, but if that's the only reason you're watching this you'll be bored to tears. Overall it's quite an entertaining and memorable series, as long as you don't mind long stretches of talking heads.
This work provides examples of:
- Absent Aliens: The Abh are a servitor species created by humans.
- Air Jousting: In a flashback Lafiel is shown Air Jousting in a zero G chamber when she was still attending the Abh Military Academy. She was very good at it.
- Alliance, The: The Four/(later) Three-Nations Alliance aka Nova-Sicilia Nations against the Humankind Empire of Abh.
- Alternate Character Interpretation: Present In-Universe. Spoor believes Jinto to be a clever, resourceful fellow; Lafiel disagrees, considering him foolish and thoughtless.
- Applied Phlebotinum: It's what allows for interstellar travel.
- Artificial Gravity: Standard issue for all major ships, space stations, and space cities.
- Bat Deduction: Subverted in Episode 7 of Banner I. Lafiel figured out which oncoming fleet was the allied fleet when her space-time communicator and IFF were down, running on nothing but intuition. Actually, she just knew that she had to make a coin-toss decision based on no information, and her certainty was just to keep the crew confident in their captain.
- Bathe Her and Bring Her to Me: Lafiel is bathed in episode 6.
- Battle Butler: Klowal's maids wash his back, pour his wine, maintain his space station and fire rifles.
- Bishōnen: Every Abh male.
- Blood Knight:
- Spoor. It's stated in one of the opening blurbs that she could have retired and lived a life of leisure but has decided to remain in the military because wars are more exciting. Not that this stops her from complaining of boredom while her ship is under heavy bombardment.
- Ekuryua shows a trace of this when piloting; in Banner III, her eyes positively light up when she's doing a High Speed Laser Dodge.
- The Bridge: Crest Of The Stars partially goes for the standard aversion, making the bridges of its ships cramped and flight deck like... but only for the lighter units. Capital ships feature standard elevated platforms for the captain (with enough room to swing the ceremonial sword-slash-screen controller), loads of Bridge Bunnies etc. Although both the capital ships and the lighter elements have their bridges in the heart of the ship and not exposed. this comes as a major plot point in one series when Lamhirh's friend and mentor dies in a doomed destroyer's bridge.
- Brilliant but Lazy: Most of the Abh high command doesn't seem very motivated, but they have their positions for a reason.
- The Captain: Plenty over the series.
- Part of Lafiel's Character Development is growing into this.
- Becoming this was the sole reason Spoor joined the Star Forces, though ironically when the war finally breaks out she's been Kicked Upstairs to become an Admiral.
- Casual Interstellar Travel: Although interstellar travel is owned by the Abh, there is little or no restriction to traveling between systems. It's treated like a commercial airline.
- The Cavalry: The final act of Banner I is the heroes waiting for Dusahn's fleet to back them up at the Abticate Gate.
- Character Development: This and Character Depth are the main draws of the show.
- Chekhov's Gun(boat): The towers first seen in the distance in episode 10 are revealed to be coffin-rockets that are used by Jinto and Lafiel to escape the planet.
- The Chessmaster: In the novel Lafiel's father planned Jinto and her meeting on the Gosroth.
- Clasp Your Hands If You Deceive: The Baron.
- Con Lang: Crest Of The Stars uses Baronh, based on an ancient Japanese, and complete with its own alphabet. It's not up to the standards of most hardcore conlangers (the alphabet in particular is clearly based off more off Latin letters than the needs of the language it writes), but it's better than many such attempts. Notably, in-universe it's a Con Lang based on the Abh's creators ideas of what ancient Japanese would be like sans foreign influences (including the writing, so that came later), and then mutated via contact with other groups the Abh met in their early days.
- Cute Kitten: Diaho's utter adorableness cuts through any scene he's in.
- This Is Gonna Suck: The general feeling on the Gosroth, when they see they're outnumbered 10 to 1.
- Touché: Lafiel to Klowal when he destroys the fuel asteroids she needed. Klowal to Lafiel before she kills him.
- Transhuman Aliens: The Abh. Engineered to be space explorers they have a third eye and some modifications to the brain so they can navigate better in three dimensions. Also longer life and adaptations to cope with extended periods of microgravity with periods of high acceleration since they were created before the in universe discovery of Faster Than Light Travel and Artificial Gravity. The inhuman hair color was a slave marker. The other thing about this trope is that while they were produced by dystopic transhumanism, and depend on advanced reproductive technology themselves, as well as 'upgrading' the children of politically Abh humans, their attitudes are rather bioconservative. It's 2000 years on and they're still the Abh they were; they're very proud of having *stopped* evolution, not accelerated it. It's just that the bio they're conserving is a bit nonstandard.
- Truly Single Parent: Abh do not practice marriage, so their children (generally custom-made by genetic engineering) legally have only one parent. On the other hand, they can, and often do maintain long-term relationships, and children are often born from such relationships; Lafiel is one of those "children of love" because the donor of her genes gave them out of love. It's seen in their society as a charming romantic eccentricity and looked well upon, but such kids are still registered as having only one parent.
- 2-D Space: Hyperspace in the Abhverse is two-dimensional, with important strategic and tactical consequences.
- Trying Not to Cry: Lafiel refuses to cry in front of her crew when she is forced to order them to leave Jinto behind in Lobnas II. When the search party that she later organized finds him malnourished but alive, she sheds a few tears.
- Unusual User Interface:
- The genetically engineered Abh have one extra sensory organ in the middle of their forehead designed to interface with the sensors of spaceships.It gives the Abh an innate feel for 3D space and moving in free-fall. To develop this, Abh children are put in zero-g crèches in their infancy as it's necessary to experience free fall for the organ to develop.
- The sword mentioned above also fits this trope. The captains aren't just swinging them around for fun, they operate as a combination remote control and laser pointer, allowing the captain to issue orders to anyone connected to the ship's computer.
- So do the tiaras worn by the Abh. These are big sensor bands that allow an Abh to have an eye in the "back of their head". Jinto remarks on this when Lafiel escorts him to the Basroi in the novel.
- Unwinnable Training Simulation: The beginning of Banner of the Stars first episode.
- Uterine Replicator: Abh reproduction involves in vitro fertilization and, usually, artificial wombs. Their genome is so tweaked, they can't naturally conceive healthy offspring. Woman still occasionally choose to carry the embryo to term the old fashioned way. The Abh consider this to be a charming romantic display of love.
- Villain by Default: The Abh have an interstellar empire acquired through conquest and they ban ownership of star ships for everyone including the royal Abh (the Empress owns every ship, but you can ask for a charter) but it's all for good reason; i.e., trying to prevent a vast and destructive conflict. However, given that they are trying to avoid a vast and destructive conflict by means of a vast and destructive conflict, there's crossover with Well-Intentioned Extremist.
- Vitriolic Best Buds: Given how a large part of their social life is based on a culture of polite insult, it's not surprising that most of the Abh friendships happen this way. Among the best examples are Bibauth's, Crown Prince Dusanh and his Chief of Staff, and Admiral Spaurh with, well, everyone.
- Warrior Prince: The basis of Abh society, as their royalty is expected to be extra awesome in the military department. Crown Prince Dusahn and prince Dubeusec (Lamhirh's father) definitely qualify, as was Debeusec's mother the Empress and countless others.
- Dusahn is sometimes incorrectly identified as the Empress' son, but his full name is given and indicates that he's not even from the same line (well, he might be her son genetically, I suppose, but there's no evidence for that). He and Dubeusec are both considered her heir, but in different ways: Dusahn is the royal who has been selected to be the next emperor when she retires, whilst Debeusec is her personal heir who has inherited her title as queen of Kryb.
- Well-Intentioned Extremist: Intergalactic peace is a good goal, but intergalactic conquest of your enemies is a rather extreme method.
- Xanatos Gambit: Klowal concocts one with himself to break ties with the Abh empire because of the incoming enemy fleet. In his mind he can't lose. If the enemy comes he can trade Lafiel for his own safety; if the enemy doesn't come he can elevate himself from baron to king of his tiny domain. Finally, if the Abh do come back and re-annex him, he can hand Lafiel over and possibly escape punishment through a quirk of the Abh honor code.
- Xanatos Speed Chess: How the Abh avoid the Unspoken Plan Guarantee despite constantly making plans. "This is only a rough plan. Until we know the enemy's movements it's a start."
- You Gotta Have Blue Hair: The Abh take this very seriously: unnatural-looking hair in colors ranging from blue to purple or even green are a required genetic trait for newborn members of their race.
- Abh backstory spoiler: The Abh were engineered slaves, and blue hair was the marker of their sub-human status; they keep it in defiance and in memorial.
- You Never Asked: Involving funeral traditions at the end of the first series.