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Anime / Stellvia of the Universe

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Clockwise from top-left: Ayaka, Shima, Arisa, Akira, and Yayoi

"I want to see the stars while looking forward, rather than having to look up."

Stellvia of the Universe is a Science Fiction anime television series produced in 2003 by studio XEBEC and directed by Tatsuo Sato of Martian Successor Nadesico fame. Despite its After the End setting, it carries strong utopic message and bright optimistic belief in humanity while also displaying deep insight into human psychology, showing how true unity can only be achieved in the presence of a common goal and how it starts falling apart once it's gone, only to return again when needed. Geneon's DVD releases were discontinued in North America when they went under, among dozens of others, though Discotek Media managed to rescue it for a Blu-Ray release.

In 2167 CE, the shockwave of Hydrus Beta gone supernova reached Earth and brought about The End of the World as We Know It. Almost two centuries later, humanity managed to restore much of its civilization and although Earth remains severely underpopulated, the scientists discovered a new threat to the planet as well as means to counter it. A second shockwave, now carrying physical remains of the Hydrus star system rather than just radiation, is on its way to the Solar System. To deflect it, humanity has built enormous space stations called Foundations to span gigantic energy shields over Earth and other inhabited planets until it passes. This is the Great Mission, the ultimate achievement of mankind and the greatest hope for its survival.

In the year 2356, Shima Katase and her friends enroll at the space academy on Stellvia, the Foundation assigned to Earth. Eventually, despite being mere first-years, they become the ones to confront the second shockwave and defeat it. However, the Great Mission is just their first step on the rocky path to the distant stars...


  • Aloof Big Brother: Actually, a ditzy big sister; but Shima's brother sees her as his idol, never the less.
  • Beta Couple: Jojo/Akira. They hook up mid-series while the main characters are off on the mission to the outer system.
  • Big Fancy House: Well, a big fancy space station, actually; but it's still home and it hurts to lose it.
  • "Blind Idiot" Translation: "Does it make answer? ... It records. After a dial tone please message" on a video mail system. Made even more jarring as it comes about five minutes after a screen showing "See You Next Year!" in seven different languages... none of them Japanese.
  • Broken Ace: Ayaka. She's got to be the best, but the kids in the next generation are even better than she is, and she doesn't take it well.
  • Calling Parents by Their Name: Shima Katase only ever refers to her mother as "Chi-chan", indicating that there may be quite a bit of intergenerational rivalry going on. Shima's mom is a textbook example of a self-made woman, and Shima strives to be even more so, going as far as to effectively run away from home to enroll in a space university without telling her.
  • Can't Catch Up: The reason for a lot of Shima's Wangst is that she's not as good as Kouta.
  • Chekhov's Gun: Shima's an even better programmer than she is a pilot, which the anime goes out of its way to point out early in the show.
    • That jar of candies shown prominently in the opening and casually shown being gradually emptied in every episode? At the bottom there's a sweet and loving letter from Shima's mother, she finds it the night before The Great Mission starts. So, it's one of the reasons Earth is still there.
  • Cool Big Sis: Ayaka becomes one to both Yayoi and Kouta, following her Heel–Face Turn.
  • Crossover Cameo: Shima appears as a girl in a Dating Sim in Bottle Fairy.
  • Cuteness Proximity: Traps you in an infinite loop from hell.
  • Cut Short: The series was planned as three half-seasons, but creative differences split up the production team after the second part was completed.
  • Dating Sim: One was made. This page and a couple of videos on Youtube are probably the only place you'll hear about it.
  • Elaborate University High: The curriculum, the dorm life and the instructors' attitudes are more like that of an university, but judging by both the fact Rinna (who's 12) only needed to skip one grade to be admitted and that the last year students being much bigger physically than the first year, it is supposed to be a high school.
  • Emotionless Girl: Akira, bordering the Tin Girl zone.
  • The End of the World as We Know It Multiple times; it happened once 189 years ago, it's happening again with the Second Wave. And it's happening one more time with the Cosmic Fracture.
  • Everybody Cries: One episode has all five of the main girls cry, eventually altogether.
  • Exploding Closet: Shima cleans up before a study session by cramming all of her stuffed toys into the closet. Jojo notices one sticking out and opens the door.
  • Faster-Than-Light Travel: Notably absent, so that a trip to another Foundation takes several months, which is a plot point.
    • Implied to be possible, but at sufficiently astronomical energy costs that it wouldn't be possible with anything smaller than a Stellvia-class station.
  • Humongous Mecha: There are only two in the series, and their humanoid form is justified by the representative role they were intended to play in eventual contact with non-human civilizations.
    • It is not a giant robot, far from it. It's a spaceship... a spaceship in human form.
  • Inferiority Superiority Complex: Ayaka. Like, holy cow.
  • Latex Space Suit: The pilot suits are so tight fitting that it causes several characters, male and female alike, to be embarrassed about certain areas. Two of the notable towel-bearers are Shima and Kouta.
  • The Man Behind the Man: Sort of, the "cosmic fracture" that destroyed Hydrus Beta and caused both shockwaves.
  • Mid-Season Upgrade:
    • Shima receives a mecha of her own for Mission Genesis.
    • Before then, Shima's ship got upgraded repeatedly for the Astroball tournament.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Discussed by Ayaka towards Yayoi in Episode 12 regarding on two years ago.
    Ayaka: It was Shima Katase. She found a way to rescue the girl, but for some reason, I wasn't able to save you. There are things that she can do that I simply can't. I know that she's better than me at the joust. She was even better than me during the Great Mission, but there was no excuse for it. There was no reason for me to knock you down like that! (cue Tears of Remorse)
  • Negative Space Wedgie: The First Wave, Second Wave, and the Fracture behind the supernova.
  • No Antagonist: Unless you count cosmic catalysts as such.
  • Obfuscating Stupidity: Kouta deliberately gets average grades in everything. He's actually capable of outshining Rinna and Shima.
  • Perfect Pacifist People: Until the Great Mission is finished and the peace starts to crack, anyway.
  • Poor Communication Kills: The whole Ultima incident.
  • Promotion to Parent: Kouta's sis takes over raising him due to their parents dying.
  • The Quiet One: Masaru Odawara, eventually ascends to leadership of the gang.
  • The Rival: Subverted with Rinna, who proclaims Shima to be her rival but never acts overtly hostile; the two become very close friends almost immediately.
  • Rousing Speech: Joey and Jinrai give one to other Genesis Mission participants in the final episode when it turns out they have to sacrifice Stellvia itself.
  • Scary Dogmatic Aliens: Subverted: the aliens are actually trying to understand and help humans, even though it doesn't readily work out.
  • Science Is Good: Science is pretty much the only thing standing between humanity and extinction of our species — and that's after scientific progress has pulled humanity Back from the Brink of extinction two centuries before the main story. Note that none of these extinction threats was the work of humans or their science.
  • The Stoic: Kouta, though his self-control reaches its limits towards the end of the series.
  • Tears of Joy: Ayaka gets it in the last episode when Yayoi confesses on how she wanted to fly in space together with her (which can also be interpreted as a full forgiveness for Ayaka's past actions and a confession of love).
  • Tears of Remorse: Ayaka cried a hard one in episode 12.
  • Theme Music Power-Up: Both the straight and The Day the Music Lied versions, to keep everyone on their toes. The first appearance of the latter seemingly for no reason may be also the first hint that Ayaka's problem is worse than mere arrogance, and she wins some of her jousts unfairly.
  • There Are No Therapists: So friends and teachers have to stand in. And do they ever.
  • Wham Episode: Episode 11, where Ayaka attacks Shima out of jealousy for her achievements, and episode 16, where people actually die, for the first time.
  • Wham Line: Yayoi: "Please go find Shippon or she'll be destroyed by Ms. Machida!"
  • What Does She See in Him?: Ren about Kouta's attraction toward Shima, and characters and fans about Akira toward Joey, even though she actually explains that one.
  • White-and-Grey Morality: The heroines are kind and selfless while there isn't even a single negative character in the series — even the aliens are good. Or at least, they expressed regret after slaughtering a Keiti wing almost wholesale.

Alternative Title(s): Stellvia


Stellvia of the Universe

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