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Literature / Crest of the Stars

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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 Midgrat

Crest of the Stars (aka Seikai no Monshou) is a novel written by Hiroyuki Morioka as a prologue to his later Banner of the Stars (Seikai no Senki) series, which was published in three volumes in 1996. It was later adapted into a twelve episode anime by Sunrise in 1999. Anime adaptions of the first three Banner of the Stars novels (also by Sunrise) have followed and a prologue to Crest of the Stars was produced titled Passage of the Stars – Birth (Seikai no Danshou - Tanjo), based on a short story later included in his Seikai no Danshou collections.

The novels were translated by Tokyopop (2006-2007) and J-Novel Club (2019-2022), with the latter including all main novels in the series (Crest I-III and Banner I - VI) with certain differences in approach to translation and overall tone of adaptation.

Additionally, there are two runs of Crest manga - three one-volume mangas by Toshihiro Ono (first two) and Wasoh Miyakoshi, released in English by Tokyopop as Seikai Trilogy, adapting Crest, Banner I and Banner II, and an eight-volume long-runner by Yonemura Koichirou adapting Crest over 2012 - 2021 (via FlexComix). Tokyopop-translated manga is linked to 1999 Sunrise anime and shares designs and overall approach to narrative (unsurprising, given that in Crest case they share a writer, Aya Yoshinaga), though English release is more careful with maintaining the original baronh terms, providing a glossary at the end, and Koichirou going after entirely different, over-the top detailed, art style, and is not officially localized.

Finally, there is a Japan-only PlayStation videogame released in the year 2000, set around the events of Banner I, which combines tactical ship-to-ship combat and a visual novel. It has a 2003 Windows sequel.

Crest of the Stars follows the story of the two protagonists - Jinto (Jint in modern adaptations) and Lafiel (Lafier), as they get themselves involved in a war between two galactic superpowers - Abh Empire and the United Humankind. Jinto Linn is a young boy living on the planet Martine when one day his planet is visited by a massive fleet of the Humankind Empire of 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 Linn, Jinto's father, surrenders the planet without firing a shot. In exchange for their surrender Rock Linn 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, 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: Humans are the only intelligent species mentioned. The Abh, despite their physical appearances, are a genetically engineered race created by humans, and consider themselves to be human (even if some factions in-universe do not).
  • 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.
  • The Alliance: 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.
  • Antimatter: universal fuel and Applied Phlebotinum for the setting. Antimatter annihilation reaction is the main energy source and propulsion source for the starships. It is also used as explosive for space-time mines and, essentially, as a form of currency (more or less like oil these days). Antimatter is generated from solar particles via systems of photon quantum traps orbiting stars. Huge plants exist in advanced systems, and warfleets making anchor stations in free space usually deploy mobile arrays to replenish their fuel reserves.
  • Apathetic Citizens: presented in Clasbull population, who at first take occupation as some kind of mild annoyance, being used to Imperial treatment. Seems to be common among Imperial worlds, as the Empire does not bother to inspire patriotic feelings even in those with Imperial citizenship.
  • Applied Phlebotinum: Sord particles (especially when transformed into gates to planar space) are what allows interstellar travel.
  • Artificial Gravity: Standard issue for all major ships, space stations, and space cities. Richer ones use fully artificial gravity fields, those of less wealth achieve gravity via centrifugal force.
  • Artistic License: all distances between ships are extremely shortened, which privides epic framing but makes no sense. Laser blasts are clearly visible. And, of course, space is rather loud. There are several significant aversions though, like water boiling in a pool when air pressure drops, or the entirety of courier ship landing procedure.
  • 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 by Baron Febdash, who has taken an interest in her.
  • Battle Butler: Klowal's maids wash his back, pour his wine, maintain his space station and fire rifles.
  • 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.
  • Chekhov's Gun: 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.
  • Les Collaborateurs: How Jinto and his father were perceived for surrendering to an Abh invasion fleet in exchange for granting them ruling rights. Jinto's father was killed after the war started because of this.
  • Conlang: 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 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 Conlang 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.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Snarking is a highly developed art form in Abh culture, and it can be argued that all their social life revolves about exquisitely polite and witty ways to insult each other.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: In the novel, they explain that the Abh are descended from an Island nation, which feared the loss of its culture, and so created a race of beautiful blue haired, almost androgynous elves. Its Japan IN SPACE!
  • Dye or Die: Lafiel is forced to dye her hair black as blue hair is one of the Abhs' defining traits. She is not pleased. Spoor got a lot of mileage out of this.
  • Dying Moment of Awesome: the last stand of the Gosroth is fighting ten enemy ships and taking out nine of them single handed. And on top of that, they went in with only half their nominal supply of expendable munitions due to having used the rest in a training exercise earlier. Given how hard they fought, if they'd been fully stocked with mines, they probably would have won.
  • Eagle Land: United Mankind are a deliberately unflattering invocation of Type II drawn from World War II propaganda, arrogantly and judgmentally looking down their noses at other cultures and demanding they assimilate into a democratic means of government and banning certain cultural practices arbitrarily, while dehumanizing their Imperial enemies with racist propaganda about Abh inhumanity and occasionally indulging in the odd war crime based on the idea their Abh enemies are bioroids rather than people.
  • Emotionless Girl: Most Abh especially those of higher rank are encouraged to be focused and stoic. Ekuryua takes it to extremes unless Diaho is involved. Lafiel says that "Abriel don't cry", but can't manage it all the time.
  • The Empire: The Humankind Empire Abh. Their mode of operation is to forcibly take over planets that do *not* have faster-than-light travel, though oddly they do not interfere with those planets which have purchased the technology from others. In the novels this is explained by the fact that their empire began on an interstellar merchant ship, and that they still respect "vested rights". They do not seem to be overtly oppressive towards the planets they control, but they do not allow *any* starship not owned by the Empire to be armed or use faster-than-light travel technology. Then there's the fact that only the "space elves" in charge are able to command warships, though this is due mainly to their physiology, not overt racism note .. Interestingly enough The Abh nation is titled an empire while the antagonists have a Federation, a Republic, and a Union.
  • Energy Weapon: all major factions utilise beam weaponry, specifically handheld laser pistols with wide range of uses. In addition there are paralyzer pistols, which seemingly also use some kind of wave generator. Ships utilize laser batteries as point defence and light assault weaponry. And finally, proton cannons, which are essentially railguns firing subatomic particles, are the main caliber of the destroyer (fighter) class ships.
  • Establishing Character Moment: Spoor's first bored appearance is carefully carried through the entore series. Bebaus' nonstop bickering is also established from their first appearance.
  • Family Relationship Switcheroo: Lafiel is teased by her father about the identity of her mother; going so far as to convince her (as a child) that she was descended from the family cat. Later, Lafiel proudly reveals to Jinto that Captain Lexshu is her other parent, as the scene switches back to her mother's death in battle.
  • Fantastic Racism: Abh and Humans. Considering that 'abh' can mean either 'part of the Human Abh Empire' in addition to 'part of the abh genetic race' this can get complicated.
    • Played straight with the "human" nations allying in war against the Abh under the pretense they are soulless biological machines. Justified when the Abh confirm that all the humans claim about them is true; they are biological creations who then exterminated their creators.
    • Subverted by the views of the Abh towards "normal" humans, who can become members of the Abh (Jinto/Ghintec being an example) and usually get treated equally. Then double subverted as there are two meanings to "Abh": Abh nationality and Abh genetic traits. The latter are not required to acquire the former, but all (noble or otherwise title bearing) newborns including descendants of human-born Abh must have both (through pre-natal gene tweaking). Then Zigzagged as the Abh themselves tend to think anyone of the Abh nationality as their kin regardless of their genetics. For instance, they've been shown to assume human-born Abh can stand the same extreme accelerations as genetic Abh. Which they don't. Humans in general and the human nations in particular, on the other hand, squarely define as "Abh" whoever possesses their genetics. They look down on human-born Abh as traitors to their own humanity.
    • The non-Abh factions are also down on any other human colonies that used any kind of other genetic modification, even if this had nothing to do with the Abh. One man with tweaked genes for a longer lifespan talks about how he's treated as a second-class citizen and is overzealous in his attempts to prove his loyalty. The kicker is, he inherited those genes: the experiments were done in his grandparent's generation. The United Mankind is even harsh on people who dye their hair an unnatural shade (since the genetic Abh, unlike other stylizations of "blue" hair in the medium, do in fact have naturally blue or silvery hair).
  • Fantastic Rank System: The Abh have a unique rank system; commissioned officers are for example collectively known as "flyers" and are divided into two categories, namely "flyer by His/Her Majesty's decree" (general officer) and "flyer by memorial to the throne" (field and junior officers). The specific ranks (with real life naval equivalents in parentheses) are as follows:
    • Imperial Grand Admiral (Admiral of the Fleet)
    • Admiral of the Star Forces (Admiral of the Fleet)
    • High Admiral (Admiral)
    • Admiral (Vice Admiral)
    • Rear Admiral (Rear Admiral)
    • Kilo-Commander (Commodore)
    • Hecto-Commander (Captain)
    • Vice Hecto-Commander (Commander)
    • Deca-Commander (Lieutenant Commander)
    • Vanguard Flyer (Lieutenant)
    • Rearguard Flyer (Sub-lieutenant)
    • Line Wing Flyer (Ensign)
      This ranking is complicated additionally by three branches of Imperial Star Forces - specifically, engineering, administartive and operative (pilots), each of which has certain tweaks to its structure especially in higher echelons. Also, pilots are the only branch that can be served by genetic abh only due to requirement of being able to link with starships directly.
  • Fictionary: The Abh speak Baronh, a language created by the author. It's an odd mix of Latin grammar, French pronounciation and spelling, and ancient Japanese vocabulary.
  • Finger-Tenting: The Baron makes this pose while plotting how he will cement his control over his territory and Lafiel as well.
  • Fire-Forged Friends: Lafiel and Jinto, in Crest.
  • First-Name Basis: Jinto's unique relationship with Lafiel started when he asked her her name, something that no one had ever asked her before (being that she is the Imperial Princess, most Abh grew up knowing her face). Jinto later realizes his breach in etiquette, but Lafiel is clearly upset with him when he tries to be formal, so he relents. Lafiel reciprocates the gesture, usually referring to him as "Jinto" rather than "Count Hyde" like most other Abh do.
    "You shall call me 'Lafiel'!"
  • The Fog of Ages: The Abh touch upon this. They live for between 200 and 250 years and their genetic engineering technology is such that they can live much longer. It's not enough to stop The Fog Of Ages setting in so their bodies are designed to shut down while their mental faculties are more or less intact.
  • Foreign Queasine: Cat is considered a delicacy on Samson's homeworld of Midgrat. When the United Mankind sent ambassadors, they repeatedly lectured the locals on democracy and how unhealthy it was to eat cat. The Abh didn't say anything. According to Samson, this is why Midgrat joined the Abh Empire.
  • Generation Ships: The planet Martine was settled by one of these and the Abh's original home was one as well before they cracked the FTL issue.
  • Gilded Cage: Klowal wants to put Lafiel in one and he keeps his father in one because he's still human and Klowal is ashamed of him.
  • Godiva Hair: Lafiel pulls this in one episode during her Shower Bath Scene. When her hair's not strategically covering what needs to be covered, it's either camera angles or reflections of light.
  • Good Samaritan: A variant is used to explain the difference in philosophy between the Humankind Empire Abh and the United Mankind. The United Mankind gives the injured man a lecture on how if he'd lived his life better he wouldn't have wound up lying injured on the side of the road. The Humankind Empire Abh talks with the man, works out his exact problem, then goes to find a doctor. It should be noted, however, that this allegory was written by an Abh subject who liked his government.
  • Gratuitous English: The language of Jinto's home planet Martine is explicitly mentioned to be descended from English; when it's spoken at the end of Banner III, it's identical.
  • Gray-and-Grey Morality: Because the story is told from the Abh's perspective, the Alliance is not nearly as evil and the Abh are not nearly as angelic as initially presented.
    • The Alliance lets you join willingly; keep your spacecraft; participate in interstellar politics; and provides security, infrastructure, and technology at no apparent cost. On the other hand they they force planets to culturally assimilate, set down very intrusive policies in the name of security, and will take over your government and run it like a military dictatorship if they feel they need to.
    • The Abh respects the culture of the planets in their empire, allows governments to maintain their sovereignty with a few minor caveats, and provides aid no strings attached if it is requested. On the other hand they force planets into their empire, will confiscate all ships capable of interstellar travel, and only Abh nobility may own the means of interstellar trade and travel. If subject planets wish to have FTL ships then they must rent them.
    • Although neither side can truly be said to represent classical 'good' or 'evil' achetypes, it's somewhat difficult to see The Alliance (or at least the United Mankind in particular) as anything but the bad guys once you understand their stated goal is either the eradication or re-enslavement of the Abh as a species. As The Alliance have publicly claimed the Abh to be 'rogue biological machines,' this doesn't count as an act of genocide or slavery in their eyes, merely the removal of a threat to human civilization. Still, it's up for debate on how much of The Alliance actually believe that and how many are using it as an excuse to seize Abh resources/territory/etc...
  • Heel–Face Turn: Lafiel recruits Klowal's vassal, Seelnay, as her own and together they take over Klowal's Mission Control.
  • Hegemonic Empire:
    • The Humankind Empire Abh practises a different type of hegemonic influence - diplomacy. The Abh expand by military conquest, but this "conquest" will often consist of a single ship delivering a treaty of surrender, with no shots fired. The Abh then order the conquered world to surrender all long - range space travel capabilities to the empire, install an Abh noble to rule over the planet (who is sometimes chosen from the local population rather than imported), set up trade routes, and then as long as the ruling class follow the rules and the people don't cause too much trouble, leaves things alone except for an occasional military recruiter or observer.
    • The Alliance follows a fairly more straightforward method of this, as explained on the Black-and-Gray Morality trope above.
  • Heroic BSoD: The novels imply that Spoor, of all people, suffered one between Banner II and Banner III.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Captain Ragash and his bridge officers agree to be left behind in Plane Space without fuel, so Lafiel's less-damaged ship can get most of his crew to safety.
  • High-Speed Missile Dodge: Standard operating procedure for Abh attack ships since they're fast and maneuverable but have little or no defense.
  • Honor Before Reason: The Abh follow their system of honor to the letter; keyword here is their system of honor.
  • Hope Spot: Captain Lexshue, outnumbered 10 to 1, succeeds in destroying 9 enemy ships but suffers terrible damage in the process, and is almost about to destroy the final enemy ship, when it hits her with a Wave-Motion Gun.
  • Horrible Judgeof Character: Jinto sees nothing of suspicion in Baron Febdash's actions.
  • Humans Are the Real Monsters: There are many exceptions, but the 'United Mankind' subscribe to this. They want to reinslave the Abh since they see them nothing more than automatons, use human shields in battle to exploit the Abh sense of honor, and have no issue destroying unarmed escape pods since the Abh crew inside aren't really "human".
  • Improbable Aiming Skills: When they run from the United Mankind military at the end of Crest, neither Lafiel nor Jinto takes a hit (until the end). Meanwhile, Lafiel is consistently dropping one soldier per shot of her inferior weapon, despite range, concealment, cover... possibly justified by her "third eye" giving Lafiel superior spatial awareness.
  • Indifferent Beauty: Lafiel is well aware of being good-looking even by Abh standards, but does not considers her genes she received from parents to be her own achievement, and therefore mostly ignores.
  • Infodump: The beginning of every episode of the anime begins with an infodump relating to whatever is about to happen in the episode.
  • Instrumental Theme Tune: Crest Of The Stars and its sequels use a brass-heavy symphonic theme.
  • Just a Machine: The United Mankind Alliance view the Abh to be biological machines built to serve humanity.
  • Large Ham: Trife: man can't seem to deliver two words without some kind of dramatic pose or overemphasis.
  • Latex Space Suit: The Abh have the skin-tight version (worn by pilots), and the bulky version (used by mechanics, workers and damage control crews).
  • Little Hero, Big War: Jinto and Lafiel are such small heroes that they arguably aren't heroes at all: most of what they do in context of the war is routine assignments that could have been done by just about anyone, such as one ship in a squadron of screening ships or diplomatic envoys to one system out of many that have recently been captured. Of course, where their arc is concerned, the war isn't the story so much as it is the setting.
  • Macross Missile Massacre:
    • Crest Of The Stars and its sequels made their battleships purely missile platforms that take Macross Missile Massacre to the absolutely ridiculous extent (the majority of the mass of ships multiple kilometers long consists solely of thousand and thousands of missiles). The sheer weight of fire ONE battleship could deliver would put David Weber to shame. Of course, they were almost entirely Point Defenseless, but that's another matter.
    • By the second season the Humankind Alliance has developed a new weapon that can overwhelm almost any point defense. Missiles that split into more missiles when shot at. In the novel, the effectiveness of those missiles were neutralized in a few hours
    • Also in the second season are mineshipes: several times longer than battleships, oriented horizontally, and bristling with enough missiles to wipe out an entire fleet. The Abh deploy them in the hundreds.
    • An interesting twist on this occurs in the second season where multiple episodes are devoted to nothing but the Abh fleet defending against wave after wave of Macross Missile Massacre.
  • Magnetic Weapons: 'electromagnetic cannon' is the main caliber for battlecruisers ('patrol ships') for both Empire and their opponents. It is a railgun which provides a heavy missile additional launch speed.
  • Male Gaze: Present during a conversation between Jinto, Ekuryua and Samson, where Samson is talking about his experiences as a mustang (enlisted man promoted to officer). It suggests that part of the reason Samson has been in the Star Forces for 20 years is because of the pretty girls in latex space suits.
  • Mayfly–December Romance: Abh live much longer than landers, meaning that Lafiel is painfully aware that she's going to outlive Jinto. Not so surprisingly, Jinto is the one that acknowledges this the most as Lafiel still wonders at time if she and Jinto is a different race while Jinto is ALWAYS conscience of the difference.
  • MegaCorp: The Emperor or Empress of the Humankind Empire Abh has an absolute monopoly on the manufacture and usage of interstellar spacecraft in the Empire. Every single FTL capable ship is the personal property of the monarch, and those ships used by noble houses, trading companies, travel lines, etc is leased out, and that lease can be revoked by the monarch's discretion at any time. This is a major part of the Abh's strategy to maintain peace in their realm: you can't have interstellar war without interstellar travel, so any trouble spots can be contained by denying the troublemakers the ability to leave their home system.
  • Mildly Military: Jinto brings a cat on board a vessel that's going into combat. Admiral Abriel and his chief of staff insult each other even more than usual for Abh. Spoor treats The Laws and Customs of War as nuisances to be ignored when she wants to terrorize the enemy (including one instance where she makes up a loophole that allows her to kill prisoners in cold blood, and threatens her chief of staff with disciplinary action when he protests). Oh, and Nereis likes to take baths when there's a pitched battle going on.
  • Never Be Hurt Again: The backstory has the Abh overthrowing their human creators and masters, then going on to conquer most of the known universe, while in the process of conquering the rest.
  • Never Gets Drunk: Thanks to their transhuman biology, Abh don't go beyond mildly tipsy.
  • No, Mr. Bond, I Expect You to Dine: Baron Febdash appears to be a hospitable host to Lafiel and Jinto until the dinner itself, where his villainous intentions are made known.
  • Not Helping Your Case: Nereis and Nefee are part of a family known for its spectacular insanity. They claim they want to redeem their family's reputation, but they're not doing a very good job of it.
  • Obfuscating Insanity: Aside from Nereis and Nefee, Spoor's reputation for being nuts even by Abh standards covers her brilliant tactical mind.
  • Officer and a Gentleman: majority of Abh military at the least try to be one. An Abh officer is automatically assigned the "noble" rank of Squire with Admirals even getting the equivalent title of Count while on duty, and they are expected to uphold to the etiquette and moral standard required of said noble rank. Probably the biggest aversion is Admiral Trife with his overly-eager demeanor. Some Alliance officers that do show up in the narrative are shown as this trope, too.
  • Older Than They Look: Abh physically stop aging at somewhere around twenty-five.
  • One-Product Planet: played with to an extent. Most inhabited planets are self-suficcient due to extensive use of terraforming, allowing to both maintain industrial production and agricultural supplies (more so, smaller offworld colonies can supply themselves with food and water via synthesis, which is more expensive but still sustainable). Yet, heavily industrialized worlds might lack said sustainability due to inability to produce enough food, and have to rely on offworld shipments, sometimes from in-system, often, like Aptic system, through the planar space.
  • Our Elves Are Different: A mashup between High Elves and Space Elves. One possibly confusing thing is that most Abh have normal ears; hair color is the marker, not pointy ears. Those ears belong only to the royal family. Given Lafiel, we just get to see them an awful lot. This doesn't stop Abh from being like space elves (pretty and long-lived) but it's not the ears.
  • Out-Gambitted: Lafiel and Klowal's battle ends with her baiting him into range of her engine exhaust and then frying him.
  • Outgrown Such Silly Superstitions:
    • The Abh ridicule all organized religions (3rd novel, Chap 11), and don't believe in a higher power (Empress/ambassadors in the anime) or ethics (same scene, novel version.) Though the Banner I anime has Lafiel mentioning praying and souls briefly. Banner II has them talking about an 'Abh Hell' they've created for when they need to inflict revenge worse than death, Web-allegedly a planet of medical experiments.
    • Chapter three of the first novel. Jinto wonders if fryum neg is a religious concept, but remembers that 'the Abh are atheists'. Of course, at that point of the story, Jinto gets a lot of things about the Abh wrong, and there are ample references to prayer later on, in both novel and anime.
    • In the third novel of Banner (not Crest), Abh are described by Jinto to be have reach a spiritual enlightment that they feel perfectly comfortable putting spirituality in their everyday conversation and jokes. The scene is in the movie, but the internal monologue of Jinto was left out.
  • Overly Long Name: All the Abh have these with at least four names and Landers who become Abh legally change their names to match. For example the main heroine's full name is: Ablïarsec Néïc Dubleuscr Bœrh Parhynr Lamhirh.
  • Outof Sight Outof Mind: Jinto manages to forget that they are running towards the UM troops chasing them.
  • The Paralyzer: Abh blasters can be this since they have variable settings that range from flashlight to hand cannon. Police forces and security crews often carry regular stun pistols.
  • Penal Colony: The Abh wind up conquering one of these in Banner of the Stars II. Lafiel is put in charge of figuring out what to so with the inhabitants, much to her displeasure, specifically the guards and some of the female prisoners who want off.
  • Point Defenseless: While most of its ship classes aren't much in point defense department (for example, destroyers have only two rather slow-firing (almost always hitting) laser turrets),the author clearly didn't miss this shortcoming, and created a whole ship class that is solely a point defense platform and mount CIWS stations by the hundred, creating veritable (and almost impenetrable) Bullet Hell around its charges.
  • Pointy Ears: The Abliarsec royal family. Nobody else is allowed to have this.
  • Pretext for War: The Alliance spent years planning an elaborate pretext to drag the Abh into a war. When they move to start the final step in the pretext, they're cut short when the Empress recognizes the plot and declares war rather than drag the process out.
  • The Quisling: Jinto's father was the elected leader of his planet, and arranged for his leadership to become a hereditary title when the planet was annexed by the Abh. This caused a lot of people to conclude that he sold out the planet (which would have been conquered no matter what he did, the only real question being how bloody the process and how he personally would end up at the end) to become nobility.
  • Red Eyes, Take Warning: Spoor's red eyes certainly spell trouble for whatever poor smuck they set themselves on.
  • La Résistance: The Independence Party, present on Sufugnoff. In a twist, they've been unable to drum up much support against the Abh, and the United Mankind occupation forces want to arrest them because they're afraid the Independence Party will resist the occupation. They end up helping Jinto and Lafiel escape to Spoor's fleet.
  • Retired Badass: Prince Dubeusec, Lamhirh's father, looks generally like Uncle Pennybags in the first novel/series. Only later it was revealed that he was a high-ranking general and retired after Dusanh became a Crown Prince per Abh custom (adopted from their creators, as there is the similar one in modern Japan, where all classmates of a person, who reached a position where There Can Be Only One, are generally expected to retire). When the war with the United Mankind intensified, he was recalled to service and distinguished himself even more.
  • Robot War: This is what's going on with the Abh from the perspective of their enemies, although through genetic engineering rather than robotics. The Abh consider themselves human, of course.
  • Royals Who Actually Do Something: Noble rank Abh (the ones who own territory) must serve in the military, and members of the royal family are expected to be extra awesome, competing for the rank of commander-in-chief to become Crown Prince and the next Emperor. Old Kings and retired Emperors form the committee that scrutinizes the career and promotion of royals. Plus the Abliar, the royal family, are in a sense the living role model of the Abh ideal. They can't cry or show favoritism.
  • Ruleof Drama: broken over the knee. The anime version even *pretends* to create dramatic tension to dissipate it immediately with Jinto slipping to fall on Ekuriya just when Lafiel came in, and Lafiel shrugging if off after short teasing.
  • Sadistic Choice: The bad guys are trying to use Jinto as a bargaining chip to force Lafiel to leave the female refugees behind, but Sobaash suggests a third option when he gives a speech about what they'll do to the bad guys if they carry out their threat.
  • Scary Dogmatic Aliens: The premise is a subversion of it. The 'aliens' in the Abh are both scary and dogmatic but become peace loving elves once they conquer you. Even so, lots of people resent the limitations they bring, so it becomes the basic conflict of the series. Morioka is quite a master of the subtle, yet profound detail.
  • She Cleans Up Nicely: The impression of the crew of the Basroil, upon seeing Lafiel elegantly attired as per page image for a private dinner. She got this reaction from Jinto twice. First when she walked out and second when taking off her shawl.
  • Shipper on Deck: Former baron Febdash is sure that Jinto and Lafiel are a couple because of First-Name Basis and the trust between them. He even offers to give Jinto baby raising advice.
  • Shocking Defeat Legacy: The Humankind Abh Empire accumulates a series of tactical victories during the first few years of the war, and is generally assumed to be on its way to victory, until The United Mankind uses the Hania Federation's territory to launch a surprise attack on Lakfakalle, the Empire's capital, which falls. The attack also claims Empress Ramaj's life, and suddenly the Empire's existence can't be taken for granted anymore.
  • Slasher Smile: Lafiel display one when she's having dinner with the Baron.
    • The novel indicates that the Slasher Smile is present in the social arsenal of every Abh, and the meaning of it is unmistakable, something along the lines of getting "a bouquet of scorched roses".
  • Slave Collar: All the Baron's maids wear one; Lafiel compares them to trained cats.
  • Space Romans: Abh didn't copy all the external bells and whistles, but many features of their life are a dead ringer. Their penchant for conquest, their four-level citizenship structure (similar to the Mid Republic capite censi-proletarii-equites-senatores and the seperate but related plebes-patriciones axis) and demography, their love for intrigue, the level of autonomy they usually give to conquerred provinces, etc. Even their controversial status as "good guys" is similar.
  • Spell My Name With An S: From Baronh to English by way of Japanese. Varying degrees of research failure, depending on whether you're talking about the English anime, manga, or novel releases. As noted in Cot S's entry on the trope page, the information on Baronh is out there — Morioka was very thorough in his Conlang creation. The English phonetic spellings (like "Lafiel" as opposed to "Lamhirh") are sometimes called "American Dialect Baronh" by the fans.
  • Standard Sci-Fi Fleet: Played with. There are several superficially recongnizable ship classes, all with the familiar names... But then you suddenly understand that these names are translations from the local Con Lang and all these classes reflect completely different fleet organization and tactics. What about their battleships being completely Point Defenseless missile platforms and shifting all point defense onto special ship class, and so on...
  • The Stoic: Nearly every Abh in the show displays little emotion because it's part of their culture. Abriel, in particular, are not supposed to cry, even in private.
  • Strange Salute: Abh uses the Polish-style two-fingers salute, except that in this version, the palm is facing downward.
  • Subspace or Hyperspace: Planar Space is a two-dimensional realm that can be accessed through naturally occurring portals, or Sords. Ships must generate a bubble of normal space-time to survive entering Planar Space and communications between bubbles is severely limited, while it seems to be impossible to observe Planar Space from normal space (and vice versa). Locations and distances in normal space do not directly translate to Planar Space, so it's possible for a portal near a planet held by one nation to lead to a Planar location near portals in systems held by another one.
  • Technically a Smile: With an Abh switching in a Tranquil Fury mode, it's often indicated by a particularly subtle, well, calling it a "smile", or even a "smirk", would be way too generous. Way too normal… It's only meaning is "here be bodies".
  • This Is Gonna Suck: The general feeling on the Gosroth, when they see they're outnumbered 10 to 1.
  • Translation Convention: In the Japanese-language version of the first episode of Crest, the radio chatter on Martine following the emergence of the first Abh vessel is initially in Gratuitous English before fading into Japanese. This is explained by Martine being settled by an STL sleeper ship that took a *long* time to find a planet, over 1800 years. So from their point of view they're only 200 years in our future, and pretty behind the tech level of the rest of the galaxy. Martinian language is descendent from English.
  • 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.
  • Tranquil Fury: "Abh smile" is about the worst thing you can see in your life. We can see it from Empress Ramaj when she declared war on the Alliance, or from Lafiel on Lobnas II, or from Spoor, well, constantly. By the way, it's a normal way for an Abh to be mad about something.
  • 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.
  • Unperson: The fate of the inventor of the Abh Hell. Unusually, this was a reward granted at the inventor's request. There are only two pieces of evidence that the inventor existed. First, that the Abh Hell exists, and therefore must have been built by somebody. Second, a record of the conversation in which the inventor asks to be expunged from history, which is stated to be between the then-Emperor and an anonymous individual.
  • 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 Trite uses 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 novels.
  • Unwinnable Training Simulation: The beginning of Banner of the Stars first episode is a simulation meant to test Lafiel's competence as a captain, specifically dealing with failure
  • Uterine Replicator: Abh reproduction involves in vitro fertilization and, usually, artificial wombs. Their genome is so tweaked, they often don't naturally conceive healthy offspring. Women 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, 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: Galactic peace is a good goal, but galactic conquest of your enemies is a rather extreme method.
  • Wham Episode: The ending of Banner IV, in which it's revealed that the Three Nations Alliance has suddenly become the Four Nations Alliance, and is sending a massive invasion fleet to the Abh capital... so massive that the Abh don't have a chance of defending it. It winds up being the first true loss for the Empire in the story, and it's a big one.
  • World of Technicolor 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.
  • 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. It fails due to Lafiel refusing to cooperate and some of his vassals only being loyal to him as the highest ranking Abh normally present rather than to him as an individual.
  • 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."
    • This would be a rather surface interpretation. Commanding staff of Abh combat units actually perform exactly the same thing real military staff do - they prepare not THE plan, but a highly complex set of plans, formation directives, operational guidelines and so on, sometimes in literal thousands. Depending on final input data that occurs when actual engagements start, the staff and commanding officers usually just need to pick an option that is the closest to the actual situation, because otherwise they'd need to prepare literally millions of commands and orders throughout the entire chain of command, which can be lethal in quickly developing combat scenario. This system working as intended can be seen at the battle of Sord Aptic when help arrives to help out the defenders of the sord. Funnily enough, this same system fails in that same battle a bit earlier when the mine barrage comes out to be much longer than anticipated by any of the battle plans Admiral Bebaus' staff could prepare, which causes the neccesity to work out new tactics on the fly and leads to significantly higher losses than expected.
  • You Never Asked: Involving funeral traditions at the end of the first series between a Punch-Clock Villain and a genuine villain regarding the pair of heroes.

Alternative Title(s): Banner Of The Stars


Crest of the Stars

Well, this sure is awkward!

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