Saturday, November 24, 2012

Stratos 4: Return to Base OVA Anime Review

Stratos 4: Return to Base
Bandai Entertainment
Complete Collection - 1 disc
65 mins. - 2 episodes
$29.98 (2005)
ISBN 669198254109
Japanese/English Audio - English Subtitles
Director - Takeshi Mori
Studio - Studio Fantasia/Bandai Visual

Synopsis: Giant meteors have been falling to Earth and endangering the population.  The organization CEMA (Comet Emergency Management Agency) was set up with the mission to stop the meteors. They put in place two levels of deterrent - the Comet Blasters intercept meteors in space by launching from orbital space stations while the Meteor Sweepers intercept any meteors which break through to the atmosphere.  The job is tough and Mikaze is one of the Meteor Sweepers based on Shimoji Island in Japan.  Her dream is to one day work in space as a Comet Blaster.

The meteor strikes are part of a covert alien invasion and the aliens can take over the bodies of humans.  Orbital Station 7 was taken over by aliens, but were stopped by Mikaze and her team.  CEMA has hushed up the alien invasion and quarantined all of the infected personnel on Earth.  The space station is undergoing repairs when it is struck by stray space debris and enters a terminal orbit.
The Meteor Sweeper crew from Shimoji Island
Impossible to repair and restore orbital status, the station will crash land on Earth with devastating effect.  It has been decided the station must be blown apart in the upper atmosphere to mitigate its potential for collateral damage to the surface.  Too bad the repair crew is trapped on the station.  Now a pair of Comet Blasters must stage a daring rescue while Mikaze and her team prepare to blow apart the station.  It's a race against the clock - will they make it in time?

Pros: Lots of fan-service and an extended swimming scene, CG planes were well done, Admiral the cat remains a funny part of the show, hilarious parody episode where the Stratos 4 planes become a combiner mecha
Mikaze has a deep moment underwater
Cons: Expensive for only two episodes, side cover says 'Retern to Base' - nice job production team, not much additional story progression, story is pretty silly, no more episodes released in North America after these two (although more episodes were made in Japan to continue/conclude the story)

Mike Tells It Straight: Stratos 4 (reviewed here) continues with two OVA (original video animation) episodes entitled Return to Base.  We get to see Mikaze and the Meteor Sweepers back in action.  The story continues directly after the events in the original series ending.  The director and animation team are the same.  These two episodes are pretty good when taken in the context of the previous 13 episodes.
Mikaze gets serious to get the job done
By themselves however, these two episodes don't stand on their own very well.  They progress the story only the slightest bit and leave it unresolved.  Another six episodes were produced in Japan entitled Stratos 4: Advance along with two final episodes called Stratos 4: Advance Final to end the series.  These episodes will presumably never see an official North America release (with dub).

It's always a shame to see an unfinished series, but I can't say this series was ever truly compelling.  Just a bit of cheesecake featuring pretty girls and a paper thin plot.  I'm just going to assume the ending was super-happy with the alien invasion stopped and Mikaze's dreams fulfilled.  Go check out Divergence EVE if you want cheesecake with a better story.
Yeah, that's how I felt about this series too

TO BUY and Recommendations: