Starship Operators

August 18, 2017

When your nation surrenders to another larger kingdom without a fight but a small group of you do not want to accept that. You want to fight back and take back your independence. However you have no money for war. No war funds to buy weapons and supplies to fight back. So how do you find funding in such situation? You sell broadcasting rights to a broadcasting network for a reality TV! No kidding. This is the premise of Starship Operators. And this was way back in 2005. At that time I guess reality TV really means what it means. Because as far as this series is concerned, the real price to pay is that death is real. Yup. People are going to die in this war game that is seen across the galaxy as reality TV. A matter of life and death to a few, entertainment and showbiz to the rest.

Episode 1
Shinon Kouzuki is a space cadet on the Starfleet Amaterasu. She is part of the space combat cadets from Defence University on a training voyage to Planet Kibi. Suddenly they hear on the news that the kingdom of Henrietta has attacked Kibi. All the cadets are placed in one room as they try to discuss what is happening but information to them is pretty scarce. They believe Kibi’s government surrendered immediately and cadets who dream of enlisting will have to look for jobs elsewhere. But Cisca Kanzaki has an idea. They can steal this ship and fight against the kingdom. Shinon is against this but she is surprised when everyone else agrees to this. However they are short on supplies and ammo. As Henrietta is repealing all trade treaties with governments that have lost their armed forces, Amaterasu is considered up for sale. That means anybody with money can buy this ship. They assume Cisca will sponsor but unfortunately he didn’t bring that much cash. However he knows who to get for sponsor. There are some nations who are against Henrietta but will they risk it to form an alliance with them? Cisca is going to do negotiations with the Galaxy Network first. The deal is done and Amaterasu is now owned by the cadets. They even sell their broadcasting rights to Hollywood! Reality TV? Thus we have reporter Dita Mirkov on board broadcasting everything live on Amaterasu back to Galaxy Network.

On their first episode, they are already to engage the enemy. Cisca takes command when the enemy already starts firing from afar, outside Amaterasu’s firing range. Can’t blame the newbie for panicking so with suggestions from the crew, it is assumed the enemy is firing a rail gun. But Shinon disagrees since it is strange for the enemy to waste ammo firing at such a long range (its effectiveness will decrease the longer the distance). Intelligence officer, Yuuki Shimei adds that the enemy has no intention to evade attacks and plans to end the fight before they enter Amaterasu’s firing range. The enemy is discovered to be a gun battery attached to a factory and can replenish ammo by itself. Shinon realizes the reason why the enemy chose this as their battlefield is because up ahead are asteroids. She has a plan to take cover behind an asteroid shadow. They will use it as shield to get up close. Then they will move out of their safe zone to observe the enemy so they can formulate an attack plan. Although Amaterasu takes a direct hit, its heat resistance armour which is the selling point of this ship, regenerates. Amaterasu is able to get within firing range and destroy the gun battery. A successful mission but Galaxy Network’s producer, Peter Spikes isn’t quite impressed yet. Later Shinon talks to her best friend, Miyuri Akisato that the producers want and has made Cisca as captain, Takai Kiryuu and Shinto Mikami as commanders while all the operators will be girls. Also, former Prime Minister Mamiya who is also the uncle of Rio Mamiya will also be boarding Amaterasu. All Miyuri can say is to do their best in battle for this ship is the world’s biggest interplanetary observatory. It will be too much of a waste to let it get destroyed.

Episode 2
As soon as Mamiya gets on board, 2 ships from Henrietta appear. Since Amaterasu doesn’t have the resource to take on both ships, it is suggested that they run to the nearest neutral planet, Phoenicia. Their advantage is that they have no planet or citizens to defend. With Mamiya on board, they are like a government in exile. Dita continues to take footage of the crew during their break. Cisca and Rio talk about Sei Ogino being a workaholic and has negotiated well for Amaterasu. Because press conference requires fees and they have received many participation requests. Press conferences will also be their best bet to relay what is happening. Furthermore, Rio is the best debater in university. Although everyone thinks the duo are the ones who came up with this plan, it is actually the show producers. They wonder if Shinon also knows about this plan since she was mostly against it all but ironically didn’t disembark when she had the chance to. A ship from Henrietta, Trafalgar appears. Its commander hails them and lets them know his intention to engage them. The alert is sounded as all crew rush to their battle stations. I suppose fighting one on one is okay. As Trafalgar is accelerating, it is believed it has a short firing range. Yeah, but it has a very powerful plasma cannon.

When Trafalgar fires its plasma cannon, Amaterasu also fires theirs. However both beams negate each other. It is then they realize maybe this is what the plasma cannon is for and that Trafalgar intends to attack them via laser cannons. As they plan their next move, they get a call from Peter. He wonders why they are not doing anything after the first blast. He doesn’t care as long as they fire missiles or lasers or whatever. Just shoot back. Well, he is the sponsor. Got to go with it. Amaterasu employs 2 anti-laser weapons, Kasumi. As it takes time to set up, the enemy starts firing its laser cannons. Their radar did not pick up any flashes since it is shot at the speed of light. Although it scrapes Amaterasu, damage is minimal. Once they have finished preparing Revolver and getting into firing range, Amaterasu shoots but using auto-aim instead of manual adjustments that would have had higher percentage of hitting. Yuuki has analysed Trafalgar’s evasive manoeuvre programme and it is much simpler than thought to be. Trafalgar takes a direct hit and blows up. Amaterasu is forced to hear the eerie amplified sounds of the ship disintegrating in space. Amaterasu might have won this battle but soon Sei reports casualties. When Amaterasu got hit by the laser cannon, 3 of the maintenance crew outside were in its path. A space burial is held for the fallen. It is too late to realize this isn’t TV drama or training exercise. This is real reality TV.

Episode 3
Shinon falls depressed believing the deaths of those men are her fault. Arei Hisaka and Takai are doing maintenance of the panels outside Amaterasu. Arei’s adopted father was a commander on board a ship that was destroyed by Henrietta. Thus she is here to seek revenge. Takai has a different stance. He views all those who died as part of the war. If they start thinking who is killed or have killed, wars would never end. It’s not like he hates Henrietta but he does think they are wrong and is here to live up to his beliefs. An abnormal sun flare is detected. It will reach Amaterasu in about 8 minutes so all crew outside are to hurry back in. Takai takes this opportunity to hug Arei while he brings her to safety. Don’t want regrets? However he doesn’t bring her to the usual hangar but to some hatch. After he throws her in, he runs out of fuel and is left floating in space. Luckily Shinto in his mini ship picks him up shortly. Apparently this is a stunt for the ratings but Peter views it too nice to be aired. Cisca is facing some problems because some of the crew wants to call it quits. Then a civilian ship from Kibi hails them. Gendou Wakana who is the father of Sanri hopes his daughter would stop this and come home. Sanri explains the contract they have with Galaxy Network and the amount needed to be bought out. Father is willing to sell his company for it because what good would it do if Sanri is dead. Nothing else would bring her back. Plus, if Amaterasu surrenders now, all crew will be pardoned except the 5 whom Henrietta considers as leaders: Cisca, Rio, Takai, Shinto and Shinon. The communication is instantly cut off so as to make them think carefully what is needed to be done. When the 5 leaders converge, Shinon is convinced this is just a psychological attack Henrietta orchestrated. It is the perfect time to shake them since they have experienced casualties. Takai believes whoever wants to leave, let them leave because Amaterasu doesn’t need so many people to operate. In fact, Yuuki can actually operate the entire ship by himself.

Yuuki detects some malfunction somewhere in the ship. To avoid unrest from the crew, he sends Arei and Sanri to take a look. Arei talks to Sanri and knows she loves Takai. It is the reason she stayed on board. Sanri asks if Arei loves Takai too but it is more of because he saved her life during external maintenance. Arei suggests she confess to Takai. Although she might be afraid of the answer because she doesn’t know his feelings, it is only because he doesn’t know hers. Arei continues about her own experience. There was a man she loved but he has gone far away. She loved her adopted father not as a father but also as a man. Some of the crew are getting restless to leave as they don’t want to be dragged further into this. Sanri’s friends hope Takai could persuade Sanri to stay but he believes she has to make that decision for herself. Soon Sanri puts up a reply broadcast. The first thing she does is confess her love for Takai. To her this feeling is very important. Important enough to risk her life. That is why she is staying on Amaterasu and won’t forget the kindness and care her parents raised her. Father is devastated to hear this so the Henrietta guys putting him up to this break off whatever deals they had. Thanks to Sanri’s determination, the crew members now find new resolve to stay on. Can you say that love saved the day?

Episode 4
Admiral Dul Elroy receives word from Admiral Fares of Aboukir that he is going to make his move. As Henrietta’s greatest commander, he will end this charade and bring victory to the kingdom. Everyone is bugging Takai to respond to Sanri’s feelings. This guy promises to only do so if he lives through the war. Can’t think about love when he doesn’t know if he is going to die? Isn’t all the more reason to? Amaterasu picks up Aboukir’s presence. Fares wants the space pirates to surrender or die. Now, Aboukir is a stealth ship as Shinon lists down its accomplishments. Henrietta is so proud of its stealth ship that it even publicizes images of them. Shinon’s answer to take down a stealth ship is simple: Just find it. However with their detection systems down, all they need is to pool their efforts and find it first. Besides, they a person who is very keen on observation. So Miyuri who has a keen interest in observing the stars, takes on the job to find the stealth ship but it is hard to find it. Otherwise it wouldn’t be a stealth ship, right? I’ll leave the mumbo-jumbo out on why it’s hard to do so but they have around 5 to 10 days to find it if they are to be victorious. Shinon then suggests a very unusual method to find it via shock. Something about stealth capabilities that obstruct light from planets and other emissions thus there will be black stains appearing on the light curtain.

The operators begin their meticulous search area by area for Aboukir but it is still like a needle in a haystack. When Takai comes to check on them, Shinon gets another idea. She hopes he could do them a favour in firing all the missiles. This is not to fire at the enemy but the flashes of the explosion would provide shadows and thus make it easier to pinpoint. Cisca has his reservations if it fires too far behind or in front of Aboukir but with Miyuri’s keen eyes, she would be able to pick it up. And don’t worry about the costs of the torpedoes. Peter will deal with the budget. Just make it flashy. So once Yuuki has calculated the whereabouts of Aboukir, they fire their missiles before finishing it off. Elroy fears the worst when he knows the flashes of light and explosions do not originate from Amaterasu. With no communication coming from Aboukir, everyone is in shock that the stealth ship is defeated. Takai hopes Sanri can give more time to think about her confession. He wants to really think seriously about it. Okay. She’ll wait. Henrietta has released a statement confirming the destruction of Aboukir and the death of Fares and strongly condemns the pirate ship. Amaterasu is requested to leave Phoenicia in 24 hours so Cisca and Rio seek Mamiya’s advice on where to go next. He suggests a place where they are away from Henrietta’s surveillance. A red dwarf and planetary nation of Shuu who is fighting against the kingdom might be the nearest option.

Episode 5
Shuu agrees to welcome Amaterasu but there is a condition: Some of them need to attend a televised reception of their welcoming. Shinon doesn’t like this because they are treating them like celebrities. Aren’t they on some reality TV? Besides, does she not know of an advertisement blatantly using CGI of their faces? After all, this reality TV has the highest rating on Shuu so you can bet the public is really eager about. While the event is underway, Henrietta makes a sneaky move to declare war on Shuu and move in to attack. Takai as the acting captain knows this emergency move is to pin them down because they can’t run away and leave their captain who is still down on the planet. Plus, there are other crew members, Akiho Maya and Renna Satomi in town getting supplies. They notice one of the guards accompanying them acting suspicious. Like as though they know about the war declaration. This means there is a traitor in Shuu and a coup d’etat is going to occur. They have to get back to Amaterasu before that happens. Renna takes out the rogue guard and then explains to the other guards about the ongoing coup. She wants them to stay here as there is higher chance of fighting if they stay with them. They will find a way to return to Amaterasu on their own. To easily hide themselves, Renna suggests changing outfits. If Akiho thinks all this is happening like in a spy movie, be glad to know that Renna is trained as an actual spy! Dita gets a call from Peter that the people staging a protest against the war is actually staged. He wants her to cover this on their way back because it is ‘safer’ than covering a story in a war. Shinon also gets the idea to change clothes and hairstyle to make their escape to a suburban area. Meanwhile Renna and Akiho try to escape via spaceport and go a couple of guards to help them out.

Episode 6
Shinon’s group is taking a detour so that Dita can take footage for the war scenes. Mamiya talks to the president of Shuu and thinks he might sell them out to Henrietta so that he could avoid losing his president post. Whatever laws or illegality in the treaties, he wants him to make an alliance with them and declare war on the kingdom to save the civilians. Renna and Akiho are forced to fight some armed guards. Renna gets shot in the guts but needs to be strong enough to make it to space. Cisca and Rio talk about the possibility if Shuu hands them over to Henrietta, they might be executed. However Henrietta might want to proceed with caution because if they do so, Earth Federation will act and this will turn out badly for them. Rio starts crying on the thought she doesn’t mind dying for that because she will be politically undefeated. All Cisca can do is hug and kiss her. Is this a time to make out? Oh well. What else can they be doing? Shinon’s group are at the military base. This is where they are requesting Shinto to come pick them up despite the landing are is small and there are forces fighting nearby. So the plan is to cut off the main power and during the few minutes before the auxiliary power takes over, they will use this short moment to depart. Everything feels so convenient and perfect that it makes the military look so dumb and useless. Because they can actually snipe and destroy the power generator from outside, create a line of fire for Shinto to land, avoid enemy fire and blast off into space. Meanwhile Renna and Akiho manage to float back into Amaterasu. However Renna is wheeled into ICU. Attempts to revive her end in vain. She’s dead. Takai is mad that Peter wants to make a televised funeral of it. Sure, it’s taking advantage of her death but remember what you sign up for. Shinon hears about Renna’s death and once more the guilt starts flowing through. She quickly reads Renna’s last message sent to her admitting she is a spy from the intelligence department. She apologizes for keeping everyone in the dark and wanted to fight alongside everyone.

Episode 7
A televised funeral of Renna is held. Meanwhile the chairman of the supreme council of Henrietta has appointed Hans George Hermann as commander to destroy Amaterasu. Elroy and the other elite commanders discuss their strategy to take it down. Elroy warns the rest not to underestimate them because they already took out 3 of the kingdom’s top ships. Unfortunately for them, they find it hard to think a bunch of cadet brats are better than them. Elroy believes that minimum of 3 ships are needed to engage Amaterasu. He suggests using their elite ships while his own, Conquistador will engage one on one with Shenron (Shuu’s ship). While this strategy is ‘sure win’, the rest wonder if too many ships from the kingdom would have Amaterasu to bail out and run. In that case they will be seen as cowards over the TV network. A victory for Henrietta nevertheless. But Louis Belmont disagrees in letting those pirates go scot free. He believes they have to stick to the kingdom’s traditional tactic of one ship engaging directly and the other supporting from behind. Thus this strategy will be used to engage both Amaterasu and Shenron. Meanwhile Cisca is helping Shinon run a simulation of Henrietta’s ships against them. They always lose. But after Shinon tweaks a few parameters, she sees hope for victory. Shinon briefs the Shuu counterparts led by Captain Wong. She describes the enemy ships like Conquistador and Hammerhead are the heavy cruisers while Dragonfly and Hedgehog are the light ones only equipped with pulse lasers. They wonder how the smaller ones can win since they will be destroyed before entering effective firing range. Something about short warp, these ships can separate their bow and act as a separate attack system. Thus the best way to take it out swiftly is with their laser cannon. Shenron has better manoeuvrability although its lasers cannot pierce the thick armour. Hence it is best not to tackle Conquistador which has seen successive victories in its battles. Shinon shows the projected simulation. This is the only way to win. Okay. They’ll go with it. Everyone gets busy to make the necessary preparations.

Episode 8
The battle begins but Amaterasu realizes Shenron is accelerating ahead. At this rate they will engage Conquistador and Dragonfly before their scheduled time. Shinon realizes why they are doing this. If Shuu loses, they are forced to surrender to Henrietta. This means Amaterasu can no longer stay in Shuu. So Shenron is going to sacrifice themselves to let Amaterasu get away. Amaterasu tries to hail Shenron but they aren’t answering. Cisca orders the operation to go ahead. Hedgehog realizes too late of Amaterasu’s plasma cannons and faster acceleration. They have wasted time destroying its mines that were just distractions. As Amaterasu has zoomed pass them, even if they made a u-turn to chase Amaterasu, they still won’t be able to catch up. They are forced to abandon their mission and pray that Hammerhead can take on Amaterasu itself. Hammerhead engages Amaterasu who fires first. First a few shotgun particles followed by a heavy main cannon. Hammerhead gets hit although they fire back, Amaterasu’s damage is minimal thanks to their shield. Hammerhead is destroyed once they get hit by their main laser again. Hammerhead’s defeat is shocking so Elroy commands Dragonfly to change its course to engage Amaterasu as well as Hedgehog to continue pursuing it. Conquistador then finishes off Shenron. Yeah, they’re like just sitting there to get vaporized. In the aftermath of Shenron’s defeat, the president of Shuu surrenders to Henrietta. Cisca orders a retreat but Peter disallows them. They’re not going to run away and leave Shenron unavenged. Besides, the enemy ships are now flanking them so is there a way out of this? Shinon instantly heads down to Yuuki to seek an answer about doing a forced warp. She heard from Rio that it was his idea to buy Amaterasu and start a war against Henrietta, a battle they have no chance of winning. Yuuki believes there is a chance. As long Earth Federation would deploy its fleets but looks like there is no movement from them. They have no choice but to force warp. They might not know where they would end up so Yuuki will try to be as accurate as possible. Amaterasu successfully warps but also somewhat took the enemy’s mini assault module with it.

Episode 9
Elroy receives an urgent message from Isabel Fellini to return to the kingdom. Amaterasu appears safely and after a few calculations, they realize they are in a neutral area and will take this chance to resupply. Everybody is taking turns to be on shift as they notice Shinon seemingly down. Later she tries to go talk to Cisca in his room to discuss their next course of action but catches him making out with Rio! Oops! Peter calls Dita for updates. Despite the calm period now, he doesn’t want Amaterasu to lose as it will be bad for business as well as losing the only reporter willing to go to the frontlines for her story. He tells her that the supreme chairman of Henrietta has just passed away. They predict there will be more chaos. Isabel sees Hermann and Elroy. Hermann is not happy that she is now the acting chairman. She claims it is only right as she is handling the chairman’s national funeral. Later she talks to Elroy about teaming up to destroy Amaterasu. This is to regain public confidence and maintain the power balance with Earth Federation. As proof of her trust, she will reassign his old crews back to him. Shinon complains to Mamiya about their battles up till now were just to mobilize Earth Federation. Shouldn’t they tell the crew about this from the beginning? Mamiya explains she misunderstood. That is one of the possibilities. Also, this mission wasn’t a legitimate one to begin with nor was it ordered by anyone. After the resupply, he wants to go down to Earth to let the federation know what Amaterasu has been doing and perhaps find a way to live if they get them to recognize them as a government in exile. Shinon leaves dissatisfied with his answer. So who else can she confide with? Kouki Sakakibara, the chief engineer. You could guess he has a crush on Shinon. I mean, which guy would really let a girl lie on his back. Okay, any guy would for any cute girl. So after she feels better, I guess it made him feel better too. Because he confesses he likes her. It gets a bit awkward because they’re teasing us if they’re going to kiss or if Shinon is just going to pull back. They kissed anyway.

Episode 10
Mamiya arrives at Narita Spaceport. He is greeted by a fellow politician who tells him about the upcoming UN assembly. Depending on their decision, it might affect Amaterasu’s fate. Looks like everyone knows about Shinon and Kouki’s relationship. Some of the crew are invited to AGI Corp’s party (the conglomerate that built Amaterasu and intermediary for military hardware sales) while the rest remain behind to do maintenance. Hermann is not pleased that Isabel has now assumed command of military operations and that she has Conquistador out on a mission. He is also displeased she removed him as candidate to be the next supreme chairman. She then has him arrested to question for his recent battle failures. A small group of soldiers sneakily attack Amaterasu’s perimeter. This shocks the crew as they scramble for safety. Those at the party are stuck since there is a power outage but they get to see live footage from Dita’s reporting. Although some Amaterasu crew fight back in this gunfire skirmish, they cannot tell if the soldiers are from Henrietta. Even more puzzling if their goal is to seize Amaterasu, this scale is too small to achieve it. After a while, the soldiers retreat. Kouki thought he could chase them down. He fires when they don’t stop. They respond by shooting an RPG at him! He is blown to pieces and everyone saw it live! Oh dear. Shinon is going to be so sad. Later Dita calls Peter and knows he knew about this. He doesn’t give her a direct answer but also lectures her about taking sides. He then wants her to get off Amaterasu because the next time it will be destroyed as Henrietta has sent 5 ships for the job. She won’t get off and wonders if this is the kind of story he wants. It was its fate to begin with. There’s nothing they can do. Once the crew are back on Amaterasu, they are further shocked to hear AGI’s spokesperson forced to sever ties and supplies with them. Henrietta has issued a statement they will attack anybody associated or helping Amaterasu. So whatever contract they have is nullified. He wants them to get off the ship and that AGI can buy it back. However Rio notes that it is too late. They are at a point of no return. Shinon continues to cry alone.

Episode 11
Cisca makes an announcement to his crew. They will soon be leaving their docking and engage against Henrietta’s fleets. Their resupply is incomplete and any crew members who wish to get off Amaterasu now should take this chance. He will not hold or blame anybody if they choose this. The only one who took this opportunity is Sei. But she has a reason for doing this. Now she will try to be the middle man to negotiate between AGI and Amaterasu for supplies. Shinon puts away her blues to join the rest in hatching a strategy that revolves around centrifugal and gravitational force on Amaterasu. Not that I understand the mumbo-jumbo anyway. Peter gives his blessings to Dita to conduct the live broadcast the way she wants it. This means everyone including the enemy can see live what is happening inside the cockpit of Amaterasu. As the battle begins, Elroy orders Dragonfly and Hedgehog to flank and attack Amaterasu at full speed. It seems Amaterasu has chosen to target Hedgehog. However everyone is in for a shock when Amaterasu is actually targeting Dragonfly. The live broadcast is a trap and Dita is reporting opposite of their strategy. Too late for Dragonfly for evasive or counterattacking manoeuvres as they get zapped. Amaterasu then use those forces they discussed earlier to turn at unimaginable speed to target Dragonfly and also zap it to pieces. They are on a roll (literally) since the enemy is still in shock trying to recover from this false reporting trap. Amaterasu zaps a third and fourth Henrietta ship! Conquistador is all that’s left but is out of its firing range. However they still fire their plasma cannon in a big gamble. Luckily Elroy has foresight and already took evasive measures so their damage is minimal. Once it is over, Elroy commands his men to search and find Amaterasu as they have no more capacity to fight. Indeed. Amaterasu is bogged down with heavy damage from that tactic. All they have left is to fight with all they’ve got.

Episode 12
Amaterasu is like sitting ducks as most of their systems are down. Elroy commands to fire the laser cannon at Amaterasu despite they cannot accurately pinpoint their position and will not destroy them outright. He does not want to make them rest. Conquistador fires several shots that grazed Amaterasu. But each shot is getting more accurate. Shinon deduces Conquistador has not located them and thus the lesser armament attack to do so. Miyuri will try to pinpoint Conquistador’s position from their attacks as Shinon suggests getting up close to them at maximum battle speed and fire their Revolver. While the fighting rages on, Mamiya makes his speech at UN to condemn Henrietta’s violent actions. It is Isabel’s turn to speak. She shows images of Amaterasu’s trail of destruction and thus their actions to subdue their insurgent activities under Henrietta’s areas. When Amaterasu gets into firing range, it fires 3 Revolver shots. Either missed or did minimal damage. Now they are out of ammo. Elroy gets ready his main cannon to vaporize them for good when he receives a call from Isabel who just finished her speech. He updates her on the situation but she wants him to capture them instead and hand them over to Earth Federation. Elroy is shocked by this decision so she explains how little they would gain from destroying them as the public sympathy is with Amaterasu. It is better to stabilize the situation and plan to restructure the internal workings of the kingdom. Elroy is forced to comply when he detects 10 Earth Federation vessels on the way.

Cisca is screaming for options but none. All they face now is imminent death. He then receives contact from Elroy who gives them an hour to surrender otherwise they will be destroyed. Mamiya explains this farce especially his speech was just for show. Before the conference began, Earth Federation already sent its fleet to Henrietta. No doubt Earth Federation won’t do something bold as to attack independent nations under Henrietta. If Amaterasu was a domestic problem, they won’t get involved. But if it is a government in exile, they can strike a blow to it in the name of saving it. They’re just responding to Amaterasu’s request and the public will be sympathetic to it. Now the planets don’t see any difference being ruled by Henrietta or Earth Federation. Those who have sided with Henrietta will now likely find themselves overthrown. Cisca discusses with his crew and the only option is to surrender. However Takai is very much against it otherwise all they have done and those who have died for the cause will be for naught. As the bridge is very much divided, when Shinto notices how odd it is for Conquistador to ask them to surrender now, this prompts Shinon to realize that their original plan was to sink them and not give them any chance to speak. Otherwise they would have done so when they were flanked. Something must have changed the situation.

Episode 13
As everyone waits what Earth Federation will do, suddenly Conquistador picks up signals of being targeted by them. Before they could prepare themselves, the Earth Federation fleet fires all they’ve got at them. Galaxy Network is suddenly taken off the air. The station is stormed by armed men as they beat up Peter and take him hostage. Isabel is shocked to be arrested under orders of Hermann. She realizes he has sold Henrietta out to Earth Federation and warns him that he is only being used. He doesn’t care. After Isabel gets executed, the Earth Federation guys shoot Hermann! Conquistador is on the verge of destruction. Elroy contacts Amaterasu to tell what is happening. It seems they have been backstabbed. He regrets they could settle this under circumstances. A final salute before Conquistador is blown to smithereens. Shortly, Amaterasu is contacted by Earth Federation fleet’s captain, Joseph Truman who gives them an hour to surrender. Peter manages to break free from his capture and contact Dita that the station is being taken over by Earth Federation. And then when broadcast resumes, it is a totally fake broadcast saying how Conquistador defied orders to surrender and was promptly destroyed and thus they are going to attack Henrietta. What does this mean? Shinon deduces Earth Federation has been using Amaterasu as pretext to wage war against Henrietta and rule the galaxy. There is a possibility Amaterasu’s crew will be executed for knowing too much, hence the station takeover to not show their execution.

Shinon has a plan. She wants Dita to get hold of Peter first. They need to show a real live broadcast of Earth Federation using violence against them. They will put Amaterasu on autopilot towards the fleet before exploding at the right moment. Once Cisca authorizes the self-destruct sequence, everyone escapes via shuttle. However they notice Yuuki is not around. Cisca and Rio try to go convince him but he is stubborn to remain and operate some of Amaterasu’s systems that can’t be done automatically. He takes this as his responsibility for dragging everyone into this mess and claims he has higher authority then Cisca as he relieves everyone from their duties. Cisca and Rio has no choice but to leave him. Peter manages to slip back into the broadcast room and hack the broadcast to Dita who reports live the fleet attacking Amaterasu (Truman thinks Amaterasu is trying to defy and attack them) although they are not being provoked. This truth is soon broadcasted all over other networks across the galaxy as they witness Earth Federation’s aggression. With Peter’s job done, the armed men finally break down the door and shoot him. Well, at least he did something good for one last time. No wonder Dita was telling Shinon how she once dated him. Amaterasu’s self-destruct goes off and its shockwave destroys the ships. The surviving Amaterasu crew are sad over the development of events but they have some good news as Sei picks them up in AGI’s cargo ship. Shinon narrates war is over for now as she would like to believe peace was created by their hands. For now, Amaterasu’s battle is over.

Outlaw Star: The Reality Of Politics
Well, that was sure a bittersweet and sad ending if I should say. With the interestingly shocking twists and sudden turn of events, it might felt a bit rushed in that sense but I guess it is a fitting ending for everything that has been dragged out for too long. At least in the context of this anime and not the series itself. Imagine if it ended with the war continuing and that Amaterasu would soldier on to continue fighting, I think it would leave an even more unsatisfying and bad aftertaste in our mouth. Thus, the ending of Amaterasu meeting its fitting end of being destroyed in the battlefield is somewhat suitable for the battleship it was made for. But what about the crew? Well, they survived. That’s good enough considering the political storm they had to go through.

For me, the interesting parts are the battle sequences. Although this series doesn’t bombard us with many flashy laser lights or epic space battles, many of the so called battles are seen taking place in the bridge and command centre whereby the commanders of both sides give their orders on their next course of action. There are a few of those laser firing and spaceship views but they are much lesser compared to this battle of the brains at the bridge. Ironically there are a few terminologies albeit I feel that they aren’t that heavy, I didn’t really understand them completely but yet I find it interesting to watch. Like for example when the crew reports the damage status and their power capacity, I might not comprehend the entire thing but somehow I had the gist of what was going on. Strange, right?

Hence this proves that even without the flashy physical action, watching both sides giving commands from their seat is still as interesting. At least for this series. Perhaps it was my spell with a couple of military themed anime in the past like Senjou No Valkyria, Gate, Nejimaki Seirei Senki: Tenkyou No Alderamin and even Heavy Object. It is always nice to see the underdog team defeat a bunch of powerful favourites, right? Yeah, they make it look so unrealistic that Amaterasu, a bunch of amateurs that are just about to join the enlisting but their dreams dashed because of circumstances, to be able to effectively destroy not one, not two, not three but a handful of Henrietta’s finest ships! Man, did they use some cheat code here or is God really siding with them? Or maybe those old captain guys in Henrietta were really underestimating those kids. Doesn’t make sense since they should have war experience and shouldn’t be holding back to even kids who are part of the rebellion. Oh right. I forgot I’m watching anime.

Thus in view of this action part, the little ‘disappointing’ part is that there aren’t enough deaths on Amaterasu! Holy sh*t! Am I a bloodthirsty sadist?! I can only blame myself for having created such a high expectation and assumption after reading the synopsis. When I read that death was going to be real, I was expecting like at least a death of a crew per episode when the sh*t really starts to hit the fan. Okay, some ‘minor’ characters died. Can’t really complain, can I? Happy now? But come to think of it, if Amaterasu really does take a lot of casualties, it would render the ship less efficient to operate because with lesser crew members, either they have to take in replacements and recruits (which in their position isn’t possible) or they have to overwork and do double, triple jobs. Not practical. Oh wait, Yuuki did say he could handle many parts of the ship on his own… And ironically Amaterasu’s final death count culminated in his ‘sacrifice’. So while Amaterasu’s deaths are minimal, nobody talks about Henrietta’s ships who were destroyed by them and all the crew members that died along with them. Yeah, nobody cares about the ‘bad guys’, right? So I thought the final episode they decided to make me ‘happy’ when they kill off a few characters from Henrietta. Yeah well, at least it saves me the trouble to think what will happen to them. One bad deed deserves another, they say. Karma is a b*tch too. They got what they deserved after all that political backstabbing.

If I personally look into the characters of the series, I think they are the weakest link. Although Amaterasu has a lot of crew members, the handful that at least have decent screen time do not feel that deep. You don’t feel connected to the cause they are fighting for on a personal level. For example, Arei’s reason to fight Henrietta was to avenge her father. Her back story sounds decent but there is all there is to it. This means the other main characters like Shinon, Cisca, Takai, Rio, Shinto and even Yuuki, their backgrounds are shrouded in mystery. Sure, Rio is the granddaughter of a politician. But that’s about it. Blame the short duration of the series that didn’t do justice to flesh out at least these characters. Therefore we can’t personally connect to them why they as a small little government in exile are fighting against a huge kingdom with experienced military equipment and personnel. We only vouch for them because they are fighting as a group. But on an individual level, we know nothing much about them. Well, even if we do, how does it really affect the course of the plot?

Shinon showcases herself as a genius tactician with her coming up most of the brilliant tactics that ensured Amaterasu’s victory. Sometimes too perfect and at first go that it doesn’t feel a bit realistic. I’m sure she is one of the top students of the military academy but without experience and she is making and calling all those superb deductions like as though she is reading from a script. Sometimes I feel that Cisca barely makes it as a captain. He doesn’t screw up or show any obvious weakness but with him giving out orders as the captain, it feels like as though he is a robot shelling them out since as I said most of the strategies are from Shinon. Hey, at least this isn’t anywhere that Irresponsible Captain Tylor anime. Yeah, I wanted to draw some similarities but I think the differences are too vast. Because Takai is in charge of the cannons, sometimes I feel he is trigger happy (which he is not) because the crew often seeks his ‘permission’ whenever they want to fire. Something bugs me about Yuuki. He is never seen leaving his station like as though he is hooked up to the terminals there. Sometimes I question if he even exists at all and could be just some artificial intelligence. Well, some crew members have entered his room and talked to him before but that made me think he was made of hologram… Why the heck am I so paranoid?

Therefore I thought having a bit of romance element inside here feels a bit cheesy and a distraction. We start it off with Sanri and Takai, thus some sort of cheap reason why she would want to continue to stay on. Well, might as well die for the one she loves, right? Then we have the secretive tryst between Cisca and Rio. All that pressure on the bridge maybe made them had a fling? Yeah, it was unexpected but I should have seen it coming since the duo spend quite a lot of time together not only on the bridge but when they go on the ground too. Finally there’s the short-lived Shinon and Kouki which is of course the most tragic. Their romance came so fast and it ended as fast as well. I know it is a good thing Shinon put that tragedy behind her but I can’t help feel that as it never happened. As though the plot was to pull some heart strings because you know, the lover of the main girl is dead. Oh, a timely reminder to increase the casualty count on Amaterasu. And what the heck was Dita’s revelation with Peter for? To show why such a strong and independent stuck by some crazy TV producer all these years? Yeah, love makes you do crazy things.

I didn’t expect to find Mamiko Noto here. It wasn’t the reason why I picked to watch this show but I guess I would still watch it even if I knew. Although helming a lesser role as Sanri, at least hearing her voice is better than not hearing her voice at all. Fan boy speaking… There are other recognizable seiyuus too like Ayako Kawasumi as Rio, Shizuka Itou as Shinon and Sayaka Ohara as Isabel. Because there are quite a number of casts, I later discovered that there are other seiyuus such as Satomi Arai, Daisuke Ono and Yu Kobayashi that I know but didn’t manage to catch them due to their very limited appearances.

The rest of the selected casts are Yukimasa Obi as Cisca (Zero Enna in Pilot Candidate), Masayuki Katou as Takai (Kiyomasa in Deadman Wonderland), Tomohiro Tsuboi as Shinto (Shinpachi Nagakura in Hakuouki series), Miyu Irino as Yuuki (Syaoran in Tsubasa Chronicle), Hiroshi Matsumoto as Elroy (Henry Marker in Karin), Hitomi Nabatame as Dita (Margery Daw in Shakugan No Shana), Akeno Watanabe as Arei (Rito in To Love-Ru), Masumi Asano as Miyuri (Risa in Hayate No Gotoku), Kaori Shimizu as Sei (Hazuki in Nogizaka Haruka No Himitsu), Yuu Asakawa as Renna (Jura in Vandread), Atsuko Enomoto as Akiho (Misaki in Angelic Layer), Shinji Kawada as Kouki (Shino in Naruto) and Tomoyuki Shimura as Peter (Nakai in Bakuman).

Hearing the opening theme, Radiance brings back those nostalgic memories of my anime stint in the mid-2000s. Sung by Mami Kawada who was a member of the I’ve Sound group, the style of this music is very much similar to all the other animes that I have watched during that period such as Onegai Teacher, Onegai Twins, the first season of Hayate No Gotoku and the first season of Shakugan No Shana. The ending theme is Chi Ni Kaeru ~On The Earth~ by Kotoko who was also a member of I’ve Sound. But this slow ballad didn’t make me feel nostalgic despite having a hand in singing in those aforementioned animes.

Animated by the veteran anime studio of J.C. Staff, I guess the art and drawing are pretty decent for that time period. CGI is also used but that is mostly reserved for the ships. They try their best to have different designs but I thought that despite they look very different from each other, they still look bland and plain. Is it because that the ships or not colourful? I mean, they’re all white or grey. Boring, right? Oh well, why the heck would a military ship be painted so colourful as if they’re signalling to enemies, “Hey, look! I’m over here! So colourful right over here!”. Yeah… But the weirdest CGI used is for the automated walkways inside the ship’s corridors. I don’t know. It just feels odd seeing them. As though they don’t really fit in especially when those 2D humans are animated together in it. Feels like something might glitch soon…

Overall, if you are interested in military themed shows with some political manoeuvring, the draw of the series would be the tactics devised in the bridge rather than the reality TV plot and the characters. And definitely not the cheesy abysmal romance. I believe reality TV would be more controversial as it would be exciting if real death like this series is part of the script. You have been warned, right? Then we will see how many people would love to become famous quick as reality TV stars. Me? I wouldn’t even want to sign up for a reality TV that risks having death just so that some people can have their entertainment for the day and to others like power hungry politicians as a tool to further their ambitions. Not even a trillion dollars. Where are you going to enjoy all that money when you’re dead? Maybe a gold plated and diamond encrusted coffin buried inside a huge air-conditioned mansion on a huge picturesque landscape with maids tending to its upkeep perhaps? I can imagine the political uproar and politicking that comes after that.