Stratos 4

September 25, 2011

Is it amazing that throughout the millions of years ever since our planet have been born, somehow Earth manages to evade all those comets and meteorites that zoom pass our little blue planet. Whether it is by a mile or a whisker (in large and proportionate sense, that is), we should consider ourselves ‘lucky’ that no big major asteroids have crashed and destroyed our planet that will instantly wipe out all forms of life. But what if it becomes inevitable in the future? What happens if we do discover asteroids that are on collision course with Earth? That’s where Stratos 4 comes in. Yeah, probably all that Earth-saving thingy was just an excuse for me to watch girls as young as high school students going up into space shooting down threatening comets with some fanservice.

For starters, there are quite a few terminologies to bear in mind if you want to keep pace with the story such as Comet Blasters (teams stationed in outer space who are the first line of defence in shooting down detected and approaching meteors) and Meteor Sweepers (the second line of defence stationed below on Earth and just like its name suggests, they’re supposed to take out debris of meteors that Comet Blasters couldn’t destroy in 1 clean hit). The setting of the story takes place on an airbase on Shimojijima Island, Japan, one of the several intercept bases around the globe. The focus on the people of this base and mainly the quartet of Mikaze Honjou, Shizuha Doi, Ayamo Nakamura and Karin Kikuhara as they interact and protect Earth and the people they love from these falling asteroids. Amidst all the action and drama, some twist and hidden plot along the way. Oh yes. Don’t forget the little fanservice.

Episode 1
The Asteroid Crisis Prevention Forces (ACPF) gets ready to intercept a comet named Catherine on course crashing into Earth as they sortie the famed Comet Blasters (team of Miharu Oozora, Betty Boozeman, Chris Calman, Annette Kerry and Chizuru Kubo) for the job. New cadet pilots of the Ground Intercept Force, Mikaze and Shizuha are running late for their class but make it in time and meets up with their pals, Ayamo and Karin. Since Mikaze slacks in answering a question (not to mention joking around), she receives a Pink Card (a kind of penalty) as she is made to do laps around the field. She is depressed and her pals think she is under pressure to join this force as all her family members are pilots. Her friends find her slacking off at loudmouth chief mechanic Kouichirou Sako-sensei’s garage to pick her up when the alert sounds that all standby pilots ranked 3 and below to evacuate the base as the interception of Catherine begins. The girls return to their dorm-cum-diner, Kouchin (run by grandmother-granddaughter pair Rin and Ran Mikuriya) but was being made to do deliveries. Comet Blasters successfully destroy the comet, turning it into acceptable debris size as it rains down on Earth like shooting stars, rendering other standby pilots like Meteor Sweeper pilots, Kazuma Iwasaki and Kei Fujitani into non-action. As the girls finish their deliveries, they gather at a playground as they watch the ‘shooting stars’ fall. The girls lament that their thankless position sucks as Mikaze notes that another boring day has passed.

Episode 2
A short history lesson in class from their teacher-cum-air-traffic-controller Sayaka Kisaragi on how the UN discovered meteors threatening to crash into Earth and the establishment of ACPF, Comet Blaster and Meteor Sweeper. Mikaze is depressed as she reminisces her younger days whereby her entire family are pilots and they encourage a cheerful her into becoming one. Another asteroid nicknamed Lucy is detected so the usual procedure of engaging Comet Blasters to intercept it. However this time it didn’t go well as there are large chunks falling into orbit. Two of them into Japan. Meteor Sweepers are put into action. However after blasting off, Iwasaki-Fujitani pair abort their mission because they think something flew into their intake. This means Mikaze and co are next in line to finish the job. Finally get to see some action eh, Mikaze? As the girls scramble, suddenly Mikaze froze in fear halfway down the runway. It was so overwhelming that she started to panic and yell out for help. A gust of wind starts to push her forward and that’s when she got her confidence back and rushes to her comrade’s side. They launch and successfully destroy the asteroids. As they get ready to return, Mikaze spots the Comet Blasters soaring above them over the stratosphere. Back on land, Mikaze’s confidence is renewed and won’t run away anymore.

Episode 3
Mikaze now works hard in her training and studies, surprising her pals. Sako thought it was Mikaze playing hooky again but it’s Kisaragi who is sleeping there! Later the girls relax at a river spot. Mikaze dives in but gets attracted to a certain blue and swims for it. The next thing she knows, she is in her bed and ponders about the colourless world she has been looking at all the while. As the girls serve at a packed Kouchin, drunk Sako challenges about breaking the maximum altitude. The girls conduct a live training exercise for a scenario of a medium-sized comet. Their launch and training is successful but during decent, Mikaze-Karin team pushed their jet further upwards till they can’t. However they won’t have enough fuel to land. The nearest emergency landing will be at Anderson Base at Guam. They have to pilot through a storm and though successful, their fuel is now zero. They are also going to try the dangerous no-flap landing. At that speed and that arrester hook, do you think they’ll stop in time? Don’t worry, even if they made everyone else worried, they landed successfully. They’re sure going to get lots of punishment when they get home. While Shizuha and Ayamo slog away their busy shift at Kouchin, Mikaze and Karin are having a blast at a beach in Guam. Enjoy it while you can.

Episode 4
The girls are having their ‘unauthorized’ flight training. Of course when they return to ground, Kisaragi punishes them to run laps. Male candidate pilots Sora Ikeda (the one with brown hair) and Tsubasa Miyazaki (the blondie) watch them run as Tsubasa mocks the girls and thinks they can get their ticket to space without hard work. However as the next results come out, the girls rank ahead of them, much to Tsubasa’s shock. Mikaze is ranked first and will be the first in the starting line-up for the next mission. Mikaze is in high spirits after that. After work, unhappy Tsubasa challenges Mikaze to a shooting duel. He sounds jealous. I know your dream about working hard and going to space, but isn’t that everyone’s dream here too? I don’t know how the duel ended but Mikaze stayed and practice till early next morning! Poor Sako had to sit and watch her all night. Soon the alert for comet Mary is sound. This time all Meteor Sweepers need to standby since this comet is much larger. After Comet Blasters destroy Mary, as calculated it breaks into several pieces. As Mikaze and co pilot their crafts to intercept the meteors, one of them suddenly change course. Mikaze-Karin is ordered to back down and let Shizuha-Ayamo take over but Mikaze remains stubborn as she thinks she can destroy it. Ignoring her orders, she fires the missile (Shizuha-Ayamo also doing the same). Unfortunately the meteor wasn’t destroyed completely and broke into smaller meteorites. It comes crashing down into the surface so much so one of them directly hit an island and turned it into a large crater! Luckily all the people on it were previously evacuated. When the girls return to base, Ayamo reprimands Mikaze for shooting and slaps her. They see Karin unconscious behind. Meanwhile the ACPF has an investigation team on the crater island taking samples of the meteorite.

Episode 5
Mikaze falls into depression but is soon summoned for a hearing on the main base at Okinawa. Though the panel assures her this isn’t a trial or this meeting is of not a military nature, they’re being sarcastic and imposing. The questions they ask seem to try to twist the story and lead her to name a higher up whom they believe gave her the orders to do so. They even have all the info about her family and friends at their fingertips to ‘threaten’ her and warn her about this being ‘adult business’ than child’s play. Confused Mikaze insists that everything was her sole responsibility. Mikaze is even put under surveillance in a room where stays! This continue for several days till the panel orders the summon of other witnesses: Ayamo and Shizuha. It is known that the popular Comet Blasters team are vacationing at a nearby hotel. Mikaze sneaks out (wasn’t there supposed to be a camera in her room?) and attends the packed press conference. However Comet Blasters sound cocky and arrogant. They even walk out halfway when they think their time is up. Mikaze tries to get to the front to confront them. Their eyes met. They see Mikaze’s emblem and mocks her job as ‘wiping their asses’. Shizuha and Ayamo are at the conference too and they yell back to give their piece of mind. Suddenly Sako appears, desperately trying to get Comet Blasters’ group leader Miharu to come back to him (she was his ex-lover) but was restrained by guards. The hearing continues the next day as Ayamo and Shizuha stand up for Mikaze. But the meeting is called off when the panel gets an urgent call from the secretary-general. The girls make up and become good friends again. They return to their Shimojijima Base. They see Karin awake and her appetite equally huge.

Episode 6
An episode dedicated to Kouchin’s fat pet cat, Alice. We see her waking up the girls (no need for alarm clocks). As they rush to the base, Alice accidentally tags in one of their bike (can’t she feel that it’s heavier than usual?). Alice strolls by several sections of the base, passing Sako (still, depressed about that Miharu case), taking a short peep at the women’s shower (perverted Fujitani joins in but of course gets his deserved retribution) and Mikaze cleaning in the kitchen (she is grounded and had a pay cut). Mikaze spots Alice and chases her, bumping into Kisaragi in the hallway. Kisaragi then realizes an important classified data chip is missing and panics. After learning from Mikaze (Kisaragi’s really pissed and taking out her stress on her!) that she saw the chip hanging from Alice’s collar, she summons the entire base to find that cat in an emergency! Apparently she needs to reply to some HQ in 3 hours or else… Everyone goes to search for Alice, even employing weird methods like dressing up as mice! A little kitten takes interest in Alice but the latter isn’t interested though it continues to follow her. The kitten bumps into a group of bad cats. Bad cat boss is going to take the cute little one out when Alice appears and saves the day. Seems the boss and Alice knew each other and the former is going to get his revenge for the scar she left on his ear. A cat fight occurs (literally) and though Alice is outnumbered, she wins and shows who is boss. Karin thought she spotted Alice and went to call her pals but they are disappointed to see the knocked out bad cats instead. Kisaragi laments her fate when she finds Alice in the Commander’s lap. He explains Alice brought the chip to him and so he already contacted the base. What a relief. Everyone parties at Kouchin except Sako and Mikaze who has to serve due to their grounded status. And that little kitten, it continues hanging out with Alice and has been given the name Shogun. Well, appropriate or note, Alice has always been called Admiral by the rest.

Episode 7
Mikaze is happy since her suspension period is over and is now able to fly. They go see Sako (still depressed about Miharu) and talk to him about his incomplete rocket. He mentions about this Stratos Zero that allows ship to launch directly into space instead of the current one which can only reach the stratosphere. Thinking of a need to pilot it when it completes, Mikaze volunteers to do so and thus the girls decide to help him fix it as soon as possible (of course for Sako it would mean getting back Miharu). Tsubasa mocks Mikaze for running away and taking the easy way out to get a Comet Blaster licence and this causes angry Mikaze to accidentally drop a metal beam. Hope it’s not damaged. But the setup will be delayed. In the space station, the Comet Blasters besides discussing the next meteor impact also talk about how the zero gravity doesn’t affect their proportions (girls will be girls). A disturbing scene whereby a Comet Blaster member, Betty is taking a shower, Miharu sneaks in and forces a kiss on her! She swings this way?! Mikaze seems down but gets advice to try her best from Iwasaki. Even the Commander, Robert Reynolds offers some advice so Mikaze works hard and burns the midnight oil to fix the engine. Finally it’s completed and on the day of its ignition test, it attracts lots of crowd. The blast starts and after 120 seconds, it is a success. Everyone celebrates at Kouchin. Mikaze is super positive in her training flight and is confident she will ride that rocket one day to space.

Episode 8
Shimojijima Base is preparing for its 38th festival. The special guests arrive early and it turns out they are parents of the young pilots. We see the dads of Mikaze’s and Ayamo know each other very well and are always in some sort of friendly rivalry outdoing each other while Shizuha’s dad is a maniac pro photographer that can’t stop snapping for a second. Kisaragi’s mom is hounding her with a list of eligible bachelor candidates. Then a flashy jet lands nearby and Mikaze dreads this person because it turns out to be her sister. She’s acting like a celebrity. During the festival, Mikaze and her pals put up an aerial show. Then they go show their parents Stratos Zero and tell of their intention to go to space with it. However they vehemently protest and want them to give up this dangerous and risky idea. Both sides get into an argument so much so the parents decide to see Reynolds and get them transferred. Meanwhile Karin is alone and experiences horrifying memories how she watched her parents perished in a flight crash. The owners of Kouchin meet Mikaze and co’s parents. They tell them that they should just support and watch over their daughters since they’re trying to grasp their own future themselves and doing their best. Dejected Mikaze and co realize Karin is not around and must’ve forgotten about her and go search. Sora sees Karin sitting alone at the pier and tells her that she can talk to him about his problems. She mentions she’s always alone ever since coming to this base. She didn’t mind it till she saw that meteorite and felt strange since like starting to remember past accidents and remembering her late parents. The more she remembers her past, the more she feels like someone else. Karin on the verge of breaking down says she is scared. However Sora apologizes that he can’t help simply because he notes her friends have come looking for her. He leaves it to them to console Karin. As the quartet return to the after-festival party, they bump into Mikaze’s sister. She tells them to go see their parents quickly. After they leave, she notes Mikaze can be reckless all she wants because it is her role to be the perfect sister. The girls reconcile with their parents as we see Reynolds and the elderly Kouchin owner having a chat together. He’s trying to hit on her, is he? But with an umbrella? Well, it has more use than any jewellery.

Episode 9
Mikaze and co successfully intercept another comet but they are soon rushed into a helicopter as soon as they land. Seems the emergency is a hotspring vacation trip for the first batch of Shimojijima Base’s staff. Kisaragi calls Iwasaki for an important talk. Something about Mikaze’s interrogation committee and the actions they’ve taken are unusual. They think they’re trying to hide something and wish to keep this a secret from Mikaze. However the girls are eavesdropping nearby. Later the girls catch a bunch of otakus peeping at them. Seems they are enthusiastic about the crashed comet and the various conspiracy theories surrounding it on the internet which includes government cover up and alien invasion. However they think that ACPF is hiding something and there’s a power struggle within the organization and that the Comet Blasters are involved. During the meal, Karin becomes a glutton while drunk Kisaragi tries to make Iwasaki take responsibility for accidentally seeing her naked in the hotspring, causing everyone to misinterpret. After the girls had a short pillow fight and take another soak in the hotspring, they see the passionate otakus again. This time they show them a chart from an official website about the dramatic increase of space shuttles to the Orbital Station. They think its equipment and scientists sent there to cultivate organisms found in the comets but the girls say it’s to transport food. Back in Shimojijima Base, only Sora, Tsubasa, Fujitani and Sako are left to look after the base. Bored, eh? Yeah, all the girls are gone for vacation. The elderly Kouchin lady delivers their much awaited takeout but they get into a silly argument and spilled the food and continued fighting. Boys will be boys. Mikaze and co realizes Karin is missing so they go look for her and found her snacking in town. (Karin was spacing out throughout the whole vacation except for meal time). Though Mikaze is upset she didn’t tell them where she went, she forgives her. That night Karin couldn’t sleep and went up close to Mikaze’s face like as though she wants to kiss her! But she realizes and backs off. Karin cuddles herself in fear.

Episode 10
Mikaze and co flop in their simulator exercise. Let’s just say the ‘devastating’ effects include destruction of cities, deaths of many people (total 9 billion! That’s human population minus 3 billion!) and the world close to the ice age. The girls feel down and wonder at this rate they’ll get their Comet Blaster licence (except for Karin who is eating away like nobody’s business). If you still can’t forget Miharu’s disturbing act, she’s on the prowl again. This time force kissing an unsuspecting staff while she is changing. Mikaze and co watch a replay of the comet that destroyed the island. She notices a debris that is odd looking and wonders if the comet could change its course. They sift through a comet research website and browse through all its conspiracy theories. On a day when Shimojijima Base is to launch a mission with the Comet Blasters, suddenly communications from the Orbital Station #7 got cut off. Though it is reported as electromagnetic waves and solar wind interferences, Kisaragi notices that only communications to the TV station is broadcast but the ground base still receives nothing. Karin also notices a time lag from 0.3 seconds to 0.4 seconds between the surface and Orbital Station #7 and thinks the broadcast is not sent from space. Plus, Miharu is acting real suspicious and the orbital station team is in some sort of pinch (they’re acting defensive against some sort of threat?). Kisaragi gets a call from the main HQ to initiate Code 00, that is every ground base is to follow direct feed from the HQ. When communications recover, they receive report of several simultaneous comets so much so they need to launch 4 pairs of jets to counter them. The girls prepare to sortie but Karin starts feeling uneasy. When a comet is destroyed, Karin collapses. She is rushed off the island since the base lacks facilities. Mikaze recognizes one of the men from the committee. She realizes too late when she picks up Karin’s dropped handphone and reads disturbing texts of “Help me!”. In the end, 8 of the 12 comets are destroyed and the remaining ones crashed onto the surface with the usual investigation team taking samples.

Episode 11
Mikaze, Ayamo and Shizuha request to take leave to rescue Karin but Kisaragi declines them. However Reynolds allows Mikaze and Shizuha to go. This means Kisaragi will have to pilot with Ayamo for the missions. Mikaze and Shizuha try to search for Karin at the hospital but to their shock she isn’t listed. They earn the wrath and unpleasant stares of the injured patients as they think those kids are playing around. Outside, somebody uses a little girl to pass them a pen drive to tell them that Karin has been taken to Tsukuba Research Facility. The otaku quartet hitch them a ride there as they mention about Tsukuba’s fishy and suspicious independent existence. Also, the Star Seed programme has something to do with alien life form and the Organization has been covering it up. They think Karin might have something to do with it. Meanwhile Kisaragi-Ayamo go on a flight mission as Kisaragi remembers a horrific past whereby she was stunned after a failed interception causes deaths of many. Mikaze and Shizuha impersonate as air-cond repair personnel to enter the base with a special access card. When they reach into the room, they triggered the alarm but realize have to run for it since Karin is no longer here. They bump into one of the committee personnel, Tsukino. Seems he is on their side. On the ride out, he tells them Karin was taken when he tried to contact them and is in protective custody. He explains she is a sample. She was infected by them when the orbital station was under construction. The brains of most of the infected ones were invaded and they lost their true self. Only in her case the invasion stopped after the 1st stage and they think it had something to do with her young brain’s autistic activity. Those weird looking debris from the comet crash are Star Seeds that are sent to Earth, though origin and purpose unknown. All they know it is a threat to mankind’s existence. As Karin is the only sample left, they put her in Shimojijima Base in hopes to find a way to coexist. He didn’t expect them to be friends so fast that’s why the Organization is taking action to prevent them from gathering more data. Mikaze insists they didn’t win her over but are true friends. Due to the rapid breeding ability, those outside the atmosphere are infected, the reasons the orbital stations have gone silent. He thinks they took Karin and are going to use the orbital stations to spread the seeds even if it means destroying Earth. Seems their limo is being targeted and being shot at but it is just a decoy as the otaku quartet are inside instead. The real ones are sent to the air base as the guy says they don’t have to do anything because he’s just extending the hand of friendship to the younger generation.

Episode 12
Flashback how Sako and Miharu dreamt of completing a machine that will keep the Earth safe from the comets. In present time at Orbital Station #7, we see that the crisis is that there are 2 camps being separated. One planning on something nefarious led by Miharu, Betty and Chris while the other trying to escape led by Annette and Chizuru. Shimojijima Base gets a message from Mikaze that they’re going to rescue Karin who has been taken to Orbital Station #7. She mentions that the people in the station have been infected with an alien virus. Shizuha flies the plane low to avoid radar detection but its’ so low that YOU CAN ALMOST HIT THE TREES! Once it ran out of fuel, they abandon it in the middle of the road and ride an old guy’s truck. How many licences does Shizuha have?! Meanwhile the otaku quartet are being interrogated about Mikaze but they go on blabbing about her personal data (including her 3 sizes), likes and dislikes. The interrogator wants to know their objective so one of them spills the beans by revealing his objective is… Karin! WTF?! Then they start arguing among each other that their real objective is supposed to be watching planes. The higher ups decide not to waste time on these useless know-nothing blokes. Whether on purpose or not, man they’re funny. Miharu seems to be like in some sort of dilemma fighting with inner herself in the shower when the other team breaks through to the communication centre. They manage to relay message to Shimojijima Base that Miharu’s group have abandoned their intercept mission and are no longer under their own accord. This means Earth will be defenceless when the next comet arrives. The communication is cut off. Soon loads of armed men storm Shimojijima Base (including Kouchin) and holds everyone hostage and under interrogation. Elsewhere, Karin wakes up in a room with Miharu and her underlings. Seems they’re trying to brainwash her to become one of them evolved humans and cast away her emotions and past. That night the soldiers catch a pair of pilots trying to sneak into a jet. However they’re Sora and Tsubasa acting as decoys to let Ayamo fly off. Next morning, Mikaze and Shizuha’s journey now seems to be on boat as they near Tanegashima for the rocket launch. But they are intercepted by a naval guard. Mikaze’s sexy swimsuit seduction didn’t work as they continue to fire (they must be bad shots). Thankfully, Ayamo arrives in time to bomb and stop their pursuit. The trio reunite outside the rocket as they get in for the ride to space and get ready to save their friend.

Episode 13
Karin has mix feelings about her late dad and her friends and is in a dilemma on what to do. Mikaze is complaining about the cramp space and no windows in the craft since they have flown into space. Well, this is a supply ship after all. When they dock, they get in between with the fight between the invaders and those not affected led by Annette and Chizuru. The young ones agree to help cooperate as they make their way to Karin’s chamber. Though they are ambushed by Miharu and her team, Chizuru’s little distraction bought enough time for Mikaze to stun Miharu out. Back down at Shimojijima Base, Reynolds silences his captors a prep talk about just watching over the youths and not interfering in what they have chosen to do. Mikaze puts unconscious Miharu in a pod to be blasted safely down to Earth. But now they have a bigger problem to deal with. The mother of all comets, Nigel is dangerously close to smashing into Earth. If it happens, humanity will be wiped out. Since the other orbital stations are still cut off, they have to intercept Nigel. Who? Mikaze and co? Yup. Chizuru hands them her Comet Blaster licence. Wow. Dream come true, eh? It’s make or break time. The quartet blast into space as they transmit back down to Shimojijima Base that they have rescued Karin and their plan to intercept Nigel. I guess the captors have no choice but to shut up and watch as Kisaragi gives the orders for Meteor Sweepers to back the girls up. During the course of the intercept, Nigel changes its trajectory not once but twice. Chizuru wants them to abort their mission seeing that if they fire their missiles too close, they may be caught in its explosion. However Mikaze and the rest continue with their mission because they trust Karin’s instincts of changing the angle and degree to launch the missile. Finally they launch the missile to destroy it for good. Six months down the road, ACPF launches a committee to investigate the cause of strange occurrences on-board the orbital stations. Everyone up there including the original Comet Blasters has been brought back down for medical check-up. Sako’s jet machine is complete as we see the newly named Stratos 4 being launched from the ground to space with Mikaze and co riding in it.

Stratos 4 (OVA) 2004

Apparently that isn’t the end yet as a year later, the OVA for the series came out, though it is only 2 episodes long. Stratos 4 (OVA) 2004 is a continuation of what happened at the end of the TV series. Rest assured more drama and revelations are guaranteed.

Episode 1
The OVA starts off in episode 1 with the quartet are landing Stratos 4’s maiden flight but the leg is jammed. Well, somebody is going to have to fix it. Why are they picking on Karin since she’s small? Anyway the landing is successful as everyone takes a picture. As they party at Kouchin, drunk Sako is upset that the girls renamed his Stratos Zero to what it is now when he wasn’t looking. Meanwhile the news reports about the reparation of the orbital stations that aren’t in used. Though the report covers up what happened on-board the station, Reynolds mentions that the mysterious existence of aliens is kept hidden from everyone. The girls take time out at the lake. Ayamo and Karin have a diving competition (it’s hell funny to see scaredy Karin being chased by Alice). As they dive deeper, they see a certain blue below but think they see an alien. Turns out to be Kisaragi and her air traffic controller colleague, Touko Mukai. Back home resting, Karin collapses but it’s because she ate the brandy cake Ran is supposed to deliver to the base. Next day, Shimojijima Base gets a surprise visit from Annette and Chizuru. Seems they are here to seek Reynolds advice on what to do with a video recording tape they found on Miharu. Everyone related is called to watch the video. Including Rin whom many knew as the legendary Jet Rin. Except for Mikaze, Ayamo and Shizuha. How embarrassing. A great legend right under their nose and they didn’t even know it. Proves that they need to study more.

The video seems to be recorded from a time when she was still married to Sako. Miharu made a video diary and slowly at each recording, she turned into from someone cheerful and happy to someone depressed, ruthless and cold as we know her (something about the medical check-up she frequently receives at the base). The video ends with her fighting within herself like as though she’s possessed and wanting to delete the video but couldn’t. Reynolds and Rin tell them about the Star Seed programme that is run in secrecy. Details were tightly kept though they always mention it was for the benefit of mankind. Reynolds, Rin and her husband Mikuriya tried to talk to the higher ups but the truth never came out. That’s when they decide that they need to leave the future to the youngsters. And this is where Shimojijima Base came in. Even so, there were many parties opposing it. They made it in time for Karin but couldn’t for Miharu. Meanwhile Sako visits Miharu lying in an incubator. On his way out, he was purposely led to a secluded area in which Betty and Chris wants him to relate a message to Reynolds. They are cured thanks to Mikuriya. But at this rate, Comet Blasters will be torn down before the next great influx of comets. They also wish him to get them out but a guard comes by so they have to stop their conversation. More partying at Kouchin. Kisaragi is drunk enough to think Chizuru is trying to hit on Iwasaki so much so she becomes bold to tell her off not to lay her hands on her beloved. Next morning, Chizuru and Annette ride with Mikaze and Ayamo respectively in their jets while Karin-Shizuha follow behind in another. The pros show them how it’s done by flying closely just over the atmosphere and then free fall close to the ground before resuming the thrusters. The young ones are really on the edge of their seat. The ride of their lives you could say. Then they want to see the heroes who saved the world their worth. Shimojijima Base gets an emergency message from HQ saying that Orbital Station #7 is falling into the atmosphere due to being hit by space debris. Sako thinks this is what they may have been talking about.

Episode 2
The minimal crew of 3 on-board Orbital Station #7 are trying to fix things in episode 2 but it looks bleak. Plus, one of them is injured. The girls have to cut short their fun and stop the station from falling. They receive a message from HQ that Annette and Chizuru are to head to Tanegashima to fly up to the station. However the odd thing is that they told no one that they are in Shimojijima. Seems Tsukino is here too. Mikaze thinks it is his doing but he denies of being responsible of something this big and is just here on vacation. Before they depart, Chizuru gives Mikaze a form, which turns out to be an exam subscription to be a full fledge Comet Blaster. Once Chizuru and Annette enter the orbital station, they access the situation and get to work immediately. The girls are admiring Stratos 4 but Mikaze feels empty about their achievements. Reynolds replies about the greatest honour of accomplishment for completing a task but that is only momentary. Since people desire to feel that feeling again, that’s why people keep growing. This ups Mikaze’s confidence. Then the emergency siren sounds. The updated status of the falling orbital station will pass their base so they are being told to destroy it. Though they have confirmation that the 3 crew members have been evacuated, Chizuru and Annette’s status are unknown. Mikaze and co decide to volunteer to do the job (much to Kisaragi’s chagrin).

Once they blast-off, they receive communication from Chizuru. Seems the bridge they ‘missed the last train’ as the connecting bridge collapsed. Reynolds wants the mission to be aborted but Chizuru says to carry on and not to worry about them. They are going to escape via machine that Mikaze and co first went up in and left behind. However after the calculations, the time frame between their escape and missile launch is only 2 seconds! Can they really pull this one off? Well, they’re pros, right? And they even seem confident of it. In precise timing, the missile is launched and destroys the station. And yes, Chizuru and Annette escapes in time as their pod is seen entering the atmosphere. A recovery team will rendezvous with them when they land. In the aftermath, Mikaze and co decide to leave to take the exam to become Comet Blasters. Hey, they can’t stay as Kouchin’s waitresses forever, can’t they? Too bad Alice will sorely miss them. Sora and Tsubasa too have found their own goal as they’re leaving on a mission as test pilots. Sako approves of them. Since the lack of real Comet Blasters are a serious issue, they need all the experience they can get. Seems Iwasaki is taking up that offer. Poor Kisaragi will miss him. Though Fujitani offers to take care of her and Ran. What do you think Kisaragi’s reaction is? It’s bad enough he suggested that but putting rival girls together (at least to Kisaragi)? And this has got to be the best quote of the series: “Even chickens will fly into the sky with their own wings one day”. Chickens fly? That’s as close as saying pigs will fly one day too. They narrate about being grateful to have a nice warm place to return to even if it takes years.

Stratos 4 Advance

Well, I guess this series was famous enough to warrant another OVA approximately a year later in 2005, this time calling it Stratos 4 Advance. Instead of just a couple of episodes, at least this one has half a dozen. Besides the unfolding drama and revelation, we have new characters and faces. But still, our main heroines are the one that will hog the limelight for all kinds of reasons.

Episode 1
Iwasaki, Annette and Chizuru are testing the new intercept system of SX 1. Though there were minor problems, the simulation result is a success. The new commander, Diane Earhart seems a little cocky and lets them know that she’s in charge of this project. Back on Shimojijima Base, they get 3 new pilot candidates: Kiriko Aoki, Mirei Tachibana and Mana Ninomiya. Kisaragi brings them to the main tower and introduces them to Reynolds. Then they get a signal from a plane requesting to land. Turns out to be Mikaze and co! Why are they back? Because they flopped the exams! SAY WHAT?! But all of them flop together? That’s what best friends are for. They stick together thick and thin. Just kidding. Kisaragi thinks that the Organization may be behind this but Reynolds tells her not to jump the gun as they don’t have proof. Mikaze and co see Sako depressed and find out that Stratos 4 has been confiscated by the Organization for flying without permission. Speaking of which, Stratos 4 ends up in a base where Sora and Tsubasa are working as test pilots. They find out Stratos 4 was believed to be illegally assembled so the main HQ ordered its confiscation but was brought here under the guise of testing it. Sora and Tsubasa feel that Shimojijima has a bad reputation around and should be careful and not let their guard down. As Mikaze and co share their depression with Sako, Karin blames herself for making the rest fail but they dismiss it. Then they get a surprise when they see Iwasaki. Seems he is back since unmanned intercept programme is doing fine and they don’t need the extra personnel. After he imparts some comforting words of never giving up (in the form of sugar canes and storms?), the girls get their confidence back. He has good news for them. He passes them badges from Reynolds that will make them full time pilots of this base. Just when Sako is going back to work, it’s his turn to hear the depression of the newbies. They lament their bad luck like getting no place to stay (initially it should have been Kouchin but Mikaze and co return so there’s no room. So they’ll be staying at Touko’s place). This place is turning like a church confession, eh?

A news report about the unmanned intercept system and with its success, the roles of Comet Blaster and Meteor Sweeper will diminish. Plus with the downsizing factor, this will save their budget. Reynolds and Kisaragi discuss about this plan that was suggested by Jun Mikuriya in which Reynolds and Rin strongly opposed because it didn’t take into consideration a pilot’s perspective. So why now? Because machines don’t object. The main HQ can take control of it even if the operator disobeys or disagrees. Reynolds assures he’ll work hard to protect the future of the young ones. Another party to welcome the newbies at Kouchin. But the odd part is that the newbies are made to serve the guests! Yeah, this must be some sort of tradition. How does it feel for once to be not serving, Mikaze and co? The newbies sure came to a weird place. That’s Shimojijima for you girls. Drunken Kisaragi cuts in Ran serving Iwasaki. Then she’s happy that she heard him say that he’s glad to see her again. Actually it was Alice and Shogun. She lost to a cat… Reynolds and Rin discuss about Mikaze and co’s failure which isn’t possible since there isn’t any reason for them to fail. Plus, there’s a conspiracy to isolate all those from Shimojijima since Iwasaki was sent back too. As for Sora and Tsubasa, the base is under the control of Mitter Hiber Company, an independent base from the main HQ that manufactures intercept crafts.

Episode 2
The newbies are wondering why Kisaragi is late when she’s supposed to be their instructor. Their worst fears confirmed when it’s Mikaze and co who will train them. Oh sh*t. Well, it’s part of the bigger plan to have the quartet learn things from a different perspective. However they’re still the same. Mikaze is a little bossy while Karin is too technical with her instructions. Then a pair of new MiG jets land at the base. It’s Sora and Tsubasa with the person who designed these improved jets, Ludwig Mitter Hiber or Lud for short. And as for the newbies’ training, they’re all forgotten… Meanwhile Diane on-board Orbital Station #8 detects Comet Clara heading towards Earth. She decides to intercept it using the unmanned craft despite knowing their base is still in test operation. So much so she relegates Chizuru and Annette to operator-like duties in operating the unmanned crafts. Back at Kouchin, another round of party (the newbies continue being waitresses). The usual drunken Kisaragi trying to ‘protect’ her Iwasaki, the usual spat between Tsubasa with Mikaze and Ayamo, Sako getting real drunk and loud and challenging Lud to a drink while Alice really has gotten a bigger belly! The next day, Diane launches an intercept towards Clara while Shimojijima Base is made on standby. Though Clara is destroyed, it missed the core and is split into 2 big chunks. One of them falling towards Okinawa. It’s scramble time. However Diane thinks their 75% goal is achieved and that nothing more can be done. Her attitude pisses off Chizuru. Kisaragi is shocked to see Mikaze and co riding the new jets to take out the fragments instead of the guys (they seem to have agreed to give the girls hog the spotlight). Lud teases Kisaragi about disobeying orders and being disordered, something she lectured him earlier on. Now she’s made to eat his words. Mikaze and co blast-off in the much faster MiGs and successfully destroy the fragment. Mikaze takes a liking for this jet so much so she wants to make it hers as she scribbles her signature on its body when they return.

Episode 3
The newbies seem to outrun the ‘veterans’ in a running training! Mikaze and co ditch them when they see Rin arriving. They follow her and to their surprise see her, Reynolds, Kisaragi, Iwasaki and Fujitani in a room consoling Chris and Betty. As mentioned by Reynolds, they’ve been released and will soon resume their space duty so he invited them here to relax. When Sako finds out about them, he rushes down there and begs them to give any info about Miharu. The duo realize that he was the one who relayed the message so they say Miharu was taken to a further research place at Tsukuba due to her long term infection which will take longer to heal. While Mikaze and co discuss about the return of the duo, Ayamo’s careless mouth and suspicions towards them made Karin apologize (because she was like them before, infected). Kisaragi, Iwasaki and Fujitani try to go invite a very depressed Sako to a welcoming party for Betty and Chris. Then Kisaragi gets a call from Lud. Seems he is flirting with her and the thing is, she seems to enjoy it! Sako must be pissed that she’s acting so lovey-dovey and ‘borrows’ her phone. Actually he wants to speak to Sora and Tsubasa. He begs them to find more info on Miharu at Tsukuba. He can’t do it from the base because he can’t risk Shimojijima and everyone to be put in danger for his selfish reasons (it’s a good move since Shimojijima may or may not be under surveillance). They agree. At Kouchin, Sako is back to his drunken self while Mikaze and co are serving as waitresses. Well, it’s punishment for letting the newbies run all day (they nearly died of dehydration!). The newbies get excited to meet Betty and Chris. However the duo seem to get startled and remembering traumatic memories of just about anything. They decide to go out for a walk to cool their heads. Karin tells them that if they keep running, it doesn’t matter they run to. Seems it strikes a chord within them. Then Mikaze catches up with them and offers them to stay for the night. While Mikaze talks to Chris in the bath, Ayamo has a ‘confrontation’ with Betty. She tells them that everyone has been working hard with them in mind and not to put on those long faces. Betty however says they aren’t superman. Ayamo wants them to remain as their absolute goal till they reach their dream of going to space. Next day at the pier, Karin meets Betty and Chris as Karin tells them about her friends, how they treat her well. She loves them all and that’s why she’s not afraid anymore. Plus, she knows that there isn’t anything inside them anymore. They thank her and their confidence return. Betty and Chris soon left for the Orbital Station #8 and are being given a big coverage. Mikaze asks if what Karin told them is true that they’re not infected anymore but Karin says that it was a like because she’s not an expert and doesn’t know much. Plus, Rin said the same thing too. Haha! Big liar and one big joke. But it cheered them up, right?

Episode 4
Betty and Chris reunited with Chizuru and Annette on-board the orbital station. However they still remain distant despite Chizuru and Annette holding no grudges. Back on Shimojijima, the girls are wondering why Ayamo is down. They think it’s some letter she received it. Karin saw its contents but couldn’t read its ‘calligraphic’ handwriting. Meanwhile a little girl named Rei is being observed in a greenhouse. Tsukino pays the researcher a visit as he is here to see Mikuriya as appreciation for the treatment and return of Comet Blasters (though Miharu is still in recuperation). Tsukino gives them some package. Then they talk about Rei who has some perfect memorization in which she can reproduce things after seeing them once. Something about part of the evolution caused by the seed. The researchers get upset when Tsukino tells them that from a scientist’s point of view, it is natural they want more research samples since Rei isn’t confirmed to be carrier and Miharu is the only one left. He asks them if Rei is actually happy because he doesn’t feel the least bit of happiness from these pictures. Plus, it’s like as though she’s conveying her views like a bird in a cage. He warns that ‘they’ might be using force to bring them to their side and that their loved ones on Shimojijima may be in danger. Mikaze and co get a webcast communication from Chizuru and Annette. They learn about their Comet Blaster exam failure but encourage them not to give up. The girls also hope that their relationship with Betty and Chris will get better. That night, everyone holds a BBQ party by the shore to cheer up Ayamo. Shizuha tries to put on a fireworks display (she even has a freaking certification licence to launch fireworks!), but it turns out to be a small fart. Ayamo feels they’re pushing themselves so Mikaze tells her off that it’s her who is doing so. She pleads to tell them what’s bugging her. However she’s still confused and can’t tell them yet. Later they move on the sparklers and launching paper rockets but flop big time. Then over the hills, an independent fireworks display lights up the night sky. This lifts Ayamo’s gloominess as she is determined to go to space with everyone because the Comet Blasters are waiting for them. Likewise, Chizuru and Annette hold a little party for their returning mates and hope to start anew.

Episode 5
Sako receives a call from Sora and Tsubasa saying that they will debut in a test plane called Salsa Hawk tomorrow. When Mikaze doesn’t know who Chuck Yeager is, Sako gives her an earful. For those who don’t know, as Karin explained, he’s the first guy who broke through the sound barrier aboard X-1. She learnt it from TV the other day, not the textbooks. Is that a good thing? Meanwhile Chizuru and Annette are suggesting to Diane about their plan of intercepting comets at higher orbits. However she shoots their idea down since it relegates SX 1 to a gas carrier role. But when they bring the idea that she will be viewed highly by the HQ, she accepts. However if it fails, she will have them take full responsibility. The original Comet Blasters are to bring back their glory days as they initiate to intercept comet Helena. Diane also launches SX 1 but wants to keep good data on it and forget about the piloted crafts. The intercept is successful and as predicted, a large debris falls into Earth. Shimojijima’s Meteor Sweepers head into action but it will only be Iwasaki and Fujitani. Mikaze and co are grounded by Kisaragi as she doesn’t want them to pull another crazy stunt like before. Tsubasa and Sora are also flying Salsa Hawk at the same time but they notice there is discrepancy in the data sent by HQ to Shimojijima of the debris. Lud mentions that his system is flawless so it must mean that the data from HQ is wrong. They relay their calculations to Shimojijima though Kisaragi is in a dilemma if their source is trustworthy and if so why HQ is sending the wrong data. Iwasaki and Fujitani wonder which data to rely and after confirming with Tsubasa and Sora’s various calculations, they decide to trust theirs. Then an anonymous sender sends them top secret info from the Cosmic Emergency Management Agency’s database and this confirms the large discrepancy. The sender turns out to be the otaku quartet. However even with their altered course, it may be too late to take it out at their position. Just then, Salsa Hawk is flying close by. They are going to fire a shot to deflect it. However they will be caught in its explosion. The rest disapprove of this but they’re stubborn. So badly want to be heroes, eh? Want to be the new Yeager, eh? Fujitani and Iwasaki are fired up and will get in as close as possible and make the plasma discharge away from them. They’re going to show the amateurs the pros they are in the first place. The plan goes well but the Salsa Hawk gets caught in the explosion and spirals out of control. It is calculated that they will crash at Miyako airfield. Seems that they have ejected prior to the crash. When the rescue party arrive, they see the duo badly injured, messed up as they slowly make their trudge towards them. They must be real happy that for the moment, they’re heroes. In the aftermath, though their intercept is a success, they are sent back to Shimojijima for disobedience. Lud tried to fight on their behalf but it’s too much when you crash a bloody expensive test plane and cause an airfield to close.

Episode 6
The Shimojijima gang are discussing about the meddled data and think that someone with influence could only pull off something this bold. Sora and Tsubasa are in hospital as the rest pay them a visit. Seems Karin is eating the food meant for them. Ran then gets a call from Mikuriya and soon she steps on a plane piloted by Shizuha and Mikaze to Tsukuba. Kisaragi spots Touko meeting Tsukino and happily receiving a package so she starts panicking albeit keeping it to herself. The newbies barge into the gang at hospital and tell about the secret rendezvous between Touko and Tsukino so the guys suggest Ayamo and Karin to tail them. They follow them to the movies and nothing much happened. Why is Karin enjoying the movie so much? Ran and co have entered Tsukuba and she has to stop her parents engrossed in their work to have a decent chat. They soon learn that Rei is the daughter of Miharu and Sako. Karin was also here before she met them. As explained, Rei was isolated as a sample of an infected body like how Karin was. When parasites attached to comets fall to Earth was first discovered, ACPF were divided into 2 factions: One that wishes to protect Earth from comets and the other that wishes to utilize the creatures for humanity’s future. Years of research shows that the brain becomes more active though there is no proof it will be beneficial to humanity. To determine that, they are doing research away from Ran. When Ran sees Rei’s drawings, she goes into her room and has a nice chat with her. Kisaragi is still uneasy about the secret rendezvous but gets red-faced when she learns that she was sent by Reynolds to retrieve some document he requested from Tsukino. Since it was him, Reynolds didn’t really want to face him. Then they receive an emergency call from HQ that a cluster type comet is in sight. The standby Meteor Sweeper team are to prepare to go into action. Though the newbies are supposed to take this one, seems they’ve been left out again in the end. When will they get their first mission? Later Kisaragi tries to make Iwasaki jealous by saying she has received numerous gifts and love calls from Lud and an invitation to his homeland. But that guy couldn’t be bothered and ‘runs away’. Even if that rival ‘demon’ (Ran) is gone, it’s not like it’s getting any easier.

Shizuha and Mikaze also see Miharu lying unconscious in a capsule in another room and are being told she’s been that way since that day. After they left, Miharu’s eyes open. That night, the gang plan to ‘kidnap’ Rei out of the base. Ran’s parents will have to stay and pretend to continue their research so as not to cause any suspicion. As they leave, they are surprised to see the otaku quartet who are offering to help them get away. Mikaze suddenly remembers that she forgot to snap a picture of Miharu as requested by Sako so she rushes back in alone. However she doesn’t see Miharu in the capsule anymore and the next thing she knows, somebody points a gun at her and pulls the trigger as surprised Mikaze accidentally clicks the flash shot of the camera button. The rest are waiting for her outside, not knowing what has just happened. Who could it be? Tsukino? I mean, we see him stomping out his cigarette near Mikaze’s dropped camera. But I think it’s a female and should be Miharu. Why? Because I saw boobs shadow during that flash.

Stratos 4 Kanketsu Hen

If that sudden and abrupt end was somewhat unsatisfying, that’s because the continuation and climax of this series continues and ends about 9 months later with a couple of more OVAs. As the title suggests, Stratos 4 Kanketsu Hen (final chapter) is definitely the last run of the series. So they leave you hanging for more than half a year wondering what the heck just happened, eh? Besides, it’s a direct continuation from where we were left off. Felt like taking a break after all that tension, no?

Episode 1
Iwasaki-Fujitani and Ayamo-Karin are trying out a new formation that has no precedent. Shizuha returns inside to look for Mikaze but is shocked to see her unconscious and her rib side bloody wounded. Though Mikuriya treats her and her condition is stable (the bullet just grazed her rib), Shizuha informs the Shimojijima gang what happened so Reynolds suggests that they leave Mikaze in their care while the rest return. Miharu is seen escaping through the forest. She is surprised to see a gun in her hand and tosses it away. She takes refuge in an abandoned hut and is seen fighting her inner self in pain. As the otaku quartet drive along, the come into several professional secret service agents (Ran singlehandedly taking them down as she thought they’re the enemy). They warn them about the airport under heavy security and will be arrested if they arrive. They also have provided a detour route for them to head to a safer place. Shimojijima gang receive information about twin comets that are heading towards Earth but this time coming from the direction of the sun. This means the odds are stacked against them. Sako has to put aside his personal issue to search the whole wide world for Miharu to prepare for the incoming interception. Ayamo suddenly gets a call that her mom has collapsed from overworking so Rin tells her to go to her mom’s side. Because of that, Meteor Sweepers will have a change in line-up. This means the newbies will get to see action for the first time. Hooray! This isn’t a false alarm, right? Orbital Station #3 and #8 will be intercepting the twin comets. The Comet Blasters head into action and blast one of the comets away (after getting around and playing with Diane’s pride to approve their plan). As predicted, a large debris splinters off as Meteor Sweepers. Iwasaki-Fujitani is having a tough time targeting since the sun is in their eyes but they manage to pull it off. However though successful, a smaller splinter escape its blast. So this is where the newbies and Karin as backup come in. Though nervous and ‘under pressure’, they did a decent job on their first interception.

But it isn’t a happy ending yet because Orbital Station #3 reports that their comet has changed its course and heading straight down at Shimojijima. Reynolds orders the evacuation of the tower and shift all control system to underground. Kisaragi and Touko pack the important data but it was too late when the comet crashes into the airfield. The shockwave shattered glasses and Kisaragi is devastated to see Touko unconscious. Thankfully her injury is only minor from the glass splinters and after treatment, she resumes her duty. The newbies felt like they have aged 10 years but now isn’t the time to rest. As night falls, everyone goes to pick up the debris over the airfield. Tsukino pays a visit to Mikuriya and from the way he said things, his side thinks the aliens will be highly useful to human evolution. What Mikaze and co are doing is considered to be foolish in future history. However Mikaze gives him a piece of her mind. She feels that it is important to protect the people and place she loves and that’s why she’ll continue to shoot down comets. Tsukino gave out a heartily laughter not because he is mocking her but is amazed by her honesty. As a reward he tells her that her pals are at Gifu Base, supposedly where Lud is and relatively a safe place at the moment. The Comet Blasters are surprised to receive new info of triple comets heading towards Earth from the sun’s direction. Ran wakes up dead in the middle of the night to see Rei sketching those approaching comets.

Episode 2
Diane and the Comet Blasters discuss about the impending triple comets named Alpha, Beta and Gamma. With the resources they have, they may be able to destroy 2 of them but not the third. Any one of the comets crashing into Earth means half of the world will see Apocalypse soon. Worse come to worse, they’ll have to ram into it and if that doesn’t work, well, they hope a certain person can pull something off. Hah! Always relying on that person, huh? Well, she’s got a good track record doing so. Ran, Shizuha and Rei are at Lud’s Gifu Base. Ran thanks him for taking them in though it may put him in danger. Though he says he’s a fan of Shimojijima, Shizuha comments that he’s more of a fan of Kisaragi. Lud wants to show Shizuha something. Tsukino wakes up from a dream whereby he left his sister for a ‘check-up’ but promised to return. His sister is Karin?! News all over the world report the incoming comets, causing a little panic. Karin gets a call and order from Reynolds that she needs to head to Gifu and a transportation is on the way: Tsukino. In the car, Tsukino seems nervous. He mentions that he isn’t planning anything sneaky and did not break the promise he made that day. Karin smiles and thanks him. Mikaze too makes her way to Gifu as Shizuha picks her up in a helicopter. Ayamo also returns to Gifu soon after her mom’s condition stabilizes. The quartet are happy to reunite at Gifu. Lud leads them to show them a surprise: Not only one Stratos 4 but two of them! Wow! Who else is more qualified to pilot them? That’s why Lud called them all here. Comet Blasters go into action with SX1 while all Meteor Sweepers below get ready on standby. Kisaragi will be in flying action too. The interception begins with SX1 successfully taking out Alpha. Then the Comet Blasters blast Beta but as predicted it splits into 13 fragments. This is where Meteor Sweepers come in. Then zooming pass them are Mikaze and co in their upgraded Stratos 4s. Lud explains that he discussed with Reynolds about the use of Stratos 4 in this mission and their goal is to destroy Gamma. It’s all for the future of mankind. Mikaze and co enter into space and Gamma is in sight. They launch their missile and successfully destroy it. Everyone below rejoice that they get to live for another day as our heroes and heroines return home.

ARMAGEDDON did not happen…
Ah yes. The people of Earth can once again live another day. What a nice happy ending. But wait. WHAT THE HELL IS THIS HALF-ASSED ENDING?! Why half-assed? There were a few more issues that I was pondering and bugging my mind like hell. For instance, what happened to Miharu? Okay, she escaped from the facility and is running around like a mad woman. So is she really cured? I thought she and Sako would finally be reunited somehow but erm… Did we see anything like that? That final scene whereby the end credits were rolling, I thought it was some flashback of how Sako and Miharu met because they looked a little different. Thankfully, I read somewhere that he finally went to get her. Because of things like this, the end to the series overall seems kinda unsatisfying as there are many unloose ends that hasn’t been tied up or explained. Unfortunately, this is an original anime series and not based on any manga or even being adapted into any (at least not that I know of) so lots of things to me were like, “What happened? Who? How? When? Why?”. So hanging stuff like the mystifying relationship between Tsukino and Karin, the intriguing failure of Mikaze and co’s Comet Blaster exam, the kidnapping of Rei (I’m sure the Organization won’t just let her go so easily and it will be a matter of time they’ll hunt her down, right?), the reason why other people are singling out Shimojijima people, the otaku quartet’s role in it all and certain mysteries of the comets (like the ability to change its course) make the series a happy but weak ending.

Enough on the bashing of the ending. Maybe I was expecting too much. So on to the characters. Yeah well, what more can I say. Each of the main quartet of heroines have their own personality that makes them likeable. Mikaze is your typical reckless and underachieving slacker but we see her grow and pull through to become a reliable person. Maybe it’s her recklessness. Tough girl Ayamo is always hot-headed while studious Shizuha is pretty amusing herself because she has all sorts of licence to pilot any sort of vehicles. She’s not just a pretty face, you know. Karin’s monotonous speech may sound ominous but her tendency to get absorbed into her own world and her enormous appetite is what you’ll remember her most. Maybe it’s the trauma of the experiment. But it’s a good thing she fit in and found herself comfortable with her friends who accepted her for who she is. These 4 always seem to steal the limelight whenever a big crisis is approaching Earth. Or rather they are given the chance to shine even further especially Iwasaki and Fujitani who are more than happy to give them hog the centre stage and take credit. I guess Sora and Tsubasa even accepted that they won’t be the main stars. So far everybody has always leave it to them to come up with a way to save the day. So far so good, eh? I hope they can continue riding on this luck. No offense but the girls do have the necessary skills to carry out their missions but if the famed Comet Blasters or the experienced Iwasaki-Fujitani pair could have thought about it and worked, then they would have done it, right?

Alice and Shogun are a bunch of funny cats. You’ll notice that they have a mind of their own in the sense that it’s like their previous life was a human being. In cat speech, they even have their own thoughts and comments about certain stuff and they sure do like to hitch a ride on the jet planes. Fortunately it’s either they pick the wrong plane to sneak in (as the rest blast-off in another one) and getting disappointed thereafter that they chose wrongly or if they hit the jackpot, they’ll be taken out by the pilots. Do cats want to go into space that bad? Well, the first living thing in space was a dog. It’s also funny to see Alice always love ‘picking’ on Karin. Seems that girl has a fear of cats and it’s hilarious to see her get chased around by Alice. But the tables are turned with the arrival of the newbies because they love her and it’s that fat cat’s turn to run away. Speaking of the 3 newbies, I felt they somehow didn’t make quite an impact on the series. I thought they would at least be rivals or enthusiastic trainees but all we see them as a group of girls lamenting the lack of chance to get into some action. It’s like they’re some sort of minor characters made to fill in the void if Mikaze and co aren’t around. They got sidelined very often so much so you’d wonder when they’re going to shoot down real asteroids for good. And when they finally do, it’s not like anything grand or what. Still, it is Mikaze and friends who do a better job and yeah, steal the limelight.

The other supporting characters are pretty amusing in their own way. Kisaragi only have eyes for Iwasaki and is always trying to hit on him but to no avail. So when Fujitani tries to hit on her, she turns him down. That’s why she’s single for so long. If she’s not doing that or being at work at her air traffic controller tower, she’d be reprimanding Mikaze and co for their recklessness. Probably she does that half the time. Sako is a great mechanic but sometimes I feel he is a little annoying because he would start screaming and reminiscing about Miharu. I understand that his love for her is great but to do it every moment when he thinks of her? Still, he displays a strong character by temporarily casting aside his personal emotions and reorganizes his priorities to defend Earth. Tsukino is an enigmatic character. His actions of helping Shimojijima seem like he has an ulterior motive. It’s not what he does, it’s the way he does it. I’m thinking he may be playing the role of the villain so that the gang can improve, push ahead and advance forward. Reynolds is a good commander of the base and he understands the young ones very much. I mean, he always does things and have in mind that old people like them should just step aside and watch over the young ones because it is their future. Future, eh? Well, considering kids like Mikaze, there are good and bad points. And that new commander Diane, all I can say is that she’s an arrogant b*tch who cares nothing about getting praised and commendation. Good thing she doesn’t have much screen time and in the face if the comets do come crashing into Earth, from whom and where shall she get her acclaims? And Lud? He’s just a nice guy who lends his base and planes in the final hour.

The flow of the story would’ve been easier to follow if they had not put in complicated stuff like those Star Seed and aliens sending parasites via comets to Earth. So what the heck are the aliens doing that for? Whatever their reason, they really do love targeting Earth, right? Apparently the TV series is about the main quartet of heroines in a conflict within themselves and overcoming the problems they faced whether it’s about acceptance or family history. Say, I thought we’d get to see some of their family members later on but I guess they were just making a single cameo appearance. And Ayamo’s mom who collapsed felt like a little side distraction that doesn’t make any ripples in the hearts of viewers. After the TV series ended, the OVAs felt like delving deeper into the drama and conspiracy of the organizations and the alien seeds. Do we really need this kind of twist? Well, it beats watching repetitively every darn episode the girls shooting down comets because it’s their job, then go home and celebrate at Kouchin. I guess they need to know why they are shooting down asteroids and even if that human evolution research explanation sounds far-fetched or that partial infection of some crew members turning them into something else against their will sounds like crap, that’s not really important, right? What is important is their friendship, trust and bond that will ultimately save the world and defend it from future attacks. Or else we wouldn’t be sitting here so comfortably watching animes. Oops. Sounds like my selfish view.

The tactical strategy seems pretty cool. That’s only because I don’t understand the mumbo jumbo when they’re giving orders during missions. Seems all like Greek to me. So I just enjoy the cool CGI effects while letting the dialogue into one ear and out the other. Besides, I may not be right but the titles of each episode felt like military air force terms or codes from familiar ones like “Fox One”, “Tally Ho!”, “Engage” and “Mission Abort” to not so familiar ones such as “Checking Six”, “Go Gate” and “Target Merge”. Another thing to note is the calculations and the predictions of the comets whether it is their trajectory or being split into fragments. If they can predict with near perfect accuracy of it (including the speed of analysis and recalculation), imagine this system which can be used for other stuff, right? I’m sure they can use it to predict when the next comet will hit Earth if they ever upgrade it. Speaking of fanservice, all I can say that it’s a mild case for this series. I’m not sure about the designs of the suits the girls wear when they pilot the jets but it felt like a cross between an astronaut and an F1 racer. Look at all the curves on the suit, maybe that’s why they look sexy. Plus, how come when they pilot the jets, they have to be in a position that’s akin to riding a motorcycle? Wouldn’t it be easier in a sitting position like all other normal jets? Fanservice is the only reason I can think of. Don’t they look sexy and turn on in that position? Not to me. Besides the lack of swimsuit episodes in this series, probably you’d get your fanservice fix while the girls are sleeping or the random poses of the girls in the mid-intermission (which is more evident in the OVAs).

So with the destruction of triple comets, I doubt that this will be the last time to whoever is sending those asteroids. But we all can breathe easy because with young girls like Mikaze and co, we can feel safe. Hey, come to think of it, why the heck do we need girls who are still in high school to save our planet? Aren’t there people who are suited to do the job? Say like a certain Bruce’s character and his hard-bitten crew of core drillers? On second thought, perhaps watching a bunch of cute girls going into space and blasting asteroids would be better. To be safe, I’m thinking of taking my first step of precaution if ever a huge comet is coming our way. How? Better start playing that Atari’s Asteroids video game. Hey, watch me beat that high score…

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