To combat a frightening amount of meteorites approaching Earth, mankind organized the Comet Blasters and the Meteor Sweepers as means of attack in outer space. Both forces are made up of elite men and women who fight to prevent impacts on Earth’s surface. Honzou Mikaze dreams of becoming a Comet Blaster, but she has lost faith in herself until she is given a chance to take out a meteor fragment with the Meteor Sweepers. During the mission, she has a close encounter with space… and from then on, she decides that she will fulfill her dream.
summary by Eek
Highs: Strong start; fluid flight animation
Lows: Unappealing characters; weak middle; needs to cut fan service
Upon starting Stratos 4, I was quite impressed and eager to gobble it up; any anime that reminds me of the movie The Right Stuff must be good, right? What had initially looked like a mighty feast ended up tasting like a McGriddle® Breakfast Sandwich.
The first four episodes concentrated solely on building up the plot and even threw in some nice character development that definitely caught my attention. Some of the action and scenes were reminiscent of Gunbuster: Aim for the Top! and Wings of Honneamise, and that is a very good thing. Although it slowed down at times, this only happened to fill in details relating to character relationships and everyday life. And what would an anime about flying be without great animation? Although CGI is occasionally overused, this anime packs some very nice, smooth animation. Clouds of smoke and jet exhaust move just like the real thing.
A strong start focuses on plot, but episodes afterwards needed to follow up on characters… which never happens. The entire cast is bland because there isn’t a whole lot of background given. Mikaze receives the most, and that accumulates to approximately one minute where she briefly discusses how her family is made up of pilots; in the meantime, everyone else is just there. Character backgrounds are sketchy at best, and many of the main characters come off as being the exact same person but with different hair. The middle of the series would have been a great time to explore them, but we are given some filler instead. And on a lesser note, Stratos 4 needs to lighten up on the amount of fan service. Skintight suits and tactical camera positioning are annoying at best, and the multiple shower/bath scenes could have been put to better use fleshing out characters instead of showing characters’ flesh.
Stratos 4 starts out with a great concept like flying and space travel that should have evolved into a wholesome and thought-provoking series. If this concept sounds tasty to you, go watch Wings of Honneamise; this series deserves only the garbage disposal.