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Stellvia    by Xebec & Ryo Akitsuki order for
by Xebec
Order:  USA  Can
Dr. Master, 2005 (2005)
* *   Reviewed by Lance Victor Eaton

Kima Shitase has a lot on her plate. She has just been shipped off to the space academy, Stellvia, where she will train to help protect Earth from the second wave of a supernova explosion. She manages to make new friends, but has yet to catch the eyes of the teachers in any positive manner. Though she yearns to be one of the elite pilots who help save the planet, her skills as a programmer rank significantly higher than her sometimes-harmful attempts at piloting. But when the five space academies come together to find out who is the best of the best, Kima finds herself on a team with her school's four best senior players facing off in a piloting game called Astroball against the other schools' best students.

This first volume in the series serves as a delightful introduction to Kima's world. Kind of akin to Harry Potter's world (but with spaceships instead of broomsticks), Stellvia provides a cast of both likeable and despicable characters. The somewhat volatile Kima provides laughs and excitement as her determination proves just as impressive as her programming skills. For those interested in further adventures, a volume two is anticipated, and a Geneon Animation DVD series has already been produced. Brief profiles at the start help readers follow the characters, but there's still occasional confusion in certain panels, since some can be easily mistaken for others. Dialogue is handled well, providing much of the back story without using many exposition boxes. The action is also effective. However, when the students are flying or practicing, the artist doesn't do a clear job of displaying how in fact they pilot the ships. By the end, it makes a bit more sense but it's easy at first to get lost in the flow of the story.

Overall, Stellvia becomes just a different take on the age old stranger in a strange land scenario. Kima finds herself in a new place, having to make new friends, and manages to prove herself academically capable. However, it's still a fun and endearing tale, and Kima is successfully created to be lovable. It's one of those feel-good graphic novels; no one will find great wisdom in this piece, but they will have fun.

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