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Stellvia Volume 2    by Xebec & Ryo Akitsuki order for
Stellvia Volume 2
by Xebec
Order:  USA  Can
Dr. Master, 2005 (2005)
* *   Reviewed by Lance Victor Eaton

After barely surviving the first wave of a sun that has gone supernova, Earth has prepared a defense for the following waves in order to prevent further devastation. In 2356 AD, Earth has spent years searching for talented pilots to command scores of ships standing by behind a gigantic shield, generated by a host of satellites in space, to keep anything from damaging the only means of protection for humanity.

In the first volume, readers were introduced to Shima Shipon Katase, a gifted yet temperamental young woman who has showed high potential in various games and tests used to identify good pilots. After winning a pivotal match in the last volume, Shipon has risen quickly in the rankings and is on the fast track to be one of the six captains chosen to lead the 'Great Mission'. Though Shipon still proves reckless, her mentors take the risk and add her to the list. Tensions rise and the stress can be seen, as the day approaches and the captains set forward to protect Earth. Will Shipon prove to be an agent of Earth's demise or its savior?

Picking up shortly after volume one, this edition moves at a much quicker pace and ends on a note that leaves one wondering if this is only a two part series. Granted, the two graphic novels are enough, with lots of action and excitement. Beyond Shipon's tale, readers learn about ongoing events in the lives of other characters, including growing love and friendship among Stellvia students. As in the first volume, the story maintains a decent rhythm of plot and action but again, the action can be occasionaly hard to comprehend given the nature of manga art. The intensity builds fantastically with a closure that allows one to breath a little after an exciting and draining climax.

In some ways, Stellvia resembles Orson Scott Card's classic SF novel Ender's Game, but remains more light-hearted than the latter. Of course, the concept of kids in a school for the gifted has been made popular on an extreme level thanks to J. K. Rowling's Harry Potter series, but readers will still find ample redeeming and unique qualities to this one.

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