Unspoken Aesthetics of Crest of the Stars

July 24, 2009


Although Crest of the Stars is known for its intelligent dialogue, more interesting are subtle conversations that are not spoken with words. Most excellent example of this is when Jinto addresses Lafiel as “your highness”, where she then furiously spins around, starts walking at a rapid pace, and spits out a chain of words in a bitter tone. Although she rambles on about which title Jinto should address her as, what we’re really hearing are the great anger and frustrations of Lafiel at his inconfident attitude. Most of our feelings and thoughts are conversed through body language, facial expressions and the way our voice sounds (and very little through actual content of words), so it was very engaging as a viewer to see all those visual attention to details, such as close-up of pupils contracting or glimpses of hand gestures, which were very subtle, yet meticulously calculated to achieve the desired effects.


"The smile of an Abh, so maligned that they say it's like a poisonous flower in its glory. I have yet to see Lafiel with such an expression." - Jinto

I also love the way Jinto’s narrations are accompanied by relevant visual representations at the end of each episode. My favourite example is when he describes the “smile of an Abh” at the shot of Lafiel’s cold and malignant grin. It just sends the chill down your spine to imagine the kind of malice that is bubbling under that expression, which isn’t projected externally to the surface, but kept very subtle underneath. Compared to such endings that leave us with a sense of anxiety, Jinto’s narration at seeing the baron ‘mourning’ for his lost son is that of bitter sadness. “Although the Baron was not crying, hidden in his words was a deep sense of sorrow“. It is sometimes sadder listening to unspoken cries, without a sound, without tears.


You will eventually find that subtlety governs just about everything in Crest of the Stars, including character interactions, humour, fanservice and battle scenes. Rather than explicitly displaying brutally butchered soldiers screaming horribly in pain, what you will witness in Crest of the Stars are those feebly streaming explosive mines and shining debris of what used to people inside spaceships, letting silent cries of lost souls resonate under the surface, ever so softly, but with a resounding ring of longetivity. Such is the unspoken aesthetics of Crest of the Stars.


On the design side, it seems as if the superior race of Abh was carefully constructed as the writer’s critical voice against values that make us foul and foolish as human beings. When humans first attacked Abhs to create a ‘just cause’ for war, commander Lexshu observed correctly that “they are not fooling anyone except themselves”. Indeed, it is sad when humans have to fool themselves in order to kill each other for incomprehensible reasons. But to be an Abh isn’t about being born as an Abh, it’s about having the spirit of an Abh and acting like one. Even as a human, one can choose to look at soaring peaks rather than dig into deep valleys, and to always walk forward and not back. And yet, do we really want to be less of a human and more rational and proud like an Abh? Is it more rational for Lafiel to abandon a group of criminals from another nation in order to avoid losing countless lives of your fellow men in a fruitless war? Would it have been more logical for Jean Val’Jean in Les Miserables to not have saved the poor man from being convicted? Perhaps, yes. But it is more human to shed a tear for the one person you love. It is more human to save that one person from being wronged. Just as the relationship between Kyon and Haruhi helped finding both the simplicity and wonders of life, watch Crest of the Stars to follow Jinto and Lafiel in their wonderful journey through stars, growing up as a better Abh, and more human.


Obligatory picture of Admiral Spoor, the goddess, sex icon, etc etc. I actually wanted to post a picture of all the admirals and their chief of staffs, since they're all so awesome, but you will just have to watch the show to enjoy their unspoken dialogues (i.e. too lazy, I think I wrote enough for one post -__-)


6 Responses to “Unspoken Aesthetics of Crest of the Stars”

  1. kadian1364 Says:

    The Smile of the Abh scene is certainly one everyone who’s seen the series will remember. Another favorite scene of mine was when Captain Lexshue chews out Lafiel, and Lafiel’s stunned reaction. It such a perfect marriage of the spoken and unspoken dialogues, Lexshue conveying the true meaning of responsibility, and Lafiel swallowing her pride. All she said was a simple “yes sir” and salute, but you could feel her immense shame and embarrassment. This was layered upon at the end of the episode when she and Jinto are flying away in silence, and Jinto monologues about wanting to say something, but not being able to say anything at all.

  2. Martin Says:

    Yes! Absolutely! I found myself noticing a whole load of little details and subtexts when I rewatched this show – there’s something about the complexity of the Abh culture that makes it so compelling. I guess I ought to start importing the Banner episodes as soon as the trans-Atlantic exchange rate is a bit more agreeable.

    It’s good to see the TV adaptation squeeze in the nuances of the dialogue and scenarios, especially when the novels are in a better position to convey them. But again, I’m another visit to Amazon away from finishing those. Highly recommended though.

    Oh yeah, Spoor is a brilliant character. Lexshu carried a wonderful amount of pathos and dignity, some of which wasn’t apparent until it was too late; overall though the ‘Smile of the Abh’ is a truly wonderful thing. On so many levels. *_*

  3. nckl Says:

    I don’t know if this qualifies as an “unspoken aesthetic,” but one of the biggest things that struck me about this series is the special dynamic between Jinto and Lafiel. I’ve yet to come across another anime where two characters work so well together, and not in a cheesy or contrived manner. Both are seemingly strong and independent characters, and yet when they’re together, the way they act around each other and depend on each other almost qualifies as “cute.” I don’t know if I’m seeing to much into things, though.

  4. gaguri Says:


    I loved that scene too. I wonder, if Lafiel had learnt of her death sooner, she would have been more sensitive to the Baron’s loss.


    Yes, you should continue their journey asap! And the character of Lexshu really hits you later on, when you realise that, underneath her lecture of responsibility/duty, there was overwhelming love of a mother for her daughter.


    The relationship between Jinto and Lafiel is one of the most well developed I’ve seen in anime too. The thing is that it’s all very subtle, there are rarely direct exchange of their true feelings, but beneath their content of their words and actions, there are glimpses of their desire to to be understood, not wanting to be alone, and wanting to help another. That is why, although not as strong as its prequels in general, Banner of the Stars II had particular scenes that just pierces your heart ;_;

  5. ghostlightning Says:

    Good job here, taking note of the visual subtleties; really well done.

    “How shall I be when I meet him?”

    Lafiel’s question to Samson in Banner II to me is one of its finest moments. We mostly see only Lafiel from behind, and Samson with his cooking. And if this says nothing to you, with its pauses and faraway gazes, then the show may be lost on you.

    (I’m not talking about ‘you’ gaguri, fyi; you catch a freaking lot of things)

  6. gaguri Says:

    Haha, don’t worry, I know you don’t mean any offense to anyone here. Sometimes though, I wonder if we’re really catching things that are already there, or if we’re seeing more into things that aren’t really there. Of course this is all subjective, but if we feel it, it exists for us, and so I’m glad I can enjoy this work as much as other fans (i.e. I know few fellow anime fans who didn’t appreciate CotS as much for some reason :()

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