What They Say:
When Yura Yamato’s roommate Soora asks her to join her club, it quickly becomes clear that the girls of Stella Women’s Academy are VERY different. It turns out that she becomes to a club known as C3 (which stands for Command, Control, and Communications) who’s main after school activity is playing survival games! It’s not a typical teenage girl pastime, but Sonora and her trigger happy friends are seriously into it. The question that puts her in the crosshairs of a dilemma is if she has what it takes to join up, stand up, and deliver in the face of friendly fire. Scope out the insanity as Yura pulls the trigger and throws everyone’s battle plans into total disarray in Stella Women’s Academy, High School Division Class C3!
The audio is alright, I guess. I never really have a difficult time hearing anyone speak even with just the built-in TV speakers. That’s all that matters.
The video quality leaves a lot to be desired… It’s obviously grainy in the line work. It’s just…It could be a lot sharper. It hardly stresses the upper limits of a DVD, even with four episodes per disc (except that one with five episodes).
The packaging is typical for any Sentai release with some fanservice pictures on the back and some actually nice promotional art on the front. It’s weird that the main character isn’t at least in the center of the group, but I’ll deal.
Standard menus all around with the episodes lined up on the side and extras on a separate menu. The promo art adorns the other side. It’s alright. I like the promo art a lot.
Nothin’ but the clean opening and ending.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Sports anime is meant to be fun and Stella Women’s Academy, more than almost anything, is fun. You wouldn’t think of survival games as sports, but it most certainly is. There’s a winner and a loser and you compete against an opponents of varying skill levels. In baseball, in basketball, in volleyball, in tennis, it’s extremely competitive. I’m sure there are competitive people—to the point of making the game less fun—in survival games and even people that make money from them, but Stella isn’t about that. Stella is about making survival games recreational and fun. It’s not your typical sports anime, but sports anime it is.
Yamato Yura, the main character, exemplifies it all. She joins C3 almost by force. She doesn’t get the appeal to survival games. In fact, she plays around with the guns she finds in her room (shared with class president Sonora) as if she’s Rambo or enacting a scene from MASH or some weird combination of the two. The show is weird is what I’m trying to say. She’s enticed to join by cake after all!
The changes Yura goes through exemplify what sports anime is: fun. But you can get a little too serious about it pretty quickly. I mean, sports are serious. You get competitive and it’s easy to hate losing. Yura gets serious. She changes when her and Sonora is shot at by a modified gun and Sonora hurts her leg. The 24-hour tournament goes from achievable goal to maybe not. When Yura takes over, it’s attainable again, but the games are no longer fun. Things get too serious and she works the rest of the team to the bone. She ignores Ren getting injured and Yura cheats to win the tournament. It’s the absolute bottom.
But Yura wants to win. She joins the team that is absolutely vicious in how it wins and one with a former friend of Sonora, Rin. Rin is like when survival games go bad. She’s the serious side of it that’s only in it to win it. That’s because we only get a view from the outside in. When Yura joins Rin, we learn that it’s not all about that. It’s a different kind of fun, but it’s still fun. It’s strategizing and its formations. They make the game into a competition when it doesn’t necessarily have to be, but that’s how they have fun.
Yura takes it too seriously. She focuses on W’s and stats. She got the most hits and she got the win even though she was the medic on the team. She loses sight of why she joined in the first place, for fun. The 24-hour tournament made her obsessed with winning. First she has to avenge Sonora and from there it’s an addiction. She’s at her absolute worst when a teammate gets hurt and she prioritizes the game over the safety of a person. I’m surprised she didn’t shoot the guy on the other team that was trying to help.
The game isn’t fun anymore. When did I change and why did I change? She loses her way and Ryuko isn’t there to put Yura back on track. Yura has to turn to Chojiro, the spirit guide who taught her everything she knows. She returns to C3 and sparks a fire in everyone else’s heart. Sonora’s leaving and they can’t beat her. But with Yura, maybe.
Stella is nothing special, but it’s super fun. At 12 episodes (you can skip the last one, really), it doesn’t overstay its welcome and its characters are easy to be around. It helps that Miyuki Sawashiro plays Sonora, because Sawashiro makes everything better. Rima Nishizaki hasn’t done anything but Rento in Stella, but I loved her as well. The motherly personality she displayed while still being mischievous and fun was perfect for the character. And that’s Stella’s highest point: its characters. They’re fun and the show is that much better for it.
Japanese 2.0 Language, English subtitles, Clean Opening, Clean Closing, Sentai Trailers
Content Grade: B
Audio Grade: B-
Video Grade: C
Packaging Grade: C
Menu Grade: B-
Extras Grade: N/A
Released By: Sentai Filmworks
Release Date: September 2nd, 2014
Running Time: 325 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Radeon 7850, 24” Dell UltraSharp U2410 set at 1920 x 1200, Creative GigaWorks T20 Series II