Seikai no Senki II unravels yet another story act of Jinto and Lafiel as they continue the voyage into space and planar space (yep, they have two different types of space here woohoo).
Admittedly, the plot this time can be a bit predictable, especially with the pretty awkward spoiler-ish prologue in the first episode. Nonetheless, just as I thought my enjoyment was soiled from the get-go, SnS II threw me in a rollercoaster ride of emotion while barely reaching the halfway point.
By the time the end credit rolled, I had already found myself being overwhelmed by a rather indescribable sense of catharsis.
Story & World-Building
Though Jinto and Lafiel are undoubtedly the focal points of the series, the anime doesn't solely rely on them to keep the ride engaging.
Far surpassing my anticipation, the creator managed to further expand world-building compared to the previous installments with intricate politics and enthralling lore, which can get very hyped IMO.
The best part is that, despite all those interludes, the relationship between Lafiel and Jinto could still progress and develop so seamlessly.
I'm not even exaggerating. For a 10-episode work, they really outdid themselves with so much quality content.
The anime can indeed get a bit long-winded at some points, but those moments are like short breaks from tension, and as soon as I got bored, they threw me back in the rabbit hole.
Although politics is a recurring subject in SnS II, accompanying it is eloquent dialogues with well pacing and good directing that concentrate on characters' outward "appearance" to emphasize their hidden motives as well as subtle foreshadowing. Thanks to that, it is no more than a mundane task getting the grip of the situation and how the world of Seikai operates in general.
What's more, there was virtually no loose end despite having so many subplots going on at once.
To add the cherry on top, they even managed to slide in a top-notch space battle in the late game for hype material, but that's not even all to it.
While these events run discretely, they can still interlink one another from a bird-eye view, which is pretty sick as I've always enjoyed this kind of multi-scale, multi-layered level of storytelling.
One of the best things about Seikai no Senki II is the strong presence of the opposing faction, which barely had any focus in the earlier works.
In this act, the context can be messy at first glance, but there's more to it than meets the eyes.
In the beginning, I wholeheartedly thought it was a bad idea to include so many different viewpoints, four to be more specific, from extra new side characters.
However, as the curtain unveils the whole picture, everything makes perfect sense.
For real, no matter how hard I tried to find a hole in their logic, it really can't be helped that things ended up this way.
Each side has its motive, reasoning, and circumstance to justify its actions.
I never thought I'd be invested in these four temporarily introduced factions in this act.
In all honesty, some of them can be flawed, such as, uhhhh, capturing women for the sake of having children just because they want to see kids running joyfully in a hellhole, but I digress.
What matters here IMO is how it grants these characters a purpose, a compelling drive to fully commit themselves, thus delivering one hell of a performance in the climax.
For once, I do not agree in the slightest with their actions but find them instead to be compelling as characters, not as some cheap, shallow, 2nd rated kind of villains with taking over the world non-sense that we usually see.
Moving on to the main cast, I cannot describe how well they were handled.
I never really liked Jinto as a character early on, for he seems too ordinary and, well, kind of a wimp lol.
Nevertheless, SnS II pretty much solidified his ideal and position in the story.
He is well aware of his shortcomings yet continued to stay firm to himself, and yeah, I pretty much enjoy his decisions in this act as well.
Though they appear to be naive, there's no sign of ill-will, which is cool. Furthermore, his tiny bit of internal conflict between being originally a lander and his current position as an Abh noble is a nice touch to his character.
That said, Lafiel stole the spotlight for me, and I'm not even fanboying, yet.
It would not be a stretch to say she had undergone the most sophisticated transformation as a character in the whole series.
Spanning across the entire season, we get to see Lafiel in a myriad of emotional states, such as chilling, fury, resolve, melancholy, sadness, despair, and hope.
Looking back at the Lafiel from Crest of the Star, she sure has come a long way.
From being a yolo-ish young lady who had a propensity toward rash acts to the Lafiel of Banner II with a highly calm attitude filled with rational thoughts and decisive mindset, but not without compassion and, of course, soft nature inside.
WOW, it simply boggles the mind. In the end, I guess what truly sold me on Lafiel and Jinto is how well they are meant to be for each other, fr, just get married already lmao.
Other than that, admiral Spoor did not disappoint despite being a supporting character. Part of the reason is that she has a bit of privilege for playing a crucial role in this act.
Regardless, I can't get enough of the constant switching between her trolling and no non-sense mode, which is hilarious and awesome at the same time.
Apart from that, her capability as a commander is but pure elegance, for she truly lived up to her reputation and hype teased early on. It would be a lie to say I was not fired up whenever her fleet is on a roll.
The other admirals have their quirks. Still, I feel like the time spent on them is a bit excessive with so many lengthy random talks that barely add anything to the plot. Nonetheless, the cast of SnS II overall is very diverse and well-built backed up by compelling interactions.
Visual-wise, given the limited resources in the early 2000s, SnS II is quite ahead of its time.
The aspect ratio bump from 4:3 to 16:9 is hands down the most welcomed change ever.
In truth, some scenes rely on reusing old sequences. However, the directing is basically on steroids when it comes to moments of truth and climax.
It is not just about having the correct detail but more so about getting the right angle to highlight the subjects or their feelings.
As a space opera anime, it is no surprise that SnS will feature majestic spaceships to cater to sci-fi enthusiasts. For something that came out in early 2000, I must say it is a bit illegal for an anime to be this epic of many scales.
While there aren't many battles this season, the constant fleet formation assembles shots are more than adequate to satisfy me.
Furthermore, a commander's perspective from a higher plane is a most intriguing aspect, for it prompts a much better and definitive view of the entire situation at some major events.
All said and done, what's genuinely mesmerizing to me is how insanely synergized the animation and sound are since, at some point of the ride, I felt like I was being engulfed in a tranquil atmosphere mixing some melancholy vibe.
Moreover, having spent so much time on space segments must have probably dulled my mind a bit, but damn, these breathtaking landscape shots in a planet almost filled with oceans felt so refreshing and astonishing.
There weren't many of these, yet the timing is so on point that it simply emits an ataraxy vibe in this mildly depressing story, hence an oddly unimaginable state of serenity.
Lastly, the creator even went to extra mile to explain the mechanism behind the sci-fi concepts of SnS with spectacular animation sequences.
The prime example of this is Basroil's battle configuration moment, which showcases the launching logic of the assault spaceship, legit the most 'kino' moment to me in this anime as it incorporates so many factors in a short span of nearly 1 minute.
In terms of the sound element, I'm more than satisfied.
I actually disliked the OP in the beginning, but somehow, over time, it grew on me a great lot.
The OP's sequence is also spot on by going full starry theme that resonates well with the epicness of the music.
The ED, on the other hand, just simply hits right at the feel.
To put it bluntly, they know how to make the most out of this track since it is usually played at the turning point of the main characters, thus further deepen the already desolated atmosphere.
On a side note, the BGMs are rather powerful assets of SnS II.
To be more specific, they're not just there for the sake of having music but rather to serve as an indication that something sinister or theatrical is about to commence, or at least implied in those particular scenes.
This goes double when a closure to certain moments was drawing near; as the music kicked in, I could not help but YOOOOOOOOOO.
As for voice acting, it's pretty standard for the most part, I'd say. The cast is relatively big, yet not all have frequent appearances, so I can't comment much here.
If anything, the switch between the Abh language and Japanese at some pivotal scenes can be very wholesome indeed.
Apart from that, Lafiel's VA did an incredible job capturing some of the most refined expressions on top of the various emotional outburst periods.
It goes without saying that one moment where all that is left on the screen is but Lafiel's heavy breathing in tandem with a surreal time-frozen atmosphere is easily the peak of this anime's VA performance.
This was doubtless the longest 10 seconds of Lafiel's life, "suffocating" in her own anxiety (no fr it was really well done)
The bottom line is, Seikai no Senki II is a visually stunning anime packed with an intricate and tangible plot, a splendid cast, and distinguished soundtracks.
Seldom can I find an anime capable of masterfully blending all those essential elements, let alone being constrained by a limited duration.
Throughout the journey, I got to experience a plethora of reactions. Even though I was pretty sure of what would happen next, it never ceased to keep me on edge all the time.
And just as I thought everything was already over when the end credit rolled, the epilogue just had to deliver one last tiny bit of surprise to properly conclude this story act, which is 100% HHHRRRNNNGGG.