Shingu Secret of the Stellar Wars anime review

Shingu Secret of the Stellar Wars anime review
The day after an apparent alien invasion of Tokyo is repelled by a mysterious being, middle schooler Murata Hajime discovers that his small town holds a strange secret when he witnesses transfer student Subaru Muryou fight another student using psychic powers. Since Hajime himself is relatively new to his town, he has been unaware that the leading families have been protecting the earth from alien invasion for centuries by using the ability of "Shingu," and that the current members of the middle school student council are also the chosen guardians of this generation. He also begins to discover that many of the town's residents are in fact intergalactic diplomats. Hajime is drawn futher into this open secret as his friendship with Muryou and the "chosen" teenagers -- especially tomboy Moriyama Nayuta -- deepens and as he begins to discover that he has a role to play in Earth's future.

I haven't been so entranced by a series since Vandread. And this is even better. I haven't been so grabbed by a story since Divergence Eve. And this series doesn't feel any need to pander.

Shingu: Secret of the Stellar Wars is the best anime I've watched in a hell of a long time. And it gets the first four-star rating I've handed out in a year and a half. (The last was Card Captor Sakura.) The story is complex, and the characters are fascinating, and the voice performances are outstanding. If you haven't noticed, I'm very enthusiastic about it. After I finished watching it for the first time, I watched it two more times.

As the series begins, a strange spaceship hovers over a section of Tokyo. A nice looking teenage boy and his grandfather sit on the edge of the tallest building in the area, eating and watching as a strange giant figure shows up, destroys the spaceship, and the vanishes in a puff of cherry blossom petals.

Then the story moves to the town of Tenmo. Our hero is Murata Hajime, an 8th grader. At school everyone's buzzing about the fact that the government just announced that there really are space aliens.

The teacher enters and introduces a new student. His name is Subaru Muryou, and he's the one we saw with his grandfather. He's rather peculiar because he's wearing a traditional school uniform -- which no one wears any longer. A bit later, a 9th grader named Moriguchi calls Muryou out and challenges him to a fight on the roof of the building. Hajime tries to stop it, but is astounded when both Moriguchi and Muryou start tossing energy blasts at each other.

This is a problem. Hajime has become aware of things he is not supposed to know. It turns out that certain students at that school have inherited extraordinary powers, and their families have been using those powers to defend the Earth against invaders from space. This has been going on for centuries.

And from there the story unfolds, and mysteries shroud deeper mysteries, and as various people plot and plan. The series plot arc unfolds at a deliberate pace, neither too fast nor too slow. Some of what we see is slice-of-life but none of it is filler; everything that happens in the series is there for a reason. I have never watched a series which was as well planned. (It even transcends Noir in that regard.)

The voice acting is outstanding. Sugita Tomokazu does wonders with Moriguchi, a character which is the source of a great deal of comedy (and not a small amount of pathos). Paku Romi is amazing as Nayuta, the conflicted tomboy. Her voice is slightly husky and fits the character perfectly. It's a challenging role and she never misses a mark. Nojima Kenji handles Hajime's voice just as it should; he's the anchor in the middle of the series, the rock around which the storm blows. That can be difficult, but he too never misses the mark.

The art style is a bit retro, but it works. Just looking at static drawings of some of the characters (e.g. Jirou and Shun), they seem odd -- but when they're moving and talking, and as the story develops, you rapidly get used to it. I wouldn't have them be any other way.

I picked up this series almost on a whim. I have heard almost no buzz about it, and I can't figure out why it hasn't gotten noticed. So in hopes of helping to correct that, I will say this: Shingu: Secret of the Stellar Wars is one of the very best anime series of the last ten years. Now that it's out in a budget-priced thinpak, it's a must buy.

Better than review, is a Trailer video of: Shingu Secret of the Stellar Wars. Watch it now:
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