Created by Studio Fantasia and Bandai Visual in Japan, ‘Stratos 4‘ is a science fiction series directed by Takeshi Mori. It was released in 2004 and dubbed by Elastic Media Corporation, running for thirteen episodes.
In the not too distant future, comets are entering the Earth’s solar system, threatening mankind. As such, the United Nations sets up the Comet Blasters on Orbital Station Seven in space and the Meteor Sweeper, who destroy comets fragments that enter the Earth’s atmosphere. The protagonist Mikaze (Rachel Kempel) is, at first, not interested in becoming a pilot, but changes her mind after her first mission and now desires to go to space. She lives on an airbase on Shimoji Island and is teamed with her friends, the yes-woman Shizuha (Lisa Enochs), hot-headed Ayamo (Elisa Fiorillo), and the shy Karin (Stacey Q). The girls’ adventurous nature frustrates their teachers and fellow pilots, but they are well-respected for their skills. As the comets become more frequent, the girls are thrust into a conspiracy where the government is trying to keep secrets about the comets under wraps.
This anime is a treat and something to enjoy. The episodes are easy to follow and the story-arc of the girls is very interesting. Each one has their own unique personality and their individuality is one of the strong points of the show, especially when they clash with their superiors on how they perform their duties.
My only points of contention are it does have the tired anime trope of fan service, as well as the conspiracy plot which is kind of thrust upon you. It did wrap up well, but it went from a show about four girls’ desire to become astronauts to an international conspiracy which Karin is a part of. Now, the dubbing started off incredibly rough. It felt like, with the exception of Stacey Q, most of the cast was just reading lines with no acting, but it improved over the duration of the series although they needed better quality microphones.
Aside from that, I did enjoy all thirteen episodes, especially the jokes involving their landlady’s pet cat Alice, who they call “the Admiral” and later a kitten they adopt named “the General.” I also like how the show was written, watching these girls grow and learn, plus befriending some of their teachers who did not like them, at first. This is a common theme in anime and I thought it was well-explored in Stratos 4.
Check out the trailer below:
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This article has been updated from a previous version.