Talk to the paw.
Mikaze Hanjyou is a trainee pilot for the Meteor Sweepers- part of the ground-based defence line for inbound comets set to impact with the surface of the Earth. At first, it isn’t a job that she particularly cares for, but a high altitude mission gives her a taste for the dizzying heights of space, she finally gains some enthusiasm for her work. Now determined to become one of the prestigious space-based Comet Blasters, Mikaze attacks her duties with a renewed commitment, but will that be enough to ensure she fulfils her ambition?
When I first heard about Stratos 4, my plan was to give it a miss; I hadn’t heard anything particularly in favour of the series, and it hardly seemed worth the effort. Everything changed, however, when I learned that Stratos 4 did indeed have one thing to its credit- a fat cat entitled The Admiral. Although the cat was not destined to save the day as I had initially hoped, her bulk was not to be overlooked, and so it was that I embarked on a journey to see more of her.
Unfortunately, aside from its immensely huggable flabby feline, Stratos 4 does not have much to recommend it. The paper thin plot seems to meander from one place to another, starting off as ‘Mikaze’s coming of age’ before travelling through a pointless midsection to a ridiculous final arc that takes a clichéd story and somehow makes it even worse. The characters are little better; not only are there far too many for a thirteen episode series, but hardly any of them receive anything in the way of development- in fact, even now I’m hard pressed to remember more than a couple of their names.
The sad result of all this is that Stratos 4 is an entirely average effort; a series so mediocre that it cannot even be said to offer some light fun. Unsurprisingly, the best moments of the show are indeed those which feature The Admiral, with the series’ best episode being one that tracks her adventures when she ends up on the base. Amusingly as this episode is, it is perhaps a little worrying that a side story about the adventures of a cat is vastly more appealing than the main storyline.
Visually, Stratos 4’s animation is always clean and bright, but is otherwise unremarkable; most character designs are as generic and simplistic as the personalities they correspond to. Background music is generally unremarkable, although one track seems to be a poorly disguised remix of Top Gun’s ‘Take My Breath Away’; this was presumably intentional given the series’ focus on aerial exploits.
Firsthand experience with Stratos 4 could only confirm what I already knew- aside from the cat, there was precious little else to make it noteworthy. Nonetheless, as generally drab as it turned out, I must move into the OVAs if I wish to see more of its starring attraction.