If you enjoy anime set in space like I do, you may appreciate SnS. However, I would not rate it as high as some others in a similar vein like Stellvia. Although there is no “one thing” that lowers its ranking, it is beset with slight drags in most categories,
The character design is well done – but done before. Nothing that makes you really look twice; generic and stereotypical. The exception was one very young teen, the pilot “Queen” who they designed with some flair, spunk and a thick one-side braid.
The art direction for the mecha was half good. The designs for the larger ships were interesting and a little different. The ribs of bright light running through the skin of the main ship made it visually interesting. The design of the bad guys main ship, while understandably dark and red, was still interestingly shaped and pleasing to the eye.
The mecha design fell flat with anything smaller than a cruiser. The robotic mechs and space fighter “strains” missed the mark. The robotic mechs were just dull and did not bring anything to the table. They were uninspiring.
The flying strains were new and different, but they were also too busy. They jutted out here and there and everywhere. When in the hanger it was hard to make out their shape at all. When in space it was merely a shiny pointy piece of hardware zipping by. Like a “jack” festooned with hidden weapons. There was not enough “front” and “back”.
While this may not be a drawback in your book, it is my opinion that it detracted from some of the space action scenes. It was hard to tell who was doing what, the direction they faced, and who was damaged or winning.
The main character was unlikeable. She spent most of the series sulking, getting beat up, or both. This was probably the biggest flaw in the series. They wanted you to feel for her and her lost relationship with her brother, but you just did not. If not for the semi-decent supporting cast this would have dragged the series down to a much greater degree.
Some of the other pilots were real psychos ready to murder their compatriots. This was never fully addressed or resolved. And the perpetrators never got their comeuppance. That was very unsatisfying considering they made me sit through a whole terrible abuse scene where our protagonist acts like a lifeless punching bag.
Like a number of animes, it stumbles after a decent start. The passage of time slows down and so do the exciting events. The story ended up getting very small. They left you with unanswered questions for so long that after a while you no longer really cared about getting the answers.
The ending addresses concepts more popular in Japanese culture than to the Western mind. They touch on concepts of “fulfilling one’s will” and “being alone”. These concepts were too dry for a totally satisfactory ending.
If you like space based animes and absolutely have to watch another, some of the concepts and action scenes in this anime may be worth viewing. However do not expect much. That mindset will help you enjoy the better moments from this series.