In the future, there is a space war going on. Sara's brother Ralph leaves for the war, and she is determined to see him once again. They're both from a family of warriors, so she had a Mimic made at birth -- some sort of neural interface made from cloned embryonic stem cells. This enables her to enlist as a Strain pilot. Strain are the ultra-manoeverable mecha used by the Union.
During the first episode, the training academy is attacked by the semi-autonomous battle pods used by the Deague, called TUMOR. The trainees are easily defeated, and Sara sees her brother again: he has turned traitor! He escapes with a girl he takes from a military research installation close to the academy, and then damages Sara's Strain so badly her Mimic is broken.
Sara becomes even more determined to meet her brother again. She assumes a different name (her family name, Werec, has been sullied by Ralph's treason), and enlists as a space marine. The marines pilot their mecha, Gambees, manually, and therefore don't need Mimics. But the Gambees can't fly at sub-light speeds, and have limited manoeverability.
Sara has a tough time because of her single-minded determination, which her teammates interpret as haughtyness. She is the butt of a few pranks, but she takes it all in stride -- which isolates her even further from her teammates.
During a training session aboard a spaceship that is flying at sub-light speeds, they get attacked by the Deague. It turns out that Ralph has come, seeking... something. The Gambees have to keep the TUMOR off the ship, while the Strain squad launches to counter Ralph. Sara's Gambee has been sabotaged (so that she could not participate in the sub-light speed training that was scheduled), and she sulks around for a bit. She comes to a part of the ship that is some sort of personal hobby space of the chief engineer, who has built his own Strain there. In a doll that is sitting in a chair amongst the junk, sits a Mimic that can somehow communicate with Sara...
She gets into the Strain, links with the Mimic and launches!
After that, she gets assigned to the Strain unit, her secret real identity comes to the light, she loses her Mimic, and we get to know why Ralph has turned traitor.
There is no 'second level cut', so I'll leave it at that -- the plot is very interesting indeed, and I don't want to spoil it for you.
The awfulness of war is depicted pretty blandly. People die all the time, sometimes for completely senseless reasons, like being in the way when a bullet misses. Supporting characters get killed off, because shit like that just happens in a war.
I'm not so sure about the physics of sub-light travel. For instance, the Gambee pilots are instructed to never shoot forward when at sub-light speed. That makes sense: your bullets will only hit yourself. But shooting to the sides or backwards is OK -- but how could you see your target when it is catching up to you (therefore goign at light speed), and you are looking backwards? When you can see your target, it's already upon you! It's a pity that the physics of sub-light speed travel is a plot-point, and some things make sense, but not everything.
The artwork is very good. The character designs are attractive (though not overly moe), the animation is fluid. The CGI of the mecha and spaceships is gorgeous -- the space battles are a feast for the eyes. The music is decent as well.
It's a bit of a mix of Spaceship Operators and something like Macross. A very, very interesting plot that is very well executed. At only 13 episodes long, it is amazing how much the writers have been able to cram into the series.
- Beautiful CGI;
- Very interesting plot.
- Not every character is likable;
- Wonky sub-light physics.
All in all, highly recommended if you like sci-fi and/or mecha at all. An 8.