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Fifty years before the start of the series, scientists learned that a group of comets would enter the Solar System on a collision course with Earth. The
United Nations United Countries set up a two-tiered global defense system against the threat: the primary one being the space-based Comet Blasters, who ride out on spaceships and deploy special missiles that vaporize most of each comet, and the secondary one being the ground-based Meteor Sweepers, who ride up on high-altitude airplanes to blast what's left of the comet to bits.
Most of the series takes place on an airbase on Shimoji Island (a.k.a. Shimojishima or Shimojijima) in 2024, where Mikaze Honjou and three friends are Meteor Sweepers, and trainees to become Comet Blasters. Mikaze, despite coming from a family of aircraft pilots, initially feels kinda down about training and going to space, despite her original enthusiasm for the program. But she's soon convinced to be the high achiever, leading her team into a strange web of conspiracies and secrets...
The series consists of the following:
- First season: thirteen episodes, with an ending that offers relatively little closure
- A non-canon humorous 5-minute short
- A two-part (two episode lengths) OVA following the first season
- A "Log Book" episode (1 episode length) summarizing the first season
- A second season, Stratos 4 Advance: six episodes, released as OVA, ending on a cliffhanger, and expanding on and explaining a lot of the loose threads left over from the first season.
- Two more episodes, finishing the plot arcs much more conclusively, and tying up far more loose ends.
It's strongly recommended that you watch more than just the first season, due to the fact that the plot really doesn't end with it.
Stratos 4 is an anime series produced by Studio Fantasia, and directed by Takeshi Mori (who also did Vandread). Theme songs were written/performed by Melocure, except for the last one which is only by Megumi Hinata (as Melocure's other member had passed away). Not related to Infinite Stratos or the character Lockon Stratos.
Now with a Character Sheet in the making! Feel free to contribute!
- Actor Allusion: See Lawyer-Friendly Cameo below.
- Airbase Festival
- Aloof Big Sister: Mikaze has one, appearing during the Airbase Festival episode.
- Armor-Piercing Slap: Ayamo delivers a painful one onto Mikaze's face.
- Artistic Age
- Beach Episode
- Big Eater: Those infected with The Virus
- Cats Are Mean: Alice
- Chinese Girl Sorta: It's the main characters being waitresses at the local Chinese restaurant, and wearing the customary cheongsam.
- Conspiracy Theorist: A group of four are met during the Hot Springs Episode, and re-appear in Advance.
- Compilation Movie: One of the movies summarizes the events of the first season and other movies.
- Conspicuous CG: Used liberally with flight scenes.
- Cool Plane: The TSR-2MS, among others.
- Expy: Sayaka is to Stratos 4 as Misato is to Neon Genesis Evangelion.
- The original Meteor Sweepers themselves seem to be based off the 4 Czn's from Najica Blitz Tactics.
- Fan Service: It's Studio Fantasia of Najica fame, after all.
- Foreign Fanservice: The Comet Blasters.
- Gainax Ending: Season 1
- Government Conspiracy
- Hey, It's That Voice!: Some of the characters in Stratos 4 sound suspiciously the same as those from Vandread.)
- Hot Springs Episode
- Interservice Rivalry: Between the Comet Blasters and the Meteor Sweepers, and Intelligence and the rest of the Organisation.
- Latex Space Suit: Played very straight.
- Lawyer-Friendly Cameo: Dita Liebely and Meia Gisborn actually appear briefly in one episode of the original series.
- Made more friendly by the fact mentioned above.
- Leitmotif: If you pay attention to the soundtrack, you might pick up on a tune that appears every so often, in several different forms, and usually in a minor key. (The major key version is in fact officially named "Mikaze's theme".) It turns out that these are all based on the second ending theme, which is used in the final episodes of each season, and is quite pretty.
- Male Gaze: Oh, and lots of it!
- Meaningful Name: Most of them have names related to wind or flight. Mikaze is a standout example, as her name has "kaze" - "wind" - on it.
- Mind Screw: The first season ending. Just that ending.
- Panty Shot: The characters lampshade this. Mr. Sako, the mechanic, tells Mikaze that a nice young lady like her shouldn't be showing off her panties by curling up while napping in the engine he's working on.
- People Jars: Karin was put inside one.
- Running Gag
- Mikaze napping in the Mr. Sako's engine. Gets subverted when Sayaka naps there one day.
- The new trainees' training getting shoved aside for more plot-important factors. And their complaining that they should be the main characters.
- Alice's trying to go airborne (kinda subverted in the non-canon OVA), and Alice scaring the daylights out of Karin.
- Ragtag Bunch of Misfits: Shimoji is a rather charismatic group of Misfits. It works to their advantage, gaining them some rather powerful allies. Including the Comet Blasters
- Shower Scene: Used for Nightmare Fuel, so much that it emotionally scars one of the characters.
- Shown Their Work: The planes, while fictionalized, are based on real life planes - especially the TSR-2MS.
- Slice of Life: What some of the episodes aim to show--what life is like on a pretty isolated island where the local Chinese restaurant is the local watering hole, enough that it's tradition that trainees board there, and work there to pay their rent.
- Surprisingly Good English: The Americans at the control tower in Guam.
- The Ditz: Mikaze. Oh so often.
- The End of the World as We Know It: Does the plot sound suspiciously similar to some Bruce Willis movie?
- The Virus: The driving force of the first season.
- Theme and Variations Soundtrack: A number of tracks, including one labeled "Mikaze's Theme" (for the lead main character), that all share a tune. At the last episode, this is revealed to be the tune of the second ending theme (which is used for the ends of whole seasons).
- Those Two Guys: Tsubasa and Sora
- Token Minority: Mana from Advance
- You Gotta Have Blue Hair: Or green, in the case of Mikaze.
- Talk to the Comet Blasters about their hair.
- ↑ Left to Right: Shizuha Doi, Ayamo Nakamura, Karin Kikuhara, Mikaze Honjou. Behind: TSR-2MS