Star Ocean EX is a 26-episode TV series based on the Sony Playstation game Star Ocean: 2nd Story. Now Star Ocean: 2nd Story happens to be one of my all time favorite RPGs, and so I was full of anticipation for this particular anime release.
Star Ocean EX chronicles Claude and Rena's journey to save the planet. Like most RPGs, these two travel to different towns and dungeons, recruit party members, gain information, and level up in terms of skills and abilities. Eventually, Claude and Rena form one big party to troop to the final boss' lair and attack. Having played the game prior to watching the anime is a double-edged sword. On one hand, I was very happy to see familiar characters and places -- so happy that I got the uncontrollable urge to pick up the game once more and play all the way through it for the fifth time. But on the other hand, this series is so closely based on the game that the story is basically the same. That about killed any sense of suspense or thrill for me because I already knew who Claude and Rena were going to meet, what was going to happen, and so forth.
The art and animation are nicely done. Character designs are beautiful and quite faithful to those you'd find in the game. Alas, Star Ocean EX's ending leaves something else to be desired. It's a big cliffhanger -- Claude realizes his self-worth, and everybody discovers that they still need to defeat some more baddies. The end. What the hell is up with that? I don't know if this is one way of telling me there's going to be a sequel but I was mighty pissed after sitting through all 26
eps and then being given THAT. On a more positive note, I really enjoyed how the characters were portrayed because their individual personalities really shone through in spite of everything. It was fun watching them relate to each other and handle various situations in their own ways.
Star Ocean EX is altogether an above average anime, but to be honest it's really better off as a game. Those who've played Star Ocean: 2nd Story can't help but know what's going to happen next, while those who've never played may find the whole drill of going to towns, recruiting people, etc. a tad tedious. If you like playing through RPGs (like I do) I suggest you play the game instead... I'd only recommend this anime if you like RPGs but don't want to play them.