Gunbuster and Battle Athletes are two two of my favorite anime. My first "real" anime experience was Sailor Moon. So it should be no surprise that I absolutely love any anime about an anti-hero protagonist (dark and brooding suits me fine but there's a special place in my heart for klutzy and cute) triumphing over impossible odds to become the savior of the planet. I also LOVE the show Martian Successor Nadesico, so when I heard that a new show was coming out that was made by some of the same people...
Stellvia (or Stellvia of the Universe as it is called on some Websites), is similar to the aforementioned classics, but the overall quality of the entire show will be hard to guage until more of the show comes out (as it has been said that it MAJORLY switches into high gear somewhere around episode eight). From what I've seen so far, I don't think I'll be disappointed.
The animation in the show is high quality, and the character designs are clean and attractive, possessing a somewhat cute, yet very sincere appeal. The CGI is quite nice in the space combat scenes, and overall the show is pleasing to the eye (partially due to it's bright color palette). The only downside to the visuals is perhaps the sparse backgrounds of the space stations (no big deal).
The music is of high quality, and only grows on you over time. Everything has a somewhat cheerful, uplifting sweetness to it. The sound effects are up to par, but it's really the voice acting that you'll care about.
I've seen some truly bad English dubs in my time (and especially recently), but some of the best I've ever seen were the ones for Battle Athletes Victory and Martian Successor Nadesico. This show easily matches them in quality thus far. The main characters are played pretty much perfectly, possessing both youthful idealism, playful spirit, and that serious driving force that it's o-so-hard to put your finger on. The voice acting for the adults in the show is...Stellar as well. A VERY pleasant surprise!
The actual show itself starts off a little slow, as the first episode is largely introducing characters, the universe, and the premise of the show. There is a somewhat strange parting between the protagonist and her mother in the first episode that left me scratching my head, but after that the show quickly solidifies.
Really, this show is a nice change from other shows of it's type. Shima is not just a klutz, she is also a genius. And instead of being bratty, she is shy and reserved. Watching her growing confidence you feel yourself getting more and more drawn into her story. Some of the dialog is truly great stuff, as this show has some fun with the very genre it is portraying (the scene where Shima was wearing a bath-towel over her flight suit really cracked me up), and the stereotypes of glasses-wearing wiz-kid and the female stoic (among others) turn end up becoming friends instead of arch-rivals (for now at least).
Overall I found this show to be highly enjoyable thus far, and I look forward to seeing how it is going to progress. After all, the story is just beginning...