Daniel's posting makes me question my decision to bypass the Crest and proceed directly to the Banner, the latter being universally acclaimed as far and far away superior over its predcessor.
UPDATE: TheBigN shares the following anecdote by e-mail:
I speak from limited experience, but at Cornell as a freshman, our college anime club showed both Banner series (one per semester). [...] When there was a survey about the audience's experiences with the clubs schedule, responses were divided with people who didn't watch Crest before the Banner series tending to pan the series, while people who watched Crest before Banner tended to praise it. And it's understandable, since Crest introduces you to the universe of the Abh and co, and as Banner of the Stars is just a continuation from there, people who watch Banner first tend to get dropped into the story without any information on how the world works.
I can only blog for myself, and I thought that Banner did an exempliary job of setting up the narration by opening with the mock battle and its aftermath. All the background was painted in masterfuly, with small inoffensive flashback and off-hand remarks in and during the Samson's speech. I knew it was going to be great from the very way the backstory was introduced. So I don't know what those Cornellians were thinking.
UPDATE: Evirus is taking an exception.
MORE: Kaedrin takes a balanced approach.