If you're into space, then this is worth a look. It's not so out there that isn't not relatable to what is going on today. But it is out there enough that you don't see it yet. Like this follows a number of people's struggles to achive their dream, and it shows what they will give up to get it.
I highly recommend this one.
Something to add. It gets into the danger of space junk and I see some here doubting it. As someone who has been around NASA, I highly incourage you to look up what a single paint chip did to the orbital window. Look at how deep a single paint chip went into it
Que pasaria si unes un slice of life con elementos de ciencia ficción fuerte y le sumas un gran trabajo puesto en el apartado visual técnico?, el resultado sería esta maravillosa joya hecha por el estudio sunrise. Planetes (que en griego significa planetas, que a la vez significa errante o vagabundo) es una gran prueba que hasta un slice of life puede ser grandioso si se desarrolla EN EL ESPACIO!!!.
Pero ya hablando en serio, que esas descripciones te hagan retroceder ni un paso, gracias a las cosas que ocurren en la serie, para empezar, aunque la obra sea un slice of life, a diferencia de la mayoría de sus compatriotas, posee una gran cantidad de tensión en casi todo el metraje, esto es debido a que la obra se enfoca en un grupo de recolectores de basura en el espacio, aunque no se oiga como la gran cosa la realidad es otra, la serie retrata los grandes peligros que producen los desechos espaciales a diversas instalaciones en el escenario donde se establece la serie, por lo que inclusive un mero tornillo es capaz de acabar con la vida de cientos de seres humanos sin que siquiera se puedan dar cuenta de ello, por lo que los personajes principales estarán a cargo de limpiar las distintas áreas espaciales transitables, es gracias a esto se les podrá ver en gran cantidad de eventos que pondrán en jaque hasta a sus propias vidas.
La serie además resulta que es episódica la mayor parte del tiempo, pero con la grata sorpresa de que todos los capítulos terminan por aportar algo al conjunto de la obra, ya sea para desarrollar al setting o los personajes, además que todos cargan con una gran cantidad de elementos en común, por que no terminan por ser autoconclusivos y por ende un desperdicio.
Es interesante la forma en como maneja sus capítulos, todos tienen cosas distintas que terminan por enriquecer aún más a la obra, a la vez que les llega a dar un giro oscuro a estos y le da un nuevo enfoque a muchas cuestiones a estos, por este lado la obra hizo que nunca se sintiera repetitiva en cuanto a su fórmula, así como dejar una buena moraleja al final de cada capítulo.
La obra, como mencione antes, toca otros topicos debido a que cada capítulo abarca muchas cuestiones más allá de la basura espacial, la obra también trata sobre la conquista del espacio y el impacto que tuvo en la tierra. Esto se hace muy evidente, ya que la obra muestra cómo los seres humanos han llegado a un punto en donde están alcanzando la capacidad para poder viajar a través del sistema solar, esto por un lado le permite hablar sobre cómo los seres humanos han logrado prácticamente superar una de sus más grandes adversidades y como estos desean avanzar aún más como especie humana, por el otro lado sin embargo, la serie también plantea las consecuencias negativas que esto conlleva, como el aumento del consumo de recursos del planeta así como la monopolización de estos, cosa que termina por mostrar cómo en la tierra los recursos están siendo consumidos a un nivel alarmante y como la acumulacion de estos por partes de las potencias del globo terminó por generar una desigualdad social y geopolítica enorme, por lo que muchas naciones tercermundistas sin la capacidad de desarrollarse se ven envueltas en guerras civiles, hambrunas y en la quiebra al no poder mantenerse en un mundo globalizado. La obra retrata esta situación de una forma bastante madura y creíble, en la que distintas personas de estas áreas intentan desesperadamente eliminar esta desigualdad. Algo que hasta a mi me dejo impresionado es la forma en cómo se produce el conflicto entre ambas visiones del tema, el hecho de que el conflicto es bastante gris, ambas visiones tienen sus puntos de vista bien desarrollados, se muestra tanto el carácter positivo de sus proposiciones a la vez de sus métodos tan cuestionables para obtener sus resultados, por lo que fácilmente uno logra entender ambos lados de conflicto sin ningún inconveniente. La obra además comenta sobre los problemas de la contaminación producto de dicha conquista, en donde la basura espacial se puede fácilmente cobrar la vida de cualquiera y el porqué este problema resulta ser de vital importancia.
La serie en cuanto al manejo del mundo es increíblemente detallado y plausible, tanto las instalaciones espaciales, el impacto que tiene el espacio en cosas como los alimentos, los humanos y otras cuestiones, así como la forma en cómo la sociedad ha evolucionado hasta el punto de colonizar otros planetas, esto no significa que sea enteramente futurista, por lo que aun las ciudades en la tierra siguen teniendo las mismas características que hoy en dia, por lo que se siente mas cercano a nuestros días, salvo aquellas instalaciones en el espacio donde el ambiente clama unos cambios menores frente a las ciudades. Es agradable también ver como para dar mayor plausibilidad y veracidad al mundo se intentó dar un gran nivel de cuidado al trabajo técnico, este es prácticamente perfecto, salvo las escenas con CGI que ni son muchas y además no ha envejecido del todo mal, el movimiento y la ilustración fueron pulidos a un nivel asombroso, cada detalle puesto no es solamente para que se vea increíble y nada más, puesto que esto se usa para darle un mayor grado de verosimilitud al escenario para que todo se vea real, como el tipo de movimientos que dan los personajes en gravedad cero, el nivel de iluminación que hay en el espacio, el realismo de la maquinaria, los lugares de trabajo, la ropa, etc, lo mismo aplica para los diseños de los personajes que se aleja de la estética común de anime así como los colores apagados y el buen contraste de estos que usa la serie. Lo mismo podría decirse de los efectos de sonido, por el hecho de que en el espacio no hay sonido o la forma en como se oye las máquinas o naves, sumado a un ost que queda con cada escena solo suma más a la perfección
Ya hablando de los personajes, estos son bastante atípicos para un anime, el cast está compuesto enteramente de adultos, pero aun asi y mas tomando en cuenta el sitio donde deben trabajar resultan ser bastante inmaduros e incluso infantiles de momentos, cosa que por lo menos dio bastantes momentos cómicos en donde los personajes comenten extravagancias durante sus ratos libres y nunca se volviera aburrida la experiencia, esto no significa que lleguen al nivel de lo caricaturesco, siguen siendo adultos con responsabilidades y un trabajo muy peligroso, además de tener los mismos problemas que alguien en esta edad tendría, el mantener una familia, el lidiar con las muertes de tus conocidos y allegados, el mantener sus empleos, el progresar o incluso tener frustración sexual. Varios de ellos debido a su inmadurez pueden ser ridículamente idealistas, lo que llegaba a contrastar con la actitud de los demas personajes, lo que daba origen a luchas ideológicas interesantes como el honor, las nacionalidades, los rangos, etc. Pero todos intentan superar estos problemas que llegan a ser tanto entendibles como identificables para aquellos que pasan por esta edad por lo que es más maduro que la inmensa cantidad de animes existentes, además que todos tienen un buen grado de desarrollo y maduracion a lo largo de la duracion del anime, teniendo buenas y satisfactorias resoluciones a sus conflictos
A pesar de todo lo que las serie es capaz de ofrecer, no es perfecta. A la final el cast principal termina por desarrollarse y aportar algo al conjunto de la serie, pero por otro lado es molesto el ver como algunos personajes pierden relevancia mientras más avanza la serie en lugar de que todos aporten lo mismo que en sus subtrama a la hora de desarrollarse. Pero su mayor error es la enorme armadura argumental de los personajes, ya que para tener un trabajo tan peligroso es raro como ningún personaje en el cast recibe un daño significativo por sus misiones, o como en momentos tan extremos son capaces de sobrevivir contra todo pronóstico, como aquella vez donde uno de los personajes entro en la atmósfera terrestre y sobrevivió sin ningún rasguño, además que el final no se deja muy en claro cómo fue que uno de los personajes sobrevivió y escapo a pesar de haber sido amenazado con un arma.
Pero esos problemas son una insignificancia con el nivel de elaboración puesto en este anime (a diferencia de su manga y material original), sumado a un final satisfactorio, emotivo y alegre, y a todos los temas que trato y de dar una visión realista del desarrollo espacial, y el hecho que transcurre EN EL ESPACIO, hacen de este anime una gran mirada a todo aquello que quiera disfrutar tanto del realismo como de lo entretenido que es, cuantos animes o series pueden decir esto?, 100% recomendada
Farewell Space Garbage Truck Yamma….. Oh, is that not the title?
Story - 5/10
The show starts off with a very innovative and interesting concept. After a little over One Hundred Years in space, the human race has gone on to build bases on the Moon and Mars. With all that new technology in space, along with the thousands of ships and satellites over the years, comes a problem as old as man, what happens to the waste, specifically pieces of metal that float around, causing catastrophic damage to anything that it may collide with. Right in the middle of the solution to that problem sits our team, the members of Section Two’s Debris Section, or as they’ve been nicknamed “Half Section.”
Over the first few episodes they focus on the job of the team, as well as their newest member, Ai Tanabe. As the greenhorn of the bunch she’s teamed up with Hachirota Hoshino, or “Hachimaki” for short, one of the best E.V.A. (Extra Vehicular Activity) specialist in space. Together they do the physical work of actually collecting pieces of debris, heading out in space suits to bring in the haul. As the new girl, Ai is subject to Hachimaki’s tough love approach to teaching, wherein he believes screaming at someone works much better than taking the time to show them.
Through those first four episodes they try to use the time out in space to build the personalities of at least our two main characters, as well as their relationships with others that inhabit the space station.
Unfortunatly things tend to fall off for the next almost dozen episodes, turning the story from a great space and sci-fi show, into a show unsure of what it wants to be. While the over arching plot of those next stories tends to be one of romance, each episode turns into filler that you’d expect for a series entering it’s hundredth episode, not it’s sixth. A random vacation episode and another about Hachimaki joining a group of “Ninjas” on the moon, are meant to showcase his bravery and risky behavior, but it has little affect on the rest of the series. They then include an episode that’s supposed to focus on the risks of being in space too long, a high chance of cancer, but it feels like a waste, as they do a much better job of telling the same exact story later in the series, and instead they should have focused on the point they ended on, that an astronaut has such a deep connection to space, they’d choose to live their last moment out in it’s darkness than back on Earth.
Once the gang returns from the moon the show felt like it’s getting back to where it should be, the job of clearing space for the safety of others. During this time we’re introduced to a few new important figures in the story, Hachi’s old instructor, Gigalt and his new protege Hakim. Both men work for the Orbital Security Agency, (O.S.A.) which is essentially the space police.
Soon after that meeting there begins a turning point in the show once again, now to a slight political thriller. With the colonization of space comes those who are against it, feeling that only the rich countries of the world will benefit from the exploration, and they believe instead that money should be used to help those starving and dying back on Earth. Their first attacks focus on placing bombs in smoking rooms across the solar system, but soon they attempt to take down the whole space station. Unwilling to allow that to happen, and a bit strung out from nicotine withdrawal, Fee, one of the members of Half Section’s team, uses a ship known as Toy Box, to ram the explosive laden ship back into Earth’s gravitational pull, protecting the space station, but destroying Toy Box in the process.
Again, instead of focusing on the new story taking place, we’re given more and more filler episodes meant mostly to joke around with the possible romance brewing between Hachimaki and Tanabe. A trip back to Earth to visit Hachimaki’s family does give a little insight into his drive, that he comes from a family of space explorers, but that still takes a back seat to useless plots, including an entertaining, but unnecessary, side story about Debris Section’s temporary secretary Edel and one that’s supposed to show the shadier side of Technora (the company that runs the space operation) but which ends up not having any real impact on our story.
At this point the series starts to make the final dash towards the finishing line, which in our case is Jupiter. During a mission Hachimaki becomes untethered from his ship and floats off into space. Although he’s rescued, that experience leaves him suffering from a condition known as Spacial Loss Disorder, which causes him to be unable to mentally take the darkness of space without having a breakdown. After failing again and again at reacquiring his EVA license, the crew along with the help of Gigalt, has one last idea they think may help. They take Hachimaki to see the engine of the Von Braun space ship, which is set to head to Jupiter in the coming months, in hopes it reignites his desire to explore space. The experience does appear to return Hachi to his normal ways, but with one caveat, he starts to see an imaginary version of himself, one that constantly plants a seed of doubt in his mind by pointing out his failures.
None the less, Hachi decides to resign from debris section and take a risk at attempting to make it on the crew heading towards Jupiter. For the next several months he’ll be put through a series of tests that see if he’s capable of both withstanding the demands of the trip, as well being able to perform the tasks needed. He won’t be the only familiar face vying for a slot on the crew, as his old friend, and already accomplished ship pilot, Cheng-Shin will be trying out, as well as Hakim.
The competition is tough, but eventually Hachimaki and Hakim make it to the third round of testing, which takes place on the Von Braun itself. Here is where Hakim unveils his true intentions, not to be one of the first to travel to Jupiter, but to blow up the Von Braun before it can start it’s trip. His plan is partially foiled by Hachimaki, who sees Hakim’s attack not so much as one on the Von Braun itself, but on Hachi’s personal dream of space travel. In the ensuing chaos Hakim get’s away due to Hachimaki’s inability to pull the trigger, a choice that will haunt him for months to come.
Six months later the work to fix the Von Braun has been completed and they prepare for their unveiling, in conjunction with the first ever meeting of I.N.T.O. (those who back space exploration) big wigs in space. With all this ready to occur at once, the terrorist of the Space Defense Front decide that it would be the best time to make one final attack, one that will force the hands of I.N.T.O. With the local communications satellite hijacked, two teams lay siege to the Von Braun, one lead by Hakim and another by Hachi’s ex-girlfriend, Claire. Their plan is to crash the Von Braun into the moon’s biggest development, unless I.N.T.O. agrees that the resources of space will be divided equally amongst all the world’s countries, regardless of their monetary contributions to the program.
The two sides fight it out over several hours, with both taking massive casualties. One of those who appears hurt is Ex-space station employee Claire, but luckily she’s found by an oblivious Tanabe, and the two escape the ship, crash landing on the moon. Back on the ship Hachi finally gets his shot at redemption when he catches Hakim off guard, and while this time he was able to pull the trigger, fate step in and left him with an unloaded gun, and that’s where it all comes crumbling down.
No, not the ship, as I.N.T.O. gave in to the terrorist’s demands, and also were able to retake control of the ship and keep it from crashing into the moon. What came crashing down was any chance of the show becoming entertaining once again. As neurotic as this show was, there still was the overall space feel to it, but as it wound down it just become one hundred percent sappy love drama. Instead of focusing on the mission at hand, it’s two episodes that span well over a year, dealing with Hachi and Ai’s eventual relationship, a big copout to end the series.
For the most part I felt this series had such a strong base and great potential, but they gave up on that in order to make something with little originality. When they did get to areas that could have been interesting, such as the whole terrorism angle (even if I did think they tried to take the simpletons way of trying to justify it) they left it incomplete and just shoehorned bits and pieces into the story. No real storyline was ever developed outside of a bad romance plot with an ending you can see a mile a way. Making it all the worse was how that ending, much like the entire show, gave us absolutely no substance.
Animation - 7/10
One of the first choices that really stood out was that despite being set fifty years or so in the future, not much has really changed. Despite being in space, and having colonies on the moon, most of the people still dress the same and back on Earth vehicles and homes haven’t changed a bit. It may show a slight lack of vision, but I also think it helped keep you in the story and not paying attention to some fourth tier animator’s idea of what travel and entertainment will be like in the future.
I enjoyed that the animators did their best to try and make sure each person look unique and as if they were from different parts of the world, without being too comical. While the Chief was a little roly-poly, it was a nice change from the typical Six foot Eight musclebound American that these shows normally have. Likewise, even though they are supposed to come from fictional countries, you can almost tell where Claire and Hakim’s origin’s are meant to be, from their look.
The scenery is done pretty well for what it needs to be. As a space show almost everything falls into two categories, the darkness of space, or the sterile and metallic look of a space station. Despite the simplicity of the locations, they added nice little flourishes of detail here and there to add life to the scenes. The most visually dense areas of the show are the scenes on the moon. Between the detailed slum, the bustling city and the rocky surface, they made a choice to show that despite being in space, things haven’t changed much from the cities of Earth.
Sound - 7/10
The American distribution company Bandai actually did a very good job of putting together the English dub, one that I can honestly say out performed the Japanese cast (which I talk about on the Audio Drama Review.) Each voice matches it’s character’s look and demeanor almost perfectly, from the goofy Ravi, the level headed Yuri or the determined Hakim, every voice worked.
It doesn’t hurt that many in the voice cast have had giant rolls prior to this series, with the female lead Ai being one of the only relatively green VO actors in the cast. Despite these actors having previously voiced such big characters as Spike Spiegel, Milly Thompson, Hajime Saitou and Faye Valentine, they all delivered a performance that kept your head in the series, not imagining their voices from other shows.
The opening song isn’t great, but it’s uplifting nature does somewhat meld with Tanabe and the whole idea of people striving for greatness in space, it almost sounds like a song created for the Olympics. The ending song is a bit more poppy and not in line with the series itself, but does fit right in with what you’d expect for an anime.
Characters - 4/10
The two main characters of the show come across as having some of the worst qualities you’d want in a person, not to mention in a character you’re supposed to root for. While at times that could be over looked, it’s instead made worse by the fact both are highly unoriginal in their attitude and progression throughout the series.
Hachirota Hoshino is our male lead of the series, and he’s created more like a show’s sidekick. Brash, quick to anger and unable to traverse the mysteries of love, traits we’ve seen bundled up before in dozens of male characters from in series from Kenshin to GTO. His goal in life is to own his very own space ship, though no where throughout the series does he explain how he plans on doing so, since even the greatest debris collector wouldn’t be making that type of money.
For the majority of the first half of the season his character is split between two tasks, yelling at Tanabe or trying to make up excuses for not liking her. Towards the start of the back half of the series he begins to become a bit interesting. After having a slight mental break, due to being lost in space for a short period of time, Hachi has a revelation, that he wants to join the crew of the Von Braun, something he’s fought against for the previous few months. He now becomes a character with a somewhat attainable goal, and his demeanor changes from a clueless young man, to one determined to fly to Jupiter.
While on Earth, competing for the job aboard the Von Braun, Hachi’s whole personality does a one eighty. No longer does he feel like he’s part of a team, every move he makes, no matter who it hurts, is meant to get on that space ship. While he still holds doubts about his ability to make it, he really falls victim to his insecurities when, in an attempt to stop Hakim’s first terrorist attack, Hachi just can’t pull the trigger and save the ship. He holds onto that feeling of helplessness for almost six months, and the next time the terrorists attack, Hachi no longer hesitates to kill Hakim.
What he thought would cure his ills only made things worse. He see’s what this desire to be the best has caused and he tries to take his own life, which leads to an extended stay on earth to recuperate. While there he has a new epiphany, that Tanabe has been right all along, that everyone is connected and their love can overcome anything. This new found belief in life, along with Tanabe’s hand in marriage, carry him off to Jupiter with a new outlook…..and a completely garbage character arc.
Hachimaki’s counterpart is Ai Tanabe, a new recruit the space station, who’s test scores left her with the worst possible job, debris collector. Despite Hachi’s always negative attitude, Ai tries to be optimistic about both her job and life itself, believing love can eventually conquer all hardships. The writers could have made her a bit more tolerable if they had her positive attitude a bit subtle, but instead they laid it on thick, making her more of an naive optimist who believes in a world of rainbows and unicorns, because she isn’t intelligent enough to wrap her head around reality.
Instead of taking time to build Tanabe as a great character, that grows over time into a strong EVA pilot in her own right, they just have her spiral off into being a love sick girl, who only ever has her crush on her mind. Once Hachi leaves for the Jupiter program almost the entire extent of her airtime is spent having her think about Hachi and missing him. The only time it did seem as if they were going to make her an interesting character, when she could have turned on Claire in order to save herself, she instead stayed as the boring idealist thinking love will come and whisk them off to safety.
The series really dropped the ball when it comes to the supporting characters. They give a few of them interesting back stories, and episodes of their own, but none ever get built into more than what feels like minor background characters. The entire secondary Debris Section crew are far more entertaining and likable than those who the show focuses on (a point that’s heightened when you watch the Audio Drama and realize it surpasses the show in entertainment value.)
The defacto leader of the group, and the person with the most potential, is Fee, the pilot of Toy Box. While they lightly touch on her background, they leave so much out there to write about her, such as her family back on Earth or her time working with Dolf over at his former company. She may not be a completely original character, the woman with a man’s attitude, but she at least was written as someone with a real head on her shoulders as well as some humanizing faults.
Yuri is another character, that despite getting his own stand alone episode, still would have been a great addition to the show if used more often. He’s a Russian member of the ship who decided to get into the area of debris retrieval after his wife was killed when a bolt pierced the ship she was traveling in. The calmest and most level headed of the group, he’s often seen taking care of the animals in debris section, many of which he’s belong to friends and colleagues.
Phillip Myers and Ravi, the Chief and Assistant Chief subsequently, round out the official Debris section team. Both are there primarily for comic relief, but at times Ravi has to act as the stern parent of the group, a task in which his rules are usually ignored. The one unofficially member of the section is temp worker Edel, who’s job is to be the secretary, but often she’s stuck doing any managerial work Phillip and Ravi fail at. During the season she’s given a small episode to explain her past and why she’s on the ship, all information who’s time could have been better spent on a character with actual impact on the series.
The next other group of secondary characters can be called friends and associates, most of whom play a major role in the series, but again don’t get the attention they really deserve. Most of these characters have previous relationships with Hachi and tend to shape the way he thinks and acts.
The first is Cheng-Shin, a long time friend who has actually succeeded in becoming a space craft pilot. He and Hachi always got along very well, until Tanabe came into the picture. After Hachi states he has no interest in Tanabe, Cheng-Shin makes his move, though it doesn’t last very long once he finds out Tanabe has a crush on Hachi. Things seem okay until he flunks out of the Jupiter test after attempting to help another candidate who was injured. Once back in the space station he starts to spiral out of control, he attempts to force himself onto Tanabe and eventually gets removed as a co-pilot from the shuttle. After working his way back up we eventually lose track of him, and like many other in the show he gets an incomplete story.
Another character who is closely connected to Hachi is his ex-girlfriend Claire. While Hachi is just a lowly grunt in half section, Claire is an important member of Control Section, the highest level of the space station. After meeting Hakim, and seeing a fellow countryman of hers taken into custody by the O.S.A., she decides to join the Space Defense Front and help pressure I.N.T.O. into (I hated having to just write that) changing their resource dispersement plans. After being injured in the fight to take control of the Von Braun, she’s rescued by Ai, and the two of them crash land on the moon. Unlike Ai, her oxygen consumption was minimum, so she didn’t receive any permanent damage from her time lost in space. After being arrested for her crimes, she decides to help the authorities so she would get released early and can return to her homeland and actually help those living there.
The last significant character is the aforementioned Hakim Ashmead, a double agent working for the Orbital Security Agency. Trained by the same man as Hachimaki, at first the two seem as if they’re destine to become close friends. During the tryouts for the Jupiter mission it’s revealed that Hakim is also attempting to board the Von Braun, and soon his friendship with Hachi becomes more of a rivalry, as he feels Hachi is a naive little boy just looking to play spaceman for his own benefit. The reasoning behind his change of heart towards Hachi becomes very clear, when upon finally making aboard the Von Braun, he attempts to blow it up. When Hachi proves unable to shoot him, he escapes and returns six months later to enact the final plan of the terrorists. When we last see Hakim, he’s attempting to sneak into the moon base to kill as many people as he can, but has a change of heart when a young Lunarian comments how the view from space makes all Earth’s countries look the same, causing him to rethink what he’s done.
Other characters have small yet important parts throughout the series, like Hachi’s old sensei Gigalt, Fee’s friend and former second division boss Dolph, and Werner Locksmith, the C.E.O. and brains behind the Von Braun. Each are given interesting plots that could be touched on at length, such as Gigalt’s time training Hachi or his work with the O.S.A., Dolph’s old company that Fee worked for, or Werner’s secret dealings and the choices he’s made to get the Von Braun up and running, but alas we get nothing of the sort.
Like the series itself, the characters fall apart because the writers can’t stick to one train of thought. Right when it seems as if a character is building some personality and becoming interesting, they fly off into something else. The weakest attempt at this is when they make Hachi, Cheng-Shin and Hakim all have essentially the same breakdown, with only Hachi getting an actual explanation to his return to sanity. If they laid off the filler and the repetitive episodes about Hachi and Ai’s love, they might have had something very good, but instead too many characters and potential plots were left on the shelf.
Overall - 6/10
While I did very much enjoy the series, it always felt like the creators were trying to sabotage themselves. The initial story started out so well, but then, minus a handful of episodes, it became a terribly annoying romance series. Once things picked themselves back up they decided to again throw in plots that just came across as out of place, created from thin air in order to try and insert a little drama.
The biggest turnoffs really came from the constant preaching, be it by Tanabe or the overall second half story, where they tried to use stale arguments that placed the terrorist as the real “good guys.”
In the end Planetes was a very very good movie, surrounded by very very bad filler. A story about a new worker joining a space crew and falling in love with her superior, his struggles to succeed at his task of joining the Jupiter mission and even the added drama of the terrorist attacks, would work great within a two hour span. That story surrounded by fifteen episodes of bad romance, not so much.
Planetes is a very good watch. It's a sci-fi anime, with some comedy aspects especially at the beginning, developing then as it progresses into an engaging drama - with a slice-of-life take on all the story. I liked several things about this anime; it's very realistic, its characters are believable and incredibly well-portrayed and they face struggles which you can easily relate to, and last but not least, it deals with an array of interesting topics in a non-superficial way. It obviously does have some flaws, but on a balance I have to say that the good far outweighs the bad or simply annoying. I would also like to mention that it's an adult drama, as in its protagonists are adults that face adult problems; and thus I'd say it's target is definetely an adult audience.
The story is very well thought-out. It does start in a slow and episodic manner, but the first episodes serve to introduce the characters and the setting, so just bear with them even if they aren't all that interesting. As the anime progresses the story is set in motion and becomes increasingly engrossing, reaching a climax and then a satisfying end with no strings left loose. The anime is set in the year 2075 and follows the daily life of a group pf space debris collectors. In fact, as space has been developed and colonized, the rubbish orbiting around the Earth has increased and become steadily more dangerous for spaceships; hence the need for debris collectors. This setting allows the anime to develop a series of non-banal themes ranging from considerations relating to space in itself, to the opportunity of space-development in order to replenish the Earth's dwindling resources, to the social justice take on how space resources are divided in a world where the gap between first-world countries and all the rest is forever growing. And this then leads directly to considerations on terroristic organizations aimed at sabotaging space-development and the related ethical and moral dilemmas. Parallel and intertwining these themes are the more personal ones related to the coming-of-age process of the anime's protagonists.
The characters are well built and extremely well developed. Initially they can maybe be considered anime-stereotypes that we have already seen and are familiar with, but that's just the starting point, they then develop in interesting and non-clichèd ways. Hachimaki, the male protagonist, is undeniably the one who undergoes the most development and thus the best character. Initially I found him annoying at times, but just keep on watching him. The female protagonist is Tanabe Ai, admittedly she is annoying from the start and more or less remains so, she also develops less, so she is maybe the most banal character even if she is a protagonist. Then there are several very well-portrayed minor characters, each with their own background, story, motives and struggles whom we get to know and appreciate. Some you will like more than others, but they are all believable.
The animation is good. The backgrounds are lovely, especially the space scenes where you can see the Earth floating in the sky. The spaceships and stations and all the rest are extremely detailed. I found the character designs, while realistic, a bit generic. And a questionable fashion sense...
Sound is Ok. I didn't care much for OP and ED, but the background music serves its purpose well. Voice-acting, is ok. Initially Hachimaki yells a lot and that is annoying, but then he thankfully stops. I maybe appreciated more Fee and Yuri's voice actors.
Overall, it's an anime I recommend watching, it's got a good storyline with some great character development and an interesting range of themes. Definetely not a waste of time.
I know what people may be thinking when hearing about the anime for the first time. "Oh really, a mecha show,Oh how original!" But no, nope, nein! This is not so. Yes I may have had that thought in my head when I first layed my eyes on this little series and I've never really enjoyed them, really just staying away from anything that has meches in it at all. But then I saw a review of it and damn, did I get excited about it then. It was not your typical cyberpunk space adventure,no it's something totally different! How?
What would happen to a spaceship if a screw came flaying through its windows? Well all air would disappear and all passangers would be didely dead. And that is why there needs to be someone willing to clean up space!
The year is 2075, the people of earth has finally expanded into space and now people both work and live out in the great black oceane of stars. We follow a crew of the Space Debris Section at Technore Corporation, and with their Debris collecting ship Toybox they work hard doing a poor paid work so that others may stay safe is space!
And it's bloody amazing! The whole setting of the show is so good because it's not something that feels unrealistic, like many mecha shows out there. The way the anime is built up it really feels like, if we ever enter space on a grander scale than we already have today, it would be something like this. The deepness of the series is what drives the plot forward, we follow characters that does the most important jobs of them all, after all, they make sure that people don't get killed by something as small as a marbel. They do stuf that not a single other person would, and they don't earn much money from doing it, and yet the stay on! And I must say that the work the Toybox crew has seems to be the most beautiful looking and the most fun, they can go out into space and take in the beauty of it all. Nothing seems so peaceful as that, you know, when you just ignore the pending danger of disappearing into the dark nothingness. I like how everything changes making the characters keepon changing as well.
The characters is by far the main reason to watch the show, because you really have a great bunch of characters leading the story on.
Our female main lead is Ai Tanabe, the Rookie, that in episode one arrives at her new workplace in hope of making a change, and upon realizing that her place of work really is treated like the poohouse of the company one would think that she would hate her life there. However from the start we understand that, out of all the characters there, she seems to love her work the most, respecting and understanding the importance of their assigment. She takes great pride in being part of the Debris Section and let's no one talk shit about it. She have a tendency to be a bit naive at times though saying that the most important thing is love, and that without it people is poor. And sure sometimes we share her crewmate Hachiman's annoyence of her love rambelings, but in the end you can't help but kind of agreeing with her, because it's love overall (for a lover, a friend,family, etc.) that makes one stay and support eachother. To have the willingness to fight for them.
Then we have Hachirota "Hachimaki" Hoshino, the young man whom's main goal in life is to own his own spaceship one day, making him the laughingstock of the company, after all with such poor income, how would he have the money to ever get that one dream to become reality. He is the funny guy, but not because he really wants to himself, it's just the way he acts and the things he does, that makes him funny. However he ends up being one of the most deep characters of the show, because he starts to realize that if he don't make a change in his life he wont ever be able to get his speceship and however much he cares for his job, that is not what he wants to do for the rest of his life. He starts of as being a colder person, stating that Tanabe is naive and wont ever become anything greater because she stays satisfied with what she has now, and being naive considering her belief in the power of love, but slowly and one could say brutaly, he start to actually understand her point and the true power in life.
Of course we have all the other characters, most importantly the crew of Toybox. The Chief clerk of the Debris section Philippe, that spend his time in the office eating and just enjoying his calm existence,while worrying about his retirement at the same time.
Robbie, the assisstent chief clerk, that loves to joke around and perform with props as a comedian. He has a tendency to be a little bit of a kissass to the higher ups of the company, of course because he also worries for his job, afterall he has 7 children to pay for all the way back in India.
We have the giant man Yuri that after an accident in space, lost his wife, and decided that he wanted to make sure that something like that never happend to anyone else. He works as the backup pilot of the Toybox. He is a very gentle and nice man that always tries to help others, actually taking care of the pets of fellow residents at Technora, and he has a way with them, much thanks to his soft nature.
Of course we can't forget Fee! Fee is the Main Pilot of Toybox and that little shit collecting ship is her little baby. She is a heavy smoker and whenever she's not out on the field one could find her in her smokebox where she's enjoying her cigrattes. She's a though lady with a big temprament,especially when not being able to smoke, but she's a supporting person that cares for people a lot.
Of course the cast don't end there but It would take forever to write everyone down and really, these poeple right here are the best and the most important of the show.
The music is by far the best thing this show has to offer! Because it is BEAUTIFUL! You can just about listen to any song from the soundtrack and love all of them. Reason being that they all are so elegant and mirrors the shows feelings and setting so well. Whenever I hear them now, I fall in love all over again and find a huge urge to rewatch the show one more time.
I love the dub for the show, and because of the setting being a place where so many different people work, from all over the world, them speaking english seemed to be the most fitting version. A fun fact is that, when speaking of sound one has to mention the thing about space, that their exists no sound. And the anime actually respects that. Whenever the crew is working outside, all that can be heard is their radios, and of course the beautiful music!
The animation is a little dated but concidering the fact that it was made 2003 it's not something to really nitpick on, after all, there are so many anime out there that are ugly, some even made today. And really she show is not ugly at all. The background is so pretty and well done, nearly all the animation is pretty. The only thing that makes this anime feel as old as it is, are the characters design, they don't have the typcial anime look to them, seeming more human then most. That is not a bad thing, the show stays realistic all the way, so it would not feel natural with cute and multicolored rainbow haired boys and girls running around.
Overall and lastly.
This show is amazing, touching and so well done! Characters are relatable and you really start to care for them,and for an 24 episode long series, that's kind of amazing. The beauty of space is so well captured and at the same time tou understand the dangers of it. It makes you see that even the smallest and poorest job may be the most important and that everything has a reason to be.
I really tried to like Planetes a lot more than I actually did. It received great reviews from some of this site’s toughest critics, and for some very understandable reasons. The production values are solid, and the show is incredibly well-researched, complete with a fresh theme/premise. Still, in the long-run I found this show to be an example of a show that was incredibly well-made, but not incredibly entertaining. Let’s dig deeper:
Art: 9/10 – I have almost no complaints about this show’s aesthetics. It’s already over eleven years old, and the show’s attention to detail puts even newer works to utter shame. The ships, the tools, the space suits were all well-animated, not to mention fully detailed. Buttons, and levers were where you would expect them, everything about the show’s appearance felt well-imagined, and thought-out in its placement.
The character figures were a little bland, if I’m being honest – especially since the cast was fairly multi-cultural, they seemed a bit on the mundane side. I’m not saying that I wanted more anti-gravity purple hair, per say, but I would have fancied a cast that had a slightly more distinctive look. It’s a minor complaint, and the only one I have about this show’s art.
The backgrounds were fantastic, especially the frames out in space with the entire Earth in the background. The ships and space stations were incredibly well designed as well. Again, no complaints here!
The animation and special effects all seemed good to me as well. The way the characters were animated in zero gravity was fluid, the debris hauler’s operations were smooth, everything about this show’s production values just seemed incredibly well-done to me
Sound: 7/10 – The show’s sound section was ok for the most part, especially the sound effects.
The voice acting was a little corny for my likes, though I thought the characters were mostly well acted – especially Fee and Yuri. Like most animated shows, the smaller the character’s role, the more steeply the quality of the voice-acting goes, and Planetes proves to be no exception. Still, I only deducted a single point because Ai was just a little too annoying 95% of the time.
I really do not have much to say about the show’s music – the bgm was entirely unremarkable, I cannot recall even a single theme from the show’s background. As for the OT, I thought it was ok, but again nothing spectacular. Same with the end theme.
The sound effects on the show were solid, through and through. What sticks out most remarkably to me, was the quality of voice when transmitted over intercoms, for via radio (when in space suits). It was just incredibly well-done and realistic sounding.
Story 6/10 – The premise of the story is fresh and interesting, with a near-futuristic insight that feels very real. The workplace feels very organic – like a real workplace, it is hardly romanticized, or overly theatrical at first.
Still, the story quickly loses steam, as the events from episode-to-episode aren’t really that interesting. There’s the predictable sexual-tension-turned-love-story thing happening between the male and female lead, and even the development of that is moderately interesting at best. Some of our secondary cast, such as Yuri, Fee, and Edel are interesting, but they each only have a singular episode pseudo-dedicated to them, with the rest of their interactions feeling more back-dropped.
The pacing is just so slow, it took me weeks to finish this series, because there was rarely anything that kept me from wanting to flip from one episode to the next. It isn’t until the last few episodes that the story seems to find itself (with Hachi applying for the Jupiter mission), and I will admit that arc was actually very interesting – but it felt too little too late. I had already wasted too much time on the first three quarters of the series. Where the first three quarters were slow, with too much fluff (and not enough plot), the last quarter tries to cram some really heavy issues, such as inequities on earth, the species-wide imperative to develop space, classism, racism, terrorism, self-actualization, and love. While the show starts to tackle and integrate these very serious (and relevant) issues, it does so too late. Planetes took too long to take itself seriously. If it would have found itself from the beginning, (like what started at around episode 19), or at least worked up to that point more quickly, this show could have been one of the best anime series I’ve ever watched.
As I had touched upon above, Planetes does address some incredibly heavy issues. The problem is that the show touches complex issues in the most simplistic ways possible. It uses a lot of classism, where the highest ranking capitalists are greedy, self-centered, and corrupt – which, while perhaps overdone, is very relevant and realistic – but attacks it with shounen-like protagonists, who blatantly tell their superiors to f*ck off with their “love conquers all” and “you can’t tell me what to do” attitude. And they do so regularly without ever facing any meaningful repercussions. This dismantles the severity of many of the issues the show attempts to address, and just feels lazy from the writing perspective. It would have been more clever if the characters had to be clever about doing the right thing, instead of just constantly disobeying instructions and getting away with it.
So while I think the plot-specific plausibility left much to be desired, the plausibility of the world itself was outstanding. Honestly, Planetes is, in my opinion, the gold standard of a well-researched anime series. They did space right. They included less-than-romantic aspects like astronauts wearing diapers. As well as the blatant dangers (such as cancer-causing radiation, or weakness from prolonged exposure to low/zero gravity). Absolutely fantastic. If they created any drastic scientific errors in their world-building, then they fooled me.
The ending of the story was ok, even though I found it to be a bit predictable, and perhaps a little rushed. Again, the final few episodes tried to cram too much into them, when there was so much time prior that felt more or less wasted.
Characters 6/10 – I thought the characters were fairly interesting at first. They each had a couple quirks at the outset, and their presence in the story was strong. The story was more or less character driven, which is typically a preference of mine – it keeps the choices the characters make relevant to what happens around them. And Planetes does well to deliver.
The personality of the characters, while pronounced, seemed a little too over exaggerated to me. Ai was just insufferably annoying; taking optimism and “do-gooding” to another level. It got old fast; especially since her naiveté never punished her or got her into any trouble (until a little at the very end, and it was terribly contrived). Hachi was better written, for sure. At the very least, he seemed a bit more well-rounded. Though this is not to say that he is not without his flaws in writing. He still has that overly shounen-like “believe it!” attitude where he is too cool to ever do anything other than follow his gut, and break the rules. When well-timed, or in more calculated doses, these traits can be interesting for characterization, but in Hachi’s case, it just felt preachy (much like with Ai). I’m not sure how Fee never pimp slapped them for being immature children every time they didn’t get their way, but it played out how it played out.
To be fair, Fee and Yuri were sort of in that same shounen-like mindset, though it normally took a bit of Ai and Hachi’s insistence before they set in motion to continually break their company’s rules. I did think Fee was perhaps just a little more well-rounded, and I would have liked her to have more limelight, but she seemed stuck as a supporting character.
Likewise the class portrayal of other characters; especially wealthier characters who are higher in rank within the organization were more or less steadily portrayed as the villains of the show. While this is not a bad theme, necessarily, and while it might often be the case in reality – it seems like a really tired theme in anime. The wealthy are always greedy, lazy capitalists who are out to screw humanity as much as possible for the sake of their goals. It’s an ok theme – but only when it is well portrayed. Planetes makes the ever-common mistake of making these antagonists wear their greed and corruption on their sleeve – which is not how it works. I don’t mind a show trying to tackle these issues, but for anime as scientifically well-researched as Planetes, it serves as a colossal disappointment with how overly simplistic most of the antagonistic characters are.
There is absolutely no backdrop to speak of for Ai (our female lead), very little for Hachi (our male lead) and Fee. Yuri, who is truly a secondary character, probably has the most compelling back-story in series. Followed by Edel, who is even a less significant character.
The only main character that seemed to undergo development was Hachi, and even his development felt lukewarm. To be fair, Claire (a secondary character) and maybe Robbie (a tertiary character?) had some character developments as the show progressed. I gave a point to this section for those developments, and because of how interesting Hachi’s final arc – and revelations within – were.
I found the catharsis, namely of Hachi, to actually be very brilliant. It became clear that his focus was on his struggle between his love of space, and his love of Ai, and the way he reconciled the two felt very well-written, realistic, not terribly cliché, and for the most part, satisfying. Thanks to Hachi alone, I grant this show a full score on the catharsis subsection.
Overall 6.5/10 - The theme was fresh, interesting, well-researched, and plausible. If the writers would have been bolder and more mature with their characterization, and added a little more flair to the storyline and character interactions, this show would have been amazing, as opposed to well-made - but mediocre, and often uninteresting.
Excused scorings (thanks to Roriconfan for the template)
ART SECTION: 9/10
General Artwork 2/2 (well done)
Character Figures 1/2 (kind of mundane)
Backgrounds 2/2 (realistic/aesthetic)
Animation 2/2 (good)
Visual Effects 2/2 (outstanding)
SOUND SECTION: 7/10
Voice Acting 2/3 (kind of corny, but well acted)
Music Themes 2/4 (ok, but not remarkable)
Sound Effects 3/3 (great)
STORY SECTION: 6/10
Premise 2/2 (fresh)
Pacing 0/2 (slow)
Complexity 1/2 (over-simplified themes/exaggerated situations)
Plausibility 2/2 (well-researched, solid)
Conclusion 1/2 (ok, but rushed)
CHARACTER SECTION: 6/10
Presence 2/2 (strong)
Personality 1/2 (simple and over exaggerated, but interesting)
Backdrop 0/2 (very weak)
Development 1/2 (so-so)
Catharsis 2/2 (smartly portrayed)
VALUE SECTION: 6/10
Historical Value 2/3 (well reputed, but not huge)
Rewatchability 1/3 (slow, with too much fluff)
Memorability 3/4 (well done and fresh enough to leave a print)
ENJOYMENT SECTION: 5/10
Art 1/1 (great)
Sound 1/2 (good)
Story 1/3 (hollow)
Characters 2/4 (powerful, but overly simple)
SECRET SANTA REVIEW
This story began in 2075, where the human race had developed life in the space.They found a new mineral on the moon that can be used to produce energy but only the powerfull nations have the rights to use it as they please. With all the space launches that had been made through history, a big amount of space trash called debris made even more dangerous space travels. This is where our main characters appears. Tanabe Ai is a newcomer in Tecnora Company that works at debris section, the ones that keep the space clean of space trash. Here she met Hoshino Hachitora "Hachimaki" and the rest of the crew. Eventhough the rest of the company called them "A half section" they are happy with their job.
Things became complicated when The Space Defense attacks began. This terrorist organization is against space development because it makes the gap between poor nations and those who have profits from the expeditions wider. Off course, our main characters get involved between both factions and make themselves doubt about their own decisions. They have to fight with their on selves and all this hardships to came to a conclusion about their future.
Well...Sunrise did a good job on this one. We are talking about 2003 animation and it wasnt so bad.
The music fits with the main concept of the space. Also with the emotional moments.
Cant say i love them all but they where all unique in their own way specially Edelgard, Yuri and Fee.
It was a good anime, some parts where slow paced but it really fit the concept of the human problems with space development.
This review was made during the Secret Santa 2013 event. You can find this event on the anime-planet forum: http://www.anime-planet.com/forum/showthread.php?t=200722&highlight=secret+santa. I chose to watch and review the anime "Planetes" from my recommandations.
This anime takes place in the future, space development has gone throught a magnificant growth and space travalling has become more and more popular. The amount of spaceships and satalites that are traveling around the earth is growing and space debris is piling up. That's why there are companies who will gather the debris and make space safer to travel through.
the story revolves around a small company in a space station. There job is to clean space of debris. The story follows the jobs of the company and the things that they go through. The beginning of the show feels like a slice of life anime, since they complete jobs in each episode. Later on there's an overlapping story that has left the slice of life part behind and will drag you in a story with thrilling events.
The animation in the whole show is very good. Ofcourse there are some moments when it's not as good, but overall it is far above avarage. The character designs are not really your usual anime style designs, but are a more serious and realistic design. Since the show has a very serious and plausible theme was this design very fitting.
The sound in this show didn't really stand out. I cannot recall anything from the sound that was outstanding or memorable. The sound doesn't play a big part in the anime, since I never though it was lacking.
Now here's where the anime shines. The main focus of the anime is around a girl named Tanabe and a guy named Hachirota (goes by the nickname Hachimaki the entire anime). Tanabe starts of as a newbie in the company and Hachimaki is teaching her the basics. During the show these two go through a lot of character developement, especially Hachimaki. This character development makes you get dragged in the story and experience everything even more intense as you start caring for the characters.
Overall I though this show was very good. It felt very realistic to me, since in this time we also do lots of space investigations and the anime seems like a very plausible future. This show dragged me along through the story and made me think about lots of question that are discussed in the anime. In the end I'll highly recommend anyone to watch this!
Mi Inglish Is Tirrible but I'm trying my best, so my apologies if there is any error, I should fix them as soon as I notice them.
The Good Part
The Bad Part
I take my hat off to the staff of this show, I heard a lot of opinions about Planetes and never felt attracted since the premise sounded like a documental: the life of a work team who pick up spacial garbage. But.. I WAS WRONG!
Indeed, it is something simple, most of it is episodic, and some episodes are silly, you even have a lot of stereotypical characters, So I still find hard to believe how could they make this so awesome, but what they did is something I barely see on anime, and that is that they try hard to get the best of everything, You really become interest in their work because it is incredible detailed, realistic and damn interesting and we are talking about garbage men! They just don't focus in their job they had but in the world and moon situation as well with the same quality of details, in other words everything is beautifully explained.
As well, it has great episodes, BUTT its also have silly and far-fetched episodes and most of it is episodic. normally episodic means common life and the characters grow so slow cause they focus in entertainment and leave at one side the important characters development. It also have something I dislike, that is the far-fetched episode that normally are things I think they shouldn't have added since they doesn't gives anything to the plot, and I am talking about serious plots (silly ones may have all that they want). BUT this is different, all the episodes are worth it, even the exagerated ones, they are hell of entertaining and at the same time they make you to understand better certain situations and certain characters. You can feel how despite of being episodic everything flows natural as well the characters grow. And the best part, they don't forget about the past, all the episodes become relevant in the future in someway.
They develop something that was simple and complex, realistic and fantastic, funny and serious, superficial and deep, childish and mature. Science Fiction, Slice-Of-Life, Romance, Comedy,Political issues, and some bits of psychologic and action. And they give a proper focus to all this things I mention, and a hard thing when you have so many antonyms.
As well, they manage to do the animation as best they could, love the body and face design, all the expressions were neat and appropiate, they look realistic but at the same time dynamic. The "camera" angles were magnificent many times, The spaceships, and all the enviroments look great. They don't have iPads and that stuff, and the futuristic aspects doesn't seem to be as stunning as sci-fi shows, despite this, everything really looks like something believable, is not like Back To The Future II were everything looks ridiculous in the future, and this is what I loved about its animation.
Voices were excelent, all of them were made to fit their characters. Sound is also good, it nevers feels off.
Unfortunately I was careles, I did a huge mistake and didn't give the music section the proper attention before, Since well it doesn't has any theme so you don't go humming nothing about it since nothing is really catchy or something that you will remember always, I stated that before, but I make it look like if it wasn't great and that it was only good to give you the athmosphere, well that is also true, it always sets you in the correct mood, but everything is so beautiful made, it accomplish tremendously the purpose of what the music is for and that is to let you feel.
The story and characters are pretty well jointed so it was hard to speak of one in specific, they were both great complement to each others. You get many characters based in stereotypes, but they all had succeed in being unique, memorable, and likeable, and not only that, but they did it with a big cast, the support characters received almost the same development as the 2 main characters. The presentation of them was outstanding, it takes you sometimes less than a 10 minutes to feel like you know some of them. And this is because of the presentation, cause if we talk about getting to know them, they do that very subtle as the anime goes on and at the end you can see everybody has fears, motivations, consistency. They didn't make it deeply but sure they have implicit complexity because of how detailed they were.
This wasn't even like they wanted to dedicate this show to any kind of audience, they just cared to make it good. And glad they did it cause they did it GOOD, they didn't leave any aspect disregarded, they focus on making everything to be accurate as they could and they didn't forget about the entertainment, It wasn't just laughs, indeed, I laugh a lot; you have serious parts, sometimes you feel intrigue, sometimes you feel curious, and a lot of many emotions, and they also did that GOOD.
A hell of show, amazing story, beutifully developed characters, something I will watch all of it again and again cause is far from being boring, And all from a very simple idea.
Got to love Fee, that woman rocks!
Planetes is unique in that the attention to technical detail in the plot un unsurpassed. It presents a very realistic story set in a very believable future where mankind is beginning to expand into the outer planets of the solar system. It is this same convincing attention to detail that can make the show seem a bit too burdensome. Every now and again the dialogue falls into a spew of technical details that flies over the head of anyone that isn't a hard core space geek. But for those who are familiar with many of these concepts, it makes the story all the more believable.
One major downside, is that a vast majority of the first 20 or so episodes are all build up for the end. Some of the episodes really should have been left out as they don't provide much for the main plot (an episode featuring moon ninjas comes to mind). Despite the vast amounts of buildup, the climactic finish is great, but it comes suddenly and hits hard. Then again, life's difficulties often sneak up on you and in a sense that adds to the realism.
This anime does an amazing job of blending CG and hand drawn animation, especially for the backgrounds. The blend is so great that is is often hard to tell where one ends and the other begins. As with the storytelling, the art design sticks to a sense of realism. My big complaint is that the character animation seems flat compared to the detailed world around them. The characters themselves are well designed in that they are distinctive and memorable, but very flat in both color and appearance.
As with all other aspects of the show, realism is at the core of the sound design, and for this show that means utilizing silence when needed. I was very relieved that for the first time I can remember, I was watching a show that takes place in space that is truly silent as it is in reality. Often the only sounds heard while the heroes are on their space walks is the sounds of their intercom, and the clicks of their computer interface as they type out with their gloves. This faithfulness to science is welcome to those like me who are bugged by the fact that in movies like Star Wars you hear the sounds of ships flying, shooting, and exploding when in reality you wouldn't hear a thing.
When it comes to the opening and closing themes, I was very disappointed. The animation for the opening is a great montage paying tribute to the history of space exploration, but the music for both it and the closing sequence are uninspiring and forgettable.
The character voice acting was pretty good for the main characters, but there are few of them that are painful to listen to. One character comes to mind, a certain Ravi Arvind, but I almost think they did it intentionally to match his annoying personality and I will get more into that in the next section.
The character design is, once again, founded in realism. The characters are believable and throughout the show, we learn the depths and motivations of each. Some are pressed on by a troubled past, others by hope in the future. As mentioned earlier, a few characters are quite annoying and just flat out weird like the moon ninjas that appear quite out of the blue in one of the earlier episodes, but don’t let that detract you from watching this show. The main cast itself is quite memorable, and after learning a bit of each of the main bunch, by the end of the show they almost feel like close friends.
Just as important as character design is character development. One of the key aspects of Planetes is the growth and development of the bond between the main characters. This is where the storytelling shines. The bond between the main characters Tanabe and Hoshino is pressed as opportunity arises and as events unfold. In this way the characters are quite dynamic.
Despite being a bit drawn out and a few annoying characters Planetes really shines in it’s attention to detail and presentation of realistic view of the future, be it the political ramifications of events unfolding, or the simple lack of sound in space. I did notice that since the show was released in 2006, a year before the first iPhone came out, the author’s view of futuristic communications are a bit lacking even compared to what we have today. That aside, if you have any interest in space exploration, there is no better show to watch. It really stands apart from anything else that I have seen so far.
Planetes (the Greek word for “planets” literally meaning drifters) combines hard science fiction with corny coming-of-age storytelling while having a high budget. There isn’t much plot, since to its core the series is the daily lives of garbage men in space. Although many episodes seem to be standalones, they usually spend time in fleshing out the characters and the world, so nothing is going to waste. It is not one of those unbearably boring school based settings, where there is nothing to explain, and it’s not a road movie type of show, where the events of one episode do not matter in the next one.
Unlike typical slice of life, there are stakes here, as it’s pretty easy to get killed if an accident happens and you don’t fix it in time. There is far more tension compared to a bunch of teenagers trying to win in a school competition, or form some school club where they play videogames all day. Not only there are no schools, but also there are almost no teenagers as well. The major characters are all adults, they have a job which can kill them, and they have the freedom to smoke, drink, and have sex. How thought-provoking is that for a medium that is not supposed to be holding back?
I even liked how the stories feel like a shounen series which subverts expectations. And yes, I know it’s not a shonen and the word subversion has lost its meaning, but it’s done almost deliberately in this case. The writers did not stop at making the main characters super idealistic underdogs who want to prove their worth to those above them, while occasionally yelling and blushing over peanuts and sexual frustration. Despite most of them behaving in a very immature way and yelling all the time, they are still adults, dealing with adult problems. Despite feeling like cranky old maids with cartoony voices at times, the show is still more mature than 99% of all anime in existence.
In the same way, most of the missions play out like a simple fairy tale with an obvious moral message at the end, yet in many cases there is a dark twist which breaks the formula. The negative consequences are never devastating since the heroes clearly have a lot more plot armor than they deserve, but the threats they are facing are engaging nonetheless. No crappy shonen full of angsty teenagers with superpowers and edgy violence can beat that.
Although it lacks brainless action, it makes up for it with aesthetics and cinematics. The shading of the sun on the ships, the motions in zero gravity, the wonderful previews, all of those pull you in and never cease being creative in presentation. The art is close to perfect and is easy to see the passion in the attention to detail, leading to a work full of heart. And yes, I am praising the pretty colors not only because they look pretty but because they are adding to what is already good about the show, instead of just hiding its problems. Space stations, workspaces, uniforms, mechanical gears, motherboards and even drifting screws in space look and feel real. Even the new turbine they build at the end, is not that relevant to the plot and doesn’t wave hands at your disbelief. It’s the plot armor you are mostly going to be struggling with.
So yeah, as a whole it is a lot more interesting that almost any other Earth-bound slice-of-life thanks to its setting, and a lot more captivating than a cheesy sci-fi adventure. Plus it offers some good life lessons and does have a satisfying conclusion for a change. How many shows have a proper ending these days? It’s worth the ride almost all the way.
Planetes is the ultimate hard sci-fi anime.
Forget about mechas, galactic wars, planets destruction. The story of "Planetes" revolves around a subject very little conventional: waste collection in orbit around the Earth. It is the story of the people working at Space Debris Section. Their purpose is to prevent damage of artificial satellites and space stations from collision with debris in orbit around the Earth. It's a boring job but someone has to do it!
Let me say first why i greatly appreciate this anime (and the manga as well). Space and space explorations are depicted realistically. There is a lot of real science in Planetes. And above all, there aren't explanations. An astronaut trying a rendez-vous with an old dismissed artificial satellite usually doesn't explain what he is doing while he does it! He just do it as everyone does his/her job in real life.
Actually it's the real life of the crew of Space Debris Section the main focus of the story. They are flying in the sky, but they are very bound to Earth people! Withtheir passions, desires, angers and delusions.
Above the personal layer, there is the sociological layer. These are people working, with their responsibilities, careers, goals and ambitions. The western salaryman culture is shown in its good and in its many bad aspects.
And then there is the political layer. Space race is dividing nations of Earth even further in richs and poors country, with the richest one monopolizing the space sector of human affairs.
And finally there is the philosophical aspects of the story. The space explorations put human beings face to face with a vaste, indiffirent universe. So the main question of Planetes: "What does space explorations means to human beings? What does they mean to an astronaut?". Is space explorations just human hubris or does it add value to the human experience?".
The characters in Planetes are very well depicted. They are really 3D human beings. The storyline seems just to follow the daily life of these people, but in the end you will see how every piece of the story will find naturally its place in a greater mosaic. It is amazing to see how early episodes will be "recycled" (quite an appropriate word!) and you will see them in a new, fascinating light.
I think Planetes is really a masterpiece. A must-see!
Planetes offer a variety of good aspects in it's storyline, but I wouldn't call them engrossing until perhaps 3/4 of the way through the series. The show incorporates action, comedy, sci-fi, slice-of-life; as well as a little drama and suspense. While Planetes does not start off with a real plot or anything, it is episodic mini-adventures up until around the 15th episode. I found each one entertaining and several had me laughing like an absolute idiot. However, once I reached the 15th episode, the tide turned and a deeper, more meaningful plot took the place of the first half of the show. The antics of the "Half Section" are all over the place, but each one of the characters has a heart of (perhaps rough and unrefined) gold.
Planetes' animation leaves a lot to be wanted for those looking for amazing graphics or fantastic visuals, but it's retro-style gets ME through and through. I can't help but think of the TNMT animation from the 90's, which I watcfed religiously as a kid, so this show takes me back a bit. The characters are drawn much like animated show's characters around that time were drawn. I'm not saying that this style is superior, but I really liked it! I was impressed with the level of detail that they put into the spaceships and some of the backgrounds. Although, when I talk about detail, I'm not talking about the incoherent lines and sparkly lights that one can find in just about every other anime. The artists took the time to draw definite shapes, purposed lines, and I don't remember seeing sparkly lights anywhere they shouldn't have actually been. Even when animating a zoom-in feature of a handheld camera that one of the characters uses to take a picture of the Earth, they managed to make it very realistic.
The music selected didn't particularly stand out to me, mainly because I'm not one of those self-proclaimed officionados that try to make themselves out to be music history majors fresh out of college with something to prove, but also because every sound was in it's correct place (if that makes sense). I would like to note that unlike most anime based in outer-space, Planetes's directors decided to make it feel a bit more realistic by turning off all sounds (as it truly would be in space) when not inside vehicles, space stations, space suits, or the like. I loved that, because every time I watch an anime with a space setting they try to make every explosion, scrape, and shattering of glass as noisy as possible even though we all know that in space sound doesn't travel because there isn't anything (aka air) for it to vibrate.
Each voice actor fits perfectly with his/her character as well. I hate it when there's a character that SOUNDS out of character from how he/she looks. I get used to it, but it bothers me. In Planetes, everyone sounds as natural as you might imagine them sounding, even the odd characters from the moon have normalized voices, which is great, because it helps to make the show easier to watch and listen to.
The characters of Planetes are fairly well developed for an episodic anime. Back-story on each is given right at the beginning to give you a jump-start, and throughout the show they not only grow the characters as persons, but they also delve a little deeper into each character to help you develop stronger feelings and attachments to them as the show continues. The writers did an excellent job of unifying the cast of characters through the use of the ever-popular tsundere-male and bumbling-female lead roles as well as the, strong-minded-but-reserved female-ship-captain, panicky-manager, and cool-headed side characters.
Planetes makes a great show to watch between other shows, unless you are like myself and can't wait if it's all right there in front of you. There aren't any real cliffhangers as everything gets wrapped up in every episode and like I said before, each episode is a new adventure. Whether clearing the night skies of debris or filandering about the city on the moon, the characters of Planetes are bound to deliver a delightfully fun experience with a belly full of laughs.
Besides, if you love anime- you just love anime! Enjoy!
What started out as a boring, episodic yarn turned out to be an exciting, smart thriller.
If it weren't for the first half of the series being almost completely worthless (despite what others may say, those episodes are not relevant to the ending), the score would have been far higher.
If you have a high boredom threshhold/nothing better to do, then you may not mind.
Regardless, I guess it was worth it.
Opening and ending themes are abismal, however.
Planetes is a strong anime on several levels: as a realistic sci-fi that paints a detailed and interesting vision of the future of space travel, as a drama that builds some rich characters and delves into their various perspectives, philosophies, and emotional development, and also partly as political discussion on the possible implications of space travel. It is an adult drama, not in terms of having any ecchi content, but the characters are all adults and Planetes delves into them, their perspectives, agonies, and relationships in a serious way. The backdrop, set about 70 years in the future, is that commercial development of space is now a serious reality with colonies on the moon, major space stations, and space resource mining as major commercial ventures. The show revolves around a department of space debris collectors at a major firm; the vast quantity of orbiting space debris now being one of the major impediments in the commercial use of space, but in the latter half it sprawls out from there.
As with many animes, it starts in episodic format, introducing various character back stories, and then coalesces around a main story arc. The beginning is a bit rocky - the show has a few main concepts it plays with: a person's dream/seizing the future (an anime favorite), love, and most of all space itself. The first few episodes are heavy on the dream/love part which seems a bit childish to start with, but the show takes a break from it, and in the end the "love" theme returns in a quite satisfying way, so you come to view the first episodes as a necessary awkwardness need to sow the seeds of some good stuff down the road. The reason for this, is that Planetes deals with the concept of space with an amazing depth. Moreso than almost all space sci-fi I can think of it delves deep into the realities of space as the most inhospitable environment mankind can face, it's deadly realities, and the moral and psychological implications for those who are living right on the edge. It also then plays considerably with the metaphor of the space between human beings, a perfect turn of thought considering that space is the most isolating environment there is. The pacing is slow, at first space is a backdrop, but it builds and crescendos, with space becoming not only an all encompassing environment, but an idea, and almost a character in and of itself. This is the context in which love eventually returns as a main idea, amidst the bleak realities of space, where conventional morality may only lead to death and this time the treatment of love is mature, thoughtful, and welcome.
Beyond the philosophical themes and environment created, the show has a two main storylines (and a smaller theme focusing on corporate/salaryman culture as well). Character development is considerable with a lot of focus on the relationships of the protagonist Hachimaki to other characters, centering on his eventually romantic relationship with the other main character Ai. During some episodes, Planetes feels like it 's mainly a situational drama or even a sitcom set in space, sometimes it seems like it's a show mostly about space, but then it also ends up having a considerable political storyline, framed around a terrorist group Space Defense Front. The political storyline is thoughtfully done - commercial space development has a major implication for future social order, namely that only a few nations will have the access to space and thus it's resources, increasing the imbalance of power on Earth exponentially. The show gets right to the heart of this, and does it well with the terrorist frame. It is not sympathetic, in fact I really have to respect that it strongly paints the terrorists as antagonists from the get go, has no problem showing the flawed natures of individual terrorists throughout and alternative approaches for a solution, but by the end still presents the legitimacy of their issue maybe even the necessity of violent action to address it. Overall, I found myself thinking for some time about this storyline, which I consider a testament to it's depth.
While there are some caveats; some characters are mostly foils, the main female character Ai is rather underdeveloped but serves her role in the plot well, and some weird moments (the comedic ninja scene for instance), Planetes is overall a remarkable rich show - not just the technical detail on space travel, but the characters, the writing, and the ideas it plays with. It will switch tempo and mood and along the way you may wonder what type of show it is trying to be. But by the end you will be remarkably satisfied that you have just seen some truly strong science fiction.
Planetes is the typical coming of age, struggling-to-find-a-place-in life with self and friends story set in the not-so-typical back drop of space. Specifically, in one area that one could consider the least glamerous area of space to be covering.
Planetes story isn't entirely new or original. It's a formula that we have seen before. A group of misfits that shouldn't really belong, who squabble or argue yet grow and mature with one another while facing the everyday--to the not-so-every day in space--troubles and tribulations life throws at them. No, the story might not be new, but the backdrop, the setting and the way the story is told with a mix of believable science fiction that ultimately helps a viewer ease into the plot.
The sound was a bit dated in some spots, but focus in Planetes (I'd like to think), wasn't really centered on sound and more with the characters and story.
Speaking of story, let me just preface everything by saying if full out action is to your taste, Planetes won't be something you'll likely finish past the first few episodes.The series starts out almost as if it were an episodic in fixed setting. The tales, at first, focus on individual stories and aspects of character's lives which may trick you into thinking not much is going to happen. Planetes is deceptive, however. There's a very major plot and immense story with a very interesting message lurking behind the series slow start--if you can stick with it, I recommend doing so.
The deconstruction and reconstruction of characters were a delight to watch, over all, I count this series as one of the better out there. The quiet one waving their hand in the distance while the flashier, louder, brasher and generally fluff-filled ones shoulder their way ahead of them in order to trick you into not paying attention to the quiet one.
This is a great story I recommend to anyone who enjoys slice-of-life, science fiction, drama, character building series.
Perhaps the most interesting anime to compare Planetes to is Last Exile - not for the similarities between the two, but for the differences. The two animes both attempt to show an alternate, futuristic world with a large cast of characters, but the actual approaches are radically different.
With Last Exile, we are plunged into a chaotic world of war, intrigue, and power games. The first few episodes are incredibly bewildering (albeit in a good way), and we feel totally enveloped in the fantastically imaginative world that the anime is taking place in.
Planetes, on the other hand, seems to almost be hiding its ambition. Rather than the flashy introduction that Last Exile treats us to, Planetes chooses a humbler but equally effective beginning. In place of a fantastically developed setting, we are treated to… garbage collectors in space. Furthermore, rather than the absolutely amazing animation and the excellent OST of Last Exile, Planetes delivers an animation and sound combo that manages to be competent, but nothing more.
More importantly than any of these elements, however, Planetes chooses to at first eschew a linear storyline and instead focus on a series of self contained vignettes. I have always personally been wary of self-contained, episodic plots (see my reviews of Ghost in the Shell: Standalone Complex and Kimagure Orange Road). Not only is there very little incentive to keep watching the show, but character development seems to be completely forgotten as the writers concentrate on maintaining the status quo.
Fortunately, Planetes manages to avoid these pitfalls by refusing to allow its characters to stop developing. In each and every episode near the beginning, at least one of the characters will either grow into someone more interesting or show a side that was completely hidden to us until now. This, combined with the fact that the individual episodic plots are surprisingly engaging, make the show work. In the end, this has some of the best self contained episodes since Cowboy Bebop.
…and then, without any warning whatsoever, the plotline ceases to be episodic altogether. All of the previous, seemingly unrelated episodes tie together brilliantly, with the well developed characters becoming overshadowed by the emerging storyline.
It is then that one realizes that the anime’s supposedly humble beginnings are merely a device to set the stage for the fantastic final act. Instead of introducing us to the amazingly well-conceived world all at once, the anime inches us in slowly. The world is then carefully developed through a series of almost anecdotal episodic plots. Finally, near the end, the safety guards are lifted and we are plunged into the deep end. All of the previously unnoticed themes that had been shimmering underneath the surface of the anime (idealism vs. practicality, the price of progress, the fragility of human life) are brought into focus, and combine into an amazingly beautiful storyline.
In the end, Planetes, unlike Last Exile, is an example of an epic story done right. Last Exile carried with it a distinct lack of planning; even as I was wowed by the amazing cgi, the fabulous OST or the breathtaking setting, I always felt as if Gonzo was improvising as it went along, with no idea where the storyline would take the characters next. Planetes has no such feeling. From the very beginning, Sunrise knows exactly where the show is going, and even more impressively, trusts that viewers will have the patience to watch through the entire show. The result is astounding. I’ll be the first one to admit that the first episode of Last Exile is miles ahead of just about any anime’s, but when judged as a complete work, Planetes is a superior series.
Highly detailed and comprehensive world settings do not a story make. Nonetheless, combined with a humorous cast and a poignantly contemporary narrative, the use of detailed realism can be the clincher for maximum entertainment. Planetes happens to be just that kind of anime. With its well-versed futuristic take on timeless human struggles, it doesn’t just look like science fiction; it feels like the world of tomorrow.
The most important fact to note about Planetes is that it is not a slice-of-life in the ‘random nonsense’ tradition. Here, the meaning strictly refers to its focus upon realism, its everyday, strip-back-the-gimmicks level of drama. What it portrays is a situation that is more than just idle speculation, but a plausible future context and characters with ordinary ambitions and believable struggles. This doesn’t imply the plot lacks excitement or genuine surprises, but simply means identifying with the characters and events becomes that much easier. Furthermore, this fact reveals the true extent of Planetes’ achievement: unlike so many sci-fi shows, it undertakes the difficult task of revealing the extraordinary in the ordinary rather than using ostentatious production values to hook the audience.
Unsurprisingly, there are kinks in its technique which hamper the enjoyment for the first few episodes. During its early phase, Planetes relies on episodic developments to lay important groundwork, and, as such, feels slow and tentative. One moment Tanabe frets about the meaning of death in the great vastness of space, and the next she frolics around on a low-G planet dressed in corny ninja gear. Only later does it become a more serialised, cohesive whole with a powerful climax. While this method means its characters attain a commendable level of depth before the main adventure kicks in, the initial lack of focus will likely prove gently amusing at best and somewhat frustrating at worst.
Either way, the wide-ranging build-up avoids nosediving into dry scientific lectures – an achievement in and of itself. Instead, Planetes explores the politics behind the science through the characters’ natural cumulative experiences. From war to eco-war, from death to the evolution of humanity, all of these conflicts reveal something fundamental about the role of science in society and are handled with great sensitivity. Most of all, Planetes rewards its patient viewers with a phenomenal payoff in its latter half as impeccably fleshed-out characters face the reality of where technological advancement has brought them.
In the end, Planetes always focuses upon the poignant human tragedies; the content and the humour with which it portrays this are always refined and insightful, leading to intensely gratifying conclusions.
The character designs generally lean towards realism, the direction offers few flashy effects or severe camera angles, and any CG animation only crops up to add realistic detail to the machinery and environments. As such, Planetes effects a simple, clean look that is also engrossingly apposite given its condensed drama. Occasionally, whenever key scenes permit, Planetes will add romantic details to amplify the ambience: as Tachimaki converses with a girl native to the moon, for example, the switch to a theatrical concept involving glaring lights, shadows, and the deep black of space works beautifully.
With a mix of funky beats, choral harmonies, and breathtaking instrumentals, Planetes’ soundtrack is an aural bag of All Sorts. In truth, with such a solid plot and amusing set of characters, the music inevitably takes an incidental role. However, even its covert achievements form a part of Planetes’ attention to detail; while only a few of the themes stand out in their own right as worthwhile singles, every melody delicately enhances the impact of its respective scene.
The characters and their development rank amongst some of the most involving in any drama. These are vibrant characters that leap off the screen the moment they walk across it. Every one of them has their emotional depths, their ambitions, and their humorous edge, and fans should easily find a favourite amongst them.
Surprisingly, the lead character Ai Tanabe turns out to be one of the weaker personalities on offer. As protagonist, she seems more like an accessory in her own story – the moral mouthpiece reminding everyone to love – than the person who drives it. Moreover, while most of the others are explored to a great degree fairly quickly, Ai’s background and personal struggles remain a mystery until the final handful of episodes. Still, on the whole, she remains consistently enjoyable to follow, if not exactly rousing.
Mostly, Hachimaki, Tanabe’s new partner and temperamental foil, occupies the spotlight with his intense personal dilemmas. Also amongst the best is Fee Carmichael, the Debris Section captain, who will fascinate on first sight because of her laid-back attitude and gung-ho leadership style. Finally, Yuri Mikhailkov, the reticent and secretive first officer, in defiance of his initial banality, ends up offering one of the most emotional plotlines of the entire show.
For those who like their sci-fi hardboiled and their drama subtly stirring, Planetes will constitute that one in a million viewing experience. Its uniquely realistic conception of space, physics, and engineering feels as concrete as taking a course in all three subjects, while its theme-oriented presentation and humanising comedy ensure it remains gripping for all the right reasons. Indeed, leisurely build-up aside, Planetes manages to keep the human tale close to heart in a vast and impassive landscape filled with dead objects. As such, it is an exercise in ingenuity.
8 kilometers per second. That is the velocity of space debris orbiting Earth.
A single collision between a piece of space debris and a spacecraft in orbit creates even more debris and escalates the probability of yet more collisions. Taken to its logical extreme, this chain reaction, known as the Kessler Syndrome, eventually renders the space surrounding our planet completely impassable, and space exploration and travel would be halted indefinitely.
Since mankind's first foray into space, humans have ignored the consequences of littering in space. In the year 2068, a stray screw hit a passenger shuttle. The resulting explosion left no survivors. It is a rude wake-up call to all the mega-corporations who exploit outer space from their space stations for economic profit. In a knee-jerk reaction, these companies establish debris collection departments, whose job it is to clear space of dangerous objects in orbit. Over time, budgets for these "space-cleaning" efforts dwindle, as one company looks to the next to shoulder the huge financial burden of cleaning up the ever-growing mess.
This is the stark and grimly realistic backdrop of Planetes, the story of the debris collection department of Technora Corp., told through the eyes of the department's newcomer, Tanabe Ai. Each episode shows the audience what life might be like for an average space worker in the not-so-distant future. Because the anime itself is hard science fiction, technical details are exceedingly accurate, and the portrayal of the different environments of a space station and a lunar colony are all extremely believable.
Few slice-of-life anime are as comprehensive and authentic as Planetes. The level of detail is sublime. The events of the anime do not occur in some sort of isolated bubble; rather, the socio-political environment on Earth and in outer space is constantly changing and affecting the lives of the characters. So masterfully are all these minutiae worked into the story that a person watching Planetes casually may not even notice them, beyond remarking how "naturally" everything fits together in this fictional world.
My high regard for the realism and authenticity in Planetes is also due in part to the fidelity with which the animators have brought to life Yukimura Makoto's vision of humanity's future outer space. It is no small feat to introduce an audience to the many facets of the futuristic world they see on screen, with the same casual nonchalance of someone telling a bedtime story.
Unfortunately, the visual quality of Planetes is let down by some truly bizarre colouring choices. For an anime so obsessed detail and realism, I was surprised that a many Earth-born characters were drawn with strange features such as purple pupils or green eyebrows. Furthermore, the characters in Planetes have horrendous fashion sense. I recall being distracted at least once per episode by the questionable appearance of the characters.
The seiyuu fail to deliver outstanding performances, but also refrain from detracting from the rest of the anime. There is one notable exception: the supposedly humourous moments are made even more cheesy and obnoxiously out of place by the poor delivery and timing of the "punchlines".
The soundtrack draws from various styles to create the diverse spectrum of musical moods needed to accompany a slice-of-life series like Planetes. Despite the anime's fair share of dramatic moments, the music is always understated, never amplifying the intensity of the events on screen. Rather, the musical selection seems geared towards letting the visual animation do the communicating with the audience. Particularly noteworthy is the anime's title song, Planetes, which really complements the scenes in which the piece is played.
As is the case with many hard science fiction stories, characters are treated with far less importance than the technical accuracy of the plot. Planetes is no exception to this rule. It is not so much that the anime's characters are poorly designed, as they are bland and generic given the rich background of the story which permits for them to be so much more interesting and unique. Surprisingly, it is a supporting character which ends up being the most fully developed, while unanswered questions about the main characters still remain at the end of the series.
I have to confess that I started watching Planetes with the wrong expectations. Perhaps this is a function of the highly captivating manner in which the director set up the first episode, but potential viewers of this anime should not expect the plot to culminate in some sort of brilliant climax. It is a straight-up slice-of-life anime. Period. End of story. It is great at what it aims to do, but does nothing more.
As such, the anime shines in the way it draws the audience into its world. If all anime brought the level of detail and consistency displayed in Planetes to the creation of their worlds, I daresay the quality of anime will rise a notch or two. Few anime of this length can convey so much insight into the way their characters live, and how their lives change when the social, economic and political values shift over time in reaction to new events.
For lovers of true science fiction, this is an automatic must-see. For those who enjoy slice-of-life, Planetes will open your eyes to the definition of detail and immersiveness.