In 2075, space travel is no longer just a dream, but an everyday reality for mankind. Advancements in science and technology have led to the colonization of the moon, the commercialization of outer space, and the formation of large space corporations. Ai Tanabe, an upbeat woman whose interests lie in the cosmos, joins Technora Corporation as a member of their Debris Section, a department dedicated to the removal of dangerous space junk between the orbits of the Earth and Moon.
However, Ai soon discovers how unappreciated her job is. As the laughingstock of Technora, the Debris Section is severely understaffed, poorly funded, and is forced to use a dilapidated spaceship nicknamed the "Toy Box" for debris retrieval. Undeterred, Ai perseveres and gradually becomes acquainted with the strange personalities that make up the Debris Section's staff, such as the bumbling but good-natured chief clerk Philippe Myers; the mysterious and tight-lipped temp worker Edelgard Rivera; and the hotheaded and passionate Hachirota Hoshino, who longs for a spaceship to call his own.
Winner of the Seiun Award in 2005, Planetes is an unconventional sci-fi series that portrays the vastness of space as a backdrop for the personal lives of ordinary people—people who may have been born on Earth, but whose hopes and dreams lie amongst the stars.
First, I feel I need to mention something that I think a lot of people have overlooked with this show. Planetes has romance. Quite of bit of romance in fact. It's packed full of drama and action along with that too. So, drama, action and romance. What more could you ask for (yeah, boobs, I know)?
With that being said, on with the review.
Story: Planetes starts off rather slow. In fact, the "main" story doesn't even really pick up until about episode 10 or so. Before that, you're introduced to character personalities and dreams/motives. This is absolutely necessary though, because without this strong intro, the latter
part of the show wouldn't have had nearly the same kind of effect.
Animation: The animiation is pretty well done. CGI is used in quite a few scenes and I didn't notice any problems. My only beef is that I didn't fall in love with the character designs too much. They're good, but I think a few characters got shafted.
Sound: Probably the most lacking area in the series in my opinion. The intro is decent, but hardly anything special. The background music throughout the show is bland and never really stands out. The only music that ever really caught my attention was the ending theme, and it's not wonderful either. I should mention that the Seiyuu's did an excellent job though.
Character: Characters are definitely the biggest plus to Planetes. Hachimaki and Ai are excellent leading characters. The other crew members are nearly equally as interesting as them too. Everyone, like most shows, has their own problems and own ambitions. Planetes does a great job at detailing each character.
Enjoyment: Took me 4 days to complete the show (could have done it sooner if school wasn't taking my time). 26 eps in 4 days usually constitutes hard core enjoyable watching. :) This is a feel good Anime (well, most of it is at least), so what's not to enjoy?
Overall: This needs to become more popular! It deserves better than only a couple hundreds watchers. Take the time and watch it.
It can be pretty hard to convince people to watch a show about garbage men... IN SPACE. How could a show like that possibly be interesting? Well I'm here today to tell you that this is one of the best anime out there, and something everyone should give a try.
Planetes starts about how you might expect a show with such an odd premise to begin. It's a very quirky show, practically a comedy/sitcom type show. The first 13 episodes or so are all episodic, there's lots of laugh, and the show rarely takes itself too seriously. At this point I would call the show very
good. It was entertaining, but, I never felt compelled to watch the next episode immediately after finishing one. I'd be fine to wait a while before booting up a new episode.
And then, the second half of the show begins. This is where arcs begin to start, the show starts to have more continuity, and basically, it becomes more of a serious space drama show. This is when the show really kicks it up a notch and becomes the masterpiece I think it is. The second half of the show offers some incredibly intense moments, lots of philosophical talk about whether space development is really needed for mankind, and some awesome character development.
In fact, all 26 episodes of Planetes have some amazing character development. All the characters on the space debris crew have at least one episode where they get a decent amount of focus. In fact, pretty much everyone who gets a decent amount of screen time gets fleshed out. It's actually pretty amazing. All the characters are also very real feeling. I think I could see a lot of these characters in real life. And because of that, you see most of the characters good sides and ugly sides. There may be times when you dislike a character that you once liked, especially with the main character, Hachimaki. This as a whole makes the characters feel even more authentic though.
The most interesting thing about Planetes characters isn't just how they develop, but how they interact. Events happen, and over the course of the show, almost all the characters change in some ways. In a lot of shows, despite character development, all the characters seem to interact with each other in mostly the same way, but in Planetes, all the interactions become different as characters change and know each other better. They even realize when someone has changes. It's a cool dynamic and adds a lot to the show.
Planetes is pretty short, and I never thought it got stale at all throughout the whole ride. I think it helped a lot that the show was more of a comedy in the first half. When the switch is made to more of a drama, the change of pace helps things to never get boring.
The best part of Planetes as a whole though is the way it makes you think. You will find yourself thinking a lot about this fictional world, and also about how it applies to the world today. The messages the show sends are kind of "in your face", but they are only in your face when it comes to the world Planetes is set in. It takes some thinking to really apply it to our world today, so I don't think anyone will really be put off by it.
Planetes art and sound are also pretty fantastic. I thought all the animation was pretty crisp and they do a good job crafting characters that look just as unique from each other as their personalities are. The sound is really awesome too, the opening theme is especially cool. The only flaw is that, the ending theme is very happy and perky, which worked perfectly for the first half of the show, however, in the 2nd half of the show, when the show gets serious, it gets flat out awkward. For example, someone will be pointing a gun at someone, the episode ends, and then some of the happiest music you could imagine comes on. It's not a big deal, but it can kind of ruin the intensity that the episode just left you with.
Despite the lack of action, I think this is a show almost anyone can enjoy. It's smart, has great character development, and can be very intense. I highly reccomend it to anyone.
Growing up, I'm sure many of us have stared into the night sky at one time or another, trying to process the sprawled out abyss, bewildered by its seemingly endless stretches into darkness. Just the very thought of how all-encompassing it is can be equal parts awe-inspiring and intimidating, as we try to find our place in it all. Like our ancestors before us and later generations yet to take our place, us humans has and always will be drawn to the great unknown; like moths to a flame, we pursue things no matter how unsure we may be about the outcome. Constantly seeking out
the new frontier, both in our personal lives and places we inhabit. It's a driving force that we all intrinsically share, whether we're afraid of entering unfamiliar territory or excited of the prospect. Very few stories are able to encapsulate this very nebulous yet familiar feeling. Describing it can become something like a paradox when left in the hands of semantics. It's for that reason that we take notice when that essence is properly defined; even more so when expressed from a premise that on all accounts seem unassertive. So when I say Planetes, a story that essentially started out by following a crew of garbage collectors (IN SPACE!), was able to capture this very intricate feeling, that's something special in and of itself. Hell, it's a goddamn miracle as far as I'm concerned. Despite the inherent difficulty of what it was able to pull off, when we actually trek its course in retrospect, the show made it look effortless.
One of the greatest strengths of Planetes is that just like the content it covers, the story it's wrapped up in is also progressive, despite what the sheep's clothing it wears would have you believe. It doesn't try to maintain a status quo like most shows tend to but instead is constantly expanding, going through methodically built up stages of change, both in its plotting and character involvement. Upon my initial viewing, I thought I was going to watch a simple tale of the daily lives of garbage collectors, and while the 1st handful of episodes fooled me into taking on that presumption, what I walked away with was something far more ambitious. An undertaking rarely achieved in storytelling.
The 1st half of the show places all of its characters in a container and basically shakes it up to see what type of interactions would blossom when their ideals collide, while also giving us insight into their motives for joining the trash collecting division. These build up episodes are essential since they set in motion the continuous metamorphosis we're treated to as the narrative threads converge to create the bigger story. Touching upon and dealing with themes of pro-ecology, corporate hierarchy, and geopolitical ethics, to name a few, the show never skittishly avoid taking on material that others would actively divert from. It could have easily taken just dealt with the everyday life of living in space and called it a day but because it bothered to show all sides, both pros and cons of societal expansion, it ended up embracing all truths of what a space inhabited humanity would become. If we carve up imaginary borders on Earth, it stands to reason that that selfish mindset would only seep out as we conquer the heavens as well.
In the hands of less capable creators, this could have easily become an overzealous, preachy "let's make love, not war" kind of tacky story. All it would have taken was a blatant "EVIL CORP" conglomerate pumping toxic fumes everywhere while laughing maniacally on their misdeeds or any other forceful narrative turn that someone like Michael Bay would incorporate with copious amount of cleavage and explosions. From the macroeconomic relationship between 1st and 3rd world countries, to the individualistic struggles of our characters navigating their way through a changing world, everything here was handled responsibly. Planetes is a show that knows when to unwind but never forgets to deliver its messages during pivotal moments.
For any other show, just being able to pull this off would have been enough, but for Planetes, that's only the main course meal, as it also manages to treat us to dessert with a heartwarming romance that grows along with the narrative the further we plunge forward. And since the core characters involved are comprised entirely of adults, this romance actually goes somewhere, unlike the typical high-school drama shows that does a "would or wouldn't they" scenario to only end it with a confession. Of course, this isn't to say that Planetes delivered the best romance for your price of admission but rather, for a show where romance was never the core focus, to begin with, what we got was still conclusive and satisfactory, effectively making it a better romance than shows that are primarily just that, which was more than I could ask for.
Another surprising turn of events was just how well the art and animation held up.
The attention to detail was simply superb. Just the little things included that would usually go unnoticed by the untrained eye, like the emphasis placed on the widgets, body mechanics in the environment of space and the functionality of devices used, helped in turning this piece of fiction into something science-plausible. It all added to the practicality of the scenarios we were introduced to, giving off this feeling that the people behind the show's creation really cared about immersing the viewer into the project. The color choices were also utilized well, with monochromatic layouts used to emphasise the isolation and vastness of space, to the vibrant hues of luminescent blues used to give off a sense of warmth that radiated from earth. It's little things like this that really brought the show to life. Of course, since it was made back in 2003, a time when animators were still tinkering with new digital technology being incorporated into older techniques, there were some influxes in quality-control to be found; like the usage of CGI in certain scenes and some characters being drawn off model. But overall, the title aged incredibly well, especially when taking into consideration other shows made during the same time period. With a telling eye for detail and proper understanding of color placement, Planetes has bought itself a longer shelf-life than many of its competition.
And for a show as far-reaching as this one, a soundtrack of equal proportions was also needed. Thankfully, that's precisely what we got.
With booming brass sections, choirs humming along to percussional wizardry and string instruments that never missed a chance to join in, the music was a real treat, even deserving of a stand-alone listen. I can't help but think of Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey when I sit back and listen to it (as smarmy as that may sound). It's just a score that grows on you the more you listen to it, made even more memorable given the title it's attached to. What's probably more surprising than the technical proficiency of it is that it never oversteps its boundary during the show's run-time. Instead of drowning out any given scene, it instead operates like a companion piece; only there as a tool to punctuate the message. Some may call it being underutilized but I'd like to think that it's knowing when it's needed and when to show restraint. From the more boisterous tracks to the subdued ones, they were all used accordingly. The opening theme was also catchy and fit the overall feeling the show gave off. Although not much of a favorite for me, it was still memorable and one I rarely skipped.
And with all that Planetes had going for it, ultimately what sold the experience for me was the cast itself.
Characters often serve as the audience's gateway into a show's universe and can often be what makes or breaks the experience, even if everything else is fine-tuned. Without characters that we as viewers would like to latch on to, immersion is usually harder to achieve. With that being said, Planete's cast was nothing short of amazing and arguably the show's greatest highlight. And since the show spanned across vast distances, due to the content it chose to cover, the cast was equally as big to compensate for that. For the sake of brevity, I'll only cover the two main leads.
Hachirota Hoshino, or Hachimaki, as he's known by his peers, can best be summed up as an ambitious, yet abrasive delinquent. When introduced, he's made out to be your garden variety of schmuck who feels stuck in a dead-end job. Of course, as the show goes on, we get to learn about him as an individual and what formed him to be the person he is today. And what initially started out as a debut for a simpleton upon first encounter, was gradually revealed to be much more. Exposing his latent animosity that was spurred on by reckless ambition; the gradual self-reflection of a man who was at first negligent to his accepted complacency with the hand life dealt him. As the narrative of Planetes expands, so too does Hachimaki explore parts of himself he didn't know was there. What makes him compelling as a character was these very blemishes. He isn't some Gary Stu that has everything in place for him but just a regular person who dreams big but often limits himself in fear of not reaching those dreams.
And to counterbalance Hachimaki's personality, we're given a 2nd lead that stands as the antithesis of him.
Ai Tanabe is your uber-idealistic individual who's naivety is apparent from the moment she makes her grand entrance. Her bold and often stubborn conviction frequently causes her to butt heads with Hachimaki. Although her character type has seen many times before, Planetes makes an active effort in assuring that she goes through the proper character growth that comes with the drastic life change she decides for herself. But possibly the biggest draw to her as a character is seeing the gradual relationship form between her and Hachimaki. Often tested by circumstances around them, their relationship can be seen as a direct reflection of the narrative's twists and turns.
The gradual development of the leads was also well paced and stayed constant with the progressive themes of the anime. It showed that anything worth striving for requires effort. It's a show that bastardizes complacency by having the characters move forward or be left behind by the changing times. Whether it be an external goal like with our protagonist Hachi or an internal one like Ai's challenged conviction, nothing was left to just stagnate.
Big or small, every characters' roles helped define Planetes and everything the show stood for. Every story beat, character moment, big displays and quiet moments, coalesced into a theatrical display of the endeavors we all collectively go through in pursuit of the unknown lying beyond the ether.
The repertoire of what I consider to be masterpiece-level titles is quite small and Planetes has effectively found its place among them. Bold and triumphant, this anime is one that resonated with me in ways that many others could only scrape at. Very few shows successfully celebrate the power of the anime medium in the way this one does.
Planetes is a title that demands more exposure than what it is currently getting and hopefully this review would encourage a few others to give it a try. It's thematically well-structured but never overly-complicated; it's easy to watch but contains great social commentary; it wraps everything up nicely but the implications leave you in awe, thinking long before the credits roll. The build up may seem a little slow to some and the constant shifting of character and narrative motion may not register well with those that like constant stasis, but if given the chance, this anime could be a crowd-pleaser like no other you've experienced before.
Space, the final frontier, and what a frontier it is. Humans long ago looked up at the stars, and reached out to grasp them. From the words of Captain Kirk, "to boldly go where no man has gone before".
The human race, always moving forward, never looking back. So eager to abandon the cradle of life that raised them. The cause and effect of this ambition are highlighted within the 25 episodes of the show."Planetes" is something truly unique in the Anime scene. This is essentially a SoL (Slice of Life) in space, which alone makes it something different from the norm, but
at its core the deeply rooted themes are one of the biggest factors that set it above the rest. The show is more or less separated into several Arcs that all tie into the overall theme of the show. The one big issue that I saw during the show was near the end. The last Arc felt a little crowded, and I was worried that a train wreck awaited me. Luckily things worked out. Probably not as well as they could of if handled a bit better, but it certainly wasn't bad. Far from it thankfully. Besides this the show also had a few minor pacing issues, but no where near enough to really hurt the overall product. What else can I say. This tale about space garbage men (and women) had more to it than I initially thought.
I had the pleasure of watching "Planetes" BD (Blu-ray) rip, and for a show from 2003 I was impressed. Besides for some dodgy CG here and there "Planetes" delivers quality animation that aged well. When ever the crew heads out into the black reaches of space I found myself there with them. The style the show chose to go with, specially in the space sections, adds to the "atmosphere" (ha I'm funny). Word of caution tho. Art is entirely subjective (plus I only watched the BD). So it is honestly your call in regards to if you find the art appealing.
Very little complaints on this end as well. Voice acting across the board was excellent, and the background music worked for the show. One of the best things about the sound design of this show is when the characters actually go out into space. You never hear noise, but you hear the vibrations of the space suits. This really helps set the mood when they are outside of the ship. Now this isn't all the time, because sometimes they do add background music. Which is disappointing when it happens, but never the less I really appreciate the attention to detail.
Although it isn't the best characterization I've seen in Anime it was still damn good. From the start of the show I instantly identified several "archetypes", and assumed that these players were nothing more than what was on the surface. I was happily surprised as the show progressed, and added several layers onto almost every character. I really appreciate a show when the characters on screen become people that I can see from their point of view. Each person in this story has reasons for what they do. I was impressed at how many layers they could add to each person with such a large cast. Something else that is much appreciated is the fact that these people are adults. After watching show after show about High school teens, some God damn maturity is much welcomed.With that said, I enjoyed my time spent with these people, and I wouldn't mind going back up into space again.
Not the most action packed show around, but dear God was I engaged while watching this. I love space, and just having an Anime centered around it is just what the doctor ordered.
It's been awhile since I have watched something truly great, and make no mistake "Planetes" is just that, great. I know when you first begin "Planetes" it doesn't seem like much, but hold firm. I can really appreciate a slow burn, specially if it pays off. This show I wouldn't say is for everyone. For it does have slow moments, and not a lot of action. So if you are looking for Michael Bay's Armageddon then you will be disappointed, but if you are looking for a realistic take on man kinds journey to the stars then look no further.
We all enjoy looking up at the night sky, and watching the stars. And quite often we wonder what exactly is going on...out there in deep space. Fortunately, there's a ton of excellent space anime which will clue us in and make our imaginations run wild!