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 have 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. Always 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 can 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 adequately 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; to me, that's something special in and of itself. Hell, as far as I'm concerned, it's a goddamn miracle. Despite the inherent difficulty of what it was able to pull off, when we 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 of this magnitude.
The 1st half of the show places all of its characters in a container and 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. Dealing with themes of pro-ecology, corporate hierarchy, and geopolitical ethics, to name a few, the show never skittishly avoids taking on material that others would actively divert its content away from. It could have quickly 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 narrative. 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 a 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 bothers to go 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 love story than other shows that are primarily just that, which was more than I ever expected from it.
Another surprising turn of events was just how well the art and animation held up.
The attention to detail was just 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, all 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 truly cared about immersing the viewer into the project. The color choices were also utilized well, with monochromatic layouts used to emphasize 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 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, 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 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 percussion 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 as a companion piece; only there as a tool to punctuate the message. Some may think it's being underutilized, but I believe it's the creators knowing when to let the tunes elevate the material and knowing when to practice 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 his peers call him, 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 as things shifted into focus. Exposing a latent animosity that was spurred on by reckless ambition, Planetes slowly divulges into the self-reflection of a man who was at first negligent to his complacency, accepting the cards that life dealt him, until being placed in a corner where that way of thinking was no longer viable. As the narrative of Planetes expands, so too does Hachimaki, as he explores parts of himself he didn't know was there in the first place. What makes him compelling as a character was these very blemishes that he tried desperately to ignore. He isn't some Gary Stu that has everything handed to him on a silver platter but just a regular person who dreams big but often limits himself in fear of not reaching his goals. Planetes understands the crushing defeat of life—and with Hachimaki being used as its conduit—never shies away from addressing it.
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 most significant 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 either 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 easily 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 future of humanity in the way this one does, but perhaps even better, the need to combat complacency through the pursuit of greater ambitions.
Planetes is a title that demands more exposure than what it currently has 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 excellent social commentary; it wraps everything up nicely, but the implications leave you in awe, thinking long after 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 perpetual stasis, but if given a 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.
This Review is written by someone who read the Manga first and then watched the Anime. I believe that just a small minority read the Manga before watching the Anime, and this is why Planetes (TV), is in my opinion overrated.
I believe that if I hadn't read the Manga I would score this better, but still it's a fact that this anime has flaws, and the one that i hear the most is that the crisis of the poor country, isn't convincing. Other flaws pointed out is the boring start or the sometimes annoying characters.
Well If you remove those flaws and add some great character development to the story, you have the Manga.
Now my Problem is if the Staff of the anime has such great material to use, why would they bother to add ridiculous characters like the Indian clown and the chef, and add fillers like the space ninjas? It's not like they hadn't used everything from the manga, and needed fillers to complete the 26 episodes, because there removed a lot of themes that appeared in the manga.
Well at least the second half of the show (and much better one, in my opinion) follows the manga more closely. And the end, although it's different from the manga is a scene taken from it.
I understand that the studio tried to give the anime a different atmosphere then the one from the manga, but they failed. So I recommend that if you are thinking of watch this anime, go read the manga first. And for those who already watched the anime, and felt those flaws, go read the anime.
PS: If you find this review not helpful try to comment why, so I can improve my reviews. Thank you
It is a time... when collecting space debris... is very important! Really seriously business here, guys!
STORY - I laughed when the narrator said that at the end of the introduction, but I can definitely appreciate the realistic approach to space in Planetes, especially when so many other sci-fi series completely disregard the issues it presents. Radiation exposure and space debris in particular are hugely important real life topics concerning space, and it was both interesting and educational to hear and learn about them. Planetes starts off pretty episodic, but while each episode contains a more or less standalone adventure, the events that take place and
the people they meet are revisited and remembered, so you still get a feeling of relevancy and continuity.
Most of these adventures center around the technicalities of space life and exploration, but there's also a lot of company politics, global politics, and environmentalism that comes into play, making for an even more realistic portrayal. It's honestly one of the most realistic glimpses into the future I've seen, and it was very impressive. Taniguchi's direction is excellent, and there's never a dull moment. As the series progresses, more and more of the episodes connect and the storytelling becomes more linear. After all their Gundams, it isn't surprising to see a confrontation between Earth and space from Sunrise, but it was really nice to see less of an all out war and more of the personal conflicts and struggles within individuals. Being realistic, there are no fancy explosions and shiny mecha (that would cause way too much space debris!), but the story is nonetheless engaging and very satisfying in the end (the romantic subplot is well done, too). The realism is definitely superior, and I'd love to see more series like Planetes in the future.
CHARACTER - Most of Planetes' characters are reasonably convincing, though I did feel that they stood out a bit against their hyper-realistic environment. Ai Tanabe is pretty much your typical anime heroine with self-righteous and idealistic morals that she tries to push onto everyone else (everything can be solved with love!). In general, I really, really dislike these sorts of characters, and thus, Tanabe rubbed me the wrong way more than once. Thankfully, the rest of the cast was much more down-to-earth and balanced her very well. And while her morals never really change, the rest of her character does manage to grow and adapt, so I'm happy to report that she's not so hard to sit with by the end of the series, and the progression is good.
Hachimaki is arguably the real protagonist of Planetes and who I felt to be the most realistic of the lot. He was the easiest for me to relate to and just all around convincing with his sarcasm, bluntness, obliviousness, and outlook on life. His character was also the one that grew the most, especially in the latter half of the series. The secondary cast was pretty top notch too. At first, many of the members of the Debris Section seemed very gimmicky, but as you expanded on their backgrounds, histories, and families, they all felt more real. It was a good chance of pace to have adult characters with families, spouses, and children back home. The other employees of Technora were similarly interesting, and I really enjoyed the interaction, tension, and politics between different members of different groups. It's a solid cast all around.
ARTSTYLE & ANIMATION - I'm no expert, but all of the technological aspects of the art felt very convincing to me. Space ships and stations are very reminiscent of what we know to be real life designs, and nothing was taken for granted. Picking up space debris with mechanical arms is no walk in the park, and everything was taken into account, including the shine of the sun and the incredibly high velocity of objects moving in space. The art really reflected these details, and it was really fun and dramatic to watch.
The character designs were awesome because they matched the realism of the environment. I loved that there were ethnic differences between the characters and that all hair and eye colors were natural-looking. Everyone was distinct and recognizable, but no one was over-the-top or ridiculous. And that isn't even to say that there weren't some ridiculous shenanigans now and again: Technora's mascot is kind of lol, and there's a hilarious episode with some ninja otaku. Planetes' art really suits its story: it's cold and serious when need be, fun and light-hearted when need be.
MUSIC - I like the opening, "Dive in the Sky," by Mikio Sakai, because the mood suits the series really well. It's inspiring and far-reaching, and Sakai's voice is pretty soothing to listen to. The end theme, "Wonderful Life," also by Sakai, is a bit more upbeat, which is kind of surprising because it's usually the opening that's more energetic and the ending that's more mellow, but it works out anyway. "Wonderful Life" feels like a good follow-up to the opening's inspirational theme because it has that "everything's going to be okay" feel to it. There is a different insert song for the ending to the last episode, and it really surprised me because I've come to associate Hitomi's very distinct voice and sound with Code Geass even though Planetes was before its time. "PLANETES," the insert song, fits this series pretty nicely though. Hitomi's style provokes a thoughtful and poignant mood, which is fitting here too. Space is a deep place.
The soundtrack for the series is mostly average, but I do remember particularly liking a few tracks played during the high tension and serious business scenes. Nakagawa is also the same composer that later does the music for Geass, so I think it's safe to say that his forte is the suspenseful and dramatic stuff.
VOICE ACTING - Thanks to dual audio, I saw about a third of this subbed and the rest dubbed, which might be a testament to how good the dub actually was. Julie Ann Taylor as Tanabe was kind of irritating at first, but as that really seemed to suit the character, you get used to it pretty fast. Her range of emotion is also pretty well played, so I guess the voice is only really annoying when the character is really annoying. I don't have any complaints whatsoever about Kirk Thornton as Hachimaki, but my favorite dub voice is probably Wendee Lee as Fee. Her voice matched up surprisingly well with Fee's original voice (Ai Orikasa!) and just all around suited the character wonderfully. It was really weird for me to hear Lara Jill Miller as Nono, mostly because her voice is identical to her role as Kari from Digimon Adventures, but those two characters are pretty similar in age and personality anyway, and the rest of the cast is similarly appropriate and effective.
The English dub incorporates a few Japanese honorifics into the dialogue, most notably "senpai," but while they never explicitly define the term, it flows in and out of the speech very smoothly. After a while, you don't really notice it at all.
Tanabe isn't nearly as annoying in Japanese, and I was pretty impressed with Orikasa's performance as Fee because it didn't sound much like her other roles, but most of the rest of the cast is pretty average. Because of the international nature of space, I found it a bit hard to tell what language people were supposed to be speaking at times, especially when Hachimaki's mother notes that Yuri's Japanese is pretty good considering he's Russian, or when they throw in Engrish phrases like "Do you copy?" / "I copy!" (This seems to come up a lot in sci-fi and military series though.) I get the feeling that they aren't actually supposed to be speaking Japanese most of the time and that the series is "dubbed" in Japanese. It's really not that big a deal though, and I'm not sure what the best way of dealing with this issue would be anyway.
OVERALL - Planetes is easily the most realistic portrayal of space I've ever seen, whether in a cartoon or live action series, whether from a Japanese or American (or other) production. I think it's important for sci-fi fans to see series like this because it really, really drives in the fact that a vast majority of other series are completely unrealistic. I love Gundam, but all that blowing up of mobile suits in space would realistically make it impossible to exit (or enter) the Earth's atmosphere after a while because of all the debris it'd create. Sure, Gundam's merits don't necessarily lie in its realism, but the change of pace and perspective that Planetes provides feels invaluable to me. I've definitely learned a lot about space from this experience, and I was thoroughly entertained as well. Everything about this series is solid: the story is fantastic and relevant, the characters feel real enough, the art is beautiful, and the music and acting is pretty good too.
For the sci-fi fan, I would consider Planetes a must-see.
The story of PLANETES gets off to a slow start which may put some viewers off, however the slow paced introduction of the characters and their personalities adds a more personal feel to the show, allowing you to get to know the characters as if in real life, finding more and more about them as things progress. As the main storyline begins to develop we are given an even deeper insight into the personal lives of the team aside from their "garbage collector" jobs in outer space, their aspirations for the future and the past that they can't forget.
There are many issues addressed in
PLANETES that make the show an overall deeper experience, not to mention the many heart wrenching and tear jerking moments that the main characters find themselves in. PLANETES has many different story elements encased within it, a "tough love" romance, loss of a loved one and the way the character tries to deal with the loss and more. Not to worry though as there are also plenty of comedy moments in the series to lift your spirits and give you a good laugh at some of the more comedic misfortunes of the characters, the impossibility of finding anywhere to smoke comes to mind as one small story that is mingled in with the main story the comedy in the series is sure not to disappoint and knowing the characters better through steady development certainly helps in this department too.
As I mentioned the story has some deep and powerful moments, one episode that immediately springs to my mind is episode 10 involving the issue of coping with loss which left me in tears, the action and drama is not at all lacking in this series and neither is the romance, however the romance is not in your face, it is subtly done so even if you're not one for romance I would still highly recommend a watch of PLANETES.
The Animation for the series was done amazingly well, most notably is the no-gravity scenes where special methods were used to give a great amount of realism where the movement is smooth as can be, however, that is where my "knowledge" of animation stops so I will leave it to you to view some clips for yourself to get a real idea of the quality of the animation (trust me though, that it is high quality).
The Soundtrack for the series is also brilliantly done, I am in fact listening to it as I write this review. All the music fit in with the emotions of the scenes perfectly and was subtle enough so that it added to the scene but wasn't overly noticeable, the soundtrack heavily features tracks with string instruments as well as percussion but also some brass tracks and a variety of others and has a very relaxing feel to it, perfect to listen to if you just want to chill out with a beer/glass of wine/soda/drink of preference and relax after a tough day it can allow your mind to wander and your imagination to think up all kinds of things, then again I'm a lover of soundtrack music so perhaps I'm just an odd one!
Mentioned earlier is the slow development of the main characters in the first part of the series, It is impressing how this was done, instead of rushing everything and everyone into the first one or two episodes they were allowed to develop properly over the course of eight or nine episodes without a huge story to distract you from them, when I say eight or nine episodes your heart might have sunk a little, but don't be fooled, there's still plenty of content aside from the character development to keep you interested as well, including little side stories preparing you for the main storyline to begin.
I personally enjoyed PLANETES enough to name it as my favorite anime of all time and although my repertoire might not be huge it's still unlikely that anything I watch will hit me as quite as much as PLANETES did, the combination of drama, comedy, action and romance makes a thoroughly enjoyable series and one that I'd highly recommend to anyone, it's deep and it's inspiring, an overall excellent series!
PLANETES is set in the Year 2075 A.D. when mankind have started fledging their occupancy into the solar system. However, constant travel to and from, between earth and space have started generating debris in the earth and moon's orbits. A space accident caused by the debris, which lead to the deaths of many passengers traveling in a space-shuttle lead to many concerns and for the first time the debris has been considered as a threat in space. Thus 'Debris Section' is made. Debris Section, as the name suggests, is assigned to collect debris to prevent any such tragic incident in the future.
Hoshino "Hachimaki" Hachirota,
a Japanese, works for the Debris Section of Techonora Company, one of the giants in Space Investments. Yeap. Hachimaki works as a 'space garbages' hauler. You read it right, the protagonist is a garbage-man. And to keep it short, a good enough reason to keep anyone away from this anime. But is that all to it? If you have had enough experience with anime, surely this short synopsis won't hold you back to give this anime a try.
The plot, set in 2075 A.D. looks amazingly realistic, which many anime relating to space have thus failed to set up. PLANETES leads the whole bunch by some leagues. The whole concept of going frontier and making habitat for mankind in the moon and carrying out research works on Mars, will let you correlate the current advancement, achievements and discoveries mankind has made thus far. One of the likable things about the anime is probably the way probable life in space has been depicted. But the best part remains the way it showed how this living style would have impact in human beings, their understandings of space and beyond, their motivation to help it spread, their thoughts of space advancements and the despairs and depressions which are ignited by socio-economic hierarchy, political influences and monopolized space resources shared between a handful of Nations.
The story, as it begins with Hachimaki being assigned as an instructor to Tanabe, a new recruit in the Debris Section, starts slowly. Tanabe Ai, a cheerful girl, ready to give her best in everything she does, and just as her name 'Ai' which translates 'love' in Japanese, believes everything can be solved through love. Despite the efforts she puts, Hachimaki seems unmoved and acts like as one tough senpai as one could be. Tanabe doesn't lose heart though, she starts putting more heart into her efforts and tries to win her senpai's acknowledgment, but as the story goes on, through many ups and downs, finds that it's not only the acknowledgment she seeks in him, there's more to it she sees in him. And just when you start to think that love is about to take over, the story takes a turn that involves the future of all of mankind.
As the anime progresses, during the first half of the anime, we go through the people in the Debris Section and their friends working in Techonora, their reasons to work in space, their thoughts resonating with life in space and their inspirations that keep them living their lives, which help Tanabe to mature from a young girl to a responsible woman. Every single story of the people surrounding Tanabe and Hachimaki is portrayed so nicely that after every episode, you will find reasons and inspirations to keep on moving forward. While the stories involving the people surrounding Tanabe helped her character to develop, her development plays 'the' role in the anime as Hachimaki realizes his reasons to become an astronaut was insignificant. He overlooked something more important, what should be the first and foremost reason for everything this lifetime has to offer.
The artwork is great. This was probably one of the very few anime during 2003/04 with such depth in artwork. Considering we didn't move into true HD anime during that time, it amazes me the level of details have been put in this TV series that time. The environment and the backgrounds are drawn carefully. You can actually get the feel of the environment, be it on the surface of the moon or inside a closed compartment inside a spaceship. Somehow you can imagine the vastness of the space through the artwork. Also, the characters' facial expressions are portrayed so lively that you can actually see their happiness, sadness, anger, worries lying on their faces which help you to understand them and where their feelings are coming from.
The sound has been superb. Both the opening theme "Dive in the Sky" and the ending theme "Wonderful Life" are nice to listen to. Hitomi's "Planetes" the theme song of the final episode and "A Secret of the Moon" used as background music in number of times are really soothing. All the other background musics, the sounds of the environment like noise coming along with transmissions, hatches opening, spaceship launching, roar of engine thrust and everything else is done with almost perfection which made the anime a whole lot more enjoyable.
That pretty much sums up the anime, considering the small number of members actually went through to enjoy this anime with such high ratings, my review will remain as a reminder of what you have missed, nothing more. There are times when I finish a great anime, I take a long sigh and say to myself, "It's sad to think that it had to come to an end", but there are also times, when I feel total contentment of what I have experienced, it gives me such joy that it makes me kinda sad of the completeness I have seen through it. PLANETES is one of those anime. A must see for those who love the power of storytelling.
Planetes is an uneven composite of politics, terrorism, and Love with a capital L. Underscored by jarringly cartoonish comedy, and contrivances that undermine any serious message it hopes to convey, characters spend much of this 26 episode series expounding their ideals and schemes.
I’m not the kind of elitist anime watcher who demands total realism and seamlessness. However, the scenarios and character motivations, particularly in a drama, need to at least be believable for me to play along, and I couldn't believe much of what happened in Planets because it routinely defied plausibility. I’ll provide an example with mild spoilers.
At the start of episode 5, we're
introduced to four characters: a pickpocket thief, a couple planning their suicide, and their daughter. The thief, believing there may be valuables inside one of their cases, unknowingly steals their suicide pills and thwarts their plans. Meanwhile on the other end of the ship, a guerrilla film crew is caught by security. Their footage is confiscated and reviewed, and the thief is conveniently spotted in action in the background. When security pursue and try to apprehend the thief, he slips away, and conveniently runs into the daughter of the couple, who he grabs and uses as a hostage. Seeing their daughter in the hands of this madman, the couple’s love for life—and their daughter—is suddenly renewed, and they beg him to spare her.
Planetes has a romance subplot that also disappoints. When I see “romance” in the genre tags, I expect to see some love, not scene-after-scene of an ego-driven jackass repeatedly berating and abandoning a woman who doesn’t stand up for herself. This guy puts his career above all else—even tact. I can kind of understand this mindset (personally, I’ve tried to balance work with a life to maintain some humanity), but this character’s hostility renders him insufferable. Moreover, in this entire 10-hour show, the only real kiss isn't even shown. It’s concealed by the back of the guy’s head. They had no problem with showing people getting shot and blown up by terrorists, but they couldn't even show a kiss?
On a positive note, Planetes wasn't boring, and, aside from some unflattering computer graphics, the art was mostly well done. The 2D animation quality remained consistent, and the sound design didn't have any issues. But, ultimately, the story and characters provided very little satisfying value for the time it utilized.￼
A mature low sci-fi drama set in space? "Sign me up!," or so I was thinking when I started this series. Unfortunately, my hopes were dashed within the first episode. The plot in a nut shell is fine; it's a simple slice of life set in space, musing on various aspects of the human condition. Zoom in any closer than that, though, and the cracks start to appear. The show is preachy, to say the least. Every episode is some vehicle for the author to set up straw men and knock them down to carry a shallow message across.
Every character that stands opposite the crew of Debris Section in some way is a cartoonish caricature of a human. Expect antagonists to be obese, old men with shockingly little tact, to a self-destructive point. They will say the worst possible thing with little care for advancing their own cause only to make it that much easier for the heroes to rebuke them (and how they do!) It's almost as if the author has a bias! The only unfavorable conflict in which both sides even come close to being given a fair shake is the major one toward the end, Hachimaki's inner-turmoil regarding loneliness. However, this conflict is resolved with a deus ex machina that completely invalidates the entire point. Now, I should mention at this point that most of the stances the show takes on various issues are generally agreeable. People ought come before money, it's not good to shut yourself off from others, and all the other self-evident sentiments that are repeated ad nauseum in Japanese media. I'm not particularly taking issue with the show regurgitating these themes you've doubtless seen hundreds of times before (though it IS a point against it.) What makes this so infuriating is the way in which these themes are presented. I've already mentioned the straw men that unfairly and poorly convey the opposing viewpoints, but what makes it so much worse is that the heroes that topple these effigies are the most obnoxious, sanctimonious naifs you could write. Tanabe is a self-righteous, nosy, bitch who constantly intrudes into others' lives and can't let anything go without making sure everyone knows her opinion on it, and won't leave it at that, either. It's not just enough for her to make her beliefs known, she won't drop an issue until everyone else kowtows to her. The worst thing is that she is almost unfailingly portrayed as "correct." Same with basically any other member of DB-12, although she is by far the worst. I'm not saying you can't create holier-than-thou characters, in fact, it would be odd if characters didn't have some flaw. But when you put them on a pedestal and are completely oblivious to the fact that their flaw is grating, you shouldn't be surprised when the audience is turned off.
To make matters worse, the show makes a grand blunder that the authors probably didn't foresee. The show supposedly takes place in an international setting where all the nations are coming together, but the business and social climate is distinctly and emphatically Japanese. The series spends it's entire time tearing down traditional Japanese norms such as the extremely rigid adherence to hierarchy and caste, notions that have long since evaporated from Western civilization. A foreign audience will plainly see the ills that the showrunners, being stooped in such a society, must think are some hidden truth. The show acts as if these refutations of Japanese society are some revolutionary theses. It would almost be quaint if the show weren't so damn pious about it, as mentioned previously.
One final note, is that there (unsurprisingly) is a romance between Hoshino and Tanabe. This plot thread raises its foot and firmly stamps its boot upon your head. It's obvious, it's unoriginal, it's absolutely uninspired and bland, yet it's given the full treatment of any romance. It's presence is constant and will keep coming up to make your eyes roll, and it NEVER goes away. If you decide to watch this, despite my firm insistence that you not, at least understand that I tried to warn you.
The soundtrack is not so great either. It's mostly serviceable, save for one thing: cringe-worthy Engrish vocal tracks. It's easy to ignore or even appreciate the ambient music, but when these silly songs come around, it's hard to hold back laughter.
To it's credit, the anime LOOKS spectacular. The Blu-Ray specifically is absolutely gorgeous, and if it weren't for the artstyle, you'd think it was made just this year. The clean visuals are an undeniable glimmering star in an otherwise vacuous sea of nothingness.
To summarize in case you just want the bottom line, this anime is an immature treatise the author(s) cooked up, conveyed via mostly insubstantial one-off short stories that are a dime a dozen. It could have been so much more but it's brought down entirely by the pompous egos of the dewy-eyed writers.
Reading the synopsis and reviews, I really wanted to like "Planetes". Even given how slow the first ten episodes were, I kept hope alive and watched to the end, waiting for the magic which seemed to have charmed so many viewers. There is a lot to be said for the series: its vision for the future is exceptional, for one. Yet in spite of it all, I did not particularly enjoy Planetes and consider it a middling series. Overall, I would recommend giving it a try!
There were several major issues with Planetes which dulled its overall efficacy. First, like much anime, the show attempts too
many different genres. At first, it displays the everyday trappings of life as a space janitor much like a slice-of-life, and then it delves into drama with action/survival elements, and finally plays with political and philosophical themes. All this while trying to work a romantic subplot. By tossing so many things in the air, they inevitably fall flat.
Story [7/10]: Described in general terms, the plot of Planetes covers quite a bit of ground. The story follows a new space janitor Tanabe and her mentor Hachimaki during an time when space exploration and settlement is monopolized by a few world superpowers. During all this, a romance blossoms between the two lead characters, one which is infuriatingly riddled with anime clichés - love triangles, lack of communication, etc.
Pacing [4/10]: Considering the vast scope of the story, precious little is meted out in each episode - especially early on, where the episodes are spent exploring the characters with only minor hints toward grander themes. I personally had a hard time with how dialogue-heavy the show is, especially with its abrupt scene changes.
Art [9/10]: The artwork was movie quality. It takes a realistic approach to the animation - none of the pointed faces, overlarge eyes, or exaggerated body shapes - and doesn't skimp on the environment either. The details in movement allow the show to communicate subtly.
Sound [7/10]: The music in Planetes was rare and forgettable (I don't remember a single scene with accompanying music), but otherwise the sound work was very well done.
Character [5/10]: A large portion of the show is spent on the characters, from both the Debris Department (that is, the space janitors) and assorted friend groups. However, with this large cast, only a few are given more than a defining trait. More detrimental to the show, however, was that I could not stand the male lead Hachimaki. It was infuriating to spend so much time watching his stubbornness lead to one problem after another, when he has no redeeming qualities. This is exacerbated by the weak attempt at romance. How can we to understand the main character Tanabe's attraction to this loathsome creature?
By the end of the series, I no longer really cared if the characters died.
Enjoyment [5/10]: I found Planetes ambitious and impressive, but ultimately unfulfilling. This in large part has to do with the characters (read: Hachimaki) and their lack of redeeming qualities. That being said, I would still say that the series deserves a try; annoyances aside, the show has a lot to offer.
Director Goro Taniguchi has always been known for his extremely popular and critically acclaimed series, Code Geass. Boasting over 220,000 viewers on this site alone, you’d think that some of his other works would be shed into light because of this popularity. Planetes is a show that flies under the radar for two reasons: the first being that the show, as of this year, is a decade old, and the second reason being that it will always be overlooked by the 10x more popular (literally) Code Geass.
Tanabe Ai is a rookie at Technora’s Debris Collecting Section, spitefully labeled as “Half Section” because
it only has enough manpower to be, well, half of a Section. The year is 2075, and after the unfortunate Alnair 8 accident that saw a piece of space debris destroy a suborbital passenger liner, the world (well most of the first world countries) immediately focused on the issue of Space Debris as a response. The job of these space garbagemen is to clean up space, one piece of garbage at a time! Now, while the concept of the story isn’t something that’ll have you at the edge of your seats, this setup is only the tip of the iceberg to what the entire story has to offer.
The first 2/3rd of Planetes is mostly episodic, with most of the episodes reminiscent of a typical slice of life with a twist due to its setting, which ranges from locales like the coast of Japan or a lunar base. Although this slice of life element to the series may turn off some viewers to begin with, the show makes sure never to be aimless with them. Many of these episodes play out like a “burning moral/philosophical/social issue of the week” sort of deal, offering a wide variety of subjects ranging from raising children born off Earth to the dangers of interplanetary expansion for the sake of acquiring precious resources (consequences such as terrorism build off and develop and become a more major focus as the series progresses). These heavy themes are lightly and skillfully sprinkled throughout the first two-thirds of the series, as if hinting at more, and they work well alongside the slow and steadily developing romance between Ai and our other protagonist, Hoshino “Hachimaki” Hachirota. While some of these episodes may appear to be tedious and unnecessary at first, the series does a wonderful job tying together many of the previous themes and characters to form a highly entertaining experience. Because of this format, Planetes is not a pure science fiction (SF) story. While the exploring of the functionalities of the future world is definitely important throughout the series, it isn’t its sole focus. It is a highly character-driven anime, which is a detail I will go into further detail in the character section. Not only until the last third of the series does it show its true direction, utilizing all of the previous buildup to work towards a stunning and touching conclusion.
Overall, the story of Planetes was excellent all around. It makes great use of its setting while intertwining believable themes from its time into its deftly woven narrative. While I do think the story could’ve focused a tad more on the ongoing situation on Earth and probably could’ve done without 1 or 2 of the more lighthearted episodes, mostly everything else is done extremely well.
For its time and even by today’s standards, Planetes was a beautiful anime. It’s pretty difficult for a setting in space to look breathtaking and accurate, but the series is able to do both very well. The show boasts a variety of locales, which provides us with a thorough picture of the future world. We get to see glimpses of struggling third world countries while being able to experience life in space corporations such as Technora. Details are kings in a series like Planetes, and the SF setting is extremely consistent and surprisingly believable. From the functionalities of the space suits to the laws of gravity, the crew at Sunrise has worked alongside Japan’s equivalent of NASA, JAXA, in order to ensure that the anime can build a visually stunning, yet accurate world.
Character designs depend on a viewer’s preference, but I personally loved the attempts to make the characters look human rather than look like typical anime caricatures. For its year of production and even compared to shows of this day, the animation is extremely fluid. Movements seldom feel choppy or inconsistent, and every other detail is accounted for. All in all, Planetes delivers a breathtaking atmosphere, signature art style, and fluid animation, a feat that few shows are able to accomplish.
The OST of Planetes was fantastic; a wide variety of notable tracks were composed and placed well throughout the entire series. From the more mysterious yet grandiose “Outside Atmosphere,” which provides the viewer with an audial sense of scale of the setting, to an extremely memorable and emotional track like “A Secret to the Moon,” which plays out like a soothing lullaby, it is apparent that a lot of effort was put into crafting this comprehensive and memorable OST. The opening sequence, Dive in the Sky, is a fitting and well done song that gives an adventurous feel, much like the nature of the series. The ending, Wonderful Life, works pretty well for the first two-thirds of the series, but starts to lose its sense of fitting as the story takes a turn for the serious. Voice acting was excellent all around, with Yukino Satsuki’s Ai and Tanaka Kazunari’s Hachimaki leading the way. Other notable performances like Koyasu Takehito’s Yuri round off a group of voice actors and actresses that had their voices perfectly casted.
As a complete package, there is little to argue about Planetes’s sound. From its perfectly cast VA crew to its execution of the smallest details (It’s actually silent in space!), there are only a few downsides I can point out to in the sound section. The first is the ending sequence, which stops fitting after a while and begins to act as a mood killer that hurts the experience noticeably by the last third of the series. The second was that the OST placing could’ve been done a bit better since it didn’t really feel like a 40+ track experience after I completed the series. Other than these minor details, Planetes amazes me again with its technical brilliance.
As I have stated before, Planetes is very much a character-driven story. These types of stories are an anomaly amongst the SF genre, but the show was able make it work out perfectly. The supporting crew is very strong, and it boasts a wide variety of personalities from the smoke-loving pilot Fee Carmichael to our comedic relief duo, Chief Myers and Assistant Chief Lavie. While the supporting cast doesn’t receive nearly as much development as our main duo, their personalities are lovable, and there is actually a legitimate attempt at fleshing out most of the cast. Characters like Yuri Milhalkov and Claire Rondo are perhaps the most well-developed supporting characters I’ve seen in anime. The series definitely works with what it has, and uses most of its characters to its fullest extent. However, even the excellence of the supporting crew is dulled by the stars of the show.
Enter Tanabe Ai and Hachimaki.
In terms of personalities, the two seem to have opposite beliefs to begin with. While Ai is a goody two-shoes who spouts about the power of love and morality every five seconds, Hachimaki is a seemingly cynical individual who, despite his personality, has big dreams which include wanting to own a spaceship one day. Put these two together, and you’ve got a formula for an extremely awkward couple. However, it’s this very awkwardness that makes them one of the most adorable couples I’ve seen in a long time. Unlike many other shows that try to force a romance into its story, the romance in Planetes comes about naturally. The two experience several ebbs and flows throughout their relationship, but nothing is portrayed as overly melodramatic. Worries one has about the other feel real, and as they continue to spend more and more time together, the chemistry between the two become apparent. As for their individual personalities, Ai may come off as annoying at first. She is initially thrust into the spotlight, and it seems like every episode she’s yelling at or debating to another person who doesn’t agree with her moral standards. Although she may sound whiney because of that, many of her rants actually bear much importance to the series, and it is not only until later when these results are fully realized. As for Hachimaki, he may come off as snobby or immature, but the amount of development put into his character (much of which is through introspection reminiscent of Shinji from Evangelion) is fully realized only after Ai takes a step down from the spotlight. The amazing thing about this couple is how they work hand in hand with each other to convey their personalities, and how they ultimately develop as people by the end.
Overall, Planetes boasts one of the strongest casts I’ve seen in a work of science fiction. From a diverse and lovable supporting crew to two quality protagonists, there’s little to nothing that I can complain about the show’s characters.
From start to finish, Planetes had me completely hooked. While the setting did sound silly at first, it only made me more curious towards what the series really had to offer. Once some of the harder-hitting episodic tales started coming up, Planetes flexed its story-telling creativity, and continued to keep me thinking while providing high quality entertainment. The last third of the series blew by like a breeze, and before I knew it, there was nothing left to watch. The show gets full marks for enjoyment from me, and I hope it can do the same to other potential viewers.
Planetes was a technical marvel that packed one hell of a philosophical punch. From nearly flawless and fluid visuals to a grand OST and excellent voice acting, the crew at Sunrise made sure to make details king. At the same time, the series doesn’t sell short on delivering a brilliant and diverse cast who populate a wonderfully constructed SF setting. One of the most comprehensive and well-executed anime I have seen to this day, Planetes is a must watch for any fan of the medium.
Average score: 9.6/10
Weighted score: 9/10 (Absolutely loved it, a must watch)
(if the rating confuses you, take a glimpse at my rating system on my profile for clarifications)
Blinding hollow darkness and forever looming possibilities of death, hope for the future of ever-expanding humanity, and wonders regarding nighttime illumination and radiant celestial phenomenon, this is what composes outer space. While many titles tackle the setting of space, nowhere is the aforementioned more ever-present than within the 26-episode animated series of 2003, “Planetes,” by studio Sunrise.
Set in a distant future following a division of astronaut garbage collectors and their ensuing missions, much focus lays upon its sizeable ensemble cast, which ironically appears as grounded and “down to earth” as can be, with particular emphasis on
how characters ricochet off one another in daily interactions. All harmonizes to characterize the debris section as a thriving, multi-faceted community, individual characters embodying individual struggles, and said interactions humanizing them, as the entire catalogue of myriad emotions is swept through effortlessly.
Planetes remains a juggling act, knowing when to shift between jovial comedy and rending drama. The workplace’s liveliness is spread across a backdrop of earnestness, duties of eliminating debris from the atmosphere purposeful in preventing foreseeable collisions between residue and human facilities; even a single screw is enough to demolish an entire shuttle. The “Kessler syndrome” proves distinctively lethal, in which colliding objects generates debris which coincidingly collide with each other, precipitating an extensive chain reaction. Given a large enough structure, debris could encircle earth to the extent of permanently sealing humanity off from space. The ongoing presence of this threat lends stakes and meaning to characters’ actions.
With this, Planetes employs its cast to explore varying issues regarding space development, striking everything from colonizing space as the next frontier, to a moral cause in regards to environmentalism and pollution, to political discourse and terrorism sparking from wealth disparities, first-world nations swiftly extracting valuable resources, the impoverished unable to pursue with similar efforts. To complement issues of vast scope however, are also intimate tales of accepting loss, disillusionment, and personal discovery. Inclusions of both serve to fasten a sturdy rope, knitting the series together as it drifts about in a nebulous sea of space, yet simultaneously remains firmly rooted in earthly endeavors.
Coupled with everything is detailed animation which frequently has multiple characters concurrently moving, and carefully heeds to yielding a sense a “weight” and “impact” to subtle movements and contact with levitating entities respectively, just as visceral visuals synchronously communicate space’s majesty. Character designs branch across differing ethnic representations, and retain the ability to both emote expressively when called for as well as be taken seriously during more solemn sequences. Merely contributing is a marvelous score, diversified between buoyant, bouncy tracks, mixes of somber, yet awe-inspiring melodies, and intense, dynamic orchestral compositions. Each breathes life into their corresponding segments, setting tone and providing emotional catharsis.
Planetes is handled with considerable finesse, components synchronizing to a degree mirroring the debris section’s camaraderie itself, elevating its production to another plane entirely. Weaving together stories from across its cast, what culminates is a mature, respectable work, one well-balanced and well-crafted across the board.
So, this is my first review on MAL and this anime will be my first for good reason.
Where do I even begin? I guess let's talk about the show's description here on MAL and some misconceptions you might have.
The description literally describes the show as them just removing space junk. It even has the generic underequipped worker kind of vibe to it from the description. That alone makes you feel it might be generic depending on the execution of it. Still even if it's executed well it won't be that great right? This for many would get them worried it might not shape up at
I was terribly wrong, oh so wrong...
So, it starts out with our female character Tanabe seeming like Kagari from another anime called Little Witch Academia. For those who don't know Kagari she was dense, ran into everything head first, and made numerous mistakes. Tanabe at first was extremely similar as she was making mistakes quickly from the start. Good news for everyone watching... this don't last long at all and she becomes a very strong character in an appropriate amount of time. Not just Tanabe but everyone changes in their own way and I believe the show has very strong character development.
For the equivalent of a space garbage crew these guys get into a lot of action. You imagine that the only action is someone falling into space or something, for example, like the stereotypical astronaut lost at space stuff. This show has some tricks up its sleeves as for one it puts some realistic scenarios on the table and turns their missions into something more important. Collecting that space debris saves lives on its own but they got a lot more things they run into along the way. There are also strong reasons for character motivation as well that keeps the story keeps fresh and exciting.
I'll admit one of the reasons I'm rating this so highly is because how well they played me. It's not exactly super emotional overall but it had its moments and they hit pretty hard. It has really good use of drama and does not feel that overused, making it a hell of a ride. While maybe some stuff felt like a cheap trick to get you to care about something it's realistic enough to give them credit where it's due.
The ending without spoiling anything was pretty good and felt nicely done. So, don't worry about an ending that is half assed as you won't find that here!
To summarize you should honestly give this a shot. This was an easy one to want to binge and if you like dubs this one had an excellent one.
Even if you don't think it's worth a 10, I'm positive you'll find it worth something.
Coming from a former aeronautical engineering major, space was the first thing that drew me to Planetes, though it wasn’t quite the space exploration anime I was initially thinking it would be. Nothing flashy here, just the story of a space debris (garbage if you will) collection team and one man’s desire to own his own spaceship to explore space on his own. However, Planetes had so much more to offer, whether it’s romance, loss, real world comparisons or just great, relatable characters… this show had it all, and it had me eagerly skipping to the next episode and never let me down.
The story of Planetes may not seem like much at the start, just a couple of people who pick up space trash for a living at the large space conglomerate Technora, trying to make ends meet. Out of respect for a friend's recommendation, I continued to watch the show, eagerly awaiting its escalated plotline. In enters Ai Tanabe, the spark that really gets the show going. A naïve but independent girl, Tanabe quickly meshes well together with her space debris clean up team, most importantly being her Sansei Hachimaki Hoshino. Hoshino has a great respect for space, and a desire to ultimately be a captain of his own space vessel. The first 10-15 episodes seem episodic in nature, but it’s for all the right reasons. Instead of immediately blasting you into a catastrophically vexing plot, Planetes does what I wished so many other animes would do… build character development. You learn quite a bit about all the characters, Tanabe, Hachimaki, as well as their co-workers Yuri and Fee. This anime always seemed to keep the right amount of light-heartedness while building up its story.
After about the halfway point through Planetes, things really begin to ramp up in nature. It’s pretty amazing how much the setting meshes with our real-life conflicts in present day Earth. First world countries have dominated space exploration and monopolized its resources, leaving the third world nations by the wayside. Add to it all the existence of a terrorist group who believes that space should never have been explored or colonized, and you’re bound to have some conflict. All the while Hachimaki’s goals and ambitions, which never seemed logically reachable, are now sitting in front of him. The overtones this series set seem so much like what is bound for our own planets future. They even got the science aspect correct, no magical force powering spacecrafts here. Space is real, radiation sickness and cancer is real, expansion in space at the cost of human lives and billions of dollars still feels relatively realistic too. It’s hard to say enough without spoiling the plot, but the progression of this story is fantastic. It almost feels exponential in nature. I couldn’t wait to watch each consecutive episode.
I also feel like romance is a hard thing to properly build in just 26 episodes, but Planetes delivers again. Nothing cheesy here, the relationship between Tanabe and Hachimaki grows like a tenderly cultivated flower throughout its run, and the ending is one for the sappy and emotionally deadened alike. It felt so real and believable, that it even made me tear up a tad (there, I said it). All in all, Planetes is deserving of a 10 in story based on the incredible plot progression and the ability to compare to real life in all aspects. The last 2-3 episodes were some of the best in an anime that I can recall.
Once again, the characters in Planetes are incredibly believable. Whether it’s the aforementioned Hachimaki or Tanabe, or their pals Yuri and Fee, each character has their own struggle or prerogative at some time throughout the show. The writers did a fine job at pacing the introduction of new characters well too, and the entire cast seemed like the perfect size. Sometimes shows can fail just due to the fact they have so many characters that it’s impossible to build them all up equally or have too few good characters that the plot can’t grow effectively.
Hachimaki’s growth as a character is pretty tremendous. He seems stuck in his current job, with a love for space that would rival even the most acclaimed astronauts. Whether he likes it or not, meeting Tanabe was the best thing that ever happened to him and I could argue that it is what made him reach toward his goals in the end. He had some major emotionally stricken moments too, times at which he thought he wasn’t good enough and would fail, times where even the viewers thought the same. Plagued by his own inner monologue, personified by an evil version of himself in a space suit, Hachimaki consistently dealt with his own inner demons and doubts throughout the series. Despite help from his friends, it was Tanabe and his own mental fortitude that kept him going in the end.
Tanabe’s character has been seen before in other shows, but even she shows a growth that touches the heart. When she first arrived at Technora, she was stubborn and naïve, most likely driven by the way she was raised on Earth. Once she was introduced to the life of space, I believe she began to see the world from a whole new light. At one point she’s going on and on about how all you need is love, and it kind of made me laugh at the time… it’s such a simple point of view, much like a child would have. I loved how innocent it sounded, even with the cutthroat world of space floating around her. Her relationship with Hachimaki shapes both of them in a way that I didn’t see coming at the beginning, but is displayed from what is written in the will she made towards the end of the series.
The supporting cast is also fantastically written in. Aside from Yuri and Fee, the rest of the Debris Section, or “Half Section” as they’re constantly looked down upon as, is quite interesting. There is plenty of comic relief and sarcasm to go around. I most enjoyed the character Werner Locksmith, the man responsible for a deep space vessel ultimately en route to distant planets. His lack of compassion for humanity and focus on only his goals make for an interesting morality clash for viewers. Not to mention his catch phrase, “I’ll take full responsibility”. Other characters of note are Hakim Ashmead, another disciple of Hachimaki’s own Sansei and Hachimaki’s own brother and father… who are much like him in their own stubborn way.
The artistry in Planetes is both technically accurate and beautiful to look at. I can only imagine that real engineers had to be somewhat involved through the creation of the show. The visuals in space made it seem vast but empty, and the space colonies were distantly reminiscent of some more popular spots on modern Earth. The characters were crisp and nice to look at, and I’m glad they left fan service at the door with the creation of Tanabe. Her design takes on more of a “girl next door” look. The music was very fitting as well. The very solid opening stuck with me throughout the series and I even downloaded the soundtrack once I finished the series. The English voice actors were fantastic, and Kirk Thornton played Hachimaki magnificently.
Planetes is an extremely enjoyable show, and one that may remain among my favorites for quite a long time. I can’t say enough good things about the story and characters, or the feeling I had while watching the series. It’s certainly one of those rare treats in anime I may have never found unless I was recommended it by a friend. I urge you to go obtain this anime by any means necessary and delve into the world that is space. Thank you for reading!
This was one of the few anime series I have picked up sight-unseen, based just on reviews in an industry magazine. Luckily, I was not disappointed.
At first the story would seem to be about the young woman Ai, who we are introduced to first. While she remains an important character, as the show develops we realize the story is really about the young man Hachimaki, the jaded veteran of the “debris section”. As the series progresses, we learn more about both of them, but especially Hachimaki, and see him fight against his personal issues with life and relationships, and grow as
a person. While these two are the main focus of the show, they are surrounded by a colorful supporting cast that makes even the “filler” episodes enjoyable. Overall, in spite of some great action scenes and an interesting subplot about a controversial space exploration mission, this show remains a very character driven drama, with just enough action and comedy to provide some welcome relief and help things move along.
The near future outer space setting of the series is beautifully done and the mechanical design and artwork is all very realistic and believable, adding to the enjoyment of the show. The premise of the characters being part of an orbital garbage collection department is both original and rather interesting, as it reflects real some concerns about the slow accumulation of debris in near earth orbit as our use of space increases. It is definitely an example of realistic “hard” scifi in that respect.
The only problem I really had with the story was the ending but that was really a personal issue, and had nothing to do with the quality of the series finale.
I found the series a great combination of scifi, drama, comedy, and romance and definitely recommend it for anyone who enjoys a good story and characters.
Not often do you stumble across a slice of life having its setting in space itself, being the other worthy title Space Brothers. The idea of human exodus to space will be sooner or later a reality, and with that, debris in its area as well. Planetes narrates the daily life of Garbage Man collecting space debris to ensure a safe environment for all the different modules and ships in Earth's orbit, in addition to expanding on both politics and existentialism of humans related to its exodus. There were some issues with the anime, the comedic elements being the main culprit for hindering its immersion
in the story.
It is the year of 2075 where space travel has become reality, and with it, the colonization of the moon as well as commercialization of its resources. This is because Earth's main energy resources are spent, being Helium-3 the new energy of the century. The story follows the workings of the Debris Section or "half-section", focussing mainly on the screw of the debris ship "Toy Box". These are composed of some wacky characters, such as Hoshino Hachitora, a passionate yet hotheaded person, Ai Tanabe a naive young girl or Yuri Mihalkov, a mysterious man.
The premise may put some viewers off at first glance, yet it has in fact more interesting themes to offer, such as existentialism in space, or politics related to space development and the likes. In fact, the themes offered allow viewers to ponder about said subjects - how life in space would be, its pros and cons, freedom, illness's related to it, and naturally, space exploration. However, there are some progression issues, as well as pacing ones.
The anime is basically divided into two major arcs, being the first half dedicated to introduction of characters, whereas the second part to expanding on space exploration and some of its cast. The weakest part of the anime is by far the first part, which was plagued with terrible humour that absolutely didn't match when the show was trying to be serious. The anime was constantly switching between these two tones, creating a lacking and unconvincing atmosphere; it was as if the staff was torn between making it a comedy or a dramatic space slice of life. Not to mention that most events could have easily been left out, as these felt unnecessary, and could be considered "fillers" - besides of being rather lackluster at times as well. However, it must be said that whenever it began taking itself seriously, it was much more satisfying.
The second half was easily the best part, where most of the above mentioned issues were left out to focus more character development as well as the politics concerned in space, as well as its hardships. There are little slice of life stories concerning the main characters, existentialist matters concerning how humanity is affected and the likes. However, these events are at times not well tied together, seemingly jumping from one event to another, leaving at times viewers confused. The fact that the story didn't fully expand on space exploration and its respective cast, was a drawback as well. The political aspect presented was rather lackluster, being the complexity between the different factions a hinderance as these were too superficial to be taken seriously. This naturally concerns the relation of underdeveloped countries with the primary ones, as well as the Earth Defense Front. It is not all comedy and drama: there is romance as well, albeit a bit underdeveloped, which was overall rather unconvincing due to the unnatural flow of events.
Concerning the cast of characters in Planetes, it is sufficiently large to convey the story of it, yet there are quite some who felt utterly redundant to the anime, as these were merely there for comedic relief. Most of the cast underwent some fleshing out as well as character development, especially concerning the ones related to the screw of Toy Box. Examples such as the Hachitora's teacher, his friends or the future encounters with the likes of Kasim certainly made the anime shine. It could be said that at times the character's behaviour didn't fully match with their personality, yet this a small issue. The fact that there was racial diversity in it certainly enhanced the viewing experience.
Hoshino Hachitora is a passionate, hot-headed person whose objective is to buy a space ship, yet as viewers will come to realize, a major goals enlightens him. He may seem as an unlikable character at first, yet with the hardships that he endures alongside his character development certainly made him an interesting character. Then there is Yuri, who seems to be a passive, yet mysterious man, whose motives for working with the Debris Section gets uncovered as story progresses with a satisfying explanation on his actions.
There is however a major gripe to the remainder of the main cast: there is Ai Tanabe who is a naive and positive young girl, and stubborn at that. Although she certainly underwent some character development, her motives and explanations on her character itself were not explored, leaving her as a dubious character. Other issue lay with Fee Charmicheal as well; she is an important crew member, yet she is hardly explored at all, which I personally found a drawback, as she seemed quite the interesting character. Nevertheless the hardships she faced, such as smoking issues, were certainly entertaining, easily making any viewers feel sorry for her.
~Animation and sound~
The art style of Planetes was a fantastic sight to behold, very detailed and vast, easily conveying the complicated structures of the machinery or the feeling of what space would possibly feel like. The different atmospheres it was trying to portray was easily the biggest bonus to the anime. Character design where diverse and easily distinguishable from ach other, albeit being times when these were slightly distortioned when in the background. As for the animation itself, it was for both characters and the different machinery used.
As for the music score of the anime, this was rather lackluster at a personal level: most compositions didn't match with the atmosphere the anime was trying to portray (to the exception of some comedy scenes), albeit fulfilling its purpose to a certain extent. The voice actors performed their roles well, with persons such as Wakamoto Norio on the helm. The openings and endings had an interesting animation, yet the music employed wasn't to my liking.
Planetes was overall quite an enjoyable anime, yet the comedic elements introduced were very immersion breaking, as well as some of its cast of characters. However, after a while the anime becomes much more interesting, presenting a variety of themes, as well as leaving viewers pondering about these. The concept itself was fascinating, yet it wasn't fully explored.
Having read the manga beforehand, I can say I am a bit disappointed in the anime adaptation, as it wasn't nearly as good as the manga, albeit intriguing. The main problem lay that it focused too much on the comedy, as well as presenting both politics and existentialism to certain degree. The manga's main focus was Existentialism of mankind in space, which was much better done as well having better character development and its fleshing out of the cast, as well as more natural story progression.
So do I recommend Planetes? I certainly do, as it is intriguing, yet when audiences are torn between the manga or anime, I would recommend reading the manga.
If you are not over 16, do not watch this anime. You will not get the plethora of social, political, psychological, and moral motifs. Plus, it is a bit too heavy hearted.
My honest opinion, if I compared Planetes to Evangelion, I would say that Planetes had a better quality to it. I am a optimist, and you pessimists and mecha lovers would probably prefer Planetes. However, Eva at points shuffled the philosophy around, and the ideas were far more open-ended and spread out. Planetes had much more centralized points to cover, and the crew did wonderfully to amalgamate these points into a driven story.
Like Eva, Planetes had its pessimistic interlude towards the end, however, it does not end with pessimism. The characters showed the ability to break through psychologically and connect. The characters will take on the challenges. I'd say that the ending to planetes was very focused and lucid.
Story: very driven. Various themes and motifs construct the background to the plot. With a visible climax and a conclusive ending, planetes was a very complete work.
Art: perhaps the most underachieving part of the anime. The background and character images could be developed better. However, they did very well in portraying space travel, not as a fancy action. Very realistic artwork for a very realistic anime.
Sound: The sound dictated the mood. Very appropriate for the various settings. However, various parts were done over the top. You can't hear explosions in space...
Enjoyment: Watch it on a break, at night. Try to contemplate and think while watching the anime for maximum understanding and enjoyment.
Character: Tightly knit background cast with two strong developing protagonists. Of course, the work did very well to portray the strengths and flaws of each character. However, I believe Fee and some other characters could be more developed. At times, the background characters appeared extremely static, and the crew could have changed the background. (In the real world, everybody is changing, should have a relativistic background).
If I told you "Planetes" is a sci fi anime, what are the things that immediately comes into your mind? Almost certainly, you'd think of massive space battles involving thousands of ships, futurisic worlds full of wonderous technology, or perhaps even outlandish alien races with strange cultures and customs. Well, "Planetes", an anime of this genre with more than its share of far fetched imagination, glory and grandeur, is about... none of those things. Instead it chooses to focus on the less far fetched, less glorious, less grand matters - "Planetes" is about space debris collectors... in other words garbagemen in space. Honestly, I kid
you not! This anime IS about garbagemen in space.
Why the hell would I want to watch a show about space garbagemen, I hear you ask. Well, that's part of the beauty of the show - taking a subject as mundane as this and making it into one of the best anime out there. What's more, it does it without having flashy animation, or even great music. It's an anime doesn't rely on its exterior to catch and keep the viewers' attention. With its multiple layers of depth and abundance of talking points, "Planetes" is a reviewer's dream - only thing is, there's actually TOO much to talk about, so it's hard to keep the length of the review down if you want to do the show justice.
"Planetes" is a series of two unequal halves (in more than one sense of the word). In fact, the two halves are so different that I've decided to split the remainder of the review into two corresponding parts.
"All men dream: but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds wake in the day to find that it was vanity..."
- extract of a T.E. Lawrence quote
We all have dreams. And for most of us, that's all they are - dreams. Although films/books/anime etc are full of stories of people who strive for and achieve their lofty, unlikely dreams, the reality is that as we grow older, most of us end up being forced to either abandon our dreams, or to compromise and scale them down to something more realistic.
The first half of "Planetes" may be the greater half in length, but it does not deal with greatness (at least not in the normal sense) - instead it deals with the "losers", the "insignificant" people, as well as the unsung heroes of society. These are represented primarily by the workers of the space debris collecting section of Technora (and the people they come across on the job), condescendingly nicknamed the "Half Section". In this show, space debris collection is a thankless task, and the people working in this section are often looked down upon by the rest of the company employees despite the invaluable, indespensable role they play in space development.
Like the characters it deals with, the key word that describes"Planetes" is "humble". Week in week out the show mostly follows an episodic format, telling mundane, slice of life stories. It's the utterly unremarkable things you might expect from a story about space janitors... but there's something compelling about the drab stories that it tells and the ordinary characters that the stories centre around. The theme of broken dreams and betrayed expectations is omnipresent in the unfortunate characters they feature: unemployed bums, disillusioned characters who turn to a life of petty crimes, and of course those that end up in the dreary, unglamourous role of a space janitor.
And yet, amidst all the doom and gloom, things are not at all bleak. Despite all the predicaments the characters are in, there's always a sense of optimism and hope. At the end of the day, life doesn't seem so bad, and every cloud has a silver lining. And sometimes, the stories are not only hopeful, but also inspirational. These kind of stories would often feature characters from disadvantaged backgrounds who tries hard and refuse to give up what seem to be hopeless dreams; or characters who show immense pride in their jobs, however menial they may be. These may seem like the little people with their "insignificant" contributions, but "Planetes" show them to be the true giants of society.
At a higher level, "Planetes" goes beyond the personal dreams of the characters and deals with grey areas in politics and moral dilemmas. In the anime, the alliance forged between the first world countries and advertised as a force for good is really only looking out for themselves. And questions such as whether the funding necessary to advance space development (for the benefit of a few first world countries) is justified when there are so many people from third world countries still starving back on Earth is also serious food for thought. It isn't afraid to show that in order to make an omelette, you have to break some eggs... but at the same time it tries to bring that fact to the attention of the ones who are eating the omelette in blissful ignorance of the process.
Another great strength of "Planetes" is in its worth as a sci-fi (damn, is there anything this show doesn't do well?). Unlike most science fiction, where you get some far fetched fiction backed up by some flimsy science, "Planetes" puts more emphasis on the science than the fiction. It constructs a futuristic vision that's so detailed and so well grounded in our current world that it seems inevitable that it will become non-fiction in time. The amount of thought that's gone into this aspect of the show is apparent in its incredible attention to details: the realistic movements under zero gravity; the absolute silence when in space; the countless hazzards of being an astronaut are just some examples of the things they thought about. It really says a lot that all my friends who studied Physics are impressed by the science contained in "Planetes", and that every time I read a "New Scientist" article on the growing problems of space debris I think of this anime.
The down to earth feel of "Planetes" isn't limited to its science - it's something that's embedded into its style. The comedy is often slapstick, but not to the extent of typical over the top silliness of most anime comedy, and certainly not enough to prevent the very realistic feel of what's underneath from shining through. The art and the animation is also plain looking, but unique at the same time. It opts for a very realistic style of character design, and it's one that suits the show very well. It has to be said though, that the opening and ending theme feels a bit too plain with its generic, happy-go-lucky J-pop songs. Admittedly, the opening song really grew on me, as it's at least able to generate a kind of soaring, inspirational feel which became particularly suitable as the show goes on, but the same cannot be said for the ending theme, which only felt more and more out of place.
Which leads me to the source of almost all the weaknesses of the show - its lack of elegance. A more subtle touch would have gone a long way towards improving this series. Some of the drama is overdone and clumsy, there are times where it tries to come up with some poignant lines only to fall flat on its face. Also, the construction of moral dilemmas are occasionally heavy handed and dictated more by emotion than common sense.
But despite all of this, "Planetes" has this uncanny ability to find that emotional sweet spot time and time again. Even when I'm laughing at the silly blunders of the characters, I'm moved by its stories about people who are down on their luck, about people trying to begin afresh, and about unlikely heroes and their under-appreciated, noble deeds. And through these stories, I feel I've gotten to know the misfits of "Planetes", and accept them for all their flaws and quirks: the quiet, melancholy Yuri; the guy from the third world country trying to get his space suit approved; and of course, Tanabe Ai, whose attitude emboddies nearly everything that the anime is trying to show to be the good side of humanity (albeit in an often annoying and naive way). Some of the characters only get a short amount of screen time, yet "Planetes" somehow manages to breathe life into nearly all of them, and make you feel as though you've spent time with them as part of the "Half Section", and that's one of its greatest strengths.
Phenomenal character development, realistic and detailed sci-fi, strong political/moral themes running throughout... but what's incredible about "Planetes" is that all these things covered by its first part is only half the overall journey. The full extent of the show's vast ambitions are only revealed during the second part.
[Warning: those who have not seen the entire show should probably stop reading at this point. Though I don't describe anything specific in Part II of the review, I do go through the overall change in direction of the show, and considering the nature of the change, many will want to experience it for themselves first for maximum effect.]
"...But the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act their dream with open eyes, to make it possible."
- remaining extract from the T.E. Lawrence quote.
The first half of "Planetes" may be a great show in its own right, but its the second half that raises it to stupendous heights. It's here that you'll full appreciate the values added by its earlier episodes. Their purpose goes well beyond simple character development (as brilliant as they did it), they're also there to condition your expectations for the series and to create a spectacular contrast against what's to come. The result is a shockingly destructive second half, as the show takes everything you thought you knew about it, and ruthlessly rips it up in front of your very eyes.
Did I say "Planetes" was humble? Mundane? Episodic? Well, not any more. All of a sudden, an epic story starts to emerge from beneath the once plain surface, and the show changes almost beyond recognition. While the first half of "Planetes" deals with everyday life and broken dreams, the second half of "Planetes" deals with greatness, and with the pursuit of grand dreams, as symbolised by what originally seemed like innocuous animation of a running Hachimaki in the opening credits.
These kind of stories about people aspiring to great heights are often quite inspirational - everyone loves the tale of someone overcoming adversity to achieve their dreams right? And "Planetes" also tells you that story with its usual dose of awe-inspiring greatness... but there's a huge twist. While acknowledging all the blood, sweat and tears it takes to achieve ambitious dreams, the real focus here is on the issues you don't often - perhaps don't want to - think about. How far are you prepared to go to for your dreams? How much of the things you hold dear - moral principles, friendship and love - are you willing to sacrifice?
The second part of "Planetes" explores these questions like few others have done: it looks at the unwanted truths and the hidden costs - not just to themselves but to others - of the actions taken by those who act their dreams with open eyes. And in doing so it goes on to explore the darker, ugly, selfish side of humanity. It'll make you question whether all the good values of humanity that the first half of "Planetes" showed you is just a cruel joke, a naive dream that has no basis in reality.
While before, the stories would often have an almost fairy tale quality to them, now the characters find themselves rudely awaken by the unfair realities of life. They are forced to go through circumstances that exposes their darkest thoughts, shakes their firmest principles, and challenges their strongest beliefs down to the very core. Hachimaki's struggles against his own demons may be the primary focus of the show, but it's Tanabe, the ever incessant preacher of love and peace, who is the one that faces the toughest, harshest of tests. She may be excessively annoying early on, but that only serves to heighten the impact of her moment of truth.
All these things adds up and accumulate to a collossal, tempestuous climax with the combined weight of all the previous episodes thrown behind it (and ruined only by what is at this point, a terribly inappropriate ending theme). It is here that you realise that no episodes were wasted - everything is part of a carefully laid out plan leading up to that moment, and it's simply one of the greatest moments in anime as far as I'm concerned. As the two opposing forces of "Planetes" collides violently, you can't help but wonder: which is the "true" face of "Planetes"? If you haven't done so already, you owe it to yourself to find out.
Planetes best falls into the genre of hard sci-fi; it deals with events and technologies of the future, yet does not introduce impossible/ridiculous technologies. Although 2075 may seem a bit early, the most absurd aspect of the future actually introduced by Planetes seems to be a fully functioning moon colony and the process of sustainable cold fusion. Even minor aspects of space life such as the loss of movement control in microgravity or the effects of living at 1/6gs on the moon is covered in the anime.
Yet the collection of debris is really just a tool to introduce greater concepts and develop characters.
One of the great questions posed by the Planetes asks is "why do we need to develop space at all?" Some characters will give simple, optimistic answers, ranging from the collection of Helium-3 as an energy source to simply because it's there. Planetes manages to engage the viewer in not only answering the question as it applies to their fictional world but as it applies to our own, war-torn society.
However, civil wars still rage through 3rd world countries and the wealthy nations seem to do little to alleviate their suffering. A fictional terrorist group called the Space Defense Front seems hell bent to refocus attention on these poor, suffering nations. Unlike many antagonists in anime, the terrorists are not presented as a clearly evil group. Rather, the viewer must decide for himself whether or not their means justify their ultimate goal to end the suffering of underdeveloped nations.
The artwork is also very well done. There's no heavy stylization on people, yet their faces remain expressive and small details such as facial injuries are not ignored. The real pull of the art is in the depiction of various spacecraft, the moon colony, earth as viewed from space, the spacesuits, etc., where no detail is spared in their outstanding (and realistic) depiction.
As a final note, I'd like to mention that this anime is very "real". Not just the technology, but the way characters act, their ambitions, their actions, their relations. Although there are moments where actions seem to be irrational, there is always some amount of justification given. Never did I personally feel that "something like this could never happen" or "there's no way a person could/would do that in real life".