To be honest, I didn't pay too much attention to Astra Lost in Space and it was only till the English dub was confirmed that I decided to give it a chance, as some of my favorite voice actors would be participating in it. As I mentioned in my previous reviews, voice actors are how I mostly guide myself though anime. So, was the series good? Well, let's hop on and find out!
Warning! Spoiler alert!
Astra Lost in Space happens in a world where space travel has become possible, allowing humanity to expand across space and colonize foreign planets. A camping trip for high school students goes wrong and the teenagers find themselves lost in the depths of space, with only an old spacecraft as their only hope to return home. Luckily, Kanata Hoshijima steps up to become the team's captain and lead his friends home, safe and sound.
While the "lost in space" has been done over and over again in modern media, it can be enjoyed if the story does something creative and original with it. That original flavor comes in the form of the constant mysteries the team finds and attempts to decipher in their trip back home. Why are they so far away from home? Who brought them there? Why were they brought together? All these questions haunt the protagonists and cause them as much conflict as their journey across space. With all these mysteries getting constantly introduced, I was worried that the story wouldn't find a way to properly answer them, but I'm glad the show was able to bring them all to a close in a satisfying manner.
I admit I found the show a bit too saccharine at times, both in terms of bonding between the characters and the attempts to bring humor to otherwise serious and dramatic moments. Also, I'm a bit annoyed the show continuously finds way to make Kanata the butt monkey, when there comes a point where the comedy thrown at Kanata's expense feels mean-spirited rather than funny.
The romance aspect didn't really impress me. We see characters hooking up here and there, but most of their bonding happens briefly or off-screen, and I had no reason to get emotionally invested in the romantic subplots the show had to offer. They're not terrible, but they aren't great either.
These minor details aside, the narrative progression of Astra Lost in Space is nothing short of extraordinary. There's a beginning, a middle and an end and that end delivers a lot of payoff. (8/10)
Astra Lost in Space delivers some of the best character writing I've seen on an anime in recent years. The show is really good at making viewers care about the characters and their struggles. The character arcs in this show are expertly handled, you can see the characters grow, evolve and ultimately become better people. The best character arc of the show belongs to Charce, especially after viewers learn his tragic origins. Even when the truth of his past stands revealed, the show does a good job at making viewers care for him and feel for him. Still, the show often falls to the anime clichés of the power of friendship and relentless determination, with several characters, chief among them Kanata, delivering speeches about the importance of standing by your principles and having faith in your fellow man in the harshest of times. Those themes aren't bad, they can resonate with a lot of people, which is why they are used so often in anime, but I was expecting the show to a bit more mature about them. Sometimes, this makes the show feel like a Saturday morning cartoon, rather than a serious and dramatic sci-fi anime. Even so, it's clear that the characters ultimately change. The characters we see in the beginning are not the same characters we see at the end, and that deserves no shortage of praise. (8/10)
The visual quality of this show was amazing. This show features some of the best atmospheric shots, character designs and backgrounds I've seen in the whole year. Everything looks clean and pristine, the character movements look fluid and seamless and the animation transitions without any notable problems. Overall, there isn't much for me to pick apart here. (9/10)
Astra Lost in Space has some of the best opening and closing songs of the year. The soundtrack was epic, worthy of a space exploration anime. It also features an impressive cast of voice actors who are given a fine script to work with. Josh Grelle is one of my favorite actors; he does a fine job in the lead role and his chemistry with his co-star was incredible, especially with Megan Shipman. I also enjoyed the performance of Jason Liebrecht, who beautifully captures the elegant and tragic sides of Charce. Astra Lost in Space really benefitted from a talented cast of actors and a strong and emotional script. (9/10)
In closing here, Astra Lost in Space is a fine show. It has an interesting story, likeable characters and amazing production values. Sure, it can be a bit childish and saccharine at times, but on the whole, the series does a great job in getting viewers to care about the story and characters. Astra Lost in Space is one of the finest anime I've ever watched and a serious contender for anime of the year. I really hope we see more shows like this in future. (8/10)