Posted by Lenlo on 11 October 2018 with categories: Planetes, Throwback Thursday

Hello and welcome to the start of a new series I am calling Throwback Thursday. Basically, each season or so I will be selecting an older anime. One that might have passed under people’s radar, and blogging it as I would any normal seasonal series. The hope is to give some older anime the recognition they deserve. The flagship anime for this series is, as you can see, Planetes! Lets jump in!

So, not surprising at all really, I enjoyed this first episode of Planetes more than almost anything from the current season. Everything about it is… different. Being made in 2003, I can hardly call Planetes “old”. But there is a clear difference between it and modern anime. There are no huge moe eyes, the backgrounds are detailed and everything is properly proportioned. Planetes is exactly what Megalo Box was trying to emulate and bring back in the previous season. Being made by Sunrise, who are doing DOUBLE DECKER this season and worked on Cowboy Bebop: Knockin on Heavens Door right before this, it’s no surprise it looks so good. Really, there are a lot of things I like about Planete’s art and animation that I will get into specifics past the spoiler tag for. Suffice to say, I missed this kind of anime and am glad I started this segment.

Now, as far as story goes, I like how low key it all starts as. Debris in space making travel difficult, so lets have space-garbage men. A young person enamored with space, joins up and quickly gets disillusioned. I like it. Not only is space debris a real growing problem right now, but the de-mystification of being an astronaut and the idealism of our lead gives Planetes a lot to work with. The cast is also pretty fun, though we really only spend much time with 2 of them. Our lead and the bored spaceman Hachimaki. As the only two to really get fleshed out this episode, I suppose it makes sense they are the only ones I really liked. I worry a bit about the portrayal of some of the side characters in their office. But I will give Planetes the benefit of the doubt for a few episodes.

What I really liked about the series though was no doubt the actual space travel and all the work that went into it. Take for instance the sound design. It’s all very quiet, no ambient noise. Just the chatter of our characters through mics and the hiss of compressed air as they move through space. With that backdrop of the planet and the void of space, Planetes manages to make it all seem very… picturesque. It’s something I have always loved about space sci-fi in general. The quiet alone-ness of space. When pulled of well, like it is here, its simply beautiful to me. And it is this picturesqueness that I think modern anime has lost. There is a very interesting video on the subject of digital animation vs cell animation, though it uses Berserk as the central example for this. Personally, I recommend you check it out here.

There are two aspects of the series that concerns me, the first being it’s Orwellian world. It’s a good premise for the series, it gives us a diverse cast and sets Planetes up for future conflict. I worry however how it will be portrayed. So far there seems to be a nice grey area. The Organization got peace in the country for a war they themselves started, and are now destroying that plaque for a military satellite. We watch our leads idealism flare up and die in the same episode, while laying the groundwork for a corrupt organization answering to this Orwellian power. As someone completely fresh to this series, never having heard of it before this, I am both intrigued and skeptical. I say skeptical because this could very easily turn into a generic evil corporation take over the world lala storyline. We shall see though.

The other are the side characters. I mentioned them earlier, but we got introduced to a rather large cast in one go, even if only 3 of them got any real screen time. It’s a large cast to have to get to know, from our leads 3 friends to the 7 members of the Debris Department, to even the apparent 2 Corporate Toadies we have yet to get the name of. I would assume Planetes is going to take the route of giving each of them their own episode of focus. Establish/Evolve them initially that way and then make use of them all together. I am just not sure what kind of development they can give some of them, since right now they just have single-scene quirks. It is the first episode though, so no doubt I am just being harsh, but it’s because I love it so.

So, where can Planetes go from here? The simplest answer is that, in the short term, we are going to clean up various pieces of interstellar trash. Might have to deal with a meteor or two, some emergency missions to save a space flight, who knows. Long term is the real question here. My personal suspicion is this. They are going to find some classified information in the space debris and it’s going to set off a chain reaction of events. Sure, Planetes could just be a mellow garbage sim, and I would probably still enjoy it. But 26 episodes seems a bit long for that and I refuse to believe Sunrise doesn’t have some kind of plan for such a long run time. I just need to figure out what it is.

So closing out, what did I think. I loved it. I had some trouble finding it, so ended up watching it in both subbed and dubbed to get the pictures. And you know what? The dub was actually pretty good, surprisingly. The technology on display, the characters, the actual art, all of it just… clicked and became greater for it. I enjoyed watching Planetes more than I did almost anything else opening up this season. I can’t wait for the next episode, so much so that I am going to watch it right now and start prepping next week’s post. If your interested, feel free to follow along week to week. Or you can just binge it and tell me in the comments how wrong I end up being with some these predictions. Either way, see you next week!

16 Responses

  1. From what I remember the villainous group becomes more of a focus sometime in the second half. I remember throughout the show enjoying the lead pair of characters but I wanted the bigger story to kick in faster by some point.
    I remember an episode with a really smug company guy character and one episode that had something to do with an attempted suicide.
    I remember the space scenes being really immersive.
    I haven’t seen this show since it came out.
    I am too old now to care whether I watch something in English or Japanese. I remember watching the whole series dubbed back then.

  2. Avatar Amagi says:

    Two facts some might find interesting: the original (and debut) manga of this was made by the mangaka of the viking epic Vinland Saga, which is getting an anime adaption soon. The other thing is that the manga was kinda short (I think it was 4 volumes), so the anime has a lot of original stuff but most people consider it as one of the rare cases in which the original subplots actually improved the series.

    I hope you will enjoy it. I think I would like this series more nowadays since I can rather deal with episocals now. Back then I didn’t like the two main characters that much and I was a bit annoyed of a non-episodical main plot that wasn’t really there for most of the part IIRC, but then again the best episodes this had had were the episodical ones and all of them were about side characters.

    • Avatar Lenlo says:

      Ooo it was made by Makoto Yukimura?! I love Vinland Saga! Its in by top 3, I own all the volumes! It, Berserk and Vagabond are probably my 3 favorite manga of all time so hearing this was originally penned by him makes me even more excited.

  3. Avatar Jimmy timmy says:

    Wow. You are gonna love this series. It’s a masterpiece. Unbelievably realistic in every way.

  4. Avatar Firechick says:

    Are you open to suggestions of old anime for Throwback Thursdays?

    • Avatar Lenlo says:

      Always! Any that you give me will go into a list and I will either A) Make a poll on the final episode post for a show for people to vote on OR
      B) Pick one out of a hat.

      You got one you want covered, let me know! I dont care how long it is!

      • Avatar Lenlo says:

        I should mention by the way, you can either post them here in the comments or PM them to me! Either way, they will go on the list!

        • Avatar Firechick says:

          Cool! I have quite a few that I personally like that I feel don’t get much appreciation. Here’s a short list just to start off.

          Shounen Onmyouji
          Card Captor Sakura (Original)
          Jewelpet Twinkle
          Magic Knight Rayearth
          Nabari no Ou
          Nurse Angel Ririka SOS
          Otaku no Video
          Petite Princess Yucie

  5. Avatar Tayo Jones says:

    Since you are taking requests for old shows, I love to see you review Princess Tutu, Paranoia Agent, Serial Experiment Lain and Azumangah Daioh.

  6. Avatar Pig says:

    I’m really glad you guys are looking at older shows! I’m rather weary with most of the anime that are currrently on offer and so I have begun watching some relatively older shows as well. Planets has been on my backlog for ages. Looking forward to more posts!

    • Avatar Lenlo says:

      Feel free to watch along with me! Im taking it at the leisurely pace of seasonal anime, with 1 episode a week.

      And I am glad you like! I wasn’t expecting so many people to be interested.

  7. Avatar Pejogo says:

    I also loved this show and perhaps will view it again. Throwback Thursday is a great idea. I recommend Princess Tutu, Mononoke, and Paranoia Agent.

    • Avatar Lenlo says:

      Oh I loved Mononoke. A great classic that one. Gottem and putem on the list!

      Since we arn’t beholden to the weekly anime schedule, depending on feedback, I might up it to 2 episodes a week in one post instead of just one. If only so we can get to more classic people enjoy and finish each show twice as fast.

      Ill be asking people their opinion on the pace in the next post!

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