Posted by Lenlo on 7 December 2018 with categories: Planetes, Throwback Thursday

Hello and welcome to perhaps the most intense week of Planetes yet. This time our Temp Worker gets some history and Hachimaki develops space PTSD. Let’s dive in!

Off the bat, I want to apologize again for this being late. Work and doing 4 shows at once has slowed me down a bit. That said, for these episodes, I thought one was fantastic and the other serviceable. It should be rather obvious which is which. When Planetes focuses on its bigger themes, of borders and space, it’s fantastic. But this week the focus on a side character with barely 2 lines an episode, while not bad, simply wasn’t up to snuff. I will get into more detail in just a moment, but the fact is, it was simply too little to late for her character. We are more than half-way in now, we have a strong and fleshed out cast. Why are we introducing the backstory of a character who has done basically nothing until now? It boggles the mind.

Now lets get into episode 15, In Her Case… . The big issue with this episode to me is, the relationship feels forced. Perhaps its just the VA, as I am listening to English dubs most of the time. But there simply isn’t any romantic chemistry between the two. Sure, they play off of each other well outside of that. The cynical Hachimaki and Idealizing Tanabe make for great comedy and other such scenes. Romantically however, it just feels stilted. The other central figure of the episode was Edle, the temp worker. We git glimpses of her personality earlier, such as the family episode last week, but like I said above it’s to little to late. Had Planetes let her show more of this earlier, even in small interactions, it would have been better. It’s a similar problem to Yuri really. A great story, but no buildup to really elevate it.

As far as her story itself goes, like I said, I thought it was good. I wasn’t expecting Planetes to try and tackle abusive relationships and prostitution. It always seemed to have its sights set on loftier topics, like national borders, world policy and economics. But in a way this still fits with all that, as Edle tries to setup a new life in space. That is opens with her working in the Clinic, explaining how many jobs she works because Temp-workers don’t get many benefits, was great. It really worked out her serious attitude, as for her, being in space isn’t a game. She isn’t a middle-management soon to be retiree, or an astronaut. Edle is just trying to survive. The side plot with the drug-bust however seemed to exist solely to get Hakim and Claire together. Could have done without it, but we will see where it goes.

No, the real meat of this week was episode 16, Ignition. Planetes really built this one up, addressing it from multiple angles and multiple characters before hitting Hachimaki with it. Personally, it was one of the best episodes yet. The call-backs to all of Hachimnaki’s previous experiences with life and death in space really worked here, and reminded us of how far we had come. I am also glad the fear was addressed, because getting lost in space is probably one of the most terrifying things I can think of. That Planetes extrapolated that out into a form of space PTSD, and how it affects an astronauts job? Brilliant, in my opinion. I also enjoyed the cracks from Tanabe and Hachimaki’s forced relationship, with her saying all the wrong things. It really highlights why they most likely won’t work out.

As far as the callbacks go, like I said, I was surprised. They were all strong episodes individually, some of my favorites. I loved what Planetes was doing with them. But to bring all this disconnected stories together, and build them up? For this one single episode? It really makes me look back on them fondly. Planetes also really nailed the internal conflict for Hachimaki. “Its not my fault. Its just the sickness. If it wasnt for that, I would have done it”. This feeling is so real. Creating an excuse, giving in to some issue, and suddenly failing to reach your dreams isn’t your fault. Its out of your hands. And Planetes addresses this not by invalidating Hachi’s fears or anything, but by giving him something bigger. By reinvigorating his dream, showing him there is still so much more of space to explore. Just fantastic.

Another scene I thought stood out was Hachimaki on the moon, and how it paralleled the earlier astronaut. It was a really clever way of integrating their two stories, even if we already had the flashback of it. But the best part was that Fee herself brought it up and called him out on it. Often with these things in anime, characters will overlook it or fail to connect with past events. As if each episode existed in a vacuum. Planetes may have its share of less than stellar episodes, thats not in doubt. But the mileage it gets out of it’s best episodes is just amazing.

Lastly, I have mentioned it before but after episode 16, it bears mention again. I love Planetes use of technology and science. From the Van Allen Radiation belts, explaining how he survived, to the Nuclear Fission rocket. I have no idea myself if these would work, I specialize in Artificial Intelligence, but they sure do sound smart. And they used them accurately enough that a brief scouring of Wikipedia didn’t show any glaring holes. But the reverence with which Planetes portrays and uses these continues to wow me. That shot of the big rocket, which they have been talking up for the past few episodes. Showing all of the twisted steel and technology. The fact that such a scientific marvel is what breaks Hachimaki out of his head. It was easily one of the best segments this week, and I don’t see how Planetes will top it in the future.

So all in all, another hit and another miss. It’s time for the big story. With the preparation of the Space Defense Force as a terrorist group and the buildup of this rocket though, I think it obvious where the story is going. With Gigalt’s illness, Hakim’s position in the military and Claire’s sympathies to the 3rd world countries, things are going to start coming to a head soon. I suspect our leading pair will have to save the rocket from some terrorist plot, while Hakim either helps or hinders thinking them involved in it. Claire will get conflicted in some way, and all will be well the ends well. It’s not a bad plot, and Planetes definitely has the chops to pull it off. It just has to start sooner rather than later, at this point.

But what did you think? Was Hachi’s PTSD overblown, or was his recovery to fantastic? I think it could have been held for another episode, but at the same time, the consistent theming of each episode really helps them. Let me know below, and see you next week!

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