Posted by Lenlo on 4 January 2019 with categories: Planetes, Throwback Thursday

Welcome to the penultimate week of Planetes, and the first Throwback Thursday in awhile to actually release on a Thursday! This week Planetes proves me wrong, executes a fantastic climax and makes me excited for the final week. Lets jump in!

First and foremost, credit to Tayo Jones in our comments section for calling me out on it, I was impatient and wrong. Planetes knocked it out of the park this week, regardless what I expected. I think that last week, with all the rigors of the holidays and what have you, I was simply impatient and not in a good place to enjoy Planetes. This week however, Planetes took everything it had built up for Hachimaki and Tanabe’s characters, their romance include, and just smashed it. Threw it on the ground, shattered it into a million pieces and said “And now, we put them back together, but better”. And I loved it. Hachi has been learning a lot about himself in recent episodes, so for Planetes to do the same for Tanabe? A rather static character up until now for the most part. Beautiful. But, let’s get into specifics.

First up we have episode 23, Debris Cluster. Here Planetes begins its terrorist plot in ernest, finally kicking it off. I have to say, the terrorist plot was much more involved than I was expecting. I was prepared for some basic bomb threat or hostage situation on the Von Braun. Planetes took it a step further though in actually moving to crash the Von Braun into the Sea of Tranquility. If nothing else, the SDF has a sense of scale. What I liked the most about it all though was the planning. How Dolph was involved because of his position. How his pre-established care for his employees was used against him as a character flaw and that the SDF actually had plans beyond killing hundreds of thousands of people. Simply put, I was pleasantly surprised that all of these different facets were brought together so cleanly.

One part I wasn’t expecting, or were perhaps hoping wouldn’t be true, was Claire’s betrayal. It has been hinted at via her attitude and relationship with Hakim multiple times. However, I was hoping that perhaps the central colored female character wouldn’t end up a terrorist. On the other hand though, he fall from grace at the top of Technora makes for a good story. And she also allows for Tanabe’s whole ending segment in episode 24. So all things considered, her switch to terrorism serves Planetes story well and it’s just my American social woes applying itself to the story. Ignoring its own context, when and where it was created, and all that. Speaking of episode 24 though, let’s get into that.

While episode 23 was the action climax, episode 24 Love was the emotional climax. Lot’s to get into here, so lets start from the beginning. Planetes use of the terrorists surprised me. I didn’t think a deal would actually be reached, that they would actually call it off. I figured either Fee and a bunch of ships would save it or it would just crash into the Moon. That Planetes instead opted to have the leads be inconsequential to the whole thing, and its actually the governing bodies the solved it was totally unexpected. It makes the terrorists less cold-hearted, un-relatable villains and more reasonable idealists. Still terrorists, but they don’t do it without an end goal in mind. It also reflects well on Planetes up-till-now cynical representation of the Governments. It makes everyone involved seem… less cartoonish.

However when we move away from the larger groups and look at individuals, it starts to get messier. Not in a quality way, Planetes did good with the characters, but in a how they handled the situation way. For instance we have Hakim and Hachimaki once again duking it out, spiting their philosophies. What makes the whole thing interesting though is, based on their faces and the fight, I have no idea who Planetes sides with. Neither one was portrayed as “good” and both made valid and invalid points. It’s one of those times that it really comes down to the viewer on who they agree with. And since the Government’s won by preventing the crash and the terrorists won by getting their deal, neither is shown to be inferior. Really makes one think, doesn’t it? Not nearly as much as Tanabe’s breakdown later on though.

Tanabe’s slow breakdown on the moon was easily my favorite part of this week’s episodes. Personally, I find the idea of being stranded in space terrifying, and we saw how Hachi dealt with it earlier. Now Tanabe is going through the same thing and her ideals are being put to the test. First off, I love how neither knows what happened to the Von Braun. Neither is aware that the city is saved so Tanabe avoids it and Claire feels guilty for it. It forces them to confront what happened, with no assurance of rescue. The second bit I liked was that, like I said earlier, Claire is here at all. If Tanabe were alone, it wouldn’t be near as impactful to her character. She has built this whole persona of love and care, but now when push comes to shove, can she hold onto it.

It’s that point which was easily my favorite. The breakdown of her ideals, which I and others have called naive multiple times up to this point, finally failing. They have no backbone, they are just pretty words that had never been put to the test. Everyone else recognized this but generally didn’t call her on it. Now however, she has no choice but to decide what is more important. Her survival or her ideals, and from the looks of things, she chose survival. Now, I fully expect Planetes to have them wind up saved somehow next week. That’s just what anime does. If we actually cut to them being found dead or something I will be genuinely shocked. But the cliffhanger that Planetes did end on, with 0 oxygen? Really well done, as it still leaves Tanabe’s fate in the air while making it clear how dangerous the situation is.

The last thing I liked about the segment on the moon was Tanabe realizing her romance was a joke. I have said before how I find the romance to be one of Planetes more tiresome aspects, and it looks like Planetes knew this. The romance was not in fact without purpose, so shame on me for losing faith I suppose. Still, the realization hitting Tanabe like a truck, that Hachi didn’t actually love her? And that contributing to the downfall of her ideals and persona? It’s like a well executed one-two punch, nailing both plot points in the same combo. Its scrumptious, really. The fact that Claire, Hachi’s other ex-girlfriend is there as well, really helps nail it home to. They fell in love for the wrong reasons and both learned that Hachi only has one love in mind. Space.

So all in all, a fantastic penultimate week of Planetes. Tayo Jones, like I said, I was an idiot for losing faith. I need to learn to be more patient. Watching seasonal anime week to week has ruined me, turning me into an instant satisfaction seeking monster. Planetes is helping reel that back though, and for that I thank it.

Also, quick heads up, next week I will be including a poll with a list of older anime that you can vote on for the next Throwback Thursday set. There will be a week break after next week’s Throwback Thursday just so I can relax for a bit and then we will be right back into it! I will also be away in Japan at the end of February, so heads up on that.

Thanks for reading and see you next week for Planetes finale!

2 Responses

  1. Avatar jimmytimmy says:

    While Tanabe’s was exposed as an idealist, I still think by choosing not to abandon Claire she got a ton of character development. She basically realied she was naive, but nonetheless decided to do what should could to try meet her ideals.

    On a side not, with anime now packed into 13 episode bites, its easy to get impatient. It happens to me all the time. But the older longer series still have so much to offer. Shame only shonen get more than 13 eps now.

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