Posted by Lenlo on 16 January 2019 with categories: Anime Reviews, Finished Series: Adventure/Fantasy/Science Fiction, Planetes, Reviews by Lenlo, Throwback Thursday

If there is one thing I have lost watching seasonal anime, it is patience. Every week I expect something to happen, some kind of payoff, to make watching that week worth it. Luckily, Planetes as brought that back to me. Its depth of writing, characters, and general structure belay an anime of a different age. Before Moe and Sis-con took over the seasons. Back when a series was allowed to take things at its own pace, and actually finish its story rather than languishing in sequel hell. Of course, what else can you expect from the first work of Makoto Yukimura, the author of currently published Vinland Saga.

Lets jump in!

Art/Animation

As always, let’s start with Animation and Art style. Animation is easily Planetes weakest aspect, which considering there is nothing truly wrong with it, is a good sign. At worst Planetes‘ animation is minimal, with a good number of scenes being static images or just talking heads. This isn’t unusual nor is it a particularly black mark. More just a sign of its age. Being a more subdued story focused series, Planetes also lacks any major bombastic sequences. There are some very picturesque ones, which I will talk about when I get to Direction, but Planetes is a series that doesn’t really stand out when in motion. This isn’t because Planetes animation is bad however, it just knew what kind of series it was. Planetes didn’t need those kinds of sequences for its story, so it decided to be more subdued and consistent than bombastic, avoiding spikes and dips in quality.

Planetes art style however is much more impressive. Because the animation is largely simplistic, Planetes is able to take its time with its art. Giving great detail to every scene, making for some simply stunning images. From the shots in space of the Earth and Lunar landscapes, to the detail put into the technology. Planetes shoves detail into every corner it can find. Occasionally this can lead to a cluttered screen, but more often than not Planetes shows restraint and it all just works. Planetes artstyle lends itself very well to its focus on picturesque animation vs kinetic animation. As always, I must reference you to one of my favorite videos on this subject out there. I promise, last time. Probably.

Direction

As far as Direction goes, well this should be obvious. Planetes pairs its stunning artwork with brilliant direction, using inventive shots such as Hachi’s face reflected in multiple mirrors, or a ship floating away to reveal the sun. It’s use of mirrors, windows, light and sound all meld together perfectly. Planetes had so many scenes that left me in awe, I stopped counting about halfway through. I would wager every important character gets at least one of these shots. Establishing some core facit of their history or personality. Be it Ravi’s love for his family, Yuri’s acceptance of his wife or Fee contentment with the universe, all of them had some solo scene that was wallpaper worthy. I could probably gush about this, provide specific examples of each and every instance, for another few paragraphs. But that would defeat you watching the series, wouldn’t it? Just accept, it’s fantastic.

Story/Setting

Next up is Planetes story and setting. This is a mixed bag, as the episodic content can be very hit or miss depending on the week and focus. With all of the episodes tying into Planetes themes of Globalism and “No borders in space” philosophy, some viewers will no doubt tire of being preached to. If so however, there should still be something to enjoy, as a good number of the episodic stories are much more personal, focusing on the characters instead of the world at large. While some, such as Edle, miss the mark a bit, a majority of them are pretty good, with some being downright beautiful. For the larger story and final arc, while a slow burn at times, I think it ultimately accomplishes what it sets out to do. The writing is intelligent and never strays to far from the were the action is.

Planetes setting however is fantastically detailed and lovingly crafted. From the growing world governments in an increasingly expanding society to the scientific realism. From dependency theory to extreme environmentalism, Planetes has it all. In fact, on that second point, Planetes was so dedicated to this realism that the Japanese Space Agency (JAXA) served as technical consultants on the series. The US DVD release also featured interviews with two NASA scientists. Planetes portrayed all of this as realistically as possible, using dangers such as radiation poisoning and decompression sickness that real astronauts face to build up its world. Simply put, the details Planetes manages to fit in to every scene or discussion on space is nothing less than astounding. Even the premise itself, of collecting debris in space, is rooted in a very real and growing problem we have today.

Characters

Planetes characters are also fantastically made, most every named character getting some kind of arc or story. For such a large cast, this is impressive. In Technora alone Planetes boasts a 10+ cast, and that isn’t even including many of the side characters such as Nono or the ninjas. Planetes manages to give each and everyone of them, from Claire and Hakim, to Dolph and Ravi, good characterization and story beats unique to them. Some of the best episodes are focused on these characters and their stories. In fact Planetes made me tear up for the first time in a long time with Yuri’s character story, showing the strength of the writing. None of them are stereotypes, Planetes trying its best to go beyond simple caricatures.

It’s not perfect on this front though sadly. Some of the interactions just don’t feel right, such as the initial setup of Tanabe and Hachimaki’s relationship. Some of this disconnect is no doubt due to the English dubs, which were the best versions I could find. This gets rectified later on, as it no doubt knew the two had no chemistry in their initial forms. But it does make some episodes or stories in the latter half a little grating. Overall though, the characters and their stories are phenomenal and Planetes is worth watching almost for them alone.

Music/Sound Design

Finally, lets talk music and sound design. Planetes does a great job here as well, from the details of space to the music chosen for scenes. There are some tracks, such as a particular vocal, that plays over some of the more emotional scenes that I simply love. Planetes brilliantly selects the music for each scene and character. The sound design as I said is also fantastic. The series remembers to have minimal sound during the space scenes. Only really giving us the space suit coms and the hiss of air as they navigate the void. It’s these details that really suck a viewer in, and help get them in the same head space as the characters. Outside of space, the folly work is pretty much industry standard, which means its nothing to scoff at. But space is where, in every respect, Planetes shines.

Conclusion

Overall, Planetes is a damn good production. It is clearly aged, but like a fine wine, it has aged well. The series is from a different era where full stories and mature themes were more common. Before Moe and Isekai took over the medium. Yes, it has its flaws. Some of the middle section drags a bit, and this loses it a few points. But the final product, the way I feel about the series as a whole now that it is over? I feel immensely satisfied. I know that one day I will want to watch Planetes again. It won’t be tomorrow, it probably won’t be this year or the next. But I will remember the name, and if I ever see the manga in print, you can bet I am going to pick it up.

So long story short, watch Planetes. It won’t waste your time.

Leave a Reply

Star Crossed Anime Blog

6 User(s) Online Join Server

Featured Posts

One Punch Man Season 2 – 11 [Everyone’s Dignity]

https://giant.gfycat.com/SilkyHilariousGiraffe.webm I don’t understand it JC Staff. You make it so difficult for me to like you and by extension, OPM. I want to of course, every week there are these flashes of brilliance. These moments where I think “they understand. They care. They can do it”. And then in the very same episode, you […]

Dororo – 24 [Dororo and Hyakkimaru]

Welcome one and all to the Dororo finale! It’s a difficult one, as parts of it are fantastic, while others just leave me confused. But all in all, I think I enjoyed it, and I definitely don’t regret my time with the series. So, all that said, let’s dive in. Starting off, I think Dororo […]

Fruits Basket (2019) – 12 [You Look Like You’re Having Fun]

More than any other episode, this week is where Fruits Basket embraces its two opposing spectrums the clearest: it’s reverse-harem hijinks of highschool life and romance and its dark drama about the Zodiac members. By that light, we can be able to see this adaptation’s quality by this episode alone. For example, this 2019 is […]

Carole & Tuesday – 11 [With or Without You]

Even with Carole & Tuesday standard, this episode is a letdown with many forced developments to move this predictable story forward. These include 1) Tuesday injures her hand but still manage to perform and win the bracket 2) just right at the moment Tuesday said no one in the family care for her, she gets […]

Sarazanmai – 11 [I Want to Connect, so Sarazanmai]

I must admit that days after watching this finale I still can’t wrap my head around all the events happened in this episode. Sarazanmai ends in a happy tone, something I didn’t expect from Ikuhara to be honest. On the most surface level, it’s a rescue mission from Kazuki and Enta to bring Toi back. […]

Kimetsu no Yaiba – 12 [The Boar Bares Its Fangs, Zenitsu Sleeps]

Welcome all to what is, for me, a very conflicted episode of Kimetsu no Yaiba. Filled with fantastic animation, some well thought out fights and a character I loathe no matter how great his scenes look. Let’s dive in! Starting off, Yaiba looked great this week. I don’t think that’s really up for contention. I have […]

Serial Experiments Lain – 8 [Rumors] – Throwback Thursday

Welcome to another episode of Acid Trip Weekly, also known as, Serial Experiments Lain! This week is one of the most confusing, yet simultaneously coherent episodes of anime I have ever watched. It’s impossible to summarize, so let’s just dive in. Starting off, like I said, this episode was an acid trip, both visually and […]

One Punch Man Season 2 – 10 [The Encirciling Net of Justice]

https://www.sakugabooru.com/data/2c523ad11331508ce3e674f68b79ccf2.mp4 Welcome one and all to a rather surprising week of One Punch Man Season 2! This week the animation was mostly fine, and interesting things happened, so let’s just jump right in! Starting off, I rail against the series a lot, but credit where it’s due. The sections of the Garou fight done by […]

Mix – 11 [Try Pitching]

Good news for all you Mix fans out there: the show is likely to be two cour, as the Wikipedia page for its timeslot doesn’t have a replacement listed until October. That means three more months of baseball, romance, and mystifying Japanese puns before Hero Academia S4 kicks Mix off the air for the fall […]

Latest Reviews

Dororo Anime Review – 55/100

In the modern anime sphere, getting a complete story, start to finish, is a rare thing. As is getting an adaptation for an older work. Dororo however has, through the grace of Twin Engine, managed to get both of these. Based on the 1967 manga of the same name by legendary Mangaka Osamu Tezuka, Dororo […]

[Star Crossed Anime Exclusive] Code Geass: Lelouch of the Resurrection Review – 80/100

I was lucky enough to be at Sakura-con in Seattle on 20 April 2019 for the Funimation’s movie premiere of Code Geass’ third movie with the Director himself, Gorō Taniguchi, along with his senior staff in attendance inside a room full of raving fans. Was it was worth the decade-long wait to have a worthy […]

Paranoia Agent Anime Review – 67/100

In an era of the mundane, where every series is the same moe blob, the weird sticks out. Even the most mediocre series can get attention just by being weird. Paranoia Agent is not mediocre, and it is far beyond simply “weird”. Written and Directed by Satoshi Kon, Paranoia Agent is one of his last […]

Boogiepop wa Warawanai (2019) (Winter 2019) Anime Review – 78/100

Just like the titular character, Boogiepop Phantom the series has become some sort of urban legend itself in this medium. Its Light Novels are amongst the first Light Novel ever released, dating back to mid-90s. Moreover, the franchise has endured the test of time, as it inspires anime, live-action adaptations and Boogiepop is a well-known […]

Kouya no Kotobuki Hikoutai (2019 Winter) Anime Review – 77/100

Coming to Kotobuki, there are lots of aspect that catch my attention: it’s from a famed director Tsutomu Mizushima who can turn the most trashable and genre-able concepts into something intriguing; it’s an CG show about air pilots: it has extended aerial combat set-pieces. Watching it till the end, I have to tip my hat […]

Kemurikusa (2019 Winter) Anime Review – 79/100

Kemurikusa is your very definition of an overlooked gem, one that never really gain much discussion anywhere, but one that has a distinctive style from an up-and-coming auteur who has full control of his projects. Coming to Kemurikusa, all the attention it has came from the fact that it is created by TATSUKI, a mastermind […]

Mob Psycho 100 S2 Anime Review – 87/100

Upon finishing this series, the only question on my mind was how many animators did Bones sacrifice on ONE’s altar to achieve this. Following their prior season, Mob Psycho 100 Season 2 continues Bones adaptation of webcomic and manga author ONE’s 4th work, Mob Psycho 100. ONE has also authored the critically acclaimed One Punch […]

Kaguya-sama wa Kokurasetai Review – 84/100

Anime draws on many different media types in its endless search for properties to adapt, but manga is still the king of the bunch. And why not? It’s a distinctly Japanese art form, their main demographics have significant overlap, and manga’s panel-based layout means that some of the anime staff’s work is already done. Plenty […]

Kaze ga Tsuyoku Fuiteiru Anime Review – 93/100

Recently, sports anime have become a bit of a dying breed. Falling into the same hole as Mecha, aside from a passionate base audience, most are overlooked. There are the occasional hits like Haikyuu, Yuri on Ice, or Darling in the Franxx for Mecha, but those are few and far between, often taking years. Even […]