Posted on 16 August 2019 with categories: Currently Watching:, Kanata no Astra

There sure is a lot to unpack in Kanata no Astra this week. Kanata no Astra loves to give clues, and with every reveal it opens up more questions and make it think how all these puzzles fit in a big narrative frame. I must say that I am enjoying the ride so far, it’s these clues that make the guessing game much interesting as a first timer like myself, and can prove to be rewarding for those who know what comes next (but please, DON’T SPOIL). We will start with the basics first, the (cheap) clifthanging last week is resolved quickly this time, with Charce reveals that he’s also a transfer student just like Aries, and he comes from a royal town Vixia. I absolutely love the world building details regarding the country that still retains its monarchy system, while at the same time becomes a popular tourist spot. What we learn from his backstory is another case of struggles between him and the family – an outcast so to speak. The intriguing part here is the common girl he used to play with, Seira, who looks uncannily like Aries (if the names are any indication). What does that mean then? I’m guessing for now that Aries is the reason why he comes to this trip in the first place, and Aries’s memory is wiped off, as well as her photographic memory ability is gained when she was transferred out of the hospital.

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Posted on 8 August 2019 with categories: Currently Watching:, Kanata no Astra

I guess we can’t truly escape the beach/pool episode curse, doesn’t matter what anime we see featuring high school kids these days. As such, we have a beach episode with girls in bikinis and boys (briefly) having a hot for each other in a show that clearly doesn’t need ones. I must say that the sheer commitment for Kanata no Astra to embrace its anime tropes is something worth… pointing out for. I was expecting that the journey gets grimmer the more they go, so this Paradise planet/ island really caughts me by surprise, not in a good way. The drama in these two episodes, as a result, isn’t about men vs nature but more about the dynamic between team members themselves and their relatives back in their home planet. In a way, episode 5 is the first time we get a perspective outside of these kids and head towards their parents during the search for their lost kids. They are in a real bind as well as they are considering to go through the process of declaring them legally deceased. Except from Aries’s Mom who opposes the idea, the others are composed, too composed, in fact. There’s certainly something beneath the surface regarding (some of) the parents here, and with many of them have high social status (Ulgar’s dad is a vice-president, Luca’s dad is an infamous senator, Yun-hua’s mom a famous singer, and so on), they certainly can pull something as big as sending their kids for experiments, but for what goals?

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Posted on 25 July 2019 with categories: Currently Watching:, Kanata no Astra

Even with all the worries from manga-readers regarding whether or not Kanata no Astra can wrap things up in 12 episodes, for me from an anime-only perspective the pacing so far is just about right. This week our group arrives at the second planet in their journey, and I enjoy the fact that this planet is vastly different from the first, and increasingly more sinister as well. Each place they visit the ecosystem varies significantly, and that provides a good opportunity for new experience (hello riding strange animals) and how well these kids adapt to the new environment. Of course, Kanata no Astra also knows its medium so it’s never shy on playing up the character tropes, which personally I can live without. I was crying inside when Quitterie’s first reaction when Zack butts into the bathroom was “I understand how you feel. But now is not the time for this” (seriously, who says that in that situation in real life?) and Kanata’s logic of taking off his helmet to find the medicine shiny mushroom still bugs me. But other aspects of this episode are strong enough to compensate for these missteps.

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Posted on 22 July 2019 with categories: Currently Watching:, Kanata no Astra

This week in Kanata no Astra happens almost entirely inside the spaceship, and with that we come to learn more about some characters, the “conspiracy theory” and how once again they need to work together to save their asses. Put frankly, I found the way the discussion turns into a suspect game just based on Funicia’s mistranslation a bit of a stretch, but it does provide a nice mix of tension for the cast. It’s normal for someone like Quitterie to lose her composure for a moment there, after all, it’s never easy to hear that “the culprit is amongst us”. All the guessing game heads towards Yun-hua and Ulgar at the moment, but for me they are simply red-herrings. The thing that makes them suspicious is that we don’t know their motivation/ perspective in the first place so that we (and our cast) can’t entirely trust them. In this case it’s normally the person who appears the most normal is the one behind it, but I don’t want to point any finger at this early stage because it can ruin the mystery fun.

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Posted on 15 July 2019 with categories: Currently Watching:, Kanata no Astra

Welcome to the first week of Kanata no Astra, aka Astra Lost in Space in English localization. The double-length premiere remains a flawed but decent introduction for me, and this sophomore further underlines the strengths, as well as the potential weaknesses of this show going forward. For instance, many of the anime’s changes baffled me. The ratio aspect makes little sense and visually it looks like it has been cropped out from the original frame, as a result we see lots of shots where part of characters’ head being cut off. It’s a good gimmick once we get into the space where the screen “opens up”, but consider how the majority of time we follow them exploring new planets, the feeling of inside-the-box defeats the purpose greatly. Second, in the premiere, in one dramatic event, the anime decided to alter the source and makes it even more dramatic (the human chain) that it sadly disregards the common sense (THE ROPE). I consider that a manipulating tactic where Kanata no Astra purposely creates unnecessary conflicts in order to make us FEEL rewarding once everyone joins hands to save Kanata and Aries. Well, it just didn’t work for me.

This second episode does excel on another strength, however, and that is the background art. As the group encounters the first planet of their journey, Vilavure, they find the planet full of natural resources. The art alone brings to life the richness of that place, and kudos to the animal/ plant designs that bring so much quirks into this planet: the trampoline trees, the parachute flowers and the turkey-dragons AKA tur-gons. I suspect that each planet they’d go will have some specific traits (like in ACCA’s 13 territories), and it’s understandable that the first planet they step in is more about the thrill of exploring a new place completely different than their own rather than any life-threatening events (although there is one).

This episode also establishes the cast whom is skillful in many areas beyond their age (if you can’t tell if I being sarcastic or not by that sentence, I am). Last week, we learn a kid who already experienced life/death situation and a bloke whose IQ is about 200, this week add to that mix is another boy who has a master-level knowledge of biology and a girl with a photographic memory. Shameless over-the-top-ness aside, it further proves the theory that this string of misfortune event is set-up by someone or some organisation. There’s also a reveal of someone in the cast intentionally sabotage the communication system. This is an interesting development for sure to figure out who the traitor is and what is their reason behind all this.

While I am excited for the upcoming plot of exploring new planets as an A plot and finding out the traitor as an overarching plot, I remain mixed on the characters chemistry and character development so far. The jokes, in particular, are pretty bad with typical anime-humor and exaggeration, which for me simply doesn’t belong to this series. By saying that I don’t expect the show to go full dark like Lord of the Fireflies and the likes, but take the sequence in this week, where Kanata and Quitterie bickering about “leader”, something that has already been sold last week, it’s just a total misfire for me. Yes, characters this age can act childish but why the need to amp it up to 11? For character development, this week we deal with Quitterie and her inability to communicate with other people. While I appreciate the amount of backstory Kanata no Astra focus on her character (and I’m sure the rest of the cast will have their shares), it’s a tad bit obvious that the show reminds us again and again about her issues, by her childhood friend Genius, by her bickering, by her backstory with her little sister, by Quiterrie herself when she admits it later on. Show don’t tell, Kanata no Astra, the less said the greater impact you eventually deliver.

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