Secret Santa 2013 – Combo Pack


Image Source: Episode 4

While the team was discussing signing up for the Reverse Thieves Secret Santa, fellow author lvlln mentioned that he discovered Planetes thanks to the yearly event. And by coincidence(?), Planetes just so happened to appear on my list. So this was a prime opportunity for me to see for myself if the show lives up to its reputation. As with most other people who still hadn’t picked it up, I was mostly skeptical because on the surface the show is  about “space garbagemen”; not exactly the most exciting of premises. But what any brief summary doesn’t tell you is that behind the seemingly mundane everyday life of the main characters lies a hidden space opera that slowly picks up pace before reaching a breath-taking finale. Most of the first half is spent detailing mission after mission where the crew venture out into space to retrieve debris which might endanger tomorrow’s space flight. This is not for naught, as the characters grow with each mission and we learn more about their respective pasts. But then along the way, the show begins surreptitiously introducing more and more of the politics and history behind the current state of space exploration. And this is where things begin to take off.

Image Source: Episode 14

All things considered, the strength of Planetes lies in its continuous but gradual character development, as the cast face insecurities and internal and external strife along the path of life. But equally important is the recurring theme warning us against the evils of complacency. I might even go so far as to say that the central message the show tries to convey is to never stand still and to always keep moving forward. A rather appropriate message for a highly technologically dependent field such as space flight, but it also has very real meaning to the characters and organizations in the show. The main character, Hachimaki, is only able to discover his true dream after facing and overcoming various trials which challenge the false world of security he had built around himself. And on a larger scale, the problem of space debris resulting in catastrophic disasters is quickly forgotten after a few years while those responisble for the continual cleanup are now looked down upon as the laughing stock of space. That is, until the elites pushing space flight ever onwards at the expense of countries in poverty are brought back to Earth (no pun intended) when a terrorist organization poses the very real threat of forever closing space to mankind by initiating a cascading disaster that would surround the planet with a blanket of debris.

Image Source: Episode 16

So in the end, does Planetes indeed deserve the praise it is generally given? I would say a definite yes. While slow at times and burdened with a surprisingly large extended cast, the show manages to impressively tie everything together very smoothly and hold your attention with the various hardships and triumphs of the crew. All this, set to the exciting background of the final frontier. On that note, I suppose it might also help if you have a special interest in space flight as I do, since the show presents a very plausible near-future interpretation of the topic. But at the end of the day, the messages behind the show and its presentation are what truly carry it through and through





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14 Responses to “Secret Santa 2013 – Combo Pack”

  1. AllenAndArth says:

    hmm…Solid State Society seems nice…i’ll give it a look

  2. BlackBriar says:

    Out of what’s shown here, I’d go with Whisper of the Heart because of my loyalty for anything made by Hayao Miyazawa and Solid State Society. I saw a few Ghost in the Shell episodes on Toonami and fell in love with the show.

  3. zztop says:

    I hear Masamune Shirow mostly draws pinup girls for ero manga magazines nowadays.
    Apparently it was more profitable for him, or so I hear.

    • Sumairii says:

      Knowing the evolution of the Major’s character design (not including Arise since that was someone else), I can see why he went for pinup girls in ero magazines… There certainly was criticism for the sexualization of her character between the original film and the TV series.

  4. Foshizzel says:

    Awwweee yaaaaa Azumanga Daioh! My only experience with that is in dub format and the same goes for Solid State, but Azumanga was so damn fun to watch <3

  5. Highway says:

    Yeah, of these four I’ve only seen Azumanga Daioh, and had about the same reaction. The jokes just kind of peter out, and while it’s interesting seeing them all eventually graduate, and it’s also good that they feature Sakaki more, it’s just not as funny or captivating later. Some things just get *too* weird, and other things just get old.

  6. anaaga says:

    Holy boobs I’m amazed you can watch all 4 in such a fast amount of tine

  7. […] reviewed Azumanga Daioh, Whisper of the Heart, Planetes, & Solid State Society as recommended by […]

  8. akagami says:

    The knife season in Azumaga Daioh is ingrained in my memory (I burst out laughing at that scene). I enjoyed Azumanga the first time through, but it’s not one of those series that I would watch more than once (there’s not many of those). The Otou-san was weird at first, but I got used to it.

    I’m a fan of the GitS universe, the two main series were a blast to watch. I found the OVAs and movies were a hit or miss though. SSS was more in the miss bin for me, personally. Ok, not great.

    • akagami says:

      I take that back. I got SSS confused with something else. SSS is actually pretty good =P. My memory just sucks, I take all the blame.

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