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Title (English) Planetes
Title (Japanese) Planetes

book cover

Fantasy Novel

Classification -
Synopsis A hard SF series about a team whose job it is to collect up some of the junk circulating in Earth orbit. A new girl, Ai Tanabe, arrives at a vast orbiting space station and is disconcerted to find that her new posting is at the lower end of the station, and also the least esteemed and worst paid. It is also staffed by a collection of odd characters. She is partnered with Hachimaki, who seems destined to be a romantic sparring partner. In the first episode there is some spacesuit action as they collect a large memorial plaque that has become a danger to a military satellite.
Review Last night I watched the first episode of the new NHK anime "Planetes". The show is a throwback to the days of "hard sci-fi" in magazines such as the Campbell-era Analog in the way that it tries to use as much "realistic" science as possible. One obvious example is the fact that the show doesn't use sound effects for the scenes in space. (It would be nice to think that this could establish a new trend, but I'm afraid that the "Star Wars Sound Syndrome" will likely be with us in film forever.) "Planetes" is also reminiscent of "Patlabor" in its use of a group of misfits as the central characters of the show.

But is it any good?

First off, the deliberate efforts to make the science in the show as realistic as possible means that my "suspension of disbelief" is now transferred to the story line and characters. And I've got to admit that thanks to working in big corporations all my adult life, I have my doubts that any company would support such an endeavor in such a grand manner, regardless of the amount of Governmental funding that came along. (Corporations tend to spend all their money on head offices, not on field sites.) But I'll give the show the benefit of the doubt and assume that they are modeling the space station on offshore oil platforms.

That then leaves the characters the group of "misfits". This situation of an "odd bird" thrown into a group of "odder birds" has been done often enough before that it tends to turn off my attention to the characters. I found new girl to be more irritating that interesting. And the rest of the characters seem to be from other series particularly the temp admin. (I keep on remembering someone just like her in another recent anime, but I can't place it right now.)

Finally, we have the character development, which focuses upon the new girl's journey from wide-eyed rookie to member-of-the-team in the first episode. I found the "peace versus war" red herring tiresome and a bit too politically correct in the way that it is resolved I'm guessing that NHK is hoping to sell this all over the world and doesn't want to tick off too many potential foreign buyers.

So all-in-all, I have to say that I wasn't too satisfied with the first episode of "Planetes". While there is nothing artistically or technically wrong with it, it just didn't grab me with either the story or the characters. I'll probably watch a few more episodes to see if it goes anywhere, but I'm not too hopeful at this point.
(Dave Baranyi)

Interesting series and quite funny. Seems that it will be a romantic comedy as much as a SF series. It also avoids any obvious howlers.(GC)

Episodes 26
TV Showing See the whole series for free? This series may be syndicated to regional cable, satellite or terrestial TV stations. For Europe click here.
Date 2003-10-04 to 2004-04-17
References & Help Look up the latest data on this title at:
Richard Llewellyn's Animated Divots, or
Anime News Network (see Encyclopedia section) ,
or in "The Anime Encyclopedia" (Clements & McCarthy, Stone Bridge Press, 2001).
Help & further information.



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