Planet ES
Keywords: , , , , , , ,
Notables: Animation - SUNRISE
R1 License - Bandai (Defunct)
YUKINO Satsuki
In the year 2075, travel into space and to the moon has become a commuter event, but the inattentiveness of the past many years has caused problems that threaten safe travel. The task of collecting dangerous orbiting debris has been assigned to an under-funded and unappreciated 2nd Division – Debris Section, relagated to an old converted warehouse, hidden deep in the bowels an orbiting space station. It falls upon a group of colorful 'specialists' to deal with any strange objects that need to be recovered.

While the main character Hachimaki (Hoshino Hachirouta, aka Hachi) takes his job very seriously, he has problems in trying to not get caught up in the goof-ball activities of rest of his team. And even after four years at a job that is considered to be an ordinary salaryman position, the 25-year-old Hachimaki still nurtures his precious dreams and ambitions of owing his own orbital transport ship. The story starts when the new corporate recruit, a young and idealistic 20-year-old Tanabe Ai gets transferred into the Debris Section, much to her shock and surprise.

[26 TV Episodes based on the manga of the same title (English translation of the manga licensed by TokyoPop). Produced by Bandai Visual & Sunrise.]

German license issued to Anime-Virtual (dubbed-release)
Dutch license issued to Nekotachi Entertainment (subtitled-release)

2:43min English Language Trailer - ANN Video
Episode Details 
1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6
OverallArtAnimationCharacter Design MusicSeries StoryEpisode StoryReviewer
Buy 9 9 8 8 10 9 Ggultra2764 [series:1238#1552]
There's a lot that is tackled in Planetes and what it has to tell, it succeeds quite well with covering. The series offers a realistic take on the many details and issues of a future where man has begun to expand its civilization in space with the main focus on the debris workers who have to clean up the remains of abandoned or damaged satellites, space stations and spaceships that are drifting around Earth's orbit. The physics and conditions of space are portrayed believably with the weightlessness of space when in orbit with no gravity and low gravity when moving around on the moon. There's focus on the negative effects of being in space for long periods of time on both the physical and mental conditions of the body through characters Nono-chan, Gigalt and one of the major characters at one point. The ordeals of living in space are also delved into with oxygen being enough of a precious resource where smoking is heavily prohibited in most areas (which Fee the captain has to deal with regularly) and enough preparations made with astronauts when away from a ship, space station or the lunar city (wearing a diaper, amount of available oxygen, signal flares, etc...)

Many issues are tackled throughout the series regarding the time in which it is portrayed such as the socio-economic divide between corporate executives and lower-level workers, pollution in space, the need for developed nations to expand their resources through expansion in space without allowing underdeveloped nations any gain from it and terrorism in opposition of space expansion. The morality of these issues is grey as each character and faction within the series responsible for the issues faced are fleshed out enough where you see they have justifications for what they are doing and there are both positives and negatives to the actions and decisions that are made.

Speaking of characters, Planetes does quite well at delving into the backgrounds, mentalities and ordeals faced by many of the show's characters as they each come to terms with some dilemma they face as a result of being in space or a moral issue. From major characters like Hachimaki coming to grips with his purpose of being in space and slowly warming up to newbie Ai to secondary ones like Edelgard having a dark past that pushes her to retain a professional mindset, you'll be amazed by just how much the show covers with its large cast of characters.

If there's one element to the series that I have a bone to pick with, it would be the comedy. The show does start off as a bit of a light-hearted comedy shown through the antics of two of the Debris Section's bosses and an episode featuring some unemployed workers in an apartment complex dressed as ninjas. The comedy to the series tended to be hit-or-miss for me as I found the more subtle examples of humor such as Fee's cigarette withdrawals to be funny than the blatant examples shown through the two goofball bosses. Fortunately, the comedy is downplayed as more focus is put on the character developments and morality issues as the series progresses.

Overall, Planetes was quite the watch for me special thanks to the future setting its set in being realistically close to our time than most other sci-fi titles plus delivering plenty of focus on morality issues and character ordeals. You'll definitely enjoy this title if you are into sci-fi anime.

Last updated Tuesday, July 06 2010. Created Tuesday, July 06 2010.
Buy 9 10 10 8 10 9 Silence [series:1238#2939]
If there is one word to summarize this series, it is 'quality'. In every aspect, Planetes shows nothing less than perfection.

The series starts slowly at first with a humorous style, with characters like Rabi and the Ninjas. Then it turns to a romantic overture, dealing with the feelings of Tanabe and Hachimaki. In the last third, it takes a turn into drama and action, with some episodes as intense as example one can think of. After the slightly slow start, Planetes will grab you and bring you on an absolutely incredible ride.

Planetes may be Sci-Fi, but it is a very real Sci-Fi set in the near future, and except for technological advancement, every other aspect of our current Earth remains: the politics, the economics, social issues. There are a few layers to Planetes, the first being the character layer, especially of Hachimaki and Tanabe. The characters in Planetes are very real and down to earth, irony fully intended. From the Yuri to the less important Rabi, we see their personalities and history shining through very strongly. It becomes very easy to understand why these people do the things they do when we can see their hopes and fears, their families and backgrounds. We see the characters fall in love, get lost along the way, and finally finding themselves again. People die, however much we do not want it to happen. Throughout the whole 26 episodes, we see tremendous changes and growths, but all in the realm of the real world.

Human nature is also put to the test, as many situations bring up ethical and moral dilemnas. Certain decisions are apparently morally wrong, yet they are precisely the best course of action in the current case. This draws some parallels with the action of groups and entities, such as the Union and corporations, which brings us to the political layer.

The second layer is the political commentary. The understanding of politics is amongst the most mature I have seen in anime, standing no lower than GITS SAC. While GITS has a cyberpunk background and deals primarily with governmental politics in a country, Planetes comments on global politics and business politics. It addresses the way developing countries are being exploited and denied growth by the developed, and how the relentless need for energy drives politics and economics. The conflicts within the company is also portrayed as the various division heads jostle for position. All these are presented subtly; if you understand, then you can appreciate the realism of the series; if not, your enjoyment will not be severely impeded, but my opinion is that you will miss out on a good chunk of the message.

On the note of realism, other than the final showdown between Hakim and Hachimaki, the fighting, though not abundant, is rather realistic. My only reservation is that how can the terrorists gain so much control over the satelites. Other than that, the political motivation and the decision about the bargain is understandable and real. When you think about it, they are not really 'villains' in any real sense of the word. After all, the real world is grey, and no one is absolutely morally superior, as demonstrated time and again.

The animation and details are amazing, say the treatment of the movements in space, how the astronauts sleep and what they wear, even the psychological disorders. The technology is a reasonable extrapolation from current day science, except for the fuel He-3 (not really possible for it to exist if you know physics), or the Tandem Mirror engine (whose principle is not really explained, other than being a fusion reactor).

Planetes is in a rare breed of realistic anime, dealing with ambitious topics, and pulling it off perfectly. It gives you top grade drama and action, all in situations we can connect to and believe in. Planetes does not require us to suspend disbelief, because it is in a setting we all can believe in. This is definietly a high buy, and for a mature audience, it will rank amongst the best animes out there.

Last updated Thursday, November 26 2009. Created Thursday, November 26 2009.
Rent 10 10 10 10 10 Violet D [series:1238#1393]
I just rented this one this weekend and so far I have only watched it once. I will watch it again so I can pick up the parts I may have missed when I watched it the first time. I usually do watch a feature more than once. This film is no exception. It is a good action packed anime and you can tell it was a manga. I would say a good Sci fi flick.

Last updated Monday, June 26 2006. Created Monday, June 26 2006.
Rent Forbin [series:1238#1573]
Anime TypeRatingNotes
DramaHighIt's a Soap Opera
ComedyLow/MedFunny scenes but it doesn't drive the anime
ActionLowSome Fighting but this isn't a fighting anime
SciFiHighHello? Space!
EcchiNoneI don't recall any fanservice scenes

All Episodes Watched

Why did I give it a rent? Because it is all about what real life would be in the future. Including all the little ups and downs as well as how politicians act and how some people are quite insane (The ninja's).

It's not something I want to revisit. It's like watching an anime Soap Opera set in space. I prefer my space settings like Star Trek or Stargate. This is As the World space.

What did I like about it?
  • The detail - It's incredible. Even things like spacesuits are given tons of little details. This isn't Gundam and their skin tight flight suits. These suits require diapers and have oxygen issues and even smoking is addressed as their Captain is a cigarette addict.
  • The background plot - We even learn about the temp and what her background is before coming to Tech Nora.
What didn't I like about it?
  • Well it broke my Anime Rule #4 (The first character is the most important). Tanabe was shown first (and last BTW). She isn't the main character. Hachimaki is.
  • The Ninja's - There to provide some comedy relief, but what happened to them pissed me off greatly.
As Jan-Chan noted, all the technology is standard except for gravity control and fuel (Uses something from the moon called H3).
It takes a little bit to start up and then chugs along like a train. Gaining speed as you go by and picking up a few passengers.
So overall a rent, but if you are into drama animes, this might be one to check out.

Note : The R1 from Bandai is superior. I was quite amazed (After watching the My Hime dub) that Bandai pulled off such a good dub.

Last updated Tuesday, August 01 2006. Created Monday, June 19 2006.
Buy 9 9 7 7 10 9 AstroNerdBoy [series:1238#436]

A really good anime title needs to have a well-written and interesting story, well-developed and interesting characters, good art and good animation. Fortunately, those in charge of Planetes manage to get things right with very few flaws.

I'll start the characters, who make things work so well. We start with Tanabe Ai, one of the two core characters for the show. She is more of the focus in the first half of the anime as we are introduced to the world of 2075 and life on the space station through her eyes. As a new employee and an idealistic young woman, the writers do an excellent job of introducing the viewers to the "coolness" of living and working on a space station and the wonder of working in space, even if the job is picking up the debris that is in orbit going back to the first space flights. Ai's idealism is a tad annoying at first, but she does grow up pretty quickly as she learns her job and discovers some of the harsh realities of life.

The other core character is Hoshino Hachirouta (aka: Hachimaki or Hachi), who is Ai's senpai on the job. He's a 3-year veteran of the Debris Section and is very good at his job. His dream is to own his own ship, despite being ridiculed by others. Hachi is the son of a very good space engineer, so he is often refered to as a thoroughbred. After a mutual respect developes between he an Ai, that eventually turns into something more which leads him to a conflict since his first love is space.

The other supporting cast are very strong and mostly well developed. Fee is the captain of the Toy Box which is an old ship used to haul the debris. She's a big smoker, and through her, a storyline about terrorist blowing up smoking rooms in space stations and on the moon, becomes very funny. I never thought a terrorist story would ever be funny, so hats off to the writers for this. The only character in the Debris Section that gets little development is the chief, who along with the co-manager, are mostly there as comic relief and a way of poking fun at Japanese management.

Claire is a character who gets good development, but her character wasn't handled quite right. It is clear from the begining that she's a go-getter, which is why she broke up with Hachi in the first place. So she's taking on more and more work, despite upper-management concern that she may be taking more than she can handle. Then she's dropped for a bit, so we don't get to see her struggles to meet the obligations she's imposed upon herself. It isn't until later when she's already gotten in trouble for "making some mistakes" the she is brought back. I feel that her story would have been better had that piece of her life not been neglected. But this is a minor complaint.

The story is well-crafted. One of the strengths of the series is that events from one episode often play a role in future episodes, much like real life. So even when the minor character Nono-chan (who's quite the scene stealer) has a single episode that other series might not come back to her, she comes back in a normal, natural way since she's confined to the Lunar hospital and a couple of events have characters go back to that hospital for treatments. And she has an important (even if she doesn't know it) part to play at the end of the series, so the time spent on her earlier was certainly worth while. But more than this, things like office politics, terrorist attacks, accidents, or other events aren't just resolved at the end of an episode. There's aftermath to deal with or consequences of some kind to address. This kind of story-telling is one I really enjoy.

The romance between Ai and Hachi is nice without being overdone. The attraction happens naturally and they eventually come to address it and progress slowly. When Hachi begins the testing process to become a crew member of the Von Braun, the relationship is certainly strained. However, I like how the writers dealt with this.

While the show is set between 2075-2077 (if my math is right, since a lot of time passes in the final two episodes), the technology level feels very realistic. I can believe that by 2075, we have some manned space stations. I can believe that there would be a small city on the moon, especially if materials are found to replace oil as an energy source. I can believe that humans would be working on making the round-trip time from Earth's moon to Jupiter in 7-years. The gravity the others mention comes from a very real source -- centrifugal force from the space station(s) rotating. Thus the place where the crew works has gravity while the crew quarters are weightless. Futher, I liked how the director had no "space noises" for thing like rockets firing or the like. It helped make everything seem so real.

The writers look at certain issues without becoming preachy (at least it didn't feel preachy to me). The biggest issue would be the terrorists' "rich get richer and poor get poorer" tripe as a reason to stop all space progress. The writers attempt to give the terrorist point-of-view some validation by citing the millions of people who starved to death in 3rd-world countries while countries like America and Japan spent money to go to space. However, the writers also show that even if Earth were to eliminate the use of evil oil, there could be very negative results from this action. Also, the writers point out (very correctly in this reviewers mind) that no matter what new energy sources the world comes up with or how clean, there will be those violently opposed to it.

The writers in addition to looking at the wonders and joys of space, look at the very real negatives too. The exposure to radiation of extended time living and working in space can cause cancer. The writers also address (though not in great depth) the stress on families when one member (husband or wife) has to spend many months or even years away from home. And the writers take a look at the problems that happen were children to be born someplace not on Earth. The writers also take a look at the risks of accidents and the deaths that can result from that, even management decisions regarding such accidents. There's the harsh reality that sometimes, people will die and that the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few or the one. Of course, there's the issue of all the debris in Earth orbit going back to the time of the first space flights. With all of this and terrorist attacks, do we press ahead with space travel? I found all of this very compelling and another big plus to the series.

Another thought occured to me. While this show is set in the future and mostly not in Japan (though there are a few episodes with side-trips to Japan), the show is VERY Japanese. The way the company is structured is clearly based on typical Japanese companies complete with the office politics, middle management, and lower management actions. As such, the use of "senpai" or other Japanese honorifics are certainly not out of place here.

The art and animation are really good. The character designs aren't bad, but aren't anything special either. And the music fits the series quite nicely.

Bottom line: if you are looking for a good, well written story with well developed characters along with a lot of drama, a bit of romance, comedy, action, and the true sense of wondrous adventure, this often overlooked anime is right for you.

Last updated Thursday, July 06 2006. Created Sunday, June 18 2006.

Buy Jan-Chan [series:1238#967]
After rewatching Planetes, I feel strongly compelled to give this series a strong BUY rating, with only a few reservations.

The summary really does not do this series justice as it only describes the first of three distinctive story arcs. The quality of the animation is very good, so it feels as if one watching a very long science fiction movie.

The first story arc is the tale of Tanabe Ai’s arrival to the strange world of Debris Collection department. With a sit-com comedic overtone, the idealistic new-comer has to contend with the bizarre and eccentric behavior of the other seven members of the team. As Tanabe has been assigned to be an OVA member or a debris recovery specialist, she is assigned to a rough and gruff Hachimaki (a Japanese nickname which mean ‘headband’) for training. Hachimaki takes the 'newbee' under his wing, teaching her how to suit up and work in space safely.

In the second story arc, Tanabe has become an accepted member of the team, but she finds her feelings for her senpai (Hachimaki) changing. With a romantic overtones, one of Hachimaki’s friends shows an interest in Tanabe, which she declines. While she is really interested in her senpai, she is uncertain as to what his feelings for her are. Tanabe finds herself hanging out with her girlfriends as they all gossip about their potential love interests and a number of different sub-stories are started at this time, (some of which will be carried forward to the end of this series.) But as this is a story of a Debris Collection department, each episode is set against the backdrop of different assignments.

The third story arc is the most intense. With the resources of earth almost depleted, the large corporations of the developed world set their sights on the riches of the planet Jupiter. The billions of dollars that they are investing in building a new deep space survey ship puts them at odds with an earth-first-terrorist group, who feel that the resources wasted on this project would be better spent caring for those millions of starving and sick citizens of the world. Hachimaki has a goal of being one of the eighteen members that will crew the starship and resigns from his position with Technora Corporation to begin a grueling year-long entrance examination. The story reaches a crescendo when Hachimaki has been accepted as one of the hundred potential finalists and the terrorists decide to violently seize control of the new starship with the intent of crashing it into a lunar city.

With a story line that tells a tale of a team of debris recovery experts working in space with a spice of romance, and then dares to ask moralistic questions about managing and prioritizing earth’s limited resources – Planetes takes on a lot! Starting with a light-hearted comedic tone, the story turns in a very serious hardcore science fiction tale while maintaining a focus on the main characters and their development, with very few empty filler episodes.

While there is no fan-service in this series, a number of (well- developed) secondary characters die and there is a fair bit of intense violence with a high dead-body count (especially in the terrorist episodes) along with the time spent exploring the political, moral, and philosophical questions about the nature of humanity and economics, so this series probably should be rated 13+, but it well worth the watch if you enjoy Sci-Fi.

(I do have to share that this series won an 'award' in 2004 for best character development from the AnimeReactor Community, so this series does have some special distinctive qualities.)

Last updated Thursday, June 24 2010. Created Sunday, November 06 2005.

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