The story of Planetes follows the crew of the Space Debris Section, a unit of the Technora Corporation. The point of the Debris Section’s is to prevent the damage or destruction of satellites, space stations and spacecraft from collision with the ridiculous amount of debris ( space garbage ) that are hovering in Earth’s orbit. So basically they are space Garbage men, now you might be thinking, “Wow, that sounds boring beyond measure”. But that is where you are wrong, the series is surprisingly fun to watch.
While some episodes revolve around the debris collection itself, this is most often used as a storytelling method meant for building character development and showing their interactions. The members of the Debris Section are looked down upon by the other members of the stations crew and are often referred to as ” Half Section” as an insult to the under funded, understaffed crew.
At first the show appears to simply be a comedic character drama but the story goes beyond being purely that, as it progressed it also delved into darker areas such as richer countries monopolizing resources in space and the poorer ones falling into civil wars or being invaded and needing the assistance of richer countries ( dependency theory), it also goes rather deeply into themes involving characters dreams and their coming to peace with where they are in life. Beyond that there are themes revolving around the salaryman culture and showing the difference between ambition and greed. Including I’m not even half way through the series the show has already put forward more depth and consistency then most shows I have seen. While the series appears episodic in nature it has a horrifying mass of continuity and that is where it shines.
Hachimaki is pretty much the main man of this series, but the series also focuses on the goofy new member Ai Tanabe.Both these characters are extremely well wrote, and their interactions are fantastically well done and just a joy to watch.Beyond that the other characters do get their own episodes where the plot follows them more closely.Beyond them you have the supporting cast, which is mostly the other staff members, which are all a welcome addition to the cast even if some are a bit manic. The show has Excellent characterization, every character from the main cast to the characters who appear for only one episode . The show doesn’t neglect any of it’s characters and none of them feel tacked on for throw away plot purposes, the characters feel natural in their respective environment. Everyone has a part to play in the shows overall narrative and they all add interesting different perspectives to the views of the futuristic world.
To put it simply the visuals in Planetes are fantastic.The character designs in the show are rather atypical, and just good looking in general. Beyond that the mechanical devices in the show are exceptionally well rendered and have a high level of detail and realism to them that adds to the show in a very nice fashion. The subdued visuals of the show also add a nice degree of beleiveabilty to it,the exceptionally realistic lighting gives the show a wonderful feel, and in space it just looks wonderful. In terms of quality the characters stay on model pretty much consistently, I never noticed a time where I thought the animation needed work or anything. And of course, space looks beautiful.
The voice acting in Planetes is top notch, each characters voice actor really fits the given character and they never feel out of place.Beyond that the mechanical sound effects are done fantastically and small touches like the lack of sound in space are all there making the experience much better. Beyond sound effects the series has some strong musical moments, in these moments the music perfectly adds to the moment making them have a much stronger and meaningful impact. Just for effect here is one of my favorite tracks from what I saw, this song coupled with the scene was truly something magical.
To put it simply you should check this show out, from story to characters and everything in between the show handles everything beautifully. Not to mention it has a high degree of continuity and is seemingly going to dive into some pretty deep areas, just do yourself a favor and check it out. If you like shows with a strange yet believable cast and interesting setting, well this one is for you.