Well, this is certainly not the easiest show with which to return to blogging after a relatively long hiatus (most of the summer). Without a doubt, this difficulty stems from the fact that I hold Planetes in such high regard, not only as an anime but as a sci-fi show in general. Its setting is not the most otherworldly or rich in extravagant fictional elements, but that is precisely its strength. It’s about people, just like you and me, cleaning up debris, that actually exists in reality, from Earth’s orbit, using spaceships and -suits that are only slightly beyond technology we actually possess currently.
In other words, the show is surprisingly down-to-earth (pun very much intended) considering its setting. The story isn’t so much built by the science fiction as it arises naturally from the main characters and their personal struggles. This, combined with the fact that the technology in the universe of Planetes is not static – it actually develops during the course of the series, is why I want to favourably compare the show to two non-anime sci-fi shows: Stargate SG-1 and Battlestar Galactica. These shows are not necessarily very similar in many ways, but in my mind they come together because I like them all for the same reason: The stories progress and evolve, and they’re all very character-driven stories for the most part.
And oh boy do I like the characters in Planetes. Hachimaki is probably one of the most passionate characters I’ve seen in any anime, but he’s unable to achieve his dreams (or at least what he thinks his dream is) because of a lack of resources. Tanabe, on the other hand, serves as a moral compass for Hachimaki and as a foil for his grumpiness. As for the supporting characters, many of them bring their own elements into the story: Gigalt and Yuri tell us about the time before the beginning of the story, while Nono symbolises the future. A few characters, who I won’t name due to spoilers, also bring some really interesting politics into the story. All in all, Planetes is a really multifaceted show that I would recommend to anyone who likes sci-fi, whether they like anime or not.