Mimi: Who would ever think that an anime about space garbage collectors could be so interesting? Well, it does take some time to get started. The first half of the series is episodic, slow, and completely character-driven. An ordinary girl named Ai Tanabe is assigned to work with a crew of quirky people who collect space debris, as this is necessary to protect space travelers from having accidents. Unfortunately, they don’t get a lot of respect from the higher-ups, despite how important their job is. Members of the crew are packed with personality, charm, and hilarious moments, and it’s quite clear that they enjoy doing their job. However, I did have some issues with the protagonists, Tanabe and Hachirota, who just fight like an old married couple and wind up in a love triangle. The drama was a little tedious to get through, and I never felt compelled to watch the next episode right after the other. I ended up putting the series on-hold around episode thirteen, only to continue it about four years later. Suddenly, at that moment, Planetes blew my mind…
The plot begins to kick in after halfway point, and if I had known how brilliant it was going to be, I would have completed the entire series at least five times by now. It has everything that I love in a good scifi, such as heated politics, ethical debates, futuristic technology, and action. There is also one particular episode that has the best portrayal of a psychological disorder that I’ve ever seen in anime. The serious, dark side of Planetes is one heck of an exciting ride, a ride that you will never want to get off of. In the end, this isn’t just about space garbage collectors, but something much more. As I reflect back on the entire series, the first half is indeed necessary to flesh out the characters, as their strong development is key to producing such a spectacular finale. I sure do appreciate the earlier episodes now.
It goes without saying that Planetes is particularly impressive for its realistic approach to scifi, beautiful visuals, and technical details. It delves into the specifics of engineering and physics, which should be quite appealing to any hardcore scifi fan. At the same time, those who like simple slice-of-life, romance, and drama can find much to enjoy here. Planetes might grate on your patience in the beginning, but once it gets going, it delivers nothing but awesomeness.
Mimi’s Score: 9 Meeps out of 10 (Great)