Review of Planetarian

planetarian

Have reviews ever discouraged you from watching an anime or playing a video game? They have for me and not necessarily because their assessment of the product was negative. Many moons ago I was perusing Steam for a new visual novel to read when I came across a kinetic book titled Planetarian: The Reverie of a Little Planet. The buyer comments section was brimming with thumbs up, but I gave the game a pass as many remarks mentioned that the narrative was laced with feels. No thanks, I thought, why subject myself to depression? Jump ahead two years and news reaches me that Planetarian has been adapted into an anime. Oh what the heck, let’s give it a watch. My tear ducts could use some exercise and thanks to Funimation’s dub I needn’t worry about waterworks in my eyes blurring out the text.

OVERVIEW

Planetarian: Chiisana Hoshi no Yume is set in the not too distant future, were Earth is reeling from the effects of atomic war, over population and a lack of natural resources. See! I knew electing Hilary Clinton/Donald Trump (amend after November eighth’s polls) to the Oval Office would end in disaster! The story begins with a junker named Kuzuya infiltrating the confines of Sarcophagus City in search of technology, booze and weapons that he can salvage for cash. After a run in with some hostile sentry bots, Kuzuya is forced to flee into a dilapidated department store where he encounters a blue haired female android named Hoshino Yumemi. The adorable automaton incessantly pesters Kuzuya to visit the building’s rooftop planetarium, which three decades ago she was programmed to maintain.

Apart from a few minor characters, Planetarian has a modest cast of two people. Kuzuya is presented as a gruff survivalist who somehow can subsist on a daily diet of just one biscuit. Initially he finds Yumemi’s babbling to be a pain, but an overnight stay at the planetarium makes him warm up to her. In recompense for sheltering him, Kuzuya even agrees to repair the establishment’s busted projector. Yumemi is delighted by the starlight projector’s restoration, as her sole purpose in life is to teach humans about the cosmos. The fact that Sarcophagus City is now rubble and that no customers have visited her in thirty years hasn’t wavered Yumemi’s passion for astronomy lessons. Yumemi’s brain is a fountain of knowledge, although her mechanical body is weak. Any strenuous activity causes her to trip and overheat… in a way she’s like a walking Xbox 360!

VERDICT

My rating for Planetarian: Chiisana Hoshi no Yume is, no pun intended, four and a half “stars.” It’s a nice story that manages to concisely tell its tale in just five parts. The creators resisted padding out the short visual novel into a cour long show and in most cases the episodes don’t even reach the twenty-minute mark. Aside from the likable characters I was impressed with Planetarian’s artwork. David Production has put a lot of effort into the visuals, for what is an original net animation. When compared to a clunky looking web series like RWBY, Planetarian is leaps ahead in terms of aesthetics (time to activate the flame shield because angry Rooster Teeth commenters are incoming.) The finale that pits Kuzuya against an autonomous tank stood out in particular. Said scene wouldn’t have looked out of place in something like Ghost in the Shell.

One complaint that could be levied at Planetarian is that the script is emotionally manipulative. Viewers should however go into the show expecting this, as the series is based on a ten-year-old Key visual novel. Since the late nineties that company has been breaking our hearts with bittersweet tragedies featuring big eyed cute waifus. These are the guys after all who worked on tearjerkers such as Clannad and Angel Beats. Planetarian doesn’t deviate from the established Key formula, which may be a plus or a minus depending on your tastes. If you enjoyed Planetarian be aware that a similar visual novel named Harmonia was released on Steam a month ago. Will I be buying it? After reading the reviews, probably not. My sensitive feelings can only withstand so many “onion cutting simulators” per year.

15 thoughts on “Review of Planetarian

  1. I just happened to be watching this lil’ title while it was raining outside for several days–a perfect ambience to match the show. I, too, was quite impressed by the way it told such an impactful story in half the length of most adaptations today, and yet still being more emotional investing as well. Props to that final battle scene.

    Totally appreciated the election joke. We are so doomed.

    • Glad to hear that you enjoyed it too. Apparently the same studio has also made a Planetarian movie. I might check it out, as it apparently has footage not shown in the series including an epilogue.

      It’s funny how everyone is mocking Trump without realizing that the alternative is also terrible. People in the US need to examine how messed up the nomination process is for future votes. Both parties must have had better candidates. Then again who am I to criticize the politics of another nation? My country is about to implode due to Brexit.

      • A movie you say? Hmm, that it quite interesting indeed. We’ll have to stay posted on that.
        As for the election . . . I can’t even begin to imagine who will be the next set of candidates. Probably movie stars XD I’m in strong agreement with George Washington in that political parties would tear the nation apart. If we do make it through another term in office, I hope to see candidates step away from the political parties entirely, that way we can judge them based on their own beliefs. I’m also sick of red and blue. As devastating as it could end up to be, I’m not gonna lie–Twitter had some damn funny things to say during the whole Brexit fire.

  2. I recently watched Planetarian and believe that you gave it justice through your analysis judge. The anime did a great job at telling its story in a small frame of time. It got me emotionally invested in the characters and ended in a way that left me wanting more. In conclusion, I wholly agree with your rating, great job and hope to see more from you in the future

    • If the source material equals the quality of the anime I would say it’s worth reading. Based on what I hear completing it isn’t a big time investment, although I suppose you will be busy with the latest Higurashi chapter that appeared on Steam recently.

      • Well, the latest chapter is supposed to be one of the shortest ones, so Planetarian, as another short one, may well be a great complement to it.

    • Hehe, good point. Every continent on Earth seems to be plagued with crazy governments that are leading us to ruin. Let’s hope science creates cute robot waifus we can enjoy before the inevitable apocalypse wipes us out.

  3. I didn’t know this was based on a visual novel. Don’t they usually have multiple choice directions like video games? I’m not sure I can see the correlation between the two.

    Anyway, this was a nice little series as you say.

    • Some visual novels are similar to game books were you make choices at certain points, which affect the ending you get. I think Planetarain was pretty much a linear reading experience though. Basically a book with graphics and music.

  4. I have always wondered about the use of the term “emotionally manipulative”. In fact I don’t really subscribe to the idea that emotional genre beats are essentially “manipulative” in that they make you feel something you otherwise wouldn’t (this is a similar argument I’ve seen for works like Makoto Shinkai’s recent rendition of “she and her cat”), because that implies that the goal of the narrative is to get you emotionally attached to certain characters, only to have them snatched away from you. I do agree, though, that there ARE some works out there that take advantage of emotional attachments to create “shock value”, but I don’t feel that that’s the case for Planetarian. As morbid as it sounds, I believe the events of the narrative HAD to happen, or else the thematic truth of the entire show would have been lost. Besides, much of the framing of the show points towards that end anyway, so the only thing the show had left to prove was whether or not the narrative could justify such a plot device in the first place — which I think it did pretty well.

    Anyway, just my 0.02 worth. πŸ™‚ Likewise, I’m happy you enjoyed the show. It really is something special.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s