Arthur C. Clarke, eat your damn heart out. Planetes director Goro Taniguchi put together a show that is more realistic, more emotionally charged, more dramatic and 20,000 times more political than anything you ever could have imagined, Mr. Clarke. God, you suck.
Taniguchi (from here on out known as The Gooch) presents us with a look at space travel in the future that is so detailed and thoughtful that if things turn out any different you will scratch your head and wonder why the future scientists didn't just follow his already well laid out plans. The Gooch's space is beautiful, but deadly. See, because of space debris (anything from a left over screw from the construction of a space station to derelict satellites), mankind has got to be careful in his daily travels around the Earth and the Moon. One tiny screw (orbiting the planet at several kilometers per second) can fux up a space plane like nobody's business. So, debris collectors (aka space garbage men) are a very necessary, just a looked down upon, part of the space faring business. And business is booming.
Planetes' story takes place in 2075, and there are already colonies on the moon and tons of space stations around Earth. There's even a ship being built to go to Jupiter, but that's kinda spoiler material, so I'll refrain from talking about that too much. Anyway, after a "screw + space plane" incident a few years previous, companies begin funding debris collection agencies to start scooping up the dangerous scraps and thus clearing the way for more safe space exploration. We, the viewers, follow the Technora Debris Agency and their spacey hijinks for 26 glorious space filled episodes. The main players are Hachimaki (the dreamer who wants his own space ship someday), Ai Tanabe (the newbie with high hopes and morals, but who's still cute and likeable), Yuri (the quiet guy), and Fee (the last chain smoking hottie in the cosmos). There are quite a few secondary characters who hold sway over the plot of the show too. There's Edle (the overworked part timer), Hakim (the tough as a chainsaw security dude), Claire Rondo (the "trying to make something better of her life" lower class cutie trying to be an upper class new hotness), and, and... Well, there are just so many more that it would take up another couple of paragraphs to simply list their names and not even to get into who they are. In that sense Planetes is kind of like The Gooch's other space drama show, Infinite Ryvius. Only it's not half as depressing... Though it is as dramatic (more so in the last 7 or 8 episodes than the earlier more light hearted ones).
Planetes is basically "Blue collared workers in space". Which is really cool when you think about it. It's about a bunch of guys and gals in low paying, dirty jobs in space getting caught up in things that are much bigger than they are (think Sanford & Son in spacesuits). The politics in the show mainly stick to the background at first, but come back to bite the main players squarely on the ass like a super space snake in the last few eps. The first half of the show has a playful attitude. The slight bickering between Tanabe and Hachimaki, the borderline contempt that Edle has for the Debris Section supervisors, and the chain smoking antics of the piloting goddess Fee all make me chuckle just thinking about them. Hee hee ha ha and so forth. But then we get some dramatic moments that remind us how human the cast really is. Like Claire's self-obsessed work load that she tries to balance in order to prove to others that she's not just some bumpkin from a country with no plumbing, let alone a space port, but a potential elite class citizen. Or Yuri's unspoken quest to find himself (and possibly something that he treasures as even more valuable) amid the almost endless orbiting debris above the planet.
But, about 2/3rds of the way through, Planetes turns hyperdramatic. That's not a bad thing though, 'cause it handles the change very well, and the change happens as a result of plot choices that were made earlier both by our main characters and those way higher up on the space pecking order. The Space Defense Front (or whatever the fuck they call themselves) terrorists, who were basically not very threatening before, turn out to be some of the biggest dickheads in the known universe in the last leg of the series as they try to stop mankind from colonizing the worlds beyond our Terran atmosphere. This is when things get very exciting, but also very nails-to-the-chalkboard irritating. Bear with me here. See, the tension brought on in the last 1/3rd of the show is well plotted, well acted and supercalifragilistically directed, but the terrorists are just such incredible ASSHOLES that I wanted them all to die horrible brain-slug induced deaths, like what Khan did to Chekov and his buddy in Star Trek II. I mean, the Space Liberation terrorists wanted to make everybody on Earth equal. They thought that only the advanced nations would benefit from space travel while the third world nations left on Earth would kill themselves off with wars, famines and diseases... YET THEY DON'T EVER TRY to save those countries... They just try to KILL OFF INNOCENT CIVILIANS in space. Does that make any kind of sense to you? Just watching the show it seemed to me that I was supposed to feel sorry for the terrorists and their plight, but I just hated them (as one should when dealing with cowardly mass muderers). Their goal was to get all the worlds' super powers to stop exploring space so that they could make dying and self-destructive countries as strong as they are (of which most of those dirt countries still don't even believe that AIDs is real despite the fact that 1 in 10 of their peoples are infected with it... but that's not even here nor there), OR split up the resources of the moon and the planets beyond between ALL OF THE COUNTRIES on Earth based on population, not how much money and effort individual countries put into exploring the outer reaches. Hmmm, that sounds kind of familiar... Why does the word "COMMUNISM" pop into my mind? The Space Liberation Front is nothing but a bunch of mindless COMMIE TERRORISTS!!! Fuck them all.
But I digress. Things work out (kind of) for all those involved. There was one point in the final episode in which something almost happened that would have made me utterly HATE this show if they went ahead with it, but a philosophical point is made, along with a decision, that ended up saving the life of possibly the most likeable character in the show. And then I loved it. Though the best scene of the entire story still has to be when Tanabe has to make a decision to either uphold her previously preached about morality or do something that would take another murdering human's life, but save her own. It was acted out so spectacularly well that I was taken aback. I haven't seen many live action American dramatic situations that could hold a candle to the crap Tanabe had to put herself through. Mr. The Gooch, I applaud you.
And FYI, "planetes" is the Greek word for "wanderers", which was what those ancients called those moving stars in the night sky that they couldn't explain because they were heathen polytheists. The title does not refer to the planets as we know them. There, now you learned something.
LIES!! Unsubstantiated LIIIIIIIIES! This Planetes show seriously rubbed me the wrong way. The way it intentionally altered its telling of the past (well, my past, your future) was astonishingly terrifying. Space with no sound? Blasphemy!! No teleportation devices to teleport to planets inhabited with nothing but hot green women?!?! Preposterous!! No warp drives to make the Kessel run in 12 parsecs?!?!? What the hell was the writer thinking?!?!? This show is an embarrassment to science! Even more so than that embarrassingly bad "Mir Space Station show" that the Rossman showed me a few years back. Like those commie punks could ever even send a monkey into space, let alone build an orbiting station....
I.... I'm sorry. I let my guard down and let my rage get the better of me. It's just that... I am very disturbed when some of you primitives tries to make a futuristic show that completely forgets the laws of "Danny Trebecski's 2nd Branch of Physics and Slinky Science" that we hold in a higher regard than our love of your comedic god Carrotis Toppis. My lord can that guy make you laugh with his telephone humor.
Yo, crackers. What is this shit. So only Japs and white devils are allowed to go into space in the future? Oh, and that white Russian too, but he's more white than the Americans so he don't count. What I don't understand, fuckahs, is why those black and Arabic terrorists didn't jus' take over that damn space station and then be in space that way? Then they could have been all like, "Bitches in the developed countries of the world... See, whores, we didn' need to build this shit ourselves... We just needed to take this shit from you." I mean, some of the crap that they was able to pull off was pretty amazin'. Not that I take their fucked up side or nothin', just wonderin' why all they ever did was bellyache and blow the fuck out of shit. And the terrorists' mascot was a fuckin' white pussy cat. Yeah, you read that shit right. There's just abso-fucking-lutely NOTHIN' right with that fucked up shit.