Planetes (プラネテス , Ancient Greek: Πλανήτες Planētes, literally meaning, by Ancient Greek translation, “Planets”, or “Wanderers”) is a Japanese hard science fiction manga written and illustrated by Makoto Yukimura. It was adapted into a 26-episode anime television series by Sunrise, which was broadcast on NHK from October 2003 through April 2004. The story revolves around the crew of the debris collection craft, Toy Box, in the year 2075. Both the manga and anime received the Seiun Award for best science fiction series.
Planetes starts about how you might expect a show with such an odd premise to begin. It’s a very quirky show, practically a comedy/sitcom type show. The first 13 episodes or so are all episodic, there’s lots of laugh, and the show rarely takes itself too seriously. At this point I would call the show very good. It was entertaining, but, I never felt compelled to watch the next episode immediately after finishing one. I’d be fine to wait a while before booting up a new episode. And then, the second half of the show begins. This is where arcs begin to start, the show starts to have more continuity, and basically, it becomes more of a serious space drama show. This is when the show really kicks it up a notch and becomes the masterpiece I think it is. The second half of the show offers some incredibly intense moments, lots of philosophical talk about whether space development is really needed for mankind, and some awesome character development.
Planetes art and sound are also pretty fantastic. I thought all the animation was pretty crisp and they do a good job crafting characters that look just as unique from each other as their personalities are. The sound is really awesome too, the opening theme is especially cool. The only flaw is that, the ending theme is very happy and perky, which worked perfectly for the first half of the show, however, in the 2nd half of the show, when the show gets serious, it gets flat out awkward. For example, someone will be pointing a gun at someone, the episode ends, and then some of the happiest music you could imagine comes on. It’s not a big deal, but it can kind of ruin the intensity that the episode just left you with. Despite the lack of action, I think this is a show almost anyone can enjoy. It’s smart, has great character development, and can be very intense.