Planetarian – 04

The thing about Planetarian is, it packs a tremendous amount of emotional intensity into a very humble package.  Five modestly-animated episodes of web animation with only two characters to speak of ought to be a trivial affair, even if it was a good one.  But this series is anything but trivial in the way it connects its premise to our experience as a viewer.

As we pick things up, Yumemi has four days of power left and Kuzuya is thinking illogical thoughts about the future.  I think this divorce from logical thought is fundamental to what Planetarian is trying to communicate as a series – the transition from surviving to living.  Yumemi is a robot, yet in many ways she’s more alive than Kuzuya.  She has desires, dreams – he only thinks about finding enough food or water and avoiding the combat drones (which are getting their power from where, exactly?).  But his humanity isn’t dead, only dormant – and her presence revives it with a fervor he finds quite alarming.

There’s no logical justification for what Kuzuya is thinking here, bringing Yumemi with him, finding her a power station, becoming a traveling planetarium show.  Their world world could hardly be more full of bumps, and Yumemi is bad with bumps.  But he thinks it nonetheless, even puts the question of what her own wishes are to her.  Does she want to return to her duty at a place where no visitors will ever come and power will never be restored, or does she want to serve humanity by coming with him and serving an actual human?   By her own reckoning the latter would be closer to Heaven, but it would mean a dereliction of the duty for which she’d been created.

There are some larger issues at play here too 0f course – the notion of whether service to others is enough of a justification for one’s life even if one is a robot, for example.  But hard practicalities do interject themselves, and a shell which misfires when it hits its target places Kuzuya in grave danger.  I hope the finale of Planetarian doesn’t turn conventional on us, as plot was never really the essence of this story, but I’ve seen enough in four episodes to convince me that we’re going to get an ending rooted in the deeper questions underpinning the story.

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4 comments

  1. In some ways I do not mind “conventional” as long as it is done well, with the same depth and … power, I suppose, that the rest of the episodes have been able to do. This series is so good! So well done! And quite thought provoking….

  2. R

    I took your advice and checked out this show. It’s neat. I’m a little lukewarm about Yumemi as a character, but to use her as a tool to convey the transition from surviving to living is neat. As old school as it may seem, a message is a message, and it’s well received.

  3. R

    I do love Kazuki’s musings, especially set against the bleak background that is the war torn Japan of this series. Because of all the ways to make surviving in a world like that harder, being a wandering planetarium ranks pretty high. On a purely practical level, it’s asinine. But that’s why it works so well, contrasting this incredibly silly but very human dream against the current reality they’re in.

  4. R

    Kazuya, not Kazuki. I’m mixing up so many protag names this season

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