Greetings! Welcome back to another review. This time around we have another Visual Key anime, which are always popular with us. Anyway, the anime in question today is Planetarian: Chiisana Hoshi no Yume, which is based off a visual novel of the same name. As always, there may be very minor spoilers ahead, just as a heads up.
Summary: It is thirty years after the failure of the Space Colonization Program. Humanity is nearly extinct. A perpetual and deadly Rain falls on the Earth. Men known as “Junkers” plunder goods and artifacts from the ruins of civilization. One such Junker sneaks alone into the most dangerous of all ruins—a “Sarcophagus City.” In the center of this dead city, he discovers a pre-War planetarium. And as he enters he is greeted by Hoshino Yumemi, a companion robot. Without a single shred of doubt, she assumes he is the first customer she’s had in 30 years. She attempts to show him the stars at once, but the planetarium projector is broken. Unable to make heads or tails of her conversation, he ends up agreeing to try and repair the projector… -MyAnimeList
Planetarian has a number of things going for it from a plot perspective. Despite a short 5 episodes long, the anime makes very effective use of the time, keeping an even pace throughout. It can feel a little slow to some viewers, but the short number of episodes significantly alleviate this. It is very different from most post-apocalyptic anime in both mood and plot, as it does not really focus on humanity as a whole and rather a specific happening, and keeps hints of cheerfulness amidst the otherwise dreary setting. Finally, this anime does the whole open ending much better than most other anime, and really commits to what it sets out to do. The main issues mainly arise from the bits where narrative information is just handed to the viewer, and seem a little bit out of place. The flashback sections are also generally poorly utilized, as they do not really give much context to the show and feel like filler especially in regards to Kuzuya. The anime also follows the classic Visual Key formula, which can make it feel a bit underwhelming for viewers familiar with said formula.
If there is one thing Visual Key knows, it is characters, and Planetarian is no exception. The benefit of having a small cast (really only two characters for this anime) is that lots of time can be given to developing them. Kuzuya and Yumemi are both well defined in their personalities and their actions are frequently in line with their personalities. Each actually grows as characters, all the way through the conclusion of the story. Since the entire plot is driven by their interactions, the relationship between this junker and robot is well developed as well. The characters also serve to create a contrast between the ruined world (Kuzuya) and the beauty of the stars (Yumemi).
The animation in general is incredibly beautiful, but the real applause should go to the settings. The ruins of the city are rendered extremely well that make it clear the viewer is peering into a post-apocalyptic world. However, this contrasts against the beauty presented in the planetarium and star projection where the majority of the plot progresses. The setting alone really defines the show, and sets the mood like no other.
Much like the animation and characters, the soundtrack serves to create the contrast even further that so defines the anime. It helps to really bring out the setting aspects. The ending, however, really clashes with the mood of the show, though it is still quite a good song and the accompanying animation is adorable.
One of the easiest things to appreciate about Planetarian is how different it is from other similar post-apocalyptic anime. There is a lack of politic commentary in the anime, which just helps bring out the themes. The easiest theme is clearly finding hope and beauty in a situation that seems otherwise devoid of it. This is highlighted by the planetarium being in the middle of the city ruins. The anime further explores questions such as purpose, which is shown in both Yumemi and Kuzuya, both of who approach purpose very differently. The show does contain a few other classic sci-fi themes, of particular note is robot ethics, seen with the reference to Asimov’s Three Laws of Robotics.
Final Score: 9.2/10
Final Grade: A
Planetarian: Chiisana Hoshi no Yume was a pretty good anime. It had a really cool dystopia world as its setting, however we did not get to see much of this world leaving that to be desired. Its characters really made the anime good though. The characters were interesting and had depth to them. We do not get to see too much of the back story of the one character though, so he is kind of a mystery. The animation was really beautiful, which actually helped with the plot a lot. The plot did move slowly at times, but it was not too bad. Also the ending was a bit predicable, especially f you know Key studios. Out of 10 I would give this anime a 7. I recommend this anime to people who are a fan of Key, because it is defiantly worth a watch. – B-Ro
For what it seeks out to achieve, Planetarian reaches near perfection. It’s a show that is smart with its runtime and means of exposition, as well as full of beauty and heart in its themes and execution. It somehow combines the desolate and dangerous landscape of a post-apocalyptic world with the childish wonder of looking at the stars at night. Planetarian does post-apocalyptic in a manner that I love and wish more media with similar settings would use. It is clear that this is a sad, destroyed world, but there is still a sense of beauty conveyed, and doesn’t try too hard to be depressing. It gives just enough background as to why the world is in such disarray, but thankfully does not bombard the viewer with post-apocalyptic politics and such. It’s clear that the show wanted to focus on the character interactions between Kuzuya (or “Junker”, as I don’t think his true name is really given) and Yumemi, and I appreciated that. Major props to the writers for their characterization of Kuzuya. You can tell that he’s been through a lot, is always on edge, and is a rather cold character. But they managed to show that in a natural way. By that, I mean that he doesn’t do any actions that are unnecessarily cruel just to show that he’s been through a lot. He seems more realistic in that universe (if that makes any sense), and therefore I related to him more. Yumemi, on the other hand, managed to be quite unique and endearing. Her mannerisms, ignorance of the outside world, and inability to understand certain things was quite interesting and never came across as annoying (which it easily could have). These are characters that I loved watching, and absolutely wanted to see succeed. As I mentioned before, the show really taps into that child-like wonder of looking at the stars. The show immediately made me think back to when I was younger and visited museums with planetariums. I remembered being a little overwhelmed by the vastness of space, but also mesmerized by its infinite beauty. Putting that feeling in contrast to the broken world outside made it feel that much more special. The soundtrack served both of these settings quite well. The keyboard tones are perfect for the show with a lot of them being somewhat cold and electronic. It is absolutely beautiful music with a nice hint of melancholy. Though the ED song isn’t something I’d buy, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t find the ED itself with chibi Yumemi absolutely adorable. If I could give any negatives for this show, it would be that the show didn’t really blow me away in the emotional department. I was very emotionally invested in the show by the end, and the conclusion did make me tear up, but I couldn’t help but think that if the execution of the show were tweaked just a little bit (or if I obtain the visual novel), the conclusion would have been an absolute home run. Planetarian is an amazing ONA in its own right, but it just feels like there was the littlest bit of wasted potential here. Please don’t let that discourage you from watching this though. All in all, Planetarian is a beautiful little series. Now to get the visual novel on Steam (though I’ll probably wait for a summer sale).
Final Comments: What makes this anime interesting is that it takes the typical post-apocalyptic setting and switches things around by creating contrasts in the animations and characters. Planetarian: Chiisana Hoshi no Yume creates a beautiful animated story of hope, even if the plot is lacking sometimes.
Thank you for joining us for our review of Planetarian! Have you seen this anime? What are your thoughts on it or on the review? Be sure to comment below and let us know, we also like when our reader do so. The next anime we will be reviewing is Shigofumi, but in the mean time do please check out our Anime Review Archive and Twitter pages.