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Some of you may have had occasion to know cynics, and therefore to wonder how they got that way [1]. This episode is the true introduction to Hachimaki, to the idealism and lost hopes hiding behind the dark cynicism that Ai has so much trouble dealing with.

The Tag

The tag has the basic introduction of the problem before showing a debris collection going wrong. However the senior collector isn’t Hachimaki, and it looks like Hachimaki is the rookie panicking. His actions trigger an avoidance program and the debris satellite’s engine fires silently in space.

The Opening

This is the first episode with the fabulous opening, so here it is:

Such a good song, and I adore the historically accurate shots scattered throughout. The shots of Ai collapsing under the weight of the space suit always makes me laugh.

Incidentally it was quite hard finding the first version of the opening. Most of the hits on YouTube seemed to be for the second version, which spoils a much later episode.

Act One

The proper start to Like a Dream is the Half Section performing a luck dance as the lottery balls are being spun up. This scene makes me glad it is an anime, I’m not sure I could deal with a live action version [2]. Ai finds this a little hard to take, but gets involved like a good sport.

It is also surprisingly funny to watch, and remains so on subsequent viewings [3].

Of course Hachimaki’s luck is thwarted at the last number, and this is his 172nd straight loss. This leads into a discussion of why Hachimaki is playing the lottery in the first place: Hachimaki’s dream to buy a spaceship.

He even has a notebook with ideas on how to make it happen, a book he had before joining the company.

This is a good story telling device, the book becomes the symbol in Act One of Hachimaki’s shattered dreams, and is progressively hidden further away to avoid reminding him of them.

The mockery from the rest of the Half Section doesn’t help. It turns out that Ai is here to get training in zero-G movement from Hachimaki.

It isn’t going well when a pilot, Cheng-Shin, shows up to stop Ai spinning out of control in the corridor. Cheng-Shin was hired at the same time as Hachimaki, and hasn’t been cleared for piloting passengers yet.

Hachimaki is having dinner with Cheng-Shin afterwards, and there is a scene of Hachimaki’s interactions with the other men in the dorm. This scene makes it easy to see why Hachimaki hasn’t saved any money.

This leads into a time passing montage of lottery failures, debris missions, Hachimaki going drinking, debris missions, Ai training (and getting better). There is proof here that Hachimaki is a good instructor.

This is ruined when Hachimaki enters the dorm to find that Cheng-shin has been promoted to passengers. He puts a brave face on it, and calls for a party, but it is clear that Cheng-Shin’s promotion badly dents Hachimaki’s confidence.

Cheng-shin is also the first person in the series to mention flying to Jupiter as his dream, but he won’t be the last.

Back in his room Hachimaki hides the notebook away.

The next morning it is clear that Ai has gotten very good at manoeuvring inside the station with the air jets. They are interrupted by some cargo workers who mock Hachimaki’s dream. Violence ensues, and although Hachimaki does well initially, numbers eventually tell.

It also shows that Ai can’t really control her movements under stress.

Act Two

The second act begins with a flashback to the debris mission in the tag. This is a nightmare before Hachi wakes up to find Yuri floating just outside his room. Hachimaki is a mess with a black eye and a couple of other bruises.

Ai left some medicine with Yuri, which Hachi goes to put in a cupboard when he sees a photo from three years ago with Cheng-Shin and Claire [4].

The next scene is a briefing for a debris retrieval mission for the same piece of debris last seen in the tag. The satellite has entered the working orbit on a retrograde mission, and still has propellant, so it needs to be disposed of.

Hachimaki is clearly depressed, but Fee is also angry at his lack of involvement. Fee is assigning Ai to active duty for this mission, so expecting Hachimaki to set a good example is reasonable.

Hachimaki is also giving up on the lottery.

This is Hachimaki at rock bottom, and watching him argue with Ai over broken dreams is just painful.

Naturally history repeats with the debris collection, with Hachimaki thinking that nothing has changed over the last three years.

Only this time, things have changed. It is Ai that makes the mistake that triggers the satellite, pushing it into the orbit of the shuttle that Cheng-Shin is co-piloting.

It is Hachimaki who then puts on a virtuoso display of thrusting through the centre of mass to push it back out of the way.

This is a fabulous sequence, and it proves that Hachimaki has changed, at least in terms of mastery of his profession.

Things to come

The line from Cheng-shin about piloting a ship to Jupiter is mostly a throwaway, but it comes when Hachi is at rock bottom. I do wonder if this is the trigger for Hachimaki’s own ambitions later.

Summary

This is a much stronger episode than Outside the Atmosphere.

Instead of relying on funny once gags, this episode is a solid character study. It shows how the passage of time can crush dreams, and how negative thinking can hide accomplishments.

Hachimaki is one of the best EVA specialists out there, but has bought into the endless criticism of the Half Section. It takes an achievement like this to shock him into realising his strengths. Hachimaki’s reassurance to Ai that he can eventually make her just as good is the perfect end to this episode.

This is the wow episode that should really hook viewers of Planetes.

Day 1: Outside the Atmosphere
Day 2: Like a Dream
Day 3: Return Trajectory
Day 4: Part of the Job
Day 5: Fly Me to the Moon
Day 6: The Lunar Flying Squirrels
Day 7: Sub vs Dub
Day 8: Extraterrestrial Girl
Day 9: A Place To Cling To
Day 10: Regrets
Day 11: A Sky of Stardust
Day 12: Boundary Line
Day 13: A Modest Request
Day 14: Scenery with a Rocket
Day 15: ???
Day 16: Turning Point
Day 17: In Her Case
Day 18: Ignition
Day 19: His Reasons
Day 20: Debris Section, The Last Day
Day 21: Endings are Always…
Day 22: ???
Day 23: Tentative Steps
Day 24: Tandem Mirror
Day 25: Exposure
Day 26: Debris Cluster
Day 27: Love
Day 28: The Lost
Day 29: And the Days we Chance Upon…
Day 30: Looking back at Planetes

Omake: Audio Drama 1

This is the first time I’ve listened to the audio dramas on the disks, they never really held much interest for me, so here goes.

The first drama starts with the footage from Like A Dream of that A-7777-777 lottery ticket and then moves on to what happened afterwards. This fits the theme of the good luck dance, only more extreme, and is mildly amusing (but not much more than that).



[1] With apologies to Tom Lehrer and his brilliant Lobachevsky routine:


[2] If you’ve seen the scene in question you know why.


[3] For the most part Planetes usually does comedy fairly well, it is only the comedy in Outside the Atmosphere that doesn’t stand up to rewatching.


[4] Claire was seen briefly in Outside the Atmosphere as a Control Section staffer.