Double dealing, spoilt brats, and beware the nice ones. I love the smell of corruption in the morning! [1]

The Tag

The debris is dangerous tag is cut short and segues into a discussion of departmental profits. As usual the Half Section is running in the red but there may be a way to get more profitable debris assigned from INTO [2].

The info dump in the tag is short, and lampshaded by an actual “As you know” from Dolf to Claire [3].

Act One

Act One begins with Hachimaki providing some advanced training to Ai on using the monitor in her helmet. As seen in previous episodes, Ai is not a gamer and is having trouble with the interface. Hachimaki isn’t being very tolerant, and Ai is beginning to resent being called “rookie” all the time.

At this point Colin Clifford, the son of the INTO Chairman, walks in and proceeds to be an arrogant prat. If you think about every stereotype of the spoiled younger sons of aristocrats, most of them apply to Colin. He is a deeply annoying character, and the situation isn’t helped when Claire arrives to authorise his presence, including Colin accompanying them on the debris retrieval mission today.

The obsequious behaviour of the manager and assistant manager don’t help here, and Hachimaki is not so slowly beginning to boil over.

Ai is also not terribly impressed. Fee however works out what is going on with the INTO debris allocations fairly quickly, and a suggestion of a bigger smoking room wins her support.

Boarding the Toy Box at the VIP gate is interesting as it shows that, officially at least, Colin is not on board the station or the Toy Box. The manager and assistant pressure Ai to keep Hachimaki under control before they leave. Although she agrees to help, it is clear that Ai is starting a slow boil.

Dolf is talking with the INTO Chairman, and the quid pro quo is being arranged.

Meanwhile Colin is playing with the remote arm and the cargo bay. Ai’s attempts to keep things smooth have mixed success. Colin’s arrogance and contempt also aren’t helping.

As the debris collection gets under way, Hachimaki is reluctant to talk about Claire with Ai [4]. On their return it turns out that Colin had a space walk with some friends recently, but ditched or ignored their professional guide [5].

As they get ready to return, Claire orders a diversion to another satellite on Dolf’s authorisation.

The subsequent conversation between Claire and Hachimaki is illuminating: Claire wants to make it to the top, and is prepared to do whatever Dolf needs to get there. Her dismissal of education and connections carries, to me at least, an implication that Claire doesn’t have any connections to speak of.

Act Two

That's not supposed to be there...

That’s not supposed to be there…

When the Toy Box arrives at the communications satellite it turns out that there is a camera hanging off it.

A camera that Colin, or one of his friends, left behind on their space walk  This is something of a felony, hence the secret trip to get it back. The confrontation inside the Toy Box over this is dominated by Hachimaki’s anger and Colin’s arrogance but is inconclusive.

What resolves it is Fee’s declaration that she’ll go out to get the camera: Fee doesn’t care how it got there, right now it is debris and therefore dangerous.

This is the attitude of a captain and a pilot, and Fee is quite simply awesome in this scene.

It isn’t clear who actually gets the camera back, but I would bet on Hachimaki after that dressing down from Fee. The retrieval is skipped and the scene cuts to the return of the Toy Box to the ISPV-7.

Dolf arrives at the airlock to “welcome” Colin back, and establish a video connection to the Technora office. This is where Colin’s chaperone and his disreputable mates are waiting. It turns out the camera belongs to one of the girls in the group.

This is the scene where Colin’s contempt for the debris collectors goes too far. The signs of Ai slowly clenching her fists goes unnoticed when Hachimaki goes for Colin. Hachimaki threatens to turn Colin into the police for covering up debris, but Colin reminds them that he’s officially not here and that they don’t have a leg to stand on.

Colin then proceeds to provoke Hachimaki to violence so he’ll be fired by mocking and trashing the work done by the debris collectors.

It is clearly starting to work when it is reveals that Ai has a nice right hook. As the saying goes: beware the nice ones.

Ai’s rant in defence of the debris collectors’ efforts to make space safe is inspired, and clearly impresses the rest of the main group.

This is when Fee and Yuri step in to use Colin’s non-presence against him, and in defence of Ai.

After all, Colin isn’t here so it isn’t possible for Ai to have assaulted him…

By the time Colin reaches the Technora offices, his “friends” have left claiming “urgent business” and only the chaperone remains. The chaperone pulls Colin into line.

Back at the airlock, the Half Section are talking about what happened, and the main group head off to the common block for some better food than usual.

Hachimaki invites Ai along and calls her Tanabe in her first sign of acceptance into the group.

Things to come

This episode provides a first look at the corruption behind the scenes, possibly the first hint that Claire is out of her depth, and also hints that the executive Dolf has a connection to the Debris Section.


This is an excellent episode with attention to previous continuity, and solid development of Ai’s place in the group. I also find that Ai works better as a character when she preaches less, and this episode handled that well.

To quote Steven Brust’s Jhereg again [6], “tis oft startling to reveal, what the murky depths conceal”. Part of the Job begins to show just how many murky depths are surrounding the Half Section. These include Hachimaki’s history with Claire, the political manoeuvring, and the corruption within INTO.

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: Orbital Debris Gallery

This is definitely worth a look; the gallery shows a fair variety of the real junk that has been retrieved from orbit on occasion. It does make me wonder what else is up there waiting to trash a space ship some time.

[1] In case it wasn’t obvious: that would be sarcasm.

[2] In the Planetes universe INTO is the International Treaty Organisation. It is essentially an openly first world controlled United Nations with the sharp, pointy, teeth that a military monopoly on space provides.

[3] Dolf actually says “As you know” in the dub. No, really.

[4] Claire was in the photo with Hachimaki and Cheng-Shin in Episode 2 Like a Dream. Claire also looked quite relaxed, unlike the always polished Control Section elite seen since.

[5] I can’t be the only one thinking that this makes Colin and his “friends” suicidally stupid in addition to being rich, spoiled, and arrogant.

[6] See the Chihayafuru review for the other quote I used recently. Have you read the Vlad Taltos series? If you haven’t, do so.