Tags

,

I pick older series [1] for the 20/30 day series because of the spoilers involved in writing the detailed synopsis of each episode. Even so, I still feel a twinge of guilt at spoiling Extraterrestrial Girl so thoroughly.

Unfortunately I can’t avoid the spoilers to one of my favourite episodes; there are connections in Extraterrestrial Girl that will be important later.

TRIGGER WARNING: Mentions of cancer, and suicide.

The Tag

The tag footage has been slowly changing over the last several episodes, and it is now mostly back to the Outside the Atmosphere sequence with the screw and the Alnair 8.

Act One

Act one opens with a voiceover from Hachimaki on the dangers of living in space, and the use of the Moon as a convalescent home for astronauts recovering from injuries. This is a surprisingly bare piece of infodump, usually Planetes is much more subtle about how it slips background information into the story.

Hachimaki is seen bouncing through the hospital with a crutch to a drink vending machine, and notices a tall young lady looking up through the roof windows with a camera. The lady isn’t very happy with the images her camera is capturing.

Fee, Ai, Cheng-Shin, and Lucie visiting distracts Hachimaki from the young lady, and her disappointment.

Hachimaki is stuck in hospital for another week, essentially for the entirety of his vacation. The ninja’s from The Lunar Flying Squirrels have already been discharged, but most of their ninja gear has been left behind in the hospital [2].

Hachimaki rejects a suggestion to return to Earth to recuperate. There is another suggestion that he and his father don’t get on well, but he covers it by saying that astronauts recover better in space.

At this point the old timer in the next room applauds Hachimaki’s attitude, but criticises his lack of physical training. He is using a black hand exerciser, and it looks heavier than the green one Hachimaki was using on ISPV-7.

A hospital announcement calls Harry Roland to an appointment, and the old timer heads off. Fee is surprised, Harry is a legend and a hero of the first mission to the asteroid belt.

Apparently there's no app stores on the moon.

Apparently there are no app stores on the moon.

A little later and Hachimaki is buying a digital magazine from a vending machine whilst the young lady is again raising her camera to the sky. Like Ai’s map in The Lunar Flying Squirrel this is one of the few dated future moments in Planetes, and one I’ve only noticed since I acquired a smart phone [3].

In a moment of kindness Hachimaki gives her the latest electronic issue of Cosmonauts which has a special on Earth’s environment. He turns to leave, but the young lady tentatively interrupts.

This leads to a discussion of Earth’s oceans, and also that the young lady has been in the hospital for 12 years. Hachimaki isn’t sure what to make of this, and thinks it would be rude to ask what disease would keep her on the moon for 12 years, so he reminisces about growing up by the ocean in Japan.

Hachimaki mentions the rising sea levels, the pollution, and that he never really noticed the ocean growing up.

There are a few behavioural cues here that Hachimaki, clueless male that he is, misses completely [4] as Nono is called away by a nurse.

The twelve years bothers Hachimaki that night as he’s lying in bed. Elsewhere in the hospital a grim faced Harry Roland is looking out a window at the lunar landscape.

Cheng-Shin is departing on his return flight, but Lucie has been assigned a different flight. There is a bit of bitchiness here when Lucie realises that Cheng-shin is interested in Ai. Lucie does keep it subtle enough that Cheng-Shin, clueless male that he is, doesn’t realise.

I wouldn't want to eat that either...

I wouldn’t want to eat that either…

Ai arrives with a get well gift: the largest, ugliest, and apparently most revolting apple ever grown on the moon. This triggers another lecture from Harry on the topic of radiation in space, the lack of atmosphere, and that space is the best place for an astronaut to die.

Hachimaki is heading to the vending machines again when he finds Nono sitting on the couch again. This time there are formal introductions. Nono doesn’t have the camera, the photos weren’t making the Earth seem real.

This time Hachimaki tells Nono more about Kujukuri where he grew up. His story overlaps with the end credits, particularly the motorcycles.

The next morning Ai shows up to find Hachimaki and Nono playing cards. Nono innocently invites Ai to join in, but Ai leaves almost immediately. There’s a fair bit of jealousy on Ai’s part I suspect that all three miss completely: Ai doesn’t realise she’s falling for Hachimaki, Hachimaki is a clueless male [5], and there’s another reason for Nono.

Ai and Lucie are visiting the Apollo Commemoration Park. Three words: Tacky Tourist Trap.

It isn’t as bad as the one I vaguely remember from a half-watched episode of Futurama, but it is much closer to that than to tasteful. The scene here is primarily to show that Lucie isn’t as clueless as everyone else in the episode.

A grim looking Harry is leaving a doctor’s appointment, and it is clear that it was very bad news.

Act Two

Having fun there Hachimaki?

Having fun there Hachimaki?

Act two begins with scenes of someone in a space suit, and hospital staff searching for a missing patient. Hachimaki is checking out, hasn’t seen Harry, but tries to use his hand exerciser.

Yes, that went well.

Not.

As he’s leaving, Hachimaki almost asks about Nono’s condition but can’t quite bring himself to do so.

Evidently the hospital is in a different location to the space port so there’s a sequence of Fee and Hachimaki driving a sealed vehicle on a lunar highway. As they drive across the Sea of Tranquillity Fee slams on the brakes [6] as she spots a space suit just lying there.

Ai is waiting in the space port.

Fee and Hachimaki are trying to save the man who isn’t in a full pressure suit, and doesn’t appear to have done enough pre-breathing for a low pressure suit.

It turns out to be Harry Roland, and Hachimaki wonders how he made such a rookie mistake.

It isn’t a mistake, Harry has leukaemia, he loves space, he can’t stand the thought of being retired and sent back to Earth.

Astronauts should die in space.

Hachimaki and Fee are in the smoking room of the hospital, they’ve been shifted to a later flight. Ai will meet them at the space port.

As Nono is sneaking past the smoking room with an oxygen bottle, she overhears Hachimaki get nihilistic about space exploration. Fee administers the appropriate percussive maintenance along with a lecture about how Harry was a hero, and that he would be ashamed of Hachimaki being a coward.

Nono invites Hachimaki to join her on an illicit visit to the surface. This is when Hachimaki finds out that Nono is 12 years old, a Lunarian by birth.

He doesn’t handle the discovery discretely.

As they head through the atmosphere Hachimaki is thinking about how Nono’s body is too weak to survive on Earth.

But where Hachimaki is seeing the tragedy, Nono is seeing the joy of her life. Although Nono is a proud Lunarian [7] who would never want to live on Earth, she does want to visit it to swim in the ocean at least once.

Nono is also proud of her role as a guinea pig for space adaptation research, and every time the doctors discover something she gets stronger.

Nono calls the Sea of Tranquillity her home. It is her ocean of sand and stars that can’t be seen anywhere else. It is a desert wasteland to Hachimaki, it is a question of how people look at the universe they live in.

Things to Come

The smoking room in the hospital is a fairly dingy, and isolated, place. This is especially true given that it is on the route to Nono’s sneaky exit to the surface. This both reinforces the low regard for smokers, and will become a plot point later.

There are also mentions of different types of space suits, full pressure and low pressure. The variability in space suit technology (from high to low) will also become important later.

Summary

This is a beautiful episode, and one that improves with subsequent viewings. The surprise of Nono’s origin and age is well handled. Once you know that the twist is coming, it is a joy to watch the subtle clues and Hachimaki’s cluelessness throughout the episode.

But where Nono’s story is all about the joy of life in space, Harry’s story is about the bitter price space demands. Harry may be the first major example of this, he won’t be the last.

Overall this episode is about balancing the two, and it will be Hachimaki that needs to learn both lessons. I think that this is why the clueless male is such a recurring theme in the episode: it sets Hachimaki up as someone who needs to pay attention and learn from those around him.

It is even possible that Hachimaki recognises this about himself on a subconscious level.

This is one of my favourite episodes in the series.

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: English Cast Interviews

The interviews on the first disc include Kirk Thornton (Hachimaki) and Julie Ann Taylor (Ai). They cover the usual sort of topics – describing the character, how the actor sees the character, etc.

Both are well worth listening to, and include things like their preparations, past acting jobs, and things learnt over the course of the series. There are spoilers here however, especially in Ms Taylor’s section of the interview.

Both actors made a point of listening to the Japanese dialogue to pick up emotional cues, and I suspect that this contributed to the strength of the dub.



[1] I aim for at least 10 years since first Japanese run, but I’m bending that a little with Planetes.


[2] This is one of the reasons to forgive the silliness of The Lunar Flying Squirrels: the characters change for the better. For now.


[3] The user interface on the space suits that Hachimaki and Ai uses still feels right.


[4] Although, to be honest, I think I missed most of them as well the first time I saw this episode.


[5] There’s a lot of that going on in this episode….


[6] Why wasn’t Hachimaki wearing a seat belt? Oh, Rule of Funny, right.


[7] One of only four in the entire world.