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Scenery with a Rocket is an odd contrast to A Modest Request that hides introspection with rockets going amusingly astray. Thematically though, it is a fitting epilogue to A Sky of Stardust.

The Tag

The tag segues from the brief “Debris is bad” spiel to the Hoshino residence in Japan. Hachimaki’s mother is cooking when Hachimaki arrives with Ai and Yuri.

The Opening

This episode features a slightly updated version of the animation with scenes of ISPV-7 behind the main characters. There is a more significant change hidden behind the lines of the supporting characters.

Act One

Hachimaki is complaining about the forced vacation caused by the loss of the Toy Box. When his mother asks if Hachimaki was responsible, Yuri provides an explanation of the Space Defence Force incident [1].

Hachimaki’s mother compliments Yuri on his Japanese, and this leads to mentioning that his late wife was Japanese. Yuri waves off the apology, and there is a sense of acceptance in this scene that wasn’t there with Yuri before. This is lovely character work but quickly interrupted by a strange whistling sound.

Everybody Duck! Well, except for Hachimaki. :)

Everybody Duck! Well, except for Hachimaki. 🙂

Hachimaki’s mother ducks under the table and tells Ai and Yuri to take cover. Noticeably she doesn’t tell Hachimaki to duck, so Hachimaki is the only one watching when the unexpected guest arrives.

And this would be why...

And this would be why…

It turns out that the rocket was launched by Hachimaki’s brother Kyutaro. The relationship between the two is somewhat rocky. Hachimaki’s father is also a successful astronaut, so his mother’s easy acceptance of space being in Kyutaro’s blood does have a ring of truth to it.

This comes as news to Ai, as does the somewhat embarrassing news that both the brothers were as a result of their parents “getting lucky” on trips to the moon.

Yuri finds Kyutaro down at the beach doing a static test firing in a boat shed rented from a fisherman. Yuri is impressed by Kyutaro’s setup, and formally introduces himself. Yuri has a few ideas to help.

Hachimaki is pulling out the motorcycle seen in the end credits to do some grocery shopping. Hachimaki is worried about how Ai is adapting to being back on Earth, but Ai ends up coming along anyway to make sure he buys the right stuff [2].

Yuri is cheerfully copying Technora’s guidance software to Kyutaro’s laptop. This is illegal but only a problem for Yuri if anyone finds out.

An old motorcycling friend of Hachimaki shows up with a wife and baby. Takumi jumps to the conclusion that Ai and Hachimaki are an item, and this causes some embarrassment when they go to ride home.

As they ride back they see a rather more successful rocket launch, one that Hachimaki thinks is a college experiment. Kyutaro is more than a little jealous, and wants to be a rocket engineer rather than an astronaut.

Down on the beach Hachimaki is reminiscing about how he used to be hooked on motorbikes until he saw that rocket launch. Hachimaki is again expressing concern about Ai dealing with gravity again, and a stumble proves him right and sets the scene for a kiss as the sun sets.

This scene feels more natural than the annoying subplots up on ISPV-7 with Cheng-Shin and Lucie. It is born of genuine familiarity and a degree of mutual respect.

Naturally they are interrupted by Kyutaro’s next launch. Yuri’s deadpan commentary as parts start falling off is quite amusing, right up until the point where the rocket doubles back and forces them to duck.

Time to let go of the past.

Time to let go of the past.

Back at the launch site Yuri that his wife’s compass was mangled by the rocket. Kyutaro asks about the compass, and even works out that it was important. Yuri calmly tells him not to worry about it.

Act Two

At dinner Kyutaro is wolfing down huge amounts of food but still notices that Yuri still has the compass in his pocket. Kyutaro wonders why Yuri is still carrying the compass if it isn’t important.

Fee calls Hachimaki from what I suspect is Cape Canaveral with news that the Debris Section is getting a brand new ship to replace the Toy Box. Fee is clearly geeking out over her new toy.

Kyutaro asks Hachimaki about the compass, and Hachimaki tells him the full story. Hachimaki then goes straight into lecture mode and this leads into a full blown argument. Hachimaki does have a point that space is more dangerous than Kyutaro realises. Similarly Kyutaro’s point that Hachimaki has become complacent and settled for less than his dreams is also valid.

I think Kyutaro has been working out in 1G recently.

I think Kyutaro has been working out in 1G recently.

Neither brother is listening to the other at the moment. Hachimaki comes off second best in the resulting violence and Kyutaro

Meanwhile Ai is helping Hachimaki’s mother with the dishes, and Hachimaki’s mother is incredibly calm about the whole thing. Hachimaki’s mother also makes the point that the good astronauts are the ones that come home alive.

I have mixed feelings about this scene. On the one hand, the positive message from Hachimaki’s mother is good to see; there have been too many “astronauts should die in space” incidents. On the other hand, the gender roles here make me cringe.

Out on the beach Yuri is about to throw the compass into the sea when Kyutaro finds him. Yuri then tells a tale of time spent wandering over the earth seeking his place in the world, answers to things he didn’t understand.

There is some half-baked philosophy here, but it works in the context of showing Yuri’s acceptance of his past and present. It ends with Yuri thanking Kyutaro for breaking the compass, and asks him for a favour.

At this point the episodes segues into a montage of the Debris Section departing Hachimaki’s home and going about their vacations on Earth. It includes scenes of most of the Debris Section with their families, although Edel is alone studying in a library. Kyutaro is still working on the rocket, and Yuri is visiting his wife’s grave.

Ai, Hachimaki, and Yuri meet up at the airport for the flight back to ISPV-7. As they conveniently fly over Hachimaki’s home a rocket launches straight and true from the beach.

Yuri mentions that his compass is in the nose cone of the rocket, and does so with a smile on his face.

On the ground Kyutaro is walking away from the launch site, and is confident that he’ll “catch up to him soon enough.

Things to Come

There isn’t really a lot of foreshadowing happening here. In fact this section of the reviews may soon become redundant.

There is the first mention of the new, improved, Toy Box. The only other significant item is Hachimaki being challenged on his own dreams, and that will become important soon.

Summary

Despite the fraternal violence, the explosions, and the property damage, Scenery with a Rocket feels like a relaxed slice of life episode. As such the character development, particularly for Yuri, feels natural and works well.

As I mentioned above the first signs of the real romance between Hachimaki and Ai also felt more natural, and believable, than the annoying sequences up on ISPV-7.

Scenery with a Rocket works well as an emotional breather after the intensity of Boundary Line and A Modest Request. It is definitely an enjoyable episode, but not a stand alone episode.

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 Dramas 4 & 5

Audio Drama 4 deals with the Chief trying to get into the El Tanikan spacesuit from Boundary Line, and getting stuck when Temara isn’t around to remove the hatch with embarrassing results. Audio Drama 4 is mildly amusing but doesn’t really add anything to the series.

Audio Drama 5 ties into the damage to Fee’s smoking seat in A Modest Request and the attempts of the Debris Section to set things right. This one is funny, and does show Fee approaching the state seen in the end of A Modest Request. Well worth listening to, and the manga style illustrations that accompany it are also amusing.



[1] See A Modest Request.


[2] You may groan now.