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In Her Case is Edel’s Day in the Limelight episode, and one of my favourites of the breed. It is the episode that establishes Edel as one of the few positive gender examples in Planetes.  Note that trigger warnings for mentions of abuse apply to Edel’s back story.

The Tag

The tag is limited to the “space debris is a problem” message.

The Opening

Ai's Title Card as of In Her Case...

Ai’s Title Card as of In Her Case…

No real change to the opening, but I thought I’d screenshot the background to Ai’s introduction. It shows that Ai’s strength in the series is her connections to others, although there are a few surprises there. One relevant piece of information to this episode is that Edel isn’t in black and white like some of the other minor characters, and I think that this indicates her relative importance to Ai.

Act One

Act One opens with the Debris Section, sans Edel, being hauled in for an annual medical check up. It turns out that this is reserved for full employees, and the surprise when Edel turns up as the nurse to check them in at reception is quite amusing.

Also amusing is the implication that the only reason Hachimaki is here is that Ai dragged him in.

In an OSA office, Gigalt is planning an arrest of a trio who are making some sort of deal on ISPV-7. According to Hakim, the punishment will be less severe as ISPV-7 is under INTO law. Gigalt criticises Hakim for this opinion, but then collapses at the table.

In the Debris Section Ai is shopping online for jewelry and is considering getting a piercing for an earring for her date with Hachimaki. Edel is asking Yuri how long they’ll be taking care of a sea cucumber. Yuri responds that it was a gift from Third Division [1], and Ai is going to keep it as a pet [2]. Edel asks Ai to file the necessary paperwork to keep it.

It's a piercing for WHERE?!

It’s a piercing for WHERE?!

Ai returns to her contemplation of earrings only for Edel to point out that the one Ai is looking at is a lingum piercing [3] intended for the underside of the tongue. The expression on Ai’s face here is priceless. Edel goes on to point out that earrings wouldn’t suit Ai at all.

In his quarters Hachimaki is getting advice on what to wear to the date. This leads to an awkward moment with Cheng-Shin showing up with a Von Braun pamphlet.

Cheng-Shin isn't buying it.

Cheng-Shin isn’t buying it.

Cheng-Shin mentions that there’ll be an internal call for recruits inside Technora. Hachimaki brushes off the idea of trying out for it, thinking that they’ll laugh at an applicant from Half Section. From the expression on his face I’m not sure that Cheng-Shin is buying Hachimaki’s denial.

Back in the Debris Section Ai is taking the day off according to Ravi. This is something of a problem as it is also the deadline for the renewal of her EVA licence according to Edel, nor has Ai turned in the registration for the sea cucumber yet. Ravi doesn’t seem to care, but Edel is justifiably irritated by this [4].

Edel receives an email from someone named Sasha.

Hachimaki did look cool in that scene.

Hachimaki did look cool in that scene.

On the ISPV-7 promenade, the date between Ai and Hachimaki has descended into the awkwardness I speculated about in Turning Point. The conversation leads to Ai revealing that her feelings for Hachimaki may have started on her first EVA with him in Outside the Atmosphere, complete with flashback.

However Hachimaki’s answer to the same question is interrupted by the embarrassing arrival of Cheng-Shin.

Whilst this is going on Hakim and another OSA officer in plainclothes have spotted two of the suspects on the promenade. One of them has not left the hotel, and the female officer asks about Gigalt’s progress. Whilst reassuring her about Gigalt, Hakim spots Hachimaki and swaps the teams so that Hachimaki won’t notice him.

The conversation between Hachimaki, Cheng-Shin, and Ai is simply cringeworthy, and plays into the problems I’ve already mentioned with the gender roles.

On the moon Dolf is wrapping up a meeting with a Vice President and Second Division has done well this period. He turns down a request to have a drink with the Vice President, citing a prior engagement. The creepy Third Division manager from Turning Point attempts to criticise Dolf for not being enough of a suck-up, the response that this might make Dolf the next vice president is a classic put down.

Edel requests approval for time off from the chief, and rejects his attempts to be informal about it.

In room 25, the missing suspect is sitting nervously.

Back on the promenade Ai addresses Hachimaki by his actual name Hachirota for the first time. Hachimaki shuts that down fast, but then the running gag of meeting everyone you know kicks back into gear.

Two of Ai’s friends show up, and Ai drags Hachimaki off immediately. The Promenade is the only recreational space on ISPV-7 so this is sort of inevitable.

Lucie is the next one to show up, and promptly drags them to the hotel. Apparently there are rules for dating on ISPV-7, and one of the ways to get privacy is to rent a hotel room for a few hours. This enables a couple to have dinner, watch a movie, etc, without running into everybody.

Elsewhere in the lobby, Claire is handing over a list of newly qualified suppliers to some sort of manager. The recipient accepts it but mentions that orders will never be placed with companies in developing countries. As he leaves he mentions that anything to do with the Von Braun gets top priority. Claire cynically comments to herself about the first world club and things never changing before noticing Hachimaki and Ai at the registration desk.

Claire heads out of the lobby without greeting them.

Act Two

Oh that's not awkward at all...

Oh that’s not awkward at all…

Ai is geeking out over the size of the room and the “Projection TV [5]” while Hachimaki is working up his courage. An accident with a rescue ball dumps Ai on top of Hachimaki in a classic embarrassing position. Things are actually progressing naturally when Ai notices someone hiding behind the bed.

It turns out to be the missing suspect, and he claims to have a good reason for being there. He basically spins a story about a missing lover sent away by her parents, and coming to the Moon to find her.

Hachimaki is somewhat sceptical, but Ai is lapping it up. However he sent her an email with a room number, and typed in room 35 (which is where they are now) instead of room 25.

In an elevator Edel is holding a slip of paper with room 35 written on it before flashing back to darker times on Earth. It isn’t explicit, but Edel has clearly been assaulted in the past.

On the moon Dolf visits Chad [6] to offer him a flight director role with the Second Division.

Sasha is continuing to spin his tale, but asks Ai to get the door. Hachimaki is still clearly sceptical. Edel is the one at the door of course.

A depressed Claire is in the cafe finishing a drink, and it is clear that Claire isn’t as over Hachimaki as she would like to think. It is also clear that either the OSA suck at undercover work, or the space community is so small that they may as well suck at undercover work.

Claire is having a REALLY bad day.

Claire is having a REALLY bad day.

This results in Claire staring down the barrel of a gun. The situation is resolved fairly quickly by Hakim but it does leave Claire in a fairly understandable state of shock.

In room 35 Ai is gushing before Edel shuts her down. Edel is rapidly deflating Sasha’s conman stories, and Edel is waiting for the separation to last 5 years so she can get a divorce without Sasha’s consent.

Edel was basically forced into prostitution with mentions of forced bondage and piercings, with beatings if she refused. Edel pulls a wire anchor launcher and appears willing to pull the trigger.

Sasha makes some pitiful excuse about having no education and that what he asked Edel to do was reasonable.

An oddly effective way to save Edel.

An oddly effective way to save Edel.

However Edel points out that she now has a job, is working additional part time jobs, and is acquiring an education. As Edel is about to pull the trigger Ai jumps in front of Sasha.

Ai’s The Power of Love attitude can sometimes be very annoying, but this time Ai isn’t interested in saving Sasha: Ai wants to save Edel. Edel is the one that the Debris Section depends on, and Ai doesn’t want her in trouble.

In the resulting scuffle, Hachimaki shows that he agrees with Ai and is more than willing to pound on Sasha for fun, and well, fun. 🙂

Unfortunately most of the pounding is done by Hakim as he arrests Sasha. Hachimaki resigns himself to giving Hakim another statement [7]. Hakim mentions that he and Hachimaki must have some sort of connection.

After Sasha is dragged away calling for help from Edel [8], there is a sequence of Hachimaki taking Ai’s hand that actually feels natural, and right.

Meanwhile Edel claims that she wasn’t going to shoot, only that she wanted to make sure that Sasha would never come near her again, and to make sure she would never go back to that life again.

I’m not sure if I fully believe that claim from Edel, but the tear of relief at not having to shoot is entirely believable.

In the lobby Hakim hears that Gigalt is now stable in hospital.

The next morning Ai arrives in the Debris Section to find Edel already there. Edel has also completed and filed Ai’s EVA licence renewal as well as the registration form for the sea cucumber.

Finally Edel stops typing and asks Ai to call her Edel rather than Edel-san [9] with what passes for a smile on her face.

Things to Come

This episode is firmly putting the Von Braun on the agenda, and also establishing the connection between Hakim and Hachimaki. Once again the infodump is cleverly hidden in the story.

Claire is continuing to fall apart in this episode as the reality of how her homeland of El Tanika is treated sinks in. The shock of having a gun pointed at her won’t have helped, and Claire will become increasingly important over coming episodes.

Summary

Edel before...

Edel before…

In Her Case… is a strong character focussed episode of Planetes. The transformation of Edel over the episode is well handled, as is the back story that establishes her motivations.

Edel after...

Edel after…

Edel is ultimately a strong female character, one who has triumphed over a horrible past, and is making a better life for herself. That much of that better life is already here in the form of Ai regarding her as a friend is something that Edel only realises in this episode, but it is satisfying to see the payoff at the end.

Once again the slow romance between Ai and Hachimaki is working best when it isn’t forced, although there is about to be some stress placed on it in the coming episodes.

This is one of my favourite episodes in the series, deftly scripted with solid character development.

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: Gender, Diversity, and Politics
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 Featurette

This short film is about Orbital Debris Testing at NASA and is essentially the completion of the interview with Mark J. Matney and Eugene G. Stansbery

It covers testing for the behaviour of debris and how to armour spaceships to handle it. Part of this involves hypervelocity gun tests to accelerate small particles to orbital velocity. This one is short but worthwhile.



[1] The gift is probably a result of saving the module in Turning Point.


[2] Edel clearly doesn’t understand what Ai sees in the sea cucumber, and I’m on Edel’s side on this one. Ugly thing.


[3] Google suggests that the correct spelling for that is lingam piercing, but lingum is the version used in the subtitles.


[4] I’m on Edel’s side here again given that Ai’s job is to be an EVA specialist. Keeping licensed for that is kind of important.


[5] There’s that dated future again.


[6] Chad was first seen in The Lunar Flying Squirrels, and it was his photo that Fee gave Dolf in A Place To Cling To.


[7] This is a call back to Regrets where Hachimaki ended up giving a statement to Hakim whilst Ai was helping Gigalt with the damaged suit thruster.


[8] In addition to conning others Sasha is apparently capable of conning himself: the idea that Edel would help him is evidence of that.


[9] This is rendered as Miss Edel in the dub, which is a reasonable way of translating it.