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His Reasons introduces two new characters who will be crucial to the remaining episodes of Planetes. It is not stretching the point to say that one of these characters is an unmitigated bastard.

The disturbing thing is the extent to which Hachimaki and his father are the same as the bastard.

The Tag

The “space debris is bad” message segues into Gigalt’s office. He is currently taking medicine and answering questions from Locksmith about the whereabouts of Goro Hoshino [1]. Gigalt claims that he hasn’t seen Goro in years.

Locksmith is the designer of the Tandem Mirror engine seen in Ignition, and Goro emerges from hiding after Locksmith leaves. Goro and Gigalt used to be partners on Mars, and Goro doesn’t want to go to Jupiter, but is already weakening.

The Opening

Werner Locksmith

Werner Locksmith

This opening has a shot of Hachimaki’s hallucination from Ignition. Like all the versions it also features brief flashes of the two new characters: Werner Locksmith and Goro Hoshino.

Planetes Ep 17 Opening Screenshot 2

Goro Hoshino

Locksmith is the chief designer, and wants Goro to be the chief engineer.

Act One

Hachimaki is working out on a treadmill to build his endurance. Hachimaki is almost obsessed with the Tandem Mirror engine he touched in Ignition, and believes he has to do everything he can to get on board the Von Braun.

Ai enters the storage area and interrupts the work out, and it turns out that Hachimaki didn’t show up for a date with Ai because he was working out. This is Hachimaki beginning to make the mistakes I foreshadowed in Ignition.

Ai: I should do WHAT?!

Ai: I should do WHAT?!

In her quarters that evening Ai is wondering why Hachimaki is worried about his endurance. Lucie tells her to just sleep with Hachimaki, which shocks Ai a little. I find this conversation a little disturbing in terms of the implied gender roles, but I’m having trouble pinning down exactly why.

Part of it is the difference between Ai thinking that their relationship is only a month and a half old [2], and Lucie pointing out that the adjective in Hachimaki’s head may be “already”. Lucie also suggests that Ai should “seal the deal soon”.

At a welcome back party for Hachimaki, Cheng-Shin is unfavourably comparing qualifying for the Von Braun to qualifying for the Olympics.

There is a lot of, well, propaganda in His Reasons about the need to access resources on Jupiter for the benefit of humanity etc. Cheng-Shin starts it here, and it is something that Hachimaki repeats later on several occasions. This is a relatively rare piece of off-character scripting for Planetes, but the passionate repetitions of the propaganda by Hachimaki just don’t sound right at all.

Oddly Cheng-Shin’s valid point that the first crew to Jupiter will end up in the history books doesn’t get picked up on by Hachimaki as much. Cheng-Shin estimates that there will be about 1,000 applicants just from Technora and the related companies.

When asked by Hachimaki what Cheng-Shin will do if he qualifies for the seven year trip, Cheng-Shin replies that his parents would be OK, but a girlfriend would be awkward. How could he leave a girl behind for seven years?

Once again you can almost see Hachimaki beginning to draw the wrong conclusions from his confrontation with his inner demons in Ignition.

Claire is at the OSA for the last time, and talking to Hakim again. Claire is being demoted for the repeated mistakes, and this conversation takes on a distinctly political overtone. Claire is now unable to enjoy a meal as part of the nobility, despite her efforts to become exactly that, if the peasants who prepared the meal are starving.

Down on Earth the actual nobility, aka the Technora Board, are discussing the Von Braun and the loose cannon nature of Locksmith. They need someone disposable, but capable, to rein Locksmith in and Dolf is being put forward as the fall guy.

In Technora reception on ISPV-7 one of Ai’s friends asks where the life size mascot has gone since her section is responsible for it. Locksmith enters and asks for the Debris Section as he’s looking for Hachimaki. The receptionist offers to page Hachimaki, but Locksmith chooses to head down there.

Ignoring the listeners Locksmith gives orders to push the second engine to just short of the danger zone, and promises to take full responsibility for anything that goes wrong.

On board a passenger ship Claire is performing a flight crew check, which Cheng-Shin points out is a job for new employees.

Ravi is packing Nora plush toys into bags, Yuri seems to be helping sort of, and Fee is mocking Ravi about the whole thing. Ai asks Hachimaki to accompany her to a Japanese food fair in the Hotel Spica, and mentions that you can have the food brought up to the rooms.

This is when Locksmith enters and introduces himself. Cue the geekout from Hachimaki at meeting the designer of the Tandem Mirror, only to be deflated when Locksmith asks about his father. This also drives the invitation from Ai out of his mind.

It also turns out that Goro is famous, having made 5 round trips to Mars as chief engineer for ships with more “traditional” fusion engines. This is when Ai starts geeking out.

Locksmith wants Goro’s experience for the Von Braun project, and leaves when Hachimaki assures him that Goro isn’t here.

That's a little disturbing...

That’s a little disturbing…

At this point the life size mascot that went missing from reception asks if Locksmith is gone and starts moving.

Goro’s greeting to Hachimaki isn’t exactly polite.

Act Two

Goro has been running from Locksmith for a while, but seems quite relaxed. There are the fairly casual introductions you’d expect from Fee and Yuri, but Ai introduces herself in a very formal way.

The interactions between Goro and Hachimaki are fairly strained, and this is another scene where Hachimaki spouting propaganda really sounds off. Goro claims that he’s had enough and that he’s going back down to Earth.

Remember these guys?

Remember these guys?

On the moon there is a test about to get started on one of the Tandem Mirror engines. The crew are complaining about how tough it is to work for Locksmith. The crew are the former ninjas from The Lunar Flying Squirrels, and right now they’re grateful for having work in the first place.

On the liner Claire is telling Cheng-Shin that she’s been removed as the OSA liaison and has been threatened with a demotion to Half Section. Cheng-Shin points out that Hachimaki works there, but Claire replies that Hachimaki is a “thoroughbred” who can stay true to himself anywhere.

Claire is clearly feeling the discrimination targeted at immigrants, particularly third world immigrants, and the bitterness is starting to leak through.

On Earth Mrs Hoshino is talking to Goro about his plans to return to Earth. He sounds serious but there’s still room for doubt there. This is followed by another confrontation between Hachimaki and Goro.

Once again Goro is funny to watch, but Hachimaki is just painful to watch again. However Goro has an honesty here that Hachimaki lacks: he came into space because he wanted to, and he’s going back down because he’s tired of it.

This is when the news of an accident on the far side of the moon begins to break on ISPV-7.

Oh that can't be good...

Oh that can’t be good…

In the control room people are reacting to seismograph readings, orbital flights are being cancelled, Lucie is dealing with passengers, and there are airport scenes of people calling home.

Locksmith tells his aides to call a press conference to take responsibility for the accident. All of the researchers are probably dead, and the costs will be huge.

This is in many ways a chilling scene. There is no way to describe Locksmith but as amoral, possibly psychopathic.

He simply doesn’t care about the consequences, all Locksmith cares about is building spaceships. His reassurances to his aides about why he, as a genius, won’t be fired are simply frightening.

In the Debris Section the main characters are watching the news, whilst Ravi and the Chief head off to an emergency meeting. The news is that the Tandem Mirror melted down.

The press conference given by Locksmith is another look at how scary he is. He takes responsibility by saying that the data obtained from this explosion will ensure that the next engine won’t blow up. Ai is horrified by the loss of life, but Hachimaki is contemplative.

Also scary is that this impresses Goro to the point where he signs up for the Von Braun. Goro’s conversation with his wife is about the only amusing thing here.

Hachimaki is working out on the treadmill again when Ai comes in with more of the mascot plushies.

This conversation with Ai is possibly the first time that Hachimaki sounds natural in the entire episode. Hachimaki is talking about the historical record for Werner Von Braun from the V2 to the Saturn rocket, and admitting that he is just as ruthless as Von Braun or Locksmith.

Locksmith is talking to his aides about the crew screening when the message that Goro will sign up comes in. Locksmith is still short on key EVA personnel, and is looking at Gigalt’s resume.

Locksmith is clearly aware that Gigalt will be dead before the Von Braun sails, but this has to be a sign that Locksmith would be examining Gigalt’s students.

Summary

His Reasons is solely intended to introduce and establish the new characters of Werner Locksmith and Goro Hoshino.

I think this is why Hachimaki sounds so out of character in this episode. The plot demanded that Hachimaki be the idealistic strawman to Goro’s more self centred attitude to space. It is telling that Hachimaki only sounds in character when he is also adopting that self centred approach.

Locksmith is an unmitigated bastard who deliberately ordered a test that he knew was likely to fail. His utter disregard for the casualties, including most of the ninjas from The Lunar Flying Squirrels, is chilling.

However whilst Locksmith’s self centred approach to space is extreme, the truth is that Hachimaki and Goro both share it to some extent.

The episode title His Reasons could be talking about any of these characters, and about the same reasons for all of them.

That is disturbing, and watching Hachimaki begin to draw away from Ai is only part of Hachimaki taking the wrong lessons from Ignition.

His Reasons is an important and unsettling episode of Planetes, leavened only by the humour of Goro’s antics, and marred by Hachimaki being assigned the straw man role.

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: Disassembled Opening

This is an odd piece of footage. Basically it is bits and pieces from the opening that were stitched together and/or layered to provide the final footage.

In other words many of the changes as the credits evolved are due to an opening that was basically designed to be modular from the get go. This is worth having a look at, but be aware that there’s no sound on this.



[1] That would be Hachimaki’s father, and I’m not going to dodge around the character names.


[2] Including the month that Hachimaki spent dealing with Spatial Loss Disorder in Ignition.