The Summer 2018 Revival looks back at a unique original TV anime from the mind of Satoshi Mizukami
The Summer 2019 anime season is preparing to blast off to unknown galaxies of animated entertainment, but we here at "Cruising the Crunchy-Catalog" continue to recognize our roots with the Summer 2018 Revival, a look back at some of the titles that made the Summer season of one year ago so stellar.
This week, we look inward on Earth and outward to distant stars with a very special original TV anime known as Planet With.
What's Planet With?
Planet With is a 2018 original TV anime with direction by Youhei Suzuki and animation production by J.C. Staff. Crunchyroll describes the series as follows:
Soya Kuroi is a high schooler living a peaceful life despite having no memories of his past. One day, however, his town is attacked by one of the mysterious Nebula Weapons. Together with the cat-like “Sensei” and the gothic lolita Ginko, Soya gets dragged into a battle against... seven superheroes who protect the town! What is Soya's reason to fight? The answer lies in his memories.
The creation of Planet With is somewhat unique: the story springs from the mind of manga author Satoshi Mizukami (Hoshi no Samidare: Lucifer and the Biscuit Hammer, Spirit Circle), and prior to production, Mizukami spent about 4 years mapping out the entire show with a total of 1074 storyboards.
Plot Economy, Thematic Density.
The intense level of planning that Mizukami poured into the creation of Planet With allows the show to accomplish some impressive narrative feats, most notably cramming about 36 episodes' worth of story into a whip-smart, perfectly paced 12 episode package. The series has a keen eye for plot structure and a knack for conveying important details visually.
In just 12 TV episodes, Planet With explores intimate themes about power, love, forgiveness, and the nature of society and civilization while simultaneously engaging with high-concept science fiction elements such as psychic powers, giant robots, and intelligent extra-terrestrial species. Not a second of screen time goes to waste.
White Hat vs. White Hat
Another aspect that makes Planet With so special is the richness of the conflicts that it explores. It's easy to create tension in a science fiction story when the Earth is besieged by evil alien invaders seeking to dominate the human population or steal the planet's resources...but what happens when the "invaders" are trying to prevent humanity from destroying itself or threatening other sapient species?
In Planet With, the contest between Earth, the Sealing Faction, and the Pacifist Faction isn't one of black-and-white good versus evil. Instead, it's good versus good. Each side possesses pure motives but they often employ questionable (or contradictory) methods to accomplish their goals. It's not just a clash of cultures, but a clash of philosophies, and that degree of nuance makes the story even more compelling.
Dialectic vs. Didactic.
For a series with an extremely focused moral viewpoint, Planet With isn't preachy. The main character, Soya Kuroi, doesn't need authority figures instructing him about the differences between justice and retribution, the emptiness of revenge, or the healing power of forgiveness. Instead, he learns and grows as a character through his own actions and through interactions with his peers.
Planet With is filled with positive messages about conquering self-doubt and becoming a fully actualized person. Sometimes this occurs with the support of family members and loved ones, sometimes it happens by pushing back against social pressures, and sometimes it comes at the cost of intense suffering or unimaginable loss, but ultimately it's a story about the triumph of love over tyrannies imposed from within and without.
The Universe is Filled with Blessings.
Crunchyroll currently streams Planet With in 205 territories worldwide, and the series is available in the original Japanese with subtitles in English, Spanish, Latin American Spanish, French, Arabic, Italian, German, and Russian. Although there's presently no home video release, Crunchyroll hosts several chapters of Mizukami's Planet With manga, as well.
Arguably one of the best anime of the Summer 2018 season, Planet With is a small show with a heart the size of the universe. It packs an incredible emotional punch despite its compact run-time, and it's similar to Gurren Lagann in terms of its scope and themes. If that sort of series appeals to you, and if it's available in your area, then I heartily recommend that you check out Planet With.
Thanks for joining us for the first installment the Summer 2018 Revival. Be sure to tune in next time, when "Cruising the Crunchy-Catalog" gets a severe case of "video game brain" as we untangle the treacherous paths trod by a perfectly ordinary student on her morning commute to high school.
Is there a series in Crunchyroll's catalog that you think needs some more love and attention? Please send in your suggestions via e-mail to email@example.com or post a Tweet to @gooberzilla. Your pick could inspire the next installment of “Cruising the Crunchy-Catalog”!
Paul Chapman is the host of The Greatest Movie EVER! Podcast and GME! Anime Fun Time.
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