Planetes Vol. #6 (of 6) (Mania.com)
Review Date: Thursday, July 06, 2006
Release Date: Friday, March 03, 2006
What They Say
In 2075, space is scattered with all kinds of debris: broken-down satellites, stray space station parts, abandoned spaceships... This debris poses a serious threat to space travel. To remedy the situation, salvage teams have been assembled to clean up space around earth. These teams are known as "debris sections".
At the start of the first Federal Summit in space, the Space Protectors attack Galileo headquarters and seize control of their communications network. With the help of Claire, Hakim and his men manage to take over the Toybox and board the Von Braun, in an attempt to take control of the ship and crash it into the largest city on the moon...
22 - Exposure
23 - Debris Cluster
24 - Love
25 - The Lost
26 - And the Days we Chance Upon
Hachimaki and Tanabe find themselves caught up in a terrorist attack before life finally gets back to some sort of normality, as Planetes finally draws to a close.
Audio is provided in English, Japanese, French & German, with each track being presented in 2.0 stereo. I listened to the Japanese track for this review. There's quite a bit of directionality used, which helps to place where characters are in zero-gravity scenes, amongst other things. There's not a great deal of background music, but where it appears it's effective. There were no apparent problems with the audio encoding.
The show is presented in its original 1.78:1 aspect, enhanced for anamorphic playback. Visually, this is one beautiful show. Backgrounds are highly detailed and good use is made of colour to bring the show to life. There were no noticeable problems with the encoding. Subtitles use Beez's usual white-on-black font which is clear and easy to read, if a little on the small side. There were no obvious errors with these.
Hachimaki and Tanabe get the front cover honours again, wearing their spacesuits and looking quite the happy couple. The back features the usual episode summaries and screenshots, along with a technical information panel. The reverse of the cover has character profiles for Lucie and Hakim.
The disc menus are available English, French, German, Polish and Dutch - I used the English version. The menu takes its theme from the head-up display used by the Debris Section's EVA suits, and runs through a "boot-up sequence" before you get to the main screen. Options for language select, episode select and extras appear at the bottom right against a view of the Earth and another floating spacesuit, with a few sequences from the show shown as "incoming transmissions". The opening theme plays throughout. The language and extras scenes are silent static screens, while the episode select menu runs a series of clips from each episode. The menu options are all clear and easy-to-follow, and the lack of any animated transitions makes it quick to use.
Extras this time around are 3 more episode commentaries featuring the original Japanese cast, for episodes 24, 25 and 26.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review will contain spoilers)
Hakim's attack on the Von Braun leads to the OSA bringing in anyone with a connection to him for questioning, including Hachimaki. The time away from the crew selection tests gives him a chance to step back from recent events and take some time to think, and he begins to realise he's missing Tanabe " although his attitude soon changes again when he realises she knew of Gigalt's illness and kept it from him. Meanwhile, the Debris Section head for the moon again, where an upcoming INTO Supreme Council meeting to be held on an orbital station has people on edge.
We're beginning to get back to the Hachimaki we all know and love, here - although there are still flashes of self-centredness when he's dealing with Tanabe, it's finally beginning to sink in to him that maybe he does need someone he can anchor himself to, and there's really only one candidate for the job. While he's coming to terms with that, there's a lot going on around him, as Cheng-Shin and Claire both come close to the ends of their tethers " although they'll both handle that in different ways " and a number of characters introduced earlier in the series come to the end of the line in another reminder of the fragility of human life. Most of the main characters have a lot to deal with here, and it's how they cope with what's going on around them, and how they try to influence those events, that's key to what Planetes seems to be doing at this point.
In some ways, there are almost two endings to the series. Episodes 23 & 24 provide one of them, tying up the story of the Space Defense Front's campaign against the Von Braun mission and mankind's plundering of resources in space. When Fee learns that most of Tranquillity City's police force has been sent up to the lunar orbital station to beef up its security ahead of the Supreme Council meeting, she's more than a little worried that the city's been left vulnerable to an attack. She takes her concerns to Dolf, but he's not convinced that the city is much of a target compared to the orbital station and its VIPs - but no sooner is he off the 'phone to her than an armed group seizes control of the Galileo Development offices, shooting him in the process. It's just one part of the SDF plan - and the Debris Section's about to become directly involved in another part, as the Toybox is hijacked.
Two all-action episodes with the lives of thousands on the line " wasn't this supposed to be a quiet, slice-of-life series? This is a prime example of how Planetes has changed over the course of its run, and I have to say that the way the SDF was introduced to the series and built up as a threat mean that, although the events of these episodes wouldn't have "fit" with the early tone of the series, the really don't feel at all out-of-place here, especially as we're focussed on established characters who have each taken different sides of the conflict. For the most part, too, you can see why those who have thrown their lot in with the SDF have done so, which means you're hoping for people on both sides to come through events in one piece. The politics of the situation is also worth paying attention to, although it's not as big a part of the story. The way it's been able to make you care for its characters has always been one of Planetes' biggest strengths, and it certainly doesn't lose that touch here.
Episodes 24 & 25 make up the "second" ending, and take us back down to Earth, partly to deal with the aftermath of previous events but mostly to finally deal with the relationship between Hachimaki and Tanabe. Anyone who's been paying attention to the relationship between Hachi's parents won't be too surprised at how this turns out. I honestly wasn't too sure whether I was happy at how this finished or not, as you can make good arguments for it being a sweet, feel-good ending or for Hachi being too self-centred for words. Like father, like son.
Over the course of the series, the only times I've been able to find fault with Planetes is where the characters have done things I haven't agreed with " and that's just the effect of how good this series has been at letting you "click" with the people on the screen. This final volume puts most of those characters through experiences that teach them - and us - a lot about themselves, in a way that makes for some really compelling viewing. For me, Planetes has been the real highlight of the recent crop of UK releases, and is one series I can't recommend enough.
Japanese Language 2.0,English Language 2.0,French Language 2.0,German Language 2.0,English Subtitles,French Subtitles,German Subtitles,Polish Subtitles,Dutch Subtitles,Commentaries for episodes 24-26
Panasonic TX-W28R30P 28" widescreen TV; Pioneer DV-626D player; Acoustic Solutions DS-222 5.1 speaker system.
Mania Grade: A
Audio Rating: B+
Video Rating: A
Packaging Rating: B+
Menus Rating: B
Extras Rating: B+
Age Rating: 12 & Up
Region: 2 - Europe
Released By: Beez
Running time: 125
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2