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"Planetes": The Best Anime You Have Never Heard Of

David has had a variety of life experiences, which he loves to share with his readers.

Space debris around Earth, which is the main focus of Planetes.

Space debris around Earth, which is the main focus of Planetes.

Planetes (2003–2004)

  • Director: Gorō Taniguchi
  • Writer: Ichirō Ōkouchi
  • Episodes: 26

The best anime you have never heard of is Planetes. The show is set in the near future, with the majority of the story taking place in space (though it does make some stops on Earth, from time to time). The story focuses on debris haulers.

In the anime, these debris haulers set out into space to find debris and dispose of it. While it sounds like a dull topic, the anime does a good job of making it an interesting and realistic portrayal of the near future. While it focuses on the debris hauling initially, the story eventually expands to larger events in the characters lives.

The anime covers space travel, the exploration of resources in space, the political consequences of colonizing space, and more.

Realistic Animation

One of the biggest things in this anime is the realism. This isn't just a standard sci-fi anime set in space. The creators went through painstaking detail to ensure it was a realistic interpretation of space. The motions reflect what actually happens in space. There is no sound in space. Ships travel as one would expect in space.

Again, it doesn't make this anime dull. It fills the void of no sound in space with subtle music, the appropriate amount of action, and a deep story involving the disposal of space debris. Animes that have a realistic interpretation of space are rare. I consider Planetes to be the best one of them all.

Action + Politics

Planetes has a large amount of action. It starts out slow at first, but really picks up. There will be incidents involving spacecraft, direct fights between people, and huge political action sequences. Again, the action starts out very small, but grows throughout the anime. It also does a great job of not forcing one episode to be a singular topic.

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Politics plays a role, but for those who don't like that, it's not forced throughout the entire episode. However, when it does come up, the anime does a great job in weaving it into the story between other action sequences.

Cleverly Romantic

As with most anime, there is a decent amount of romance. Again, it's not really forced romance. It works well with the story, it helps the characters grow. I've watched more than enough animes where I see romance is going to happen and I just roll my eyes.

In the case of Planetes, I didn't. In fact, I cheered for it when certain romantic parts occurred between characters. The anime did a great job in including romance, but not forcing it into the story.

Endearing Characters

I have to admit, in the beginning the characters in Planetes were a bit over the top for me. However, as I watched more of the anime, I grew to enjoy each of the characters. Almost all of them have dark moments which brings them down, and bright moments which lift them up.

I have felt more for these characters over the short run of the show than other characters that had dozens upon dozens of episodes. Most are endearing, and I never felt like any were annoying (except as it played as part of the story).

If You Like Anime, You'll Love Planetes

In short, Planetes has something for everyone. It has it's silly, funny, over the top moments. It has those moments which make you feel sad. It has those emotional moments that make you cheer when they occur. It has a deep story which involves politics and a lot of action.

No matter what your tastes, if you like anime, you will love Planetes.

Planetes the Manga

For those who don't like anime, there is also a manga of Planetes. The funny thing is that it's far easier to buy the manga than it is the anime. So if you can't find the anime, then I strongly recommend picking up the manga. Ensure to pick up the whole collection to get the complete story!

© 2022 David Livermore

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