Hein (fub) wrote,
Hein
fub

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Finished series: PlanetES

We've finished watching PlanetES a few days go. (My first episode review is here, FYI.)

The series is set in 2075. By that year, space debris has become a hazard for commercial and military space travel, and thus several companies operate space debris cleaning crews to clear the debris that lies on a collision course with their sattelites or spaceplanes.
Main character is Tanabe Ai, a new recruit who gets placed in the debris department of Technora Corp., the lowest-ranking department on space station 7 where they are stationed. She meets the crew of the Toybox, a beat-up debris collection ship. Her teacher is 'Hachimaki', a moody guy who dreams of owning his own spaceship one day.
The crew has various adventures with the debris they have to clear. Tanabe's inexperience and sensitivities make for some amusing situations.

This being a hard SF series (that is: the science makes sense, there are no transporters or Faster Than Light-travel or other wonky science Star Trek stuff), it would have been very easy to focus only on the technology of the whole deal. Instead, the writers have made very human stories out of the various mission.

The second part of the series, however, has a completely different theme. We get to see the larger international picture, of how a few developed countries benefit from space development, while other countries are left to live in poverty. This has given rise to a terrorist group, called the Space Defence Front, who want to push humanity back to Earth. The stakes get even higher when a new ship, the Werner von Braun, is designed for an expedition to Jupiter. Lots of resources are devoted to this project, while on Earth people are dying of hunger...
The name of the ship is telling: Werner von Braun designed and built the V2-rockets that the nazi's used to bomb London. Years later, his technology was used by the Americans to put a man on the moon... The project director, Dr. Locksmith (or 'Rock-Smith') is ruthless in his determination to get to Jupiter.

Hachimaki gives up his job at Technora to vie for a position on board of the Von Braun, which strains his relationship with Tanabe (with whom he had gotten romantically involved). The SDF also gets involved, and it all ends rather dramatically...
This last part seems to 'drag' a bit. For some reason, I have difficulty staying interested when the main character(s) are depressed and/or lose their focus. But in the end, the payoff is just too good to discard the whole series.

Good points:
- Hard SF!
- Human stories;
- Design is reasonably good;
- Raises a lot of issues about resources and space travel;
- End is quite good.
Bad points:
- Second part seems to drag a bit.

I'll give it a 8.5.
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