by James Beckett,
How would you rate episode 11 of
Planet With ?
Tackling a time skip is never easy, especially when a show like Planet With decides to do so in the final two episodes of an already blisteringly paced twelve-episode season. If we were looking at a traditionally structured plot diagram, “Azrabarakura” has the unenviable task of tackling all of this new story arc's exposition and rising action, and we even dip our toes into the climax just before the credits roll and the preview for next week's “FINAL EPISODE” begins. This is Planet With we're dealing with here, which has long since proven it's talent for economical storytelling, and this eleventh outing is no different from its first, or its sixth, or its ninth and tenth. “Azrabarakura” does an exceptional job setting the stage for our heroes' final battle with the titular giant space dragon, and it only makes me that much more eager to see how it all comes together next week.
For the vast majority of Episode 11, Planet With is playing catch up, giving us a glimpse of how our characters have changed (or how they've stayed the same) in the five years since the Sealing and Pacifist Factions of the Nebulan forces reunited. Soya and Nozomi remain an adorable perfect couple, and both of them have been training their psychic abilities in anticipation for the big day, and it turns out that Nozomi is an even more talented psychic than Soya, having earned a ranking of 8 from the Nebulans where Soya has only gotten to Rank 3. It took thousands of Rank 20 Nebulans to take down the Dragon the first time round, though, so the Nebulans and Humans are going to need all the help they can get.
That's where the Grand Paladins get to make their full return to the battlefield, and while none of our heroes' fates are especially surprising, it sure is nice to see everyone working toward a common goal for once. Torai, Benika, and Yosuke have all been working tirelessly to train themselves and any other human psychics they can find, and good old Nezuya has managed to cozy up with an alien girl while he goes about delivering his usual sparkly shtick. Miu and Harumi are also back, having finished up their collegiate studies, and it's undeniably cute how two have taken a liking to mercilessly teasing Soya, both in the dojo and when they go bar hopping. The only one who isn't around to help is Takezo, though Yosuke makes sure to visit the old man's grave to pay his respects. It seems Takezo died choking on a mocha, so at least nobody can say the geezer didn't go out doing what he loved.
Just when I thought I could no longer be surprised by how quickly and efficiently Planet With can burn through plot points, here comes episode 11. I was expecting the entirety of this episode to be the buildup to the fight with Azrabarakura, but the whole crew dives right into the battle after getting one last exposition dump from Shiraishi and the emissary of the People of Paradise. It turns out that the Dragon was the sole member of the PoP that didn't want to abandon his physical home, and Ghost Soya's Brother's goal is not to destroy him, but to bring him back home to his people. We even learn later that the entity really was the Dragon's older brother, which ties nicely into the show's larger themes about choosing empathy and forgiveness over blind, punitive “Justice”. It isn't subtle, but it works well for this particular show.
The episode isn't all buildup and exposition, though – We do get a prelude to the final battle when our heroes go to confront Azrabarakura. The CG models are in fine form this week, with the Grand Paladin's taking on some psychic dragon mooks while the big guy himself huffs and puffs. I know that Satoshi Mizukami's distinctly comic-bookish take on storyboarding doesn't make for the most fluid and dynamic action, but I personally appreciate the clarity and weight it affords to the fight scenes, which is on full display in the brief skirmish that concludes the episode. I've also always dug the texturing on the models, especially when they're well lit. In the best circumstances, the Photon Armor and the Dragon all resemble figures of hardened clay, which is a neat aesthetic.
So yes, consider me hyped for Planet With's imminent finale. I've really enjoyed the time we've spent with these characters, and this time-skip was the perfect way to mix things up one more time before the cast takes their final bow. Soya and Ginko share an especially heartwarming rooftop chat this week that I think encapsulates everything Planet With has gotten right about how it handles its tone, its themes, and the execution of its storytelling. Ginko assures Soya that he'll always have a home on Earth, and that the Rielians would be more than happy to meet him someday too. After all, not only have the Rielians forgiven Soya for the crimes of his ancestors, but Ginko personally considers him family, and what the Princess says, goes. Underneath all of the zany Sealing Device designs and the fun action scenes, Planet With has been a testament to the power that comes with surrounding yourself with people you love, and how important it is to for people to connect to one another with empathy and grace, instead of trying to dominate others with force and blind authoritarianism. In these hectic and trying times, I can think of few messages stronger and more relevant than that.
Planet With is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
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