by James Beckett,
How would you rate episode 7 of
Planet With ?
Planet With continues to be a well-oiled machine of satisfying spectacle and storytelling, chugging right along after last week's climactic episode without losing a beat. Somehow, in the span of only twenty-two minutes, episode 7 of Planet With provides critical backstory and character development for Ginko and Sensei, gives the romance between Soya and Nozomi time to breathe, and brings Shiraishi back to set up the next major conflict, which will likely fuel the action for much of the series' remaining runtime. In typical Planet With fashion, this wealth of exposition and plotting is handled with clarity and precision that feels deceptively simple, when what we're really seeing is an incredibly difficult balancing act at work. Other series with three times as many episodes have been undone by less complicated plots, and here's Planet With with only has seven episodes to its name, holding its own without even breaking a sweat.
A good portion of the episode is devoted to a dream/flashback that Soya experiences while sleeping off the hangover from last battle, which reveals much about how he ended up being taken in by an anthropomorphic cat and a space maid. First things first, it turns out that Ginko is much more than an anonymous rebel of the Pacifist Faction—she's an honest-to-God princess, who bravely led her people in a daring escape when Soya's own people, the Siriusians, attacked her planet in a bid to take it over for themselves. Sensei, in his robot form, was the one who stepped in to save them, and Ginko was inspired enough to join Sensei on another rescue mission when the dragon that would eventually lay waste to Sirius arrived.
Not only does this explain Ginko's cute little crown (which I had honestly never noticed before), this sequence adds some fantastic layers to Planet With's central ideological conflict, the Justice of Power versus the Justice of Love. Ginko has every reason to hate and fear the people of Sirius, given how merciless and destructive their conquest seems to have been, but she doesn't hesitate for a second to help out the innocent civilians caught in the dragon's wake. When Sensei and Sirius rescue Soya and help defeat the dragon, their instincts are to refuse the judgmental fatalism of the Sealing Faction. Soya is a subject in the Pacifists' desperate experiment, potential proof that no individual can be held accountable for the sins of their culture's past. More than anything, Ginko and Sensei are fighting to prove that Nebula's path of preventative dominance is not the only way. They want to raise Soya with better values than his forebears were afforded, so that he and the rest of humanity can make the right choice once they awaken to the psychic power lying dormant within them.
This is fascinating stuff, and I continue to be impressed with how casually Planet With can delve into these themes while barreling through a plot that never lets up. Soya gets only a few minutes to reflect on his defeat of Takashi and figure out how he feels about leading another person to the end of his life. It's a wonderfully understated moment, but it isn't long before a mysterious schoolgirl shows up with hypnotic eyes and an obvious agenda. It's Shiraishi, unsurprisingly assuming a new form after her participation in episode 6's big fight. She manages to hypnotize Soya into believing she's just a new exchange student, but Nozomi is curiously immune to her powers, which gives me hope that she'll be getting more to do in the coming weeks.
Shiraishi's ruse doesn't last long anyway, and only a few minutes after ducking out on Nozomi, she shows back up with a freshly recruited Benika and Yosuke. The former Grand Paladins have taken up arms with the Sealing Faction, after getting burned by exactly the kind of power-hungry megalomaniac that the Nebula forces have an interest in suppressing. Soya keeps trying to insist that he's not interested in any kind of greater conflict, especially now that he's sought his revenge, but Shiraishi makes it clear that the Pacifist Faction and the Sealing Faction will do battle over humanity's fate, so Soya will have to commit to something sooner or later.
It's a classic mecha anime dilemma, and Soya hasn't even figured out why he keeps seeing visions of his dead brother. The so-called ghost, who claims to have taken this form because of Soya's personal hang-ups, seems to be the an emissary of “The People of Paradise”, whoever they are. It might come across as foolhardy for the show to introduce yet another faction in its already complicated intergalactic war, but at this point I trust this next arc to be handled with the usual clarity and concision. Week after week, Planet With has proven that it's a ride that just doesn't stop, and I'm perfectly happy to be whisked along to wherever it ends up going.
Planet With is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
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