Planet With
Episode 8

by James Beckett,

How would you rate episode 8 of
Planet With ?

More and more, I'm realizing how much I love the amount of mileage Planet With has gotten out of using its weird and seemingly ceaseless energy to tell an incredibly simple story. In this week's ANNCast, Jacob likened the series to an animated Super Sentai series, and I couldn't agree more. In fact, I've realized over the past few weeks that Soya is essentially the archetypal 6th Ranger who joins the team halfway through the season. Like many a 6th Ranger before him, Soya has his own special mecha and more self-centered motivations, and only through working with the other defenders of justice does he come to slowly realize his full heroic potential. It does remind me of Tommy Oliver's arc as the Green Ranger from the original season of Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers.

It's not a perfect 1:1 comparison, but I think this highlights how much of Planet With's appeal comes from its willingness to wholeheartedly commit to the childlike simplicity of a family superhero story while giving its own personal spin on well-worn clichés at the same time. The dissolution of the Grand Paladins has provided much a more nuanced division of conflict than you might see in entertainment made strictly for children, because at this point both the Sealing Faction and the Pacifist faction can make a reasonable case for their position on humanity's evolution. After Yosuke and Generalissimo coax Benika into letting her guard down in a magical hot-springs bath, she reveals that the whole reason she signed on to be a Paladin was because her experience as a police officer taught her the danger of giving power to weak-willed people. Her partner was gunned down when a kid couldn't handle the reality of his own power to kill, and her efforts to fight off Nebula were partly made to prove that someone like her, someone smart and responsible and goodhearted, could wield with responsibility what others would use to destroy and conquer.

But now Takashi's terrible ambitions have disillusioned her completely, and now that Benika knows that her psychic powers are bound to fully awaken, she wants to strip herself and everyone else of that dangerous potential before it can do more harm. This is top-notch writing, because we can totally empathize with Benika even as she's taking up arms as a soldier of the "enemy" Sealing Faction. Soya's involved in a war that's much more complicated than just having a cackling villain send armies of faceless goons to terrorize townspeople each week, and it's proof of how shockingly well these characters can work both as metaphorical symbols and as likably flawed individuals in their own right.

In addition to all that heavy stuff, “Power is What Dwells within Your Own Self” doesn't forget to indulge in its sweeter side, giving Soya and Nozomi the date that they've had coming ever since episode 1. Nozomi is a sweet girl, and she shares an easy chemistry with Soya that I can't help but root for, even though she hasn't had much to do yet besides be his cheerleader. She's getting more and more involved with the intergalactic warfare situation now, and I thought it was incredibly cute when her first instinct upon discovering Shiraishi's strange deceit and the presence of the other Sealing Faction members was to just take Soya's hand and offer to run away with him.

That probably isn't going to happen any time soon though, as the trouble brewing on Earth is getting more fraught by the hour. Humanity's psychic powers are growing, as evidenced by Torai's surprise return to the battlefield to stop Benika from enacting the Sealing Faction's goals. What's more, the People of Paradise warn that the Dragon that Soya thought was dead is actually hiding in slumber behind the Earth's moon, and that he's almost ready to wreak havoc once again. The People of Paradise are the flimsiest narrative element the show has introduced so far, and I'm not sure how I feel about them just dropping the detail of the Dragon's return like that so casually. Planet With has done more than enough to earn my trust though, so I don't think I'll need to worry too much. Besides, even if Planet With's ambitions end up exceeding its grasp by the end, I'll still be satisfied so long as Soya and Nozomi can get the cute aquarium date we all know they deserve.

Rating: B

Planet With is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.

James is an English teacher who has loved anime his entire life, and he spends way too much time on Twitter and his blog.

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