Planet With's plot has only kept raising the stakes, cramming enough climaxes for a 50-episode show into only one season. This week, Nick and Steve break down their favorite moments so far in this constantly-escalating mecha series.
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Nick, I know it hasn't even been a month since our last column
on Planet With
, but to be fair, it feels like we've experienced an entire season's worth of twists, turns, and cat hangovers in these four episodes.
Pretty darn rude of this show to have three different season finales and still not be over, IMO.
Seriously. Episode 6 ended on such a climactic note that I had no idea where the show had left to go. But thankfully it had quite a few more destinations planned, because otherwise we would have never learned that Ginko was a space princess.
(which does explain the tiny crown, in retrospect)
Episode 7 is also rad for somehow turning our expectations against us. Like I think anybody watching since the first episode was expecting some kind of twist on Sensei and Ginko's motivations—they did seemingly kidnap a kid and turn him into their soldier!
Yet it turns out no, both are just fundamentally good people who are trying to help Soya and Earth at large! Hurray for actual heroes.
Heck, Ginko even jumps in with the Sanrio
Space Force to help the people who were burning her planet to the ground not two minutes beforehand.
And then it throws in timely messages about the evil and allure of genocide and demonizing entire cultures.
Yeah, it's not an accident that among all these warring factions and dueling ideologies, the only truly villainous character is the one who's seemingly incapable of empathy. Because on top of digging into Sensei and Ginko, Planet With's second half has done a fantastic time fleshing out the Sealing Faction and their conspirators.
"fleshing out" indeed
Like, they could have easily made Benika or Yosuke jerks, or turned Generalissimo into a blowhard, but the series takes every chance to give them understandable, emotionally self-aware reasons for doing what they're doing.
You get the sense that they really feel like they're doing what's best, and you understand why, even if the series ultimately disagrees with them.
Precisely. And in Benika's case, her backstory also supports her ideology. Her senior (and Yosuke's brother) was a detective who got shot by a young kid with a gun, who wasn't thinking straight because of the power that the gun allowed him. The "kid with a gun" analogy has also been used to describe the human race and all the weapons we've made in the last century. It makes sense that someone like Benika would want to do anything to prevent the worst possible scenario from happening on a grand scale.
And why, after she failed, Yosuke felt he had every reason to give the world a biiiiiiiig hug.
It's emotionally sophisticated characterization that's delivered so efficiently, you almost don't notice how much work's gone in to make all of these characters—who all get relatively little screen time because of how fast this show moves—feel sympathetic even as they literally try to end the world.
The whole show is operating on incredible amounts of storytelling economy, from plot to characters to themes. And it's all done simply and directly, which works a heck of a lot better than it should. But I guess that's the Mizukami magic.
Lemme tell ya, if you think Planet With
is busy, Spirit Circle
does this same thing across multiple lifetimes.
Which is why you should ALL READ SPIRIT CIRCLE
Look, this is my first experience with him, and now I'm sold on him for life, so I promise I will.
But yeah, Yosuke resolves to shut earth down not out of a sense of duty, but his own brand of fatalism, deciding that the pleasant dreams offered by the Sealing Faction are the only way he'll find peace on this bitch of an earth, and that feeling is so intense that he actually wins!
And I like that the Sealing is this gentle lull that the entire planet falls into. It's a terrible thing, but it also feels like the kindness that the Sealing Faction believes it to be. They aren't the real villains, they're just coming from a more fatalistic perspective.
The most recent episode turns into an argument over what being an "adult" means in the context of "children" like humanity. To the Sealing Faction, it's taking matters into their own hands no matter the cost. To the Pacifists, it's providing Earth the guidance and resources it needs in order to grow up. Both of them feel like they're taking responsibility for us, but in very different manners.
And that sympathy is mirrored in how Soya (with some help from his mysterious alien benefactor) puts twenty goddamn years of Instrumentality Plots to bed.
He doesn't save the day by giving a rousing speech about human ambition or strength. He recognizes that many people welcome an escape from the awful parts of life, but he offers them the choice to continue living in escapism or step up, and humanity at large takes that step forward. We later learn that not everyone did, but it's impressive to see such a familiar plot device get resolved by empathizing with others' pain and deciding to move on together.
It's an inspiring portrait of humanity's resolve, but sleeping through the next few years does sound pretty sweet, ngl. I mean, I won't because I have to see how Planet With ends.
Sure, and I think the show gets that. Escapism can be useful, even healing, but at some point you have to step out and weather the cold—and Planet With thinks the way to do that is by leaning on each other. Like when Soya finally starts feeling the grief of losing his world and family, and Nozomi, who has no clue what's going on, jumps in to help him because dangit, her friend is hurting.
Nozomi has been nothing but fantastic, but her credo here really struck me with its beauty and simplicity.
And the way Soya echoes it as a rallying cry later absolutely destroyed me.
It's SO GOOD and they absolutely have to get married.
100% guaranteed or I will never forgive Mizukami for being so rude.
But maybe my favorite moment is in episode 10, when Sensei and Generalissimo finally face off (and reveal their actual names) to decide the fate of Earth. It's a classic standoff right out of Super Sentai, but you always know that both of these sides respect each other, and they're still clashing because their ideas of what's best are slightly opposed.
Which is a lot of thought put into a conflict between two goofy mascot costumes.
Okay but my favorite moment of that battle comes when, as Snoopy is preparing to strike with his ultimate weapon, our good meat-loving old man flies into battle, cuts through it like butter, and basically goes "that's what you whippersnappers get. deal with it."
In short, it's easy to get worked up over little differences, and sometimes all you need is an old man to dunk on you and knock you down a few pegs.
And yet somehow this isn't the finale either.
Because Mizukami has decided he's just gonna fit every single idea ever into a single cour
of anime, we end on a time skip of all things.
This was completely uncalled for and my heart still hasn't recovered from the pure goodness of the way they look at each other. But yes, the dragon that Soya assumed he killed alongside Ryuzoji is still out there, on the dark side of the moon for some reason, so he still has to stop it. But rather than beat it up, perhaps all Soya has to prove is that he, one of the "evil" Sirusians, was able to learn to grow up and love after all. (But I mean they're probably still gonna beat it up.)
But they'll beat it up with love
For real though, I'm well past trying to predict what Planet With will do with itself. It's consistently exceeded my expectations with every new episode, and at this point I'm just along for the ride. Heck we still haven't really explored the People of Paradise who have been pulling strings this whole arc!
I love Planet With a whole lot, and I can't wait to see how it wraps up. Maybe, after all these years, Soya will finally get to eat meat!
Give this good boy his beef. HE'S EARNED IT.