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This Week in Anime
Astra Lost in Space Takes on Darker Twists and Turns

by Nicholas Dupree & Andy Pfeiffer,

The mysteries have begun to unravel as Astra Lost in Space nears its final act. This week, Nick and Andy offer their own theories about the show's biggest reveals.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed by the participants in this chatlog are not the views of Anime News Network. Spoiler Warning for discussion of the series ahead.

@Lossthief @Liuwdere @A_Tasty_Sub @vestenet

You can read our weekly coverage of Astra Lost in Space here!

Andy, I've been patient as possible through this season, but I've had enough. I have something to say and I cannot wait to say it anymore: LOOK AT MY WONDERFUL CHILDREN
Seeing as how Micchy and I got to brag about our dumb demon-killing sons last week, this is completely fair, but with so many children you do have to choose which one you leave behind on a planet.
I would never abandon any of my kids! But I'm sure Charche would have a fun time hanging out with his new animal friends for an indeterminate amount of time.
They're good friends.
But yeah, a lot has happened since the last time we visited Astra Lost in Space. Like, three planets worth of adventures and character revelations and mysteries.
Is it bad that I literally did not notice Aries had differently colored eyes until they called it out?
It took me 25 episodes of Cowboy Bebop to notice the same on Spike. No shame.
It's gonna be wild when Aries has to confront her gangster past.
Listen, we've got enough kids with depressing pasts. Let Aries live a normal, happy life without a designated Bad Anime Parent.

The bad parents club has shown up in full force since we last checked in. We knew about Kanata's dad living vicariously through him, but apparently that's more of a theme than I first expected. So yeah, props to Aries's mom for caring about her missing kid instead of buying the line of "they all took their luggage and jumped into the lake for a mass suicide as soon as they arrived, also we can't find any of their bodies".
That scene of her watching Aries's first message from camp in the lonely room hurt.

It hits hard, especially since it's the only time we cut away from the Astra crew. It's easy to forget with all the adventures and new sights that these kids have disappeared and are considered likely dead. It's the kind of thing that would normally be sentimental, reminding us that people are missing them, hoping against hope they might one day see them again—except nearly everyone else is surprisingly chill about their dead children.
It says a lot about how much they've rehearsed their sympathy display. After the parent meeting where they're told to give up and accept that their children are gone, we cut to the one parent who wasn't present repeating the same line word for word with absolutely no emotion behind it.
Well, it turns out they may have been speaking more literally than we thought, but we'll get to that later. For now, that's enough about Bad Dads (and moms). Let's get back to the real draw of the show:
crippling self-loathing.

Seriously, reading Yunhua's story in the manga was where I officially fell in love with it, and I was happy to be destroyed all over again. While the cast's issues all have similar origins, the way each of them have internalized the shitty lessons they learned from their parents is what makes them unique. Kanata channeled his dad's training into preparation for his own dream. Quitterie convinced herself she couldn't love because she'd never felt loved by her mom. And Yunhua learned to take every bit of criticism (or friendly dunk) as a personal indictment of her existence.

Now why would her mom not want her to stand out? Hmmmm...
She's probably just mad that she's not voiced by Saori Hayami.
Out of all the parents, I would put her mom near the top of the worst, for just how spectacularly she goes out of her way to destroy any sense of self in her daughter.

So do we want to get into speculation territory on that? Because boy do I have some thoughts.
We'll get there. But in the moment, it's just a brutal thing to witness. And it's equally beautiful to see Yunhua step up when her friends are in danger, finally expressing herself through one of the few positive things she can associate with her family.
And her imagination has hella good fashion sense.

I give her a solid 8 Minmays out of 10 for singing the poison away.
Imagine how good this show would be if they ran into Basara Nekki on the next planet.
I also give her new haircut a Cute out of Cute.

Also props to the team for updating the OP with both the new hairstyle and attitude.
Oh I love all the little touches in the OP, and the further we go, the more I can talk about them! Like hey notice anything about this part?
She's a good goblin. Someone should just let the typesetter know they hit the mirror key.
The show isn't exactly being subtle about the twist to Charche's backstory.

As sad as "royal boy gets commoner girl killed" is, the scene of the worst guard in history murdering her is almost comically over-the-top. Also, everyone knows Aries is too dumb to lie, so it's time to take everything, including Charce's tragic backstory as a majestic space prince, with a huge block of salt.
I mean, if my backstory was "I'm secretly a noble who lives in a fairy tale kingdom in the middle of Sci-Fi World", I would expect everyone to think I was lying too.
It's weird to pick this as the moment to reveal that Astra takes place not just in the future, but in an alternate history. If the other characters didn't also know about The Magic Kingdom that was apparently founded in the 60's, I'd have just assumed Charche got brain damage from the mushroom planet.
Or any of the other things he's touched...
Anyway, Charche's issues are probably the most cliche of the bunch so far, but damn, this one line got me.
THEY'RE GOOD KIDS. Even Sasuke 2.0: now with Gun
I mean, Luca kind of deserved to be held at gunpoint after tempting fate this hard.
He's not the enemy, though. He's just a moody boy who won't even take his stocking cap off during a
beach episode.
All that heat trapped in his head just got to him when Luca decided to start dropping names and well...
Ulgar's another character whose story veers close to cliche, but I think what makes it work is how it informs his current personality. Ulgar may think he's too disaffected to be hurt by his parents' neglect, but that's obviously a coping mechanism more than anything.
Though he does get a little Zardoz-y when
explaining himself.
Also I rescind my previous choice of Yunhua's mom being the worst parent because I forgot about this:
It just rips your heart out, doesn't it?
Me @ episode 1 of Astra: Hell Yeah Space Camp with the Fun Kids
Me @ episode now of Astra: time to watch how the Bad Parent Parade broke all the fun kids
And this episode was a twofer! Because surprise, pointing a gun at someone draws out their tragic backstory! No wonder those things were banned 100 years ago in Astra's world.

It's both poignant and a little ironic that Ulgar's rash attempt at revenge ends up bringing him face to face with somebody who deeply understands his pain. And Luca's own backstory comes with an extra twist.

Luca does a good job explaining in-depth after taking the most direct route with Ulgar. Mad props for that.

It's rad to see a sympathetic and thoughtful portrayal of an intersex person in anything. Like the last time I can recall anything close in anime was the fever dream known as Earth Maiden Arjuna. So Astra gets all of my kudos for being both direct about Luca's identity and treating him with sincere dignity throughout. Though I do dock points from the anime for cutting the line where he mentions he's bisexual. Let my flirty son live his life,
you cowards.
It may not spell it out directly, but we do get his reaction along with the other boys to new hot Yunhua, and the clear t-shirt endorsement of his Ulgarsexuality.

On that note, hell yeah to the greatest of dunks, putting Ulgar in this thing:
I think it fits. He really chilled out after Luca took the time to body him in the middle of almost drowning.

You know he's shook when we see both his
eyes at once.
Seriously, Ulgar and Luca's friendship is so cool. While their circumstances differ, they each see their own pain in the other, and that sense of empathy finally knocks the Sasuke out of Ulgar.

They're good dorks who deserved better and have managed to find it on this trip.
They've found so many valuable things on this adventure. Friendship. Self-actualization. A frozen lady.
I appreciate that she's also immediately drafted into the good shirt club.
But yeah, the kids find a near-identical ship with a prize inside, offering another glimpse that this alternate history has some questionable things going on.
Gotta give these kids credit, they handle all this weirdness well. They adapt to thawing out a new friend so quickly that they immediately start calling her
Poli-nee which is just adorable.
I especially loved this shot.
Lina's still getting into the groove of things. She went from being in a crew with real astronauts to babysitting a bunch of teenagers playing hopscotch with a lightspeed engine.
They're on the last few hops from the end though, so she knows they've gotten pretty good at this.
She also seems to be concerned about something mysterious. I'm sure that has nothing to do with why these teens got yeeted across the universe.
She sounds shocked that the Earth is still just Earthing it up, but she doesn't go into much detail as to why.
I'm sure we'll find out eventually, but first we have to get to the biggest twist in all of Astra:

Quitterie's faces are too damn good.
Instead of being a dense romcom protagonist, Zack is just cursed with the most powerful poker face in the galaxy. That reveal had me rolling.
While Quitterie has been on a rollercoaster of beating around the bush, this big dumb idiot has been all-in from the get-go.
It's absolutely beautiful, but speaking of beating around the bush, I think we've stalled long enough. Might as well discuss the actual big reveal the show just dropped.
Yep, it turns out Quitterie and Funi are blood-related. And chromosome related. And weirdly they have the same fingerprints.
It sure is weird that so many of these children have mentioned their parents were working on genetics experiments and memory implantation—all those regular things that parents do that totally aren't related to why they've been pushing their kids so hard to follow in their footsteps.
And I'm sure that all has nothing to do with the incidentally just-passed law requiring everyone to register their DNA. And even if it did, I can't imagine there's any connection between all that and the kids suddenly disappearing.
Bringing it back to Yunhua theories, all the other kids' parents have more private occupations like doctors and scientists, but a celebrity singer's daughter who can also sing real good would probably get some well-deserved press. So if you want to disappear the shit out of that daughter for one reason or another, you might not want people to pay much attention to her beforehand.
So yeah, I think by now the twist behind the kids' cosmic defenestration is clear. I say that as a compliment, because a good reveal like this only works if it's properly foreshadowed. Astra's managed to do that while maintaining tension with things like the presence of a traitor or where this other ship came from or what Lina's been hiding.
It gives us enough to piece together the mysteries without answering all of them. We know there's a traitor, but the motive is unclear. We know the parents are evil enough not to see any of these kids as real people, and now we know Lina has some important knowledge that the kids don't.
Astra has managed to handle this dark subtextual story by placing the fun space exploration adventures in the foreground. It's like this good kid says:

Most importantly, it ties all its mysteries to the emotions and relationships of the cast. All the twists and tricks in the world wouldn't mean anything if I didn't love all these dorks to begin with.
How can you not?
Astra was my #1 show going into a season that was packed with cool stuff, and it's still the show I have to watch immediately when it launches each week. It's funny, intriguing, and above all extremely heartfelt—by far my easiest recommendation of the year.
I went into it blind and have been greatly enjoying the whole experience week to week. However, I know you've been a big fan of the manga, so...
You seem kind of paranoid, Andy...

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