Planetarian: Chiisana Hoshi no Yume – 02

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I continue to enjoy how efficient, pure, and lean Planetarian is. There are moments of bigger things—a flashback to the devastating war that left the rest of the city ruined; Mr. Customer’s bad dreams—but is mostly just a guy fixing a planetarium projector while a robot hostess watches.

And yet, discovering this haven, miraculously untouched by the war outside, and its simple, cheerful guardian, has suddenly provided Mr. Customer a break from the struggles of the outside world. In here, he’s a repairman, with the client marking the time often (she estimates 75 hours of operable time left before she has to return to hibernation due to limited power).

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Of course, Yumemi is also a pretty inquisitive robot, programmed to learn and become more than she was originally. And as Mr. Customer tinkers away, making slow progress, she keeps him entertained by bringing up her desire to dream, or shed tears.

When she repeats her question about when the projector will be fixed, verbatim, Customer switches up the answer, asking her to pray—not just to any god, or his god, but to the robot god. Her databases dig up a recorded discussion by the people she worked with about a robot heaven free of all the troubles robots experience.

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Even as Mr. Customer successfully completes repairs on the projector, Yumemi has less than 60 hours left, which means he has just that much more time with her before he has to return to the “real” world, leaving this oasis of hope and dreams behind. Yumemi’s limited time weighs over the episode. And she still doesn’t quite grasp that the world has changed dramatically in 8,000 hours.

Planetarian is only five total episodes, and we’re through two. What kind of ending (if it is a definite ending) is in store for us: is Yumemi doomed to be limited to the confines of her relatively primitive hardware of which she is composed? Will she be forced to shut down in the next few days? Will Mr. Customer let it happen and move on, or try to change her fate, heartened, in spite of himself, by her boundless positivism?

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From the New World (Shin Sekai yori) – 22

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At the Temple of Purity, Inui tells Saki and Satoru he was saved by Kiroumaru, and Saki is presented with a package from her parents containing a false minoshiro and a mission: travel to Tokyo and find the “psychobuster”, a biological weapon that will kill the fiend. Saki, Satoru, Inui and Kiroumaru use a submarine to pass through queerat defenses and reach Tokyo bay. In the morning, a ship is on the horizon. They activate the minoshiro and journey into Tokyo’s tunnels, where they face many trails and horrors. Kiroumaru determines both the fiend and Yakomaru himself are after them, along with five grunts.

As if this show couldn’t get any bleaker, we’re finally shown what has become of Tokyo in the centuries that have passed since what we would call “our” time. Shockingly, there are no ruins to speak of. It is a barren wasteland of sand and stone, utterly returned to nature. Gnarled rocks studded with twisted pieces of rusted metal provide the only evidence of man ever being here. Hearing a hellscape like this being casually referred to as “Tokyo” throughout the episode elicited a lot of disgust and dread. How could humanity have let things come to this: one of their greatest metropolises, wiped off the map like a bug on the windshield?

Speaking of bugs: while the surface is thoroughly unpleasant  the tunnels beneath are downright nasty. There isn’t the slightest hint of the world’s most extensive transit system ever existing. All we see is naked, unadorned stone. The only thing more frightening than ruins of civilization is the distinct lack of said ruins where they’re meant ot be. When they have to walk across a vast carpet of bugs and guano, Saki wigs out, but does it anyway. By the time we learn Yakomaru is following them with the very fiend they must kill, and a bloodsucking giant slug lands on Satoru’s shoulder, we knew that this was only going to be the beginning of a truly hellish final showdown.


Rating: 9 (Superior)