Planet With – 02 – Dearth of Enthusiasm

As the “Citizens’ Safety Center Special Defense Division: Grand Paladin” deals with the aftermath of losing one of their seven fighters to the enemy (which is called “Nebula”), Souya doesn’t so much as get real meat as a reward for his victory.

He lashes out at both Ginko and Sensei and skips school, then encounters Torai, the guy he just beat last night. Now lacking Photon Armor, he’s on investigation duty, but his memories of meeting Souya are fuzzy, so it’s a cordial exchange. Then another, even weirder UFO arrives.

Sensei clarifies that while he and Ginko are with Nebula, they’re with the pacifist faction that only wants to relieve humanity of the power the Photon Armor, which they’re using Souya to do (the “Sealing” faction wants to take it a step forward and actually keep humanity from ever evolving to a point where they develop such power).

Inaba Miu, the youngest member of Grand Paladin, is the star of the show, defeating the UFO after getting stuck in an illusion involving her and her friend and comrade Harumi in a judo match. But shortly after winning, Miu and Harumi are confronted by Souya and Sensei, and a 2-on-1 fight ensues.

Once Souya gets the hang of operating his “Sensei Armor”, he manages to defeat Miu and snatch away her power, but gets greedy and wants to go after Harumi too, against Sensei and Ginko’s order to withdraw. As a result, the rest of Grand Paladin show up and surround them. Could the gig be up just 2/7ths of the way into their mission?

Planet With episode two has the same shortcomings as the first: a whiny protagonist; loose-sketch supporting characters; goofy-looking anonymous UFOs. The CGI fights come with some decent SFX but are otherwise fairly standard 2018 fare. But with no strong characters or ideas to get enthusiastic about, the show feels very color-by-number so far.

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Planet With – 01 (First Impressions) – Unidentified Rooting Interest

What Planet With lacks in originality (weird mecha fighting an even weirder enemy is a tale as old as time) it makes up for in polish, panache, and, well, specificity. Kuroi Souya isn’t just one such mecha pilot; he’s an orphaned amnesiac transfer student who lives with a green-haired maid and giant purple cat-man that only eats lettuce/cabbage.

Despite the best efforts of his charming class rep (and occult research club member) Takamagahara, Souya ends up splitting off from his class when massive UFOs start appearing close to coastal cities, including his. A band of seven superheroes transform into mecha to meet the extremely bizarre object.

Souya isn’t among them. In fact, the maid (Ginko) and cat-man (“Sensei”) meet up with him and instruct him not to take out the UFO, but the seven superheroes, one of whom (Torai) manages to enter the core of the UFO. Just like a JSDF fighter pilot earlier, Torai is transported to an elaborate illusion, given the chance to save his mom who he couldn’t save in real life. He manages to break through the illusion and destroy the UFO, and the others explode with it around the world.

Before his mecha can be repaired, he’s confronted by Souya, who ends up piloting “Sensei”, who transforms into a vaguely feline mecha. Souya manages to defeat Torai’s far larger mecha and steal the source of his power; a vial filled with silver star-shaped particles. Souya laments that he may have been taken in by Ginko and Sensei in order to fight as their soldier…though at least this time, he’s won over by the promise of a meat (though not beef)-filled dinner.

And that’s where we leave things. The question is, who is the good guy here? Souya all but admits he’s the two weirdos’ weapon, while after the credits, whoever is in charge of the seven superheroes (who Torai claim are protecting the planet) hardly looks like the benevolent type.

Everything looks and sounds great in Planet With, but take away the spectacle and there’s not much to invest in here…at least not yet. As with Souya and the promise of meat, I’ll settle for spectacle for now. But meat alone isn’t a meal; hopefully some potatoes are forthcoming.

Vividred Operation – 05

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Akane and her three friends invite their classmate Kuroki Rei to be in their group for the upcoming summer trip, but she refuses. On her way home Rei saves a child from an I-beam, and her master, speaking in the form of a crow, warns her not to waver in her duty. That night she tries and fails to infiltrate the Manifester facility herself. Akane finds her washed up on a beach and takes her home. When an Alone alert sends Akane away, Rei follows her, but passes out before she can fire the arrow. She wakes up again at Akane’s, but refuses to be friends. Akane’s mom tells Akane not to give up on Rei.

By merit of being her grandfather’s granddaughter, Akane ended up fighting to protect the Manifester engine he invented. By merit of becoming friends with Akane, Aoi, Wakaba, and Himawari ended up on her side. They’re the “Good Guys”, but Kuroki Rei is different. She shoots arrows at the Alones to make them stronger. She’s on the side of the “Bad Guys”, and her contact is a sinister crow. Why? Because they’ve convinced her they can restore the world as it was – when her beloved parents were still alive. She’s decided she’ll do anything – including destroying the current world – to bring them back. And yet Akane and the good guys want to be friends with her, and don’t know she’s their enemy, working against them.

On her extremely badass, Mission Impossible-style night raid, Rei frags the robots that snapped her picture. Her incriminating bow and arrow vanish before Akane finds her. When Rei asks Akane if she’d do anything to bring back her dad and get her mom out of the hospital, Akane says sure – as long as it doesn’t end up troubling others. But on her current path, Rei is going to trouble and hurt a lot of people. She’s signed a deal with the devil, and it’s unlikely they’ll let her back out unscathed. And yet even if Akane learned the truth, I doubt she and the others would rescind their offer of friendship. After all, there’s nothing like bringing a Bad Guy over to the Good side.


Rating: 7 (Very Good)