Tuesday, August 1, 2006

5 pages just about done.

A final word on Planetes. I've read all the books and as of yesterday we've seen all the anime series on DVD and couldn't recommend them all more.

First off the manga. The premise is simple, a crew of debris collectors work in orbit to keep space safe from errant junk. The time is about a hundred years from the first Apollo missions and space is now a very crowded and busy place where collisions between said debris and working ships can mean disaster. Which says nothing about how damn beautiful, intelligent and cool these stories are. Balanced between heartbreaking stories examining the meaning of existence against the infinite blackness of space and the need for love and connection are moments of hilarity like walking for miles through a lunar wasteland just to get a smoke.

No warp drives, wormholes or aliens here, just hardcore science and that's my favourite part. The real limitations of space are there not to be sidestepped with a bit of puffy pseudophysics but confronted, sometimes overcome, sometimes not and in both revealing humanity's true fragilities and strengths.

When I saw the first of the series of anime I wasn't sure I was prepared to like it. There were changes made that made it seem like a watered down version of the books. A cutesy office enviroment that included a few wacky characters, a passive but pleasant manager, an assistant manager into magic tricks and office politics, and a temp who never cracks a smile. Add to this some wannabe ninjas on the moon and I began to wonder what the heck they were getting at taking such heavy material and making it so seemingly light.

And then some of the more poignant chapters were adapted, and the kookier characters were fleshed out becoming more real in their motivations. Finally, all of these initial oddities connected, culminating in some amazing stuff and driving home the central themes of the books. Ian and I found ourselves sniffling at the end of many episodes.

And of course the art is fantastic in both.

Definitely worth a look.

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