Is it me or are my opinions not aligning with the general public again? I’m honestly surprised that an original, modern mech series could capture me as much as this one has. Especially after Darling in the FranXX, a series that that couldn’t have been a larger disappointment in my eyes for a lot of reasons, existed Yet, NO ONE IS WATCHING THIS ONE. Planet With is such a breath of fresh air for me and that’s why I love it so much. If you have ever watched a mecha show, you will recognize a lot of the tropes that this show is pulling. The mangaka by the name of Satoshi Mizukami, whose work I need to check out at some point, provided his unique spin on a lot of basic mecha tropes that makes them all feel like you have never seen them before. For some one who has been watching mech series for along time, like me, then it I can’t help but sing the praises of this show more then I already am. In that sense, Planet With is the exact opposite of what Darling in the FranXX is. Well, at least in my opinion.
Planet With’s heart and soul is being a mecha series with some added twists here and there. As I said before, a mech anime fan will more than recognize a lot of the tropes and things put into display in the series. We have our standard, young angsty protagonist character, Souya, that is a classic in the mech genre. The twist is that Souya might be the villain of this story. Maybe. He started out by attacking the usual heroes of a mech series, a group of six heroes, for revenge. With those “villains” having their simple, yet relatable backstories, it’s obvious that something is going on here that is different. Well yes, that is more than the case. Still, we are given an even more complex story then that. The six heroic members give up their powers welling at some point, because they see the evil behind it. Also, Souya is from an angry race and has an arc centered learning about love instead of strength. When Souya has his revenge, he gains nothing from it.
Intermixing classic tropes with some other classic tropes is a lot of fun. The fact that not many people have died in this story is a surprise to. Most mech series are centered around mass damage on property and civilian populations. The mass damage happens, but the people are evacuated from the surrounding areas beforehand (probably to save budget in reality) because humanity fears things they don’t understand. The result is that almost nobody has died in this series, which is completely ground breaking considering all the stuff that has been happening. Give a concept some time and it will be twisted in some way. Especially all the upfront mecha material we were given in the first half.
The second half has been even powerful for me though. So far, it’s been a great character study with all the politics and character exploration that the show has been needing. Some of it is classic shonen classic tropes like Souya’s character arc, but the other stuff is more non conventional from an anime perspective. Benika’s backstory is so heart breaking. This is also the part where we see the difference between the Sealing and Pacifist Factions. It just has some powerful stuff going on.
The biggest thing that dictates an anime’s quality is the stories pacing. The impact of every thematic element that appears on the show, how a character develops, and other things are slaves to this concept and direction. If pacing and direction don’t match up well with each other, you can have an incoherent mess on your hands. So, know that when I say that Planet With’s pacing is extremely fast, just know that I mean that in the best way possible. Planet With’s coherent narrative in the face of having an entire two cour show or more in Planet With’s first six episodes completely astounds me. We see the development of our hero character, the side characters have interesting yet simple back stories, there are awesome action scenes, philosophical concepts are obvious, space politics is in play, school club plots happen, and more while never losing a beat or feeling like one element is weighing the rest down. Watch this show if you don’t believe me, it’s true. The reason why Planet With has been pulling this is off is that no scene goes wasted. Even when our main character Souya goes to school and joins a club, each of those scenes means something and is connected to the overall story in some way. There is no fluff or filler in Planet With at all.
Are there weaknesses in Planet With? Yeah, plenty of them. The pace of the anime itself is a double-edged sword. While a lot of developments happen, not all of them are as fleshed out as they could be. Side characters do get developed, but many of them spend a lot of their time standing around as Souya fights things. Not everything has the all the plot development it needs to have a complete impact or decisions that happen are very fast in nature without much reasoning behind them. A lot of things are like that. I should also mention that the CG in the mech fights/mechs isn’t that good either. This anime obviously story boarded it’s mecha battles scenes as 2D fights. The unfortunate thing is that all the mechs are 3D cgi instead. Along with all the other bits of technology that are here and there. While their designs are fascinating and interesting, they don’t look as good as they could be. Also, their movements and attacks aren’t as powerful as they could be if they were 2D. I suppose that’s a studio weakness. Like many other studios, the one behind Planet With relies on cg mechs, which is sad. I wish this wasn’t the way every other studio was moving. I guess mechs are hard. Oh well, what can any of us do?
At this moment, I can’t help but think that Planet With is possibly my runner up for anime of the year so far. It has flaws, yes, but so many of its strengths outweigh those flaws a great deal for me. My bias and affinity towards mech series greatly helps with this. I’m glad that this series isn’t popular, but it has so many things going for it. Maybe I am too much of a mecha fanatic to see why it isn’t. I’m not sure what else to say about the matter really. That’s ok. I don’t mind having a small fandom to talk about this show with. Shows that get a lot of attention don’t usually end up as good as people think.