Management: 12 days of Anime continues with Planet With, the highlight of the Summer. Spoilers ahead.
This Summer was an OK season with some highlights. HeroAca continued its Saturday Morning cartoon ways–highlights being Momo’s tactical fight and Bakugo showing why he needs to get in touch with his emotions. Revue Starlight had something to say about performance, Takarazuka, and unfair systems, and it obviously affected other people more than I. I finally watched Golden Kamuy and its glorious Frankenstein-ian mishmash of historical drama, “wild-west” intrigue, and silly (cooking show) antics. However, the show I looked forward to the most every week was Planet With.
Planet With is grand in scale.
Humanity’s destructive tendencies are well-known. On every continent Homo sapiens has colonized, megafauna has vanished. War has been so prevalent in human history that history itself is often mistaken as a study of wars and empires. Even today, wars continue, and in times when we have achieved (relative) peace, we have continued to unsustainably deplete our planet’s resources.
Given this, it is no wonder that if an intergalactic police force existed, it would logically conclude that containment of our destructive tendencies would be the best way for preserving the Galaxy. This turns out to be the goal of the Sealing Faction in Planet With. To further support this argument, Planet With paints the Siriusians as our foil: they are a violent race who gained the ability to access the stars and left a trail of destruction behind them, nearly decimating the planet Riel before being wiped out themselves by a vengeful dragon.
So, after a struggle spanning the first half of Planet With, humanity is contained. It’s a pretty sweet deal, to be fair. Everyone is frozen in stasis, but theyfeel nothing but bliss.
Here Planet With gives us another question to ponder: how do you choose between stagnancy and bliss, versus stumbling forward with the chances to learn and improve? This is a question intricately tied with the age-old quest for finding an individual’s purpose in life, and one that is far beyond the scope of this post. Other defiantly optimistic anime like Evangelion stand strongly against stagnancy. Planet With seems to agree with Evangelion, showing most of humanity freed from containment, but unlike Eva, its protagonist was never concerned with depression and escapism. Instead, by having its protagonist offer the frozen humans the choice between stasis and freedom, Planet With seems to affirm the right to choose in the first place.
Returning to topic, once most humans are freed from stagnancy, the intergalactic police force’s problem remains: what to do with humanity’s destructive tendencies? You can’t force humanity to abandon violence without fundamentally changing human nature, utopia-style (wow I sound so cynical–I certainly hope humanity’s future will prove me wrong). At first, that was my problem with the show: I thought it hand-waved this question.
But upon further reflection, I don’t think the series fundamentally alters human nature: it acknowledges that violence continues on Earth. However, my headcanon goes as follows: if the intergalactic police force makes itself known to Earth and essentially monopolizes the most powerful weapons (telekinesis) it could rein in humanity’s destructive force and prevent any expansionist groups from leaving the planet. Also, on an individual level, it can foster telekinesis in peaceful humans to help control order. This is not exactly a feasible solution to our current world’s problems, but it does make sense plot-wise.
If the above themes are too grand and abstract, Planet With also excels in personal conflicts. At the personal level, violence begets hate and more violence, but Planet With shows that, cheesy as it sounds, love can break the chain of violence. Seeking to prove this, Cat-sensei and Ginko rescue the lone survivor of the Siriusian race. And Souya proves that even individuals from a race of warmongers, if taught right, can embrace love. Planet With subtly solidifies the bond between the cobbled-together family, showing us antics from their domestic life, their cooperation in the show’s strange battles, and finally their heartfelt moments of forgiveness. It was miraculous to see Ginko forgiving a contrite yet thankful Souya, then Souya forgiving the dragon, and Ginko finding closure at the same encounter. To solidify its point, the finale of Planet With depicts a flower growing in the Sirusian wasteland, representing a new life, a new hope after a prolonged period of destruction.
And with that, I think I’ve made my peace with Planet With. Great show.
You can read my other articles for 12 Days of Anime here.
Note: I didn’t talk much about first half because frankly I’m not sure what to make of its themes OTL. Someone smarter than me please explain.