Ross founded the UK Anime Network back in 1995 and works in and around the anime industry.
Distributor Beez Entertainment
The second outing for the space-based debris collection team contains 4 episodes, featuring Ai Tanabe's induction to a gravity free lifestyle.
If I'm being honest the opening episode of this volume was a bit jarring - as Ai visits her new home accompanied by a reluctant Hachimaki, they are attacked by a motley group of Ninja's. The gonzo comedy and pratfalls are in stark contrast to the warm and genuinely funny episodes I remembered from the last volume.
Happily the next three episodes are back on form, with the focus very much on character development and some fantastic guest characters. Planetes excels when it takes it's time to reveal more layers to the cast members, and everyone from ace pilot Fee through to the Ops Manager receive screentime and backstory to further flesh out their personalities and motivations.
The disc contains a number of meloncholy moments, all of which are linked to a life spent in space. The factual content that drives the stories is fascinating to watch, and unlike many of it's space based anime counterparts, the series feels as genuine a future as mankind is likely to have. The trade-offs for exploring the stars are, in this case, utterly moving.
There's action onboard too, with one episode featuring the crew race to capture a gel that expands in sunlight, and another as they take on a group of professional polluters in a fantastic gravity free space punch up.
Ultimately, despite the slightly irksome start, the disc settles into an immensely watchable hour and 20 minutes of fantasy that will delight anyone who hankers for some real human emotion in their science fiction.
Extras include the usual textless opening and closing credits, a very brief character guide, plus the usual assortment of Beez trailers.
There was a problem with the disc, as I couldn't change language tracks or subtitles without going through the main menu (and on the PC it got stuck on French and had to be restarted). Not a serious problem, but an irritation nonetheless.
Maintaining it's high standards for intelligent scripting, character driven plots and fascinating predictions for our future.