I, admittedly, aren’t too big on visual novels. I’d love to read more and experience more stories, but have only read three as of writing this. They’re beautifully unique and interesting, but only one of the three I’ve read has left a large impression on me. When I heard that this novel was finally getting an anime adaptation like many other stories by the same company this season, I was extremely excited but at the same time very very weary. The story David Production was going to try to tackle was one that wouldn’t adapt well into an anime. The story had only two characters, one setting through the majority of the plot, and had an impactful moment at the end that was only as powerful as it was because of all of the inner monologue and context readers have been given up to that point. There was a close to 0% chance they’d be able to capture the same magic. With low expectations in hand and the anime now concluded, how did planetarian ~chiisana hoshi no yume~ do from my extremely biased point of view?
The idea of this post was a must for me after I finished episode five of the planetarian anime I had previously (somewhat lightly) praised a few weeks ago. I would have asked Nick for permission to review it except that if I were to review it from my point of view, it would have been almost impossible for me to separate the anime from the visual novel. In fact, my feelings towards the planetarian visual novel likely impacted my personal feelings about the show to a great extent, and that’s what I wanted to talk about more than anything. How David Production recaptured the emotion I felt when I read planetarian all over again with their beautiful ending scene, even if it missed out on a ton of important details from the novel.
As I mentioned before, there wasn’t any way in hell that David Production would have been able to make the three and a half hour experience that was purely about character interaction between two characters into both an entertaining anime and a faithful adaptation. This is partially because I believe the only people who have proved themselves capable of making nothing but character interactions entertaining to a mass audience is Studio SHAFT, and also because on this scale in only five episodes, there was no way it would have been as interesting as reading it in a book-esque form. They took out all of the main character inner monologue, removed a lot of the context of the world they were in, and added a new element that never really got any explanation.
Yet, with all of this, I still loved it. I noticed every glaring flaw from the things that would only be noticable to fans of the original to things that everyone would notice. planetarian is a story about giving someone you initially despise a chance to see the world through their eyes and then having that magical moment ripped away from you forever. At the very least, in the roughest way possible, the show was able to replicate that. They were able to show the moments the main character asked himself “Why am I doing this?”, the moments where his eyes were opened up to see a sky he had never seen before and will never see again in his entire life, and the moment it was taken all away from him as matters only got worse and worse.
In a way the story asked a question of what would happen if someone who couldn’t afford to get attached to anything in the slightest became emotionally invested in the well-being of something superficial? In a world where people put their lives on the line just to get food to eat, what would happen if someone got fixated on a luxury like star viewing? When all you can think about is yourself if you want even the faintest chance of surviving is yourself, what would happen if someone wanted to entertain the meaningless life of a robot? With a complex set of questions like that, an incredibly unique world, and the two perfect characters, the story in mind originally came out to be one that touched me.
The ending of the anime left out so many details but the moment they added one of the most important I couldn’t hold in tears anymore. This story is about losing everything. Not in the emotional way where it feels like you lost everything, but actually losing everything. Something about the way the original story was written impacted my mindset. Not because I could relate, but because it was one of the few times I experienced a story where the characters actually lost every single thing they had and it was written well enough to get a vague idea across on how it must feel to be in that position. I wasn’t obsessed with the story afterwords and looked into every single piece of it, I left it as it was. With every new scene in the anime reminding me of what was said in the original story and the original emotions I felt when I first experienced the story. Realising the only way it could end and still crying over what happened. Even though the anime ended it’s final note in a drastically different way than the novel, I enjoyed every step of it and would relive this story a million times in a row and never forget how I initally felt.
Thank you all so much for reading this week’s editorial! This was probably a bit different than the usual and I know my opinions about the show are a bit different from most people’s, but this was still something I wanted to say. For anyone that was disappointed by the anime and haven’t read the source material, I strongly recommended it you. As always, if you’d like to see what I’m up to when I’m not doing my part fot this blog, feel free to to follow me on Twitter, and I’ll see you all next week.
The featured image for this post was a promotional image for the anime planetarian.