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Planet With – 09

「力、己にこそ宿る」 (Chikara, onore ni koso yadoru”)
“Power Is What Dwells Within Your Own Self”

OK, I’m stumped.

I realize that I went a bit overboard with last week’s Planet With write-up. I mean, if any anime episode this year deserved 1500 words that was certainly the one. It was a masterpiece of storytelling, that’s the most obvious takeaway, but also one of the most intellectually dense and challenging anime eps I’ve seen in years. But pieces like that are, quite honestly, exhausting to write – they leave me feeling totally drained in their aftermath. I probably only have so many of those bullets left in the chamber at this point…

So here we are, then, at the close of another blockbuster Planet With episode, left to try and make sense of it in 7 8 paragraphs or less (I mean, ideally…). I’ll say up front – there are elements here I found a bit baffling, but I’ll get to those (hopefully) shortly. First off, some housekeeping, courtest Yousuke’s dream. Apparently he’s the younger brother of Benika’s sempai who was killed by the child with the gun, which does explain a lot. Yousuke loves Benika, Benika loved his brother.

When Benika is sealed after her defeat, it’s Yousuke’s brother who she dreams of – but not only him. And Benika’s fate seemingly seals that of Earth, as Yousuke decides that with her gone to him, the only path is to seal the planet and then, himself. There’s an almost unutterably sad moment before he goes to finish the job he started where Yousuke gently rests his hand on Benika’s cheek and whispers “I’m sure there’s no room in her dream for me.” But there is – he’s in there too, along with his brother. The thing, is, though, it doesn’t matter – it’s what Yousuke believes that matters. And as we see that recurring theme repeat itself – personal feelings pushing humans to make decisions for the entire species – Yousuke takes to the skies to seal his planet and people.

And so he does – the opposition of Torai, Haru and Miu brushed aside pretty easily. The imagery of the sealing device’s arms encircling the Earth in their cold and terrible embrace is as iconic as it gets, even for mecha anime. And the result is horrifying – a soundless, dead Earth is the result, with humanity forever sealed in dreams. Only Souya is immune – and he has no problem guessing the reason why. There’s another motivated player at the table, and for whatever reason, it needs Souya to be the one to play its cards.

Here’s where things get difficult for me, even as some elements become clearer than ever. First of all, Planet With’s connection to Arthur C. Clarke’s Childhood’s End has never been more clear – and next week’s episode title, “Karelien and Rashaverak”, seals the deal. I feel as if one shouldn’t discuss that novel too much here, as that is in effect a potential spoiler, but in the Sealing Faction and the People of Paradise one can certainly see parallels with Overlord and Overmind. As for the title itself, I would argue that those parallels are less direct than they might seem – but again, I won’t probe that deeply here.

The baffling part to me is what to make of Souya’s decision, and the way it’s presented in the episode. To me, what’s happened here is quite clear – the People of Paradise have blackmailed Souya into fighting the Dragon for them. “Fight the dragon, I’ll unseal the Earth” – quid pro quo. But as omnipotent as these beings are, why do they need this Siriusian child to do their dirty work for them? Even setting that very obvious question aside, things this week seem to have evolved into a very black-and-white scenario – Pacifists good, Sealers bad, Souya rousingly deciding to fight for the former. Right?

Well – I don’t know, such clear-cut answers are not the stock and trade of Mizukami series. The contradiction is implicit in a phrase literally used in the episode, where Sensei is referred to as a “pacifist warrior”. Huh? I don’t doubt that what the sealing device did was a terrible thing – and even after Souya gave the people a choice, it seems most elected to live in reality rather than a dream. “Even if in reality my home is gone, reality is still my home!” What a beautiful, elegant turn of phrase – and I don’t doubt the underlying truth of Souya’s motivation here.

But can it really be that simple – it’s fine for Souya to fight, he just needed to find the right cause to fight for? For most mecha series that would be more than adequate, but it just doesn’t feel like Mizukami somehow. It’s a very conventional development, and even if it means I’m holding Planet With to an unreasonably high standard, I don’t want it to be conventional, ever. There has to be more to what we saw this week than it appears on the surface – other shoes waiting to drop, shattering our reassuring notions of what’s right and what’s wrong as they fall. Next week’s is an episode that’s going to speak volumes about what Mizukami-sensei is trying to say with this series, and even if I find myself unsure as to the answers, I’m used to that with him. Bring it on – in the Water God I trust.

September 3, 2018 at 10:45 pm
9 comments »
  • September 4, 2018 at 5:48 pmEWA

    Planet with is one of those series where my friend and I can sit down and discuss the thematic views and story of the anime.
    we are currently heavily debating on the motivations and real nature of the people of paradise, and the dragon.
    Latest eps have proven my theory of torai and the others are already psychics and the vial just help channel the power.
    Now we’re still debating how they got the vial in the first place and why is it sand?
    we’re also debating the philosophical aspect of the story, next eps title hint on childhood end brings even more to our discussions.
    Planet with is the best anime for philosophical discussions XD

    • September 5, 2018 at 4:46 amGuardian Enzo

      No question, it’s the most discussion-friendly anime of the season by far for me.

  • September 5, 2018 at 5:42 amhephasteus

    This is just a wild guess, but I’ve started to wonder if (Spirit Circle spoilers) Show Spoiler ▼

    • September 5, 2018 at 7:34 amGuardian Enzo

      That would be a hell of a twist, but…
      Show Spoiler ▼

      • September 5, 2018 at 9:12 amhephasteus

        That’s the main thing that makes me think it could be something else. Either way, in terms of the representative of the People of Paradise, I’m wondering if he really wants Souya to defeat the dragon, or if this is some sort of test of whether he can overcome his desire for revenge and save the creature somehow (like Sensei had apparently intended before the Generalissimo’s fleet arrived).

  • September 5, 2018 at 5:47 amAngelus

    The contradiction is implicit in a phrase literally used in the episode, where Sensei is referred to as a “pacifist warrior”. Huh?

    Perhaps that’s not such a contradiction, coming as it does from the country that gave the world the Buddhist “warrior monk”.

    So yeah, aren’t Buddhists supposed to be pacifist (or at least peaceable)? Long story short, everything changed in Japan in the year 1052, which was adjudged to be the start of the mappou, the Final Age. Because the very existence of Buddhism itself was now supposed to be at stake, monks were let off keeping the bits of the monastic code that forbade murder and violence as long as it was in the Buddhist cause.

    Which takes us neatly back to Arthur C. Clarke, but this time the Zeroth Law of Robotics, where actions necessary to preserve the very existence of the human race override the First Law and its requirement to preserve individual human lives.

    • September 5, 2018 at 7:31 amGuardian Enzo

      It’s not expressly the same thing, though I get your point. Buddhism is associated with pacifism, but the literal, dictionary definition of pacifism makes “pacifist warrior” a contradiction. I can’t think Mizukami used it by accident.

  • September 5, 2018 at 11:44 pmMogar

    For Souyas ultimate push in making the decision to stand up I think all he needed was Nozomi’s words of “I’ll be the ally of the people I want to ally with”. Cliche as it may be. I don’t think he ever intended to fully not-care about the whole situation. He just couldn’t find any reason for it even after being told the dragon still lives. I’d like to think he was fighting inside himself “Save them” “But what does it matter”. It wasn’t until Nozomi gave her reasons for being on his side. That reasoning was selfish in the sense that it had no other person in consideration. It’s a reasoning purely for yourself. Which is exactly what Souya needed I think.

    As for why it was Souya to be “the chosen one”? I can only hope this is explained at some point. The one thing I had wondered was, why was Souya the only one to have survived anyways? Wasn’t he just kinda floating there (how would he breathe)? I don’t know his other works too much other than Spirit Circle so I’m not sure if these are things he would have plans for. But one thought I had was, what if he was connected to the dragons in some way? It’s been a running gag now that he’s prevented from eating meat all the time. But what if this was done on purpose as it could be a trigger to awaken something in him? Which would mean the reason he was chosen was either because A) He has a power related to the dragons and thus can be used to defeat them or B) He is the dragon itself or a part of it. Possible fusing together with the dragon thats behind the moon?

    Regardless I’m enjoying the series heavily. It reminds me how much I’ve missed this style of show that hasn’t really been out since the early to mid 2000s

  • September 7, 2018 at 5:47 amHaru

    Hey guys, there is finally a Planet With wiki, planet-anime.wikia.com

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