Resides in Austin, TX (USA). Long time connoisseur of anime and manga - I'm an art director, media critic and eccentric. I love to write, draw and travel.
Planetarian reaches the conclusion of its story this week. There will be a film adaptation of Planetarian: Hoshi no Hito in September, but since this is the review of the final episode of the mini-series, there’s going to be major spoilers.
Planetarian hasn’t been shy about its emotional build-up. The story is entirely character driven, with the details of the world inferred in small bits through the dialogue. Everything we know has come directly from the Junker and Yumemi. Though we’ve only had five episodes to get acquainted with the duo, it has been easy to become wrapped up in their struggles. I had rooted for the small robot attendant when she insisted to present her final star show, but maybe I shouldn’t have been so eager to see it. Maybe, just maybe, the Junker could have taken a little longer to finish those repairs on Miss Juno.
At least, this is what I thought as the episode began. At the end of episode 4, we saw the mech blowing up the building that the Junker attempted to attack from. Yumemi also sees this from the place she was told to wait at. The Junker survives the blast and takes inventory of his remaining ammo. He has two grenades left. He needs to get close to take the mech down. The Junker evades many attacks on his attempt to get closer to the mech. He eventually gets close enough to fire at the military mech’s leg. It’s a direct hit. Unfortunately, the mech doesn’t go down and charges up its high-power beam. The beam flings the Junker and the tank he was using as a cover into a nearby building. Rubble falls onto the Junker’s leg and he discovers it’s broken. He struggles to reach his weapon, but the building continues to collapse and he can’t seem to escape the falling debris. Just as he feels his life is about to be over, he sees Yumemi.
Yumemi appears and gracefully walks towards the mech. She smiles as she approaches and the mech turns to scan her. “Automaton”. The unit does not fire at first, and it seems that maybe Yumemi will be able to make it stand down. But, this is just a fantasy. All hell breaks loose, the mech fires several rounds at Yumemi and the Junker fires his last grenade at the mech. It’s a direct hit and the mech goes down – but so does Yumemi. The camera pans up and the Junker finds her on the ground, destroyed from the waist down.
As the Junker hobbles to check on her, she asks him if he is hurt. He chokes back tears and says he told her to stay put. She tells him that she tried a force-stop signal on the mech, but it apparently wasn’t sent. She tells him that the robot probably didn’t want to hurt him since he was human and that robots make a promise not to harm humans.
I’m sure he didn’t want to act so violently. He must have been broken. I’m a little broken.
Her system diagnostics inform her that she has only about 600 seconds of battery left. Afterwards she will no longer be able to function. As her battery drains, she reflects on her life. “I feel just a little bit lonely.” All she wanted in life was to serve humans and see their smiles. She shares her most important memories with the Junker. A montage, seen from Yumemi’s eyes, appears before us – it is a montage of the planetarium guests that she made smile throughout the years. The memory montage ends with the planetarium staff telling her that they must leave (the same scene as the introduction in episode 1).
She is honest with the Junker. She was worried no one would ever return. That’s why she thought she was broken, but the Junker proved her wrong and made her happy. But she realizes that it wasn’t her who’s broken, it’s the world. She doesn’t know why everything had to break. She asks the Junker to record a final message with her, in commemoration of his visit to the planetarium.
He tries to smile and tells her that he was coming to get her. That on the other side of the wall there is a new workplace for her and that the staff and projector partners are all waiting for her there.
Everyone is waiting for you Yumemi and they are so eager to see you.
He tells her that she can work there for as long as she wants. Yumemi thinks that it sounds like heaven. She tells him that behind her ear is a memory card slot and that if he can take it to her new workplace and provide her with a new body, she can start working on that day. She’d prefer it over going to heaven, because all she wants to do is work for humans. The Junker says he will follow her request. “Yes, I am very happy.” Then her visuals start to go out and she asks, “Mr. Customer, where did you go?”
At this point, I am not very happy. I have become very sad. Yumemi says in her last words that it seems like she is a little broken after all. She says she is a bargain model so she does not have the ability to shed tears, which is good because she would probably be crying right now.
I believe the tears would never stop…but I am very happy, full of a joyous feeling. It’s good that I am a bargain model because I’m definitely not crying here. It’s just the rain falling into my eyes.
Yumemi asks what her new workplace will be like. Just before her battery power depletes, she speaks a few words of hope and happiness: “Why don’t you come to the Planetarium.. That beautiful…twinkling of…eternity.”
The Junker closes her eyes and takes her memory card. He carefully places it in a container. He removes his star necklace and puts it around Yumemi’s neck. He ties the container to a string and hangs it around his own neck. He wears her memories.
The Junker hobbles off towards the wall. The Junker has cast aside his profession and he now calls himself The Starteller.
Planetarian is a brilliant story which caused me a lot of emotional distress. The series does a great job of making the viewer feel compassion for this little service robot – and it does so without implying any sort of sexual relationship. The Junker never sees Yumemi as a romantic interest and she does not look upon him romantically. The pair have a platonic relationship of respect and friendship and it’s interesting to see the series go in this direction. It also has a lot of different emotional conclusions – instead of the goal of “bringing back a lost love”, the Junker is left with a desire to bring a light of hope to this dark world. We don’t know if he’ll achieve this goal, and Yumemi may be lost forever because of the lack of technology left in their world. But the message is clear.
Planetarian forces us to ask: “Why is the world broken?”, and leaves the pieces of our heart shattered on the ground to rest with Yumemi.