Lets open this discussion with an example were all familiar with. Imagine your professor just assigned the class a critical essay on this weeks lecture topics. Like all essay assignments youve ever received in your life this one has a page limit lets say 4 pages. Cant be more cant be less. As you sit down the night before its due to finally complete or start the assignment youre likely to face one of two problems: 1. You are struggling to meet the 4 page limit that was set for you experiencing a lack of material to complete the essay or have simply answered the prompt in a concise manner. 2. You are struggling to trim down your essay to fit into the 4 page limit left feeling like you could not adequately prove your point within the limit or that there is just too much material to be fit within such a small space. Neither situation feels great for you: you either feel frustrated that you just cant seem to fill up those 4 pages with meaningful content or cheated that you didnt have enough space to present your full thoughts. The page limit itself begins to subtly dictate your essaywriting experience rather than having your focus be nailed to the prompt and the topic as it should. You fill the pages up with meaningless garbage to get up to those necessary 4 pages. You cut some of your earlier valid points to trim down to exactly the page requirement. Both options end up hurting the overall quality of your essay although at this point its 5:34 AM and your class is at 8:00. You get a nice catnap drag your caffeineaddled self to class turn in your paper and pray to God that the next essay goes better for you. If your professor keeps giving you a strict length requirement its likely to happen the same way all over again. Claiming that mandated length can put a damper on the creativity or quality of a work is far from a stretch. We see it all the time in television and movies with anime in particular being one of the worst offenders. Anime runs on a relatively small core force of talent and an even smaller pool of money and is a medium that is for better or worse rich with adaptations of varying source material. Any sort of requirement outside of usually adhering to the source impacts a studios final production dramatically. Viewer expectations and network blocks dont make this any easier an episode runs for 24 minutes and a season is 1113 or 2426 episodes. Many a series has been ruined by needing to extend or shorten their material to meet these norms whether that be through cutting/alteration of important source content or the addition of filler to pad out the season. Its exactly for these reasons that Ive found shortform series to be so refreshing as of late with Planetarian Space Patrol Luluco and even incredibly dumber stuff like Okusama ga Seitokaichou being notable examples. Each one of these series has their content and delivery strengthened by their shortened runtimes so much so that Id never recommend any of them under any circumstances had they been fulllength 24minute 13 episode series. Well maybe Id still recommend Luluco to TRIGGERheads but a fulllength version of Okusama would absolutely be a garbage fire and Planetarian would likely be brushed off as just another hamfisted Key feelmonger. Whats important to note with our two above shortform adaptations Luluco is the only animeoriginal of the three is that each has more than enough content to justify a fulllength fullseason series. Planetarian has an original kinetic visual novel three full drama CDs and some additional inprint prequel and sequel content. Even though there is likely more than enough content to flesh out at least an 11 episode 24minute each series this ONA is just a mere 5 episodes long with a total runtime of about an hour and half. If you didnt even know about the show until now youd be forgiven it flew largely under the radar like many shortform series and was only available on FunimationNow for legal streaming in the US. Like other Key adaptations this one will try to pull on your heartstrings but thankfully Maeda is nowhere in sight and theres not enough time for the plot to grind to a halt like Clannad or get absolutely insane like Charlotte. Planetarians greatest strong point and standout quality when comparing it to other Key works is its focused plot and setting coming out of necessity with length of the work. Rather than waste your time setting up a VN backbone to satisfy an otaku audience we jump right into a hard science fiction plot in a postapocalyptic setting with our two main characters. With a series thats so short I really dont want to get too much into the specifics of the plot but Planetarian is a series that really tries to explore questions about the human condition empathy and our relationship with technology as it becomes more and more indistinguishable from the natural. With themes so heavy youd think that Planetarian would feel like its pressed for time but its actually the opposite. It feels like it doesnt overstay its welcome. With a plot focused on just two characters and one core setting anything more than what we got would feel forced or draggedout. Its also pretty apparent that the choice to go for shortform was primarily focused on budget. David Production has never really been known for jawdropping visuals but the backgrounds here are honestly stunning accurately nailing that postapocalyptic scifi vibe although the animation at times can be a little stiff outside of some action sequences. However the budget definitely wasnt skimped out on for the musical score with Orito bringing the same highquality pieces that weve heard in shows like Clannad and Kanon 2006. Planetarian is a perfect example of knowing when to cut your losses with a production and prioritize whats most important in making the work a success. By choosing to only adapt the core story of the franchise which is plenty powerful in and of itself it allows the work to stand alone stronger than it would if a fullblown adaptation of all material was attempted. It also has the benefit of allow the studio better use their budget on the fewer number of episodes as well as to back out on follow up content if the project didnt do well financially. Never getting a sequel always sucks as fan but it definitely hurts less if the first installment was more masterfully done and satisfying in its own right. Thankfully Planetarian was fairly successful for an ONA and has a movie set with content from one of the drama CDs sequel content scheduled to release later this year. Planetarian is a Key visual novel adaptation done in a short form style to great effect. Like a lot of Key stuff this one will try to pull on the heartstrings but unlike Clannad and the others that theyre famous for this one doesnt waste your time nor does it have time to spare with an overabundance of melodrama and contrived scenarios. Instead we get a oneshot character story between our two mains. Lots of emotional beats here with heavy themes about what it means to be human and how the relationship between humans and technology warps over time. David Production gave it their all for the short time that they had with this one. Some of the background art is drop dead gorgeous and the character designs have a large amount of love and care put into them which is honestly expected considering there are really only 2 recurring characters. They do a great job of making the postapocalyptic modern world of Planetarian dismal and abandoned but not completely lacking in life or action. The animation overall can be pretty stiff at times but I attribute mostly to the fact that the show actually contains a large lack of motion and is mostly dialogue. Facial animations have a good bit of time put into them to make up for this but youll mostly enjoy this one for the story not for the betterthanaverage art. Music is stand out thought just as great as other Key adaptations think Clannad or Kanon 2006 quality. Overall a great scifi drama with an incredibly satisfying ending. At only just about an hour and a half total time investment this is definitely one that you dont want to miss. For more reviews and other musings check out my bloghttp://thebeanwolf.blogspot.com/2016/09/summer2016animeinreview.html
90 /100
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