Based on an ongoing manga series by Makoto Yukimura, Planetes has now been converted into an anime as well, broadcast weekly on NHK´s satellite TV channel and produced by Bandai Visual and Sunrise.
Set in the year 2074, space debris has become a hazard to commercial ventures and space travellers alike. This is why every company company employs a team debis collectors in order to get rid of all potentially dangerous pieces of waste. The series deals with the daily life and work of the team of the Fedora Corporation. Spacefarers are no longer the heroes of humanity, but common salaried workers like everybody else. And the debris collectors hold the lowest rank amonst them. Sounds boring? It isn`t!
The series lives the spirit of adventure, the dream of space exploration without forgetting the basic little things that make everything work. It endevours to be very realistic in the sense that small things are not forgotten, and that it does not take great adventures or earth-shattering dangers to make a hero. Planetes takes pleasure in exploring just these little details, one episode at a time, and manages to weave an interesting story and fascinating and likeable characters, each with their own view of things, dreams, goals, etc.
Hachimaki (Hoshino Hachirouta) is the main debris collector. He does most of the EVA work, but is slowly realizing that he isn`t really moving ahead in life, or getting any closer to realizing his dream of one day owning his own spaceship.
Tanabe Ai is the rookie of the team, still uneasy about everything, and thus sometimes a little clumsy. She has strong convictions and ideals, however, which sometimes puts her at odds with the rest of the team. She is good natured, but sometimes a little too naive.
Fee pilots the debris collecting ship, the Toy Box. She used to work for a different company which was bought out by Fedora. She continues to pass up promotion options since she wants to keep working in the field. Being the most veteran collector of the team, she brings a lot of experience to the job and saves the day more often than she would wish. She also has a smoking habit she does not care to shake of. (Curious how smoking is possible onboard a space station? Watch the show to find out!)
While in the manga, Hachimaki is the center character, the anime is at first more focussed on Tanabe, but later on is shared between the two of them as they slowly develop their relationship. Be sure to check this series out for a more realistic view on the future than all the space-opera type galactic conflict-type series out there. The series re-awakens the dream of space travel. I can`t wait to see it happen ;-)