Planet With Episode 12 Review: That’s Hitting Below the Belt and a Matter of Perspective

September 25, 2018

Quick Summary

In Planet With episode 12, "Behold, The Universe is Filled with Blessings,Souya KuroiSensei, GinkoNozomi Takamagahara, and the assembled Earth/Nebula defenders execute their desparate plan to defeat the dragon. But in war, no plan survives contact with the enemy. Can our heroes stand against such a powerful foe -- a foe that won't even acknowledge its own nature? And what if the dragon has more weapons in his arsenal than they accounted for?

Note: This post may include spoilers, so be cautious.  

What's in This Post

Interested in the Sensei mech? You can buy it from CD Japan:

3 Favorite Moments

The dragon played dirty with this attack. I was glad to see it backfire on him! Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.

Moment 1

If you forgive me for using an American football metaphor, I'm throwing a yellow flag for unsportsmanlike behavior on the dragon (5:44). He used a telepathic attack to make Souya feel like he was back on his planet, just moments before the dragon attacked.  Do you remember Souya's emotional breakdown back in episode 8?  Remember the list of things he missed, like visiting the bakers or even arguing with his friends? The dragon forced him to remember the last conversation he had had with his brother, when all of those things he brought up during his breakdown came up (in order, too!). Talk about hitting below the belt! It was all part of the dragon's tactic to kindle the flames of hatred in Souya's heart. From the dragon's perspective, it was the perfect attack. But Souya's perspective, having lived with Ginko and Sensei for so long, was completely different. As cruel as the attack was, the man Souya had become was able to brush it aside (9:35). There was even a cool shot of the dragon confronting Souya, who had reverted to a child in his memories, as he faded back into a man as his saw through the dragon's attack. The level of character detail in this show is just amazing.

Poor Nozomi! She was elated to see Souya escape the subspace hole -- just before he, Sensei, and Ginko dove back in to hold off the dragon! Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.

Moment 2

Having pushed the dragon through the subspace hole, the Nebula fleet tries to retreat. Sensei and Generalissimo (with Kogane Shiraishi) get out in time, but some of the old Grand Paladin have used too much power and begin to flounder. While the subspace hole is closing rapidly, their comrades help them fly towards the exit, but that gives the dragon time to pursue. Souya sees what's happening and has an idea to rush back in to delay the dragon, but he pauses (12:06). He's built such trust and respect with Ginko and Sensei that he has to ask if they're behind the decision, too. It just takes a glance to which both of them nod, but I thought that gesture showed just how far he'd come from the rash, impulsive young man he used to be. The show gets bonus heart-string points for showing Nozomi's relief at having seen them escape turn to panic as they dove back in (13:04). Her look of despondency was heart-breaking.

I was surprised at the depth of Ginko's relief at having thanked the dragon for saving her people. Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.

Moment 3

The build up to Souya, Sensei, and Ginko's confrontation of the entity at the heart of the dragon was intense. Though I've said before that this show's gained my confidence, I admit that I felt a tiny bit of doubt that anyone could fulfill the expectations that the show had been building. But you know what? It did. Souya confronts the dragon not with force of hatred, but with gratitude (16:06): Gratitude that the dragon reminded him that the memories of Sirius were still within him. He pledged to remember the happiness and forget the hatred. Then, in unambiguous terms, he forgave the dragon. Even more affecting were Ginko's words of thanks; thanks that the dragon had saved her people from the soldiers of Sirius (16:44). Her people apparently feel things deeply, because being able to deliver her thanks loosed a stream of tears that she'd been holding back for years. Even Sensei got into the act by pointing out that it's all a matter of perspective, and by his actions, he'd proven the point (17:29). They had fulfilled their mission even as the dragon disintegrated around them.

Thoughts

The battle scene before the credits felt really intense, and the music helped quite a bit! I'll miss this series' dynamic battles with their distinctive mechs and maneuvers! 

I was wondering how Souya and his friends were going to fight the dragon, given that the combined might of Nebula was barely able to banish it before. Their plan was really smart -- just trick the dragon into going back the same way it came to the Earth system. The key point? Use telepaths not to try to beat the dragon down (they learned that didn't work well), but to push the dragon's awareness away from the memory of the hole (3:35). Even the timing of the Kigurumian Spaceship Battalion was perfect -- just in time to push the dragon into the subspace entrance. Smart and subtle!

And a Panda spaceship (4:26)? How cool is that?

This show helped me understand a bias I didn't know I had. Turns out I expected any show that's fast-paced with great battle scenes would be thematically shallow. If you read my review of Black Bullet episode 13, you'll know that it was both fast-paced and action-packed, and its theme was correspondingly shallow: Namely, that people have good and evil sides. That's not terribly deep, and it's not exactly ground-breaking. Themes don't have to be, of course, but I do prefer them to be more robust. While I thoroughly enjoyed Black Bullet, it's not a show whose theme I think much about. 

They kinda make me feel like they're judging me for making such a sweeping generalization! Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.

Compare that to Planet With's theme that perspective you choose determines your life. Souya chose a perspective of love and forgiveness, so he was able to defeat the dragon's insidious psychic attack. Ginko chose a perspective of gratitude, so her tears were tears of relief instead of sorrow or fear. Both of them had, by virtue of the perspectives they embraced, chosen what the Pacifist Faction would call the evolution of love. 

In case the idea of perspective wasn't clear, consider the People of Paradise's answer to Souya's question of whether he did the right thing: "Feel free to view this story from whatever angle you desire" (20:26). 

Is this an Earth-shattering idea? Is it the most original thing that's ever been? No. But it does a couple of great things. First, it puts the emphasis on individual choice. How we chose to look at life determines who we are. While that's obvious, sometimes it gets lost, like in the blind pursuit of revenge or the uncaring application of justice. An awareness of perspective could inform both of those courses of action.

I couldn't let the last image of Nozomi be the one of her despairing! Here's one after she used her telepathic power to track down Souya, Sensei, and Ginko. That was a feat none of the Nebula telepaths were able to do! Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.

Even better, it opens the door to philosophically interesting discussions. By perspective, do the People of Paradise mean moral relativity? I'd argue against that, but I could see how someone might build a case -- and have a lot of fun with the conversation! Does choosing the evolution of love mean overlooking or permitting heinous acts in the spirit of respecting other perspectives? I don't think so, and this reminds me of Highway's comment about episode 11 and its discussion of the different meanings of the fight between Nebula and the dragon and between Sensei and Generalissimo. In other words, another interesting conversation!

The point I'm trying to make is that Planet With's theme is complex enough to generate discussion that the simple good/evil dichotomy just can't. For me, Planet With proved that not only was it jammed full of interesting characters in a multi-layered world punctuated by engrossing action. It was also thematically complex. Only time will tell, of course, but I'm betting this show will become a long term favorite of mine like The Asterisk War and Re:CREATORS.

Did you enjoy Planet With? What were your favorite moments from this episode? Let me know in the comments! 

Other Posts of Interest

  • Highway says:

    I liked the episode well enough, but felt like it was more just knocking down the pins that had been set up before, not really taking us anywhere unexpected. They stated that they were going to save the dragon, so given the chance that’s what they did. I honestly wasn’t very happy with the “Haha, we pushed you into a hole!” strategy. That felt really cheesy and if it had gone to plan, it would have actually destroyed the message that they ended up with. So while it’s good that they were able to confront the dragon, that was very very much Plan B. It was probably better for Souya and Ginko, but they were going along with Plan A, and I know they weren’t going to dive in after the dragon if they didn’t feel they needed to to save Torai.

    Ultimately, the finale just didn’t give me that feeling of “this was great!” that the rest of the series did. I liked it. I liked that Souya and Nozo were a couple. I liked that the earthlings were accepted into Nebula. I liked that they got their reckoning with the dragon, and that the show had a nice message of forgiveness and progress, especially after it had started off with revenge and spite. But it wasn’t something that had me itching to rewatch it, it wasn’t something that had me rushing here to comment on your post about it. It was a good finale.

    • tcrow says:

      “That felt really cheesy and if it had gone to plan, it would have actually destroyed the message that they ended up with.”

      It’s probably obvious, if if I like a series, I develop a blindness to its flaws. You’ve just pointed out a really issue with the plot — an issue I hadn’t seen at all.

      Just how was Planet With going to provide the climatic confrontation between Souya, Ginko, and the dragon if their plan had succeeded? I suppose the People of Paradise could have worked their magic, but that would have felt like too much deus ex machina.

      “I liked that they got their reckoning with the dragon, and that the show had a nice message of forgiveness and progress, especially after it had started off with revenge and spite. ”

      For me, that sentiment, plus its characters and plot, still made this enormously enjoyable. Plus, it left me wanting more. Just how powerful is Nozomi, anyway? What impact will humanity have on Nebula, and vice versa? Wanting to know things like that after a series ends is an indication that it resonated with me.

      But your point remains: the show came really close to fumbling at the end.

      I wonder if the show’s overall quality inflated our expectations for a finale? It wouldn’t be the first time…

      • Highway says:

        I think that Nozomi isn’t all that powerful, she’s just very in tune with Souya. I also think that it’s interesting that earthlings are now part of Nebula, even though developmentally they really wouldn’t have been ready for that.

        I think that they probably could have done a similar thing with Souya, Ginko, and Sensei diving to the heart of the dragon even if they hadn’t both been in the subspace rift.

        I dunno if the finale needed to be any higher quality. I think the issue more for me is that it wasn’t as clever or unexpected as the rest of the series has been. It was a lot more of a straight up anime finale. But I think that a lot of series, anime or not, have disappointing finales. There’s so much weight of expectation on them, and there’s a perception that there are things that they *have* to do (tie up loose ends, finish off stories, provide resolutions, happily ever after) that they tend to be very limited in where they can actually go.

        • tcrow says:

          “I think that Nozomi isn’t all that powerful, she’s just very in tune with Souya.”

          You’re probably right, but there’s just something in me that wants her to be more powerful. Or maybe it’s interesting enough that she and Souya together are so powerful. Bottom line: I want more!

          “I also think that it’s interesting that earthlings are now part of Nebula, even though developmentally they really wouldn’t have been ready for that.”

          Me, too. Did humans’ conscious choice to awaken from the Sealing Device hasten their evolution? Did they earn their position by virtue of standing against the dragon? Again, I want to know more!

          “I think the issue more for me is that it wasn’t as clever or unexpected as the rest of the series has been.”

          I understand that. It’s like watching a bowler in the 9th frame as they’re working on 300 — I start wanting them not to fail as much as I want them to succeed! I had that same sense with this show. So much so that I missed obvious things that you pointed out!

          I’m still amazed at how much the writer packed into 12 episodes!

  • Dawnstorm says:

    I felt the ending was… missing something? The forgiving-the-dragon line also felt a little more condescending to the dragon than I’d otherwise have expected, and that’s a pity because it ties in with the theme of “evolution”. I expect this is a little confusing, so let me explain:

    Where Nebula and the People of Paradise are on a page, it seems to me, is that evolution is prograss, rather than mere change. And the progression seems to be along the lines of: first you develop your spiritual power and then you leave your body behind. And apparently this is “good”.

    The only one in the show to challange this seems to be the Dragon. If he’s part of the People of Paradise and managed to consciously refuse the final step and retained a phyiscal body, the question remains why and how? The relationship between Dragon vs. People of Paradise is thematically vital to the message of the show, but it remained underdeveloped in favour of emotional sap.

    The “Dragon” is clearly just a corrupted outer shell of the inner person we saw; but are we to assume that the corruption stems from his choice being “wrong”? I don’t think so. We got emotional development of the Dragon in his spin-off human form, which suggests that there’s an alternative possible. If he’d not been the only one of the People of Paradise to make the decision and refuse that final step of evolution, would the story have played out the same? By the time he became Takezou’s son, he was already the Dragon, no? So what now?

    It’s good to forgive, and it’s good to love, obviously, but it feels all a little hollow, since nobody actually tried to understand the Dragon. As a result, the ending felt weak and incomplete and sappy to me. There were still great moments, but to me the show peaked in the previous arc, where every beat was well earned. One or two more episodes, and we could have a fairly balanced three-parter. All it needed was for the show to delve into the Dragon. Everyone else was merely getting closure, but their stories were mostly on the denouement already. The Dragon should have been the focus of the final arc, both for personal character reasons and to round off the evolution motif.

    Still the second best show of the season (after Hi Score Girl, which I hope people won’t forget when it becomes available in December).

    • tcrow says:

      “The relationship between Dragon vs. People of Paradise is thematically vital to the message of the show, but it remained underdeveloped in favour of emotional sap.”

      I wonder — emotional sap or emotional crucible? Without the dragon’s definitive position, Ginko and Souya’s emotional journeys would not have had the steady progression needed for 12 episodes.

      “but it feels all a little hollow, since nobody actually tried to understand the Dragon”

      This isn’t something that occurred to me as I watched. But now that you’ve brought it up, I can see what you’re saying. By relegating the Dragon to the role of crucible, he lost the ability to be a dynamic character.

      “One or two more episodes, and we could have a fairly balanced three-parter. All it needed was for the show to delve into the Dragon. ”

      Good catch. I mean, I _could_ try to argue that the Dragon’s played a vital dramatic role, but allowed to develop, it could have been even _more_ dramatic.

      I’m willing to cut the writer some slack on this one. I was serious in my comment before — I’m still amazed at how much the writer packed into 12 episodes!

      But after reading your perspective, I’m dying to know what he could have done in 14 or 15 episodes!

      • Dawnstorm says:

        I don’t disagree that the Dragon played an important dramatic role, and it’s definitely true that everything hinges on the Dragon. But that’s all he is, and that’s my problem. It’s possible that this is by design, but none of the other characters feel sacrificed to their plot function.

        I have no issue with what happened, or how. There are even hints: the city inside the dragon is most likely his home? Sirius has also been cut short a bit, and so Soya’s first outburst is also more inferred than felt, we can feel for him, but we can’t also feel the loss in the way we could if we had actually seen the characters he’s rattled off. That city inside the dragon is similar, with the huge difference that the dragon never really was a character (except for a sub-personality – that also left a mark).

        It feels like there’s a question left over, something like “what’s the value of a physical existance?” that gets cut short through that omission, and in turn, the entire philosophy about evolution feels a little one-sided and underdeveloped.

        I feel that the dragon’s position is important to the show, but not so much the dragon himself. And with the traces I still find, I suspect that the dragon is supposed to have a point, but it’s not the position itself. As if the dragon’s position is a sort of mental metastasis based on a deeper rift between the evolutionary philosophy that unites both factions of Nebula and the People of Paradise into a seeming teleology, and his own position which is – what? – something that you lose in the process.

        I’ve read your post the day it came out, but I had a less favourable reaction to the episode. Count the days until my post and you have about the time I spent tracking down my niggles. I’m still not actually sure I managed to do so. It’s hard to figure out, whether I’m actually feeling a lack in the show, or whether it’s just an instinctive philosophical difference that I expand into a non-existant hole. I wonder. But I did track my discontent to the development of the Dragon (as opposed to the “dream-self” he had).

        I do agree, though, that the writing here is a masterpiece in economy. Not a scene wasted, and very little missing. I do think a little more time would have profited the show, but surprisingly an entire cour would probably be too much.

        • tcrow says:

          “I don’t disagree that the Dragon played an important dramatic role, and it’s definitely true that everything hinges on the Dragon. But that’s all he is, and that’s my problem. It’s possible that this is by design, but none of the other characters feel sacrificed to their plot function.”

          I think you did a good job of clearly laying out your perspective — and I gotta admit you made me see the episode in a different light!

  • […] Anime World dove into episode 12 of Planet With with their 3 favorite moments, overall thoughts, and other post of interest. I personally […]

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