The Infinite Zenith

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Tag Archives: Planetarian

Planetarian: Snow Globe – Reflections and A Professional’s Remarks on The Rise of Artificial Intelligence

“If we succeed in building human equivalent AI and if that AI acquires a full understanding of how it works, and if it then succeeds in improving itself to produce super-intelligent AI, and if that super-AI, accidentally or maliciously, starts to consume resources, and if we fail to pull the plug, then, yes, we may well have a problem.” –Alan Winfield

When Yumemi Hoshino is unveiled at Flowercrest Department Store’s planetarium to assist with presentation, attendant Satomi Kurehashi wonders what point there is in having her provide instruction to a robot. Ten years later, Yumemi has become an integral part of daily operations at the planetarium, but Satomi becomes worried when she finds Yumemi leaving the premises on a daily basis. Diagnostics finds nothing wrong with Yumemi’s hardware, and Yumemi herself states she’s performing normally. The IT specialist, Gorō, promises to investigate and determines there’s no abnormalities in Yumemi’s hardware or software, and one evening, while discussing Yumemi’s programming, the staff at the planetarium share a laugh after Yumemi misinterprets one of Satomi’s coworker’s remarks. Over time, the attendance at the planetarium begins to decline. The staff consider ways of driving up visitor count and consider selling snow globes, news of anti-robot riots begins to appear. On a snowy day, Yumemi wanders out to a nearby park, and Satomi decides to follow her after picking up a snow globe. While at a park, Satomi spots a young girl hitting Yumemi before her mother shows up; the girl tearfully remarks on how robots have resulted in her father to lose his job. Yumemi subsequently enters a power-saving mode but comes back online to share a conversation with Satomi, revealing that her coworkers had asked her to listen to Satomi’s concerns. Satomi later realises that Yumemi’s wandering out everyday was in response to a promise she’d made to a boy shortly after she joined the planetarium’s staff. The boy, now a young man, returns to the planetarium and remarks that he’s unable to keep his promise to Yumemi, having fallen in love with someone else. He ends up sticking around for the show, a tenth anniversary special. Satomi promises that she will continue to work with Yumemi at the planetarium unto eternity, and later, the staff provides Yumemi with an upgrade. Some three decades later, the world has fallen into ruin, but unaware of the changed world, Yumemi reactivates and begins to set about her original directive, of looking after the planetarium and its guests. This prequel story to Planetarian was originally part of a special edition of the game that tells of how Yumemi and the planetarium’s staff worked together prior to the war that decimated humanity. While it’s a touching story that shows how Yumemi came to become a beloved part of the planetarium she worked at, Planetarian: Snow Globe also touches upon issues that impact contemporary society. In the past year, the topic of machine learning and artificial intelligence was thrust into the forefront of discussion as Stable Diffusion and OpenAI’s ChatGPT reached increasing levels of sophistication. The former is a deep learning model that converts text prompts into images. Having been trained on a massive learning set, the tool is capable on running modest hardware and produces images of a high quality. ChatGPT, on the other hand, is a chatbot capable of producing life-like responses. Using a combination of supervised and reinforcement learning, ChatGPT can be utilised to generate stories and essays, identify bugs in computer software and even compose music.

The functionality in these new technologies is accentuated by the speed at which content can be generated; with a few prompts, tools like Stable Diffusion and ChatGPT can effortlessly output content at rates far outstripping what humans can generate, while at the same time, producing content that exists in a legal grey area regarding copyright and ethics. The existence of these technologies have created concern that they can eliminate occupations for humans and create a scenario where creativity is no longer something with any merit. Snow Globe presents hints of this – the little girl that confronts Yumemi, and the off-screen anti-robot riots are hints of how people are resistant to the idea of disruptive technologies that may potentially take away their livelihoods. At the same time, however, Snow Globe also suggests that AI and other technologies possess known limitations, and as such, while they might become increasingly powerful, they won’t fully displace people. Yumemi acts as support for the staff at the planetarium rather than replacing the other attendants, and limitations in her programming means that she has certain eccentricities that make it difficult for the management to decisively rely on Yumemi over her human counterparts. Similarly, in reality, machine learning still has its limitations. Stable Diffusion artwork lacks the same stylistic elements as human-created art and can create results that land in the uncanny valley, and ChatGPT lacks the ability to verify the factual value of content, producing answers that are obviously wrong to humans. Although there are concerns that increasing the training will eventually iron out these shortcomings, the AI itself is still a tool, one that cannot produce an output without a human hand guiding it. Clients and customers will similarly see a need for humans to ensure that a result is satisfactory. While concerns over AI replacing people in a range of creative occupations is a valid one, history finds that it is something that people might not need to worry about. When automation was introduced in manufacturing, people protested that their jobs were being taken away. However, automation also created new jobs requiring different skills, and over time, society adapted to the usage of automated production lines. With respect to AI, something similar will likely take place: although production of content might be automated, people are still required to provide inputs to these systems, and similarly, creative skill is still necessary, as the outputs from AI will not always match a client or customer’s requirements. When the technology reaches a point where it can supplant people, it will likely be the case that people will simply create other occupations and positions to utilise the technology. Snow Globe illustrates this as occurring: Yumemi is an asset at the planetarium that she works at, but she still has some limitations; these shortcomings are overcome when she’s working with human staff, and it is together that the planetarium finds the most success.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • According to blog archives, the last time I wrote about Planetarian was some six years ago. At that time, I’d completed my graduate thesis and had been working with my first start-up. My post about Planetarian indicates that I had spent some time on campus cleaning up my old office space and, in the comments, I had promised one of my readers that I would check out the movie once it became available. Unfortunately, this, never materialised: as memory serves, after seeing the film’s runtime, I decided to put it aside for a rainy day, and I subsequently never got around to watching the movie in full.

  • When I finished Planetarian‘s ONAs, I concluded that the series had exceled in showing how humanity retains its love of beauty even when our societies have crumbled, as seen with the Junker’s decision to collect Yumemi’s memory card. Here in Snow Globe, which is said to have been set three decades earlier, the world shown is a familiar one. Yumemi lacks her signature ribbon, and ten years into her service at the planetarium, Satomi’s grown accustomed to her presence despite initial reservations about working with a robot.

  • Satomi’s role in Snow Globe is to represent the individuals who are initially reluctant to accept a new technology, but over time, come to acclimatise and value what said technologies bring to the table. Her remarks about having spent ten years with Yumemi but still occasionally misunderstanding her speaks to the idea that the constructs and tools humanity has developed are of immense complexity. Even simpler iOS app has a large number of moving parts. For instance, while Twitter looks like a relatively easy app to implement, there’s a networking layer, infinite scrolling, AVPlayerViewControllers for video playback, a side menu and other elements that provide features users are accustomed to.

  • A system as complex as Yumemi’s, then, would be even more difficult to explain. Snow Globe has Yumemi serve as a capable presenter at the planetarium, but almost ten years since her inauguration, she begins to behave unexpectedly; Yumemi wanders off premises, and while acknowledging that this behaviour goes against planetarium protocol, she does not find that these actions conflict with her directives. Gorō indicates that Yumemi’s instruction stack seems normal, but here, I will note that strictly speaking, the terminology isn’t correct and moreover, using a stack isn’t appropriate for Yumemi. A stack is useful for solving problems that involve recursion (e.g. backtracking in pathfinding). A queue, on the other hand, is the better choice for sequential processing: it’s a data structure in which the first object put in is the first object to be used.

  • Since Yumemi works based on the instructions given to her, I’d expect that a priority queue underlies Yumemi’s functions: every instruction she’s been given is assigned a priority value, and then depending on parameters, Yumemi would pull the item with the highest priority to execute. Queues are a fundamental data structure, one that all aspiring developers must learn, and for me, queues are the easiest to explain since they’re modelled after examples like lines at a supermarket. Here, both Gorō and Yumemi are looking for abnormalities in her programming, suggesting a debug of the decision-making algorithm that assigns priority. Since nothing is found during their investigation, Gorō and Satomi are both baffled.

  • Unusual behaviours in software are not uncommon; a software developer deals with these sorts of issues on a daily basis, and there have been times where it is difficult to identify a problem because the reported issue is not sufficient to crash an app (and in turn, produce a stack trace). Instead, tracking down these behaviours requires an understanding of the underlying code. This is why any good software developer will insist on producing clean code: if the logic is too convoluted, this impedes clarity and precludes easy debugging.

  • To give an example of this, suppose that I wished to call a method if four conditions were met. Basic programming would call for an if-statement (e.g. “if A and B and C and D”). However, if the app grew in complexity, and now I had six conditions, one of which could always result in a method call if true, common sense would suggest adding these additional conditions to my predicate (e.g. “if A and B and C and D and E or F”). However, the verbosity of this statement would make it difficult to debug if it was found that the method was being called incorrectly: was it conditions A, B, C, D or E causing the problem, or is it the “or” operator with condition F?

  • In Swift, the response to this would be to use a guard clause after computing the variables. Suppose that the Boolean groupA is true if all of A, B, C, D and E are true. Then we could do something like “guard groupA || F else { return }” prior to calling our method. Because we know there is two distinct groups to look after now, debugging this becomes significantly easier. In this case, the solution Gorō proposes, to add tighter constraints on Yumemi’s behaviours, might not work given that at this point in Snow Globe, the cause of Yumemi’s actions is not precisely understood.

  • If what I’ve just said appears too verbose or dense, that’s completely understandable; this is the world of software development and clean code. I deal with these matters daily, and as such, have some familiarity with it, but it is unfair for me to expect the same of all readers. With this being said, having walked through what would be considered a simple example, one can swiftly see how when things like machine learning come into the picture, at least some background is required in order to understand how current systems work, and by extension, what the limitations of different methodologies are.

  • Topics of computer vision, natural language processing and machine learning have been widely debated as tools like ChatGPT and Stable Diffusion continue to mature. However, I’ve found that a lot of discussions about the social implications do not take into account the constraints of machine learning; although concern that these tools can destroy what gives artists and creatives value, the reality is that these technologies are still restricted by the size of their training sets. An AI could easily produce an image of Yumemi, for instance, but that interpretation would not have the subtle attention to detail a human artist could produce. In this case, if I wanted a commission of Yumemi, I would still favour asking a human artist over producing one through Stable Diffusion.

  • In graduate school, I briefly studied machine learning through my courses on Multi-Agent Systems and Swarm Modelling: while things like supervised learning and reinforcement learning are well-characterised, these courses also make it clear that machine learning has its limitations. One could ruin a model by overfitting it, for instance; a model can be made to perform flawlessly against training data, but the model would still prove useless for data it is unfamiliar with (the easiest analogy is the student who memorises exam questions rather than learning the principles and gets wrecked by an exam whose questions are slightly different). Because of constraints in the learning process, there is nuance in training a model, and while these processes are constantly evolving and improving, they’re not at a point where they can threaten human equivalents yet.

  • Having studied some machine learning in my time, and because of the fact I constantly deal with technology as a result of my occupation (I’ve written wrappers to work with natural language processors and have added sentiment analysis algorithms to some of the apps I’ve worked on previously), I believe that there is at least some weight to my remarks that we are not yet at the stage where AI-generated content can displace human-made content owing to constraints in learning models. A large number of creatives is concerned about where the technology is headed, but the reality is that we’re still many years out from possessing AI that can generate content with the same deliberateness as people do.

  • Snow Globe‘s portrayal of Yumemi and her relationship with the planetarium’s other coworkers speaks to this reality: although Yumemi was programmed to be kind and attentive, she lacks emotions as we know it. Had Yumemi been such a game changer, the planetarium could’ve simply hired Yumemi and then dismissed the remaining staff, save Gorō. This didn’t happen, and the reason is simple enough: despite Yumemi’s capabilities, there remain things only people can do. For instance, Yumemi isn’t designed to help with things like marketting and sales, so when attendance drops, the staff begin considering what else they can do; Satomi wonders if ordering custom snow globes might be of use.

  • While it is a worthwhile exercise to consider how things like copyrights and other legal aspects should be handled in the event that technology does reach a point where machine learning can produce works matching or surpassing what can be produced by human hands, I hold that such a discussion and any policy-related proposals should be conducted as a multidisciplinary effort amongst domain experts; conversations on social media, and as presented by journalists, do not always provide a complete or fair picture of what’s happening, especially given the nuances in the technology. Keeping a step ahead of the technology and implementing policy is meaningful: if social media had seen regulation before it became as ubiquitous as it was today, then it is less likely that bad-faith actors would have been able to use social media to undermine government, for instance.

  • Snow Globe never actually portrays the social unrest that arises as a result of the increasing use of robots within society, but news reports and comments the characters make suggest that it is a growing issue within the context of Planetarian. This is reminiscent of the human response to things within The Matrix: when a humanoid machine murders its owner, riots break out globally demanding that all machines be deactivated and destroyed. Since said machines were programmed with a basic survival instinct, they fled to their sanctuary, manufactured increasingly powerful machines and waged a terrible war on humanity.

  • Topics of this sort have long been popular in science fiction, but in the present day, events relating to technological singularity remain improbable because computing power, while impressive, is still limited. Computers are characterised by their speed, rather than their flexibility, and things like “desire” in a computer is presently measured by means of a function built on equations and input parameters. These functions strive to maximise some sort of goal, but beyond this, have no incentive to go above and beyond as humans might.

  • This is what motivates the choice of page quote: for any sort of AI-related disaster to happen, humanity would need to willfully and purposefully create the conditions necessary for its own destruction, similarly to how Chernobyl was the result of a series of deliberate, willful decisions. With this being said, an AI need not be intrinsically malevolent to wreck havoc with society. My favourite example is the Paperclip Problem: in 2003, Nick Bostrom proposed a simple thought experiment involving an AI whose sole purpose was to manufacture paperclips.

  • If this AI was given the means of producing said paperclips, it may come to realise people may one day impede its goals, or that at some level, atoms within humans could be repurposed for paperclip production, and to this end, annihilate humanity on its quest to produce paperclips. Less macabre variants of this thought experiment exist: if said AI could be instructed to not harm humans directly, it could still mine the planet to its core, resulting in an environment that is decidedly unsuited for human life. Intended purely as a thought experiment, Bostrom uses it to show how important it is to define constraints and rules so that they do not pose a threat to humanity.

  • In the present day, it is a joke amongst computer scientists that the average computer will often ask for a user’s permission, even several times, before it runs a program. Since computers are so subservient to their users (as a deliberate part of their design), an AI would produce a window, with an “okay” and “cancel” dialogue, asking a user if they would like for the AI to visit harm upon them. This attitude may come across as irreverent for some, but the reality is that machine learning and AI still have a long ways to go before they reach a point where they pose an existential threat to humanity.

  • Overall, Snow Globe does a touching job of showing Yumemi’s world prior to the apocalypse that sets her on path to meeting the unnamed Junker in Planetarian‘s storyline, suggesting that Yumemi had been surrounded by people who did care a great deal about her. After the planetarium staff’s time passes, one interesting observation is that Yumemi seems quite unaware of what’s happened, and she continues to try and carry out her original directives. For me, this was one of the biggest signs that Yumemi was what is colloquially referred to as a “dumb” AI in the Halo universe, named because they cannot synthesise information or produce creative solutions for problems.

  • In Halo, “smart” AI possess intuition and ingenuity, capable of mimicking the complex neurological pathways in an organic brain, but owing to their complexity and ability to form their own neurological networks, they place a strain on the hardware and have a short lifespan. “Dumb” AI, on the other hand, can be used for long periods of time. Because Yumemi does not appear to synthesise information or form new connections based on input from her environment, she’s not a true AI. I believe that one of the reasons behind why author Yūichi Suzumoto chose to present Yumemi as a “dumb” AI is because this renders her with a child-like naïveté then forces the reader to consider their own actions and beliefs, rather than having the story give readers a conclusion through a “smart” AI, and this in turn compels viewers to connect with the Junker, who feels a strange connection to a robot that dates back before his time.

  • After Satomi finds Yumemi, the latter enters a power-saving mode until Satomi’s remarks causes Yumemi to reawaken. Yumemi comments on how Satomi’s coworkers had asked her to listen to anything on Satomi’s mind, and in this moment, Satomi is able to add two and two. Here, Snow Globe reinforces the idea that even if one is simply voice their thoughts aloud, talking out one’s problems might be able to help one work out something. Yumemi is not able to directly help Satomi out, but giving Satomi the impression of being listened to gives the latter an understanding of things, enough to help her reason out what is behind Yumemi’s actions of late.

  • Seeing the change in Satomi’s attitude towards Yumemi was Snow Globe‘s highlight: as a junior attendant with the planetarium, Satomi had not seen any merit in training Yumemi, believing that the latter was already preprogrammed to be effective in her role. In the present day, Yumemi’s become an integral part of the staff, and Satomi even wishes she could marry Yumemi. Yumemi’s reply is similar to Siri’s, and she remarks that she’d made a similar promise in the past, leading Satomi to finally spot why Yumemi has been leaving planetarium grounds daily. With this being said, I imagine that this was something Yumemi’s manufacturer had added in as a default response, much as Apple threw this in to Siri as a bit of an easter egg of sorts.

  • As it turns out, the reason for Yumemi’s excursions come from a boy she’d met a decade earlier. He’d promised to marry her one day, and this instruction was processed. However, because there was a date value assigned to this instruction, Yumemi did not prioritise said instruction until the date of the promise drew nearer, whereupon it began impacting her actions. Since this was a valid instruction whose priority was influenced by a date value, diagnostics would not have caught this. One of my readers had suggested to me that this is an emergent property, but from a computer science standpoint, this is not correct.

  • Emergence is the manifestation of complex behaviours (e.g. swarming) from simple rule sets, with Craig Reynolds’ BOIDS and Conway’s Game of Life being two notable examples. Yumemi’s still acting within the realm of her programming at this point in time, and while she’s quite lifelike, there are numerous points in Planetarian where her the limitations of her behaviours are seen. As a result, I’m reluctant to say that Snow Globe illustrates emergence. Emergence in the context of Snow Globe would take the form of Yumemi display humanlike compassion and reassuring Satomi as another person would.

  • Celebrating a decade’s worth of service, Satomi’s coworkers give Yumemi a bouquet before preparing for Yumemi’s signature show. It’s a fitting conclusion to a glimpse into what the world had been like prior to the apocalypse, and I’m glad I was able to capitalise on this long weekend to watch Snow Globe: I had originally wondered if I’d have to wait for April or later to begin owing my schedule, but upon learning Snow Globe was only thirty-six minutes long, I found time enough to sit down for this experience. In Canada, the third Monday of February is a statuary holiday, a break in the month.

  • A massive snowstorm and cold front has swept into the area, and I spent much of today unwinding after enjoying a homemade burger with a side of potato wedges while snow fell. On Saturday, the weather was still quite pleasant, and I ended up taking the family to visit the local farmer’s market. Besides exploring the locally-sourced vegetables, I sat down to a delicious lamb wrap with Greek salad; it turns out that it is possible to taste the difference in having fresh ingredients, and after lunch, I swung by IKEA to buy a new reading lamp. For the past eleven months, I’ve been itching to have a reading corner in my bedroom, and the NYMÅNE fits the bill perfectly: I now have a cozy space to read books in during evenings.

  • Admittedly, the topic matter in Snow Globe has allowed me to express my thoughts on the recent media and online characterisation of a topic I’ve some familiarity with. I am aware of the fact that this is an issue some folks feel very strongly about, but at the same time, I am happy to discuss the ramifications of machine learning from a technological and social perspective, provided that folks are not importing the doomsday narrative the mainstream media is peddling: machine learning’s been around for quite some time, and while it is indeed improving at a dramatic pace, known limitations in its present form prevent AI becoming a plausible means of bringing about a dystopia as some have suggested.

  • In Snow Globe‘s post-credits sequence, the planetarium’s staff gift to Yumemi her trademark holographic ribbon, and later, she reawakens in the post-apocalyptic world. With Snow Globe in the books, time will tell if I actually manage to watch and write about Storyteller of the Stars in the future, but in the foreseeable future, I did promise readers I’d take a look at Do It Yourself! now that the hype surrounding the series has passed. For the remainder of February, however, quite a bit is going on, so I’d also like to knock out some lingering items on the backlog before beginning anything new: I recently finished Metro: ExodusSam’s Story, and have finally cleared Montuyoc in Ghost Recon: Wildlands ahead of a milestone, so I’d like to write about those before the month’s over.

The idea of machine learning and its applications in areas like computer vision or natural language processing is not new: while both ChatGPT and Stable Diffusion were released in 2022, the fields of AI and machine learning have been of interest since the 1990s, and principles like supervised or unsupervised learning are a core a part of courses at the post secondary level. The limitations of these approaches are well-characterised, and while the mass media tends to overplay advances in the fields of artificial intelligence and machine learning, as well as their implications, experts are aware of the fact that what makes computers so powerful is their speed. With a large enough dataset, computers can emulate humans in terms of problem solving, drawing upon incredible amounts of data and analysis of probabilities and past outcomes to draw a conclusion. In order to train a computer to recognise a square, for instance, thousands of images are required. However, a child will be able to identify what a square is after a few tries. Similarly, the concept of emotions is one area where humans continue to excel over machines. While emotions can be characterised as as fitness function, so far, no model exists for describing things like empathy or compassion – a fitness function will likely make decisions benefiting whatever task is at hand, while people are more likely to make choices that factor other individuals into the decision-making process. The complex interplay between man and machine, then, is a field that’s still ongoing, and while tools like Stable Diffusion or ChatGPT have definitely become powerful, some concerns about them are also exaggerated. Disruptive technologies have historically caused a change in society, rather than destroying it. The rise of phones reduced the need for letters, but letters remain a human and personal way of keeping in touch. Although virtual teleconferencing calls provide unparalleled convenience, people still make time for in-person meetings. Owing to historical trends, as well as known constraints on the learning models that power machine learning and artificial intelligence, then, it is fair to say that some concerns that are being shared regarding these tools are exaggerated. Similarly, it is worth noting that fears regarding the hypothetical possibility of computers displacing and plotting to eliminate humanity are a product of our own vivid imaginations. Although doubtlessly powerful, computers are not yet so creative that they entertain establishing dominion over our species yet: consider that our computers still ask users for permission before it runs an update or installs a new program.

Kaginado: Reflections After The Second Half and Welcoming The Year of The Rabbit

“I don’t think it’s possible to have a sense of tragedy without having a sense of humor.” –Christopher Hitchens

After Yuri and the SSS arrive at the school festival, she announces her intention to destroy this world and its god, feeling that the idyllic life here must be a ruse. To this end, Yuri tasks her force with capturing mascots from the other storylines to force the god’s appearance. Later, Yuri tries to hijack the buses taking the others to a summer trip, but when Yuzuru develops trauma from being within a tunnel, the SSS’ ploy fails, leading them to be buried in the beach as punishment. Back at school, Yuri next tries to put on a concert, confident that god will show up if they create some noise. Over time, the SSS begin settling into life with the other characters, and Yuri herself becomes excited about the student council president elections, feeling she can become god-like in the role. When the nail-biting election campaign begins, countless candidates join, and Yuri decides to sabotage the votes in her favour. For her actions, Yuri is thrown into solitary confinement, and meets Ayu, who’s confined for having stolen taiyaki. On the day of the election, it turns out that votes were evenly distributed, and when Ayu arrives, the other students pursue her so she can vote and break the tie. After elections end, the characters reflect on how being together has helped them to gain a better understanding of one another. The show thus draws to a close, and while Ushio is sad to see things end, planetarium attendant Yumemi reassures her that the show will continue so long as she remembers it. Nagisa and Tomoya arrive and pick up Ushio, while the Junker thanks Yumemi for another excellent performance before the pair set about preparing the planetarium for the next showing of Kaginado. With this, Kaginado‘s second half draws to a close, and with it, a wonderful parody of the worlds within Key’s impressive compendium is done. Kaginado was a part of the twenty-first anniversary project, and as a crossover, this series of shorts wound up being a very gentle and entertaining way of celebrating Key’s most iconic characters in a respectful, but cheerful manner: Key’s visual novels have a reputation for bringing tears to the player’s eyes, and anime adaptations have been similarly touted for their emotional impact, so being able to see the characters bounce off one another and parody their own past experiences shows that, while Key may excel at poignant stories, their writers also have a sense of humour.

The highlight of Kaginado‘s second half lies with the introductio of characters from Angel Beats!. After Kaede, Yuri, Yuzuru and the SSS join the party, Kaginado becomes even livelier as Yuri and the SSS do their utmost to cause a disturbance such that Yuri may draw out the world’s god so she can have a throwdown with them. To this end, the SSS embark on the same activities they had originally carried out within Angel Beats!, and while Yuri is certainly trying to take her work seriously, the fact that Kagonado is a parody with no regard for emotional tenour means that unexpected events thwart her every attempt. Kaginado shows how Yuri’s original plan within Angel Beats!, despite being motivated by rightous feelings of resentment and a desire for vengence, was ultimately one that couldn’t succeed. Angel Beats! would ultimately have Yuzuru approaching things with heart rather than bullets, leading the characters to make peace with their pasts, and here in Kaginado, Yuri similarly fails as those around her begin accepting the outlandish would that is Kaginado. That Angel Beats! premise works with both a dramatic and comedic environment speaks to how there are cases where how a story unfolds is dependent on the author’s intentions. Since Angel Beats! had been meant to pull at the viewer’s heartstrings and create a story of making a sincere effort to make peace with one’s past, things were more serious as Yuruzu strove to understand the world he found himself in. On the other hand, Kaginado is simply meant to parody these stories and give them a humourous twist. Yuri’s plans seem out-of-place, ill-conceived and unnecessary. However, despite the gap on intentions, the outcomes end up being the same after Yuri realises that within the other worlds, there were other characters who share her feelings. By hanging out with Kyou, Nayuki, Komari and Kotori, Yuri realises there is worth in this world, and ultimately decides to live life to the fullest, while at the same time, choosing a path most consistent with her desires. Because of the implications that Kaginado brings to the table, the parody series also reflects on the strength of the writing in Angel Beats!, a series that, after over a decade, still remains immensely enjoyable to watch.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • The last time I wrote about Kaginado was near the end of August, and back then, my original plan had been to watch the second half shortly after: Kaginado‘s second half had begun airing during the spring of 2022, shortly after my move, and I had been settling in then, leaving little time for my other pursuits. Once things had settled down during the summer, I began watching Kaginado, but my usual propensity for procrastination meant that once I’d finished the first half, I found little time to continue as the fall season began, and Yama no Susume: Next Summit kicked off.

  • However, within moments of starting Kaginado‘s second half, it immediately returned to me as to why I found the first half so enjoyable. The characters in Kaginado are largely faithful to their portrayals in their respective series, but additionally possess a modicum of awareness about how they were treated. This drives some of the humour; watching Ryou hand Botan to Ooyama, seemingly in order to spite Kyou, only for Ryou to betray Ooyama and alert Kyou to Botan’s position, was hilarious.

  • Classic elements from Angel Beats! make a return in Kaginado, with details like Yusa’s role as Yuri’s intelligence officer being faithfully brought over. Yusa’s story in Angel Beats! is that of a tragedy, but owing to Angel Beats! runtime, most of the characters’ backgrounds actually aren’t explored, and it is not lost on me that two twenty-five episode seasons would probably be required. In place of this, Angel Beats! ended up receiving a visual novel, but after the first volume was released, no more news of the project was heard.

  • Yuri’s plan to cause disruption in this world mirrors her old actions, and right out of the gates, I was reminded of the original Angel Beats! – as the story goes, I decided to pick the series up eleven years earlier because one of my friends had sent me Lia’s My Soul, Your Beats, and curiosity led me to watch Angel Beats!. After finishing Angel Beats!, I was greatly moved and proceeded to give CLANNADKanon and Air a go. Each of these series were characterised by the balance of comedy and drama, as well as an overwhelming feeling of yearning.

  • In Kaginado, the drama and tragedy is entirely discarded, leaving the entire focus on the comedy. Much of the humour is dependent on a familiarity with Key’s other works, and as such, folks who’ve not seen a handful of Key’s shows or played through the visual novels will find some of the moments in Kaginado difficult to follow. For instance, when Kaede shows up in the SSS headquarters, this is outrageous because originally, Yuri had gone to great lengths to keep Kaede at a distance, including setting traps. Here in Kaginado, Kaede is able to saunter freely into headquarters without any resistance, and playing on her love of the Sichuan dish, mapo tofu, she’s always seen with a bowl in hand.

  • Although short, every episode of Kaginado is packed to the brim with hilarious moments; when Yuri’s initial plans fail, she decides to pull something during the big class trip to the beach. Her efforts end up failing, since her SSS are not equipped to deal with people possessing extraordinary combat prowess. The unexpected moments that occur in Kaginado means there is never a dull episode, and the series utilises its new additions from Angel Beats! to great effect.

  • Kaginado‘s irreverent and whimsical presentation of elements from Angel Beats! serves to put things in perspective – although Angel Beats! had its share of comedy, a consequence of Yuzuru’s initial attempts to adjust to life in the Afterlife world, once Yuzuru began empathising with Kaede and began making efforts to make amends, the series became increasingly poignant as it became clear that every last person in the Afterlife had come in because of their own regrets, and this world had become a place for everyone to overcome said feelings of longing.

  • Moments like Yuzuru’s sacrifice in Angel Beats! are brought back in irreverent but hilarious ways, ones which do require a priori knowledge of Angel Beats!. After the bus enters a tunnel, he develops a panic attack – his original story was that in life, he’d been a bit of loser, but ended up turning his life around and aspired become a medical doctor as a promise to his sister. En route to the entrance exams, a rock slide trapped his train, and Yuzuru ended up organising a survival effort, but died from dehydration and exhaustion moments before rescuers came through. In the absence of this background, Yuzuru’s outburst would not make much sense.

  • Kaginado‘s first half had a swimsuit episode, so for kicks, the second half has a beach episode, and for good measure, both the idea of rendering the girls with a higher level of detail, and the battle between two pairs of siblings, make a return. Here in the second half, meta-humour remains present, although it is the SSS that drive most of the comedy – as punishment for their antics, they’re buried in the sand and forgotten wholly.

  • The Chinese New Year always creates an interest in horoscopes, although here, I note that people take an interest in horoscopes because they are way of comforting those who are facing uncertainty in their lives. Where tried-and-true methods fail, people look for patterns and hope in anything they can find, and astrology offers this. For instance, my own horoscope for the Year of the Rabbit is that, if I work hard and manage my finances well, I’ll have a good year. At first glance, this does sound like my financial fortunes will improve, but it is, in fact, contingent on my putting in an effort to improve things. My horoscope is therefore fully accurate, provided I take the initiative to make it so.

  • Similarly, if I receive word of incoming bad luck, it’s simply just a caution to not overdo things – receiving poor fortunes simply means that one should be more observant of their surroundings, and more mindful of themselves. Back in Kaginado, things switch over to a concert that Yuri organises; she hopes things will be noisy enough for the gods to appear. Unfortunately for Yuri, while the concert is a success, and Masami disappears after performing the ballad she always wanted to perform, the gods don’t appear, and instead, attendees are treated to Lia’s Aozora, one of her most iconic songs that was used as Air‘s ending theme.

  • Later, for no apparent reason, the characters across the different Key universes are pitted in a one-on-one against one another, and the characters in the show I watch end up winning against their opponents. Mai’s sword technique destroys her foe, while Kanna overwhelms her foe when she flies into the skies and loses all of the clothing in the process. On the other hand, when Matsushita squares off against Kotomi, I had expected Matsushita to win owing to his martial arts skill, but Kotomi cheats by breaking out her violin, which returns as a weapon of mass destruction.

  • As a callback to the first half of Kaginado, Kyou had already foreseen this happening – here she sits, with a smug little smile on her face and her pockets full of cash, ready to enjoy the show. Little details like these weren’t necessary for Kaginado, but their inclusion serves to accentuate the humour. The resulting pandemonium is befitting of a show like Kaginado, and once Kotomi’s done her beatdown on Matsushita and everyone in the stadium, judge Kaede break out her “Harmonics” guard skill in retaliation, lamenting how her mapo tofu is destroyed.

  • Later, while a pair of sleepovers are happening, the secondary characters who were shafted by their respective stories commiserate together in what is visibly a miserable time. It’s easy to laugh at them, but of everyone, I feel most pathos for Nayuki and Kyou – I’ve experienced precisely what the pair have gone through before, and it deals one’s confidence a crushing blow. One thing that I would’ve liked to see, even though this is strictly unnecessary from a storytelling perspective, was seeing how Kyou and Nayuki found their footing after losing their respective love interests.

  • On the other hand, the heroines’ get-together is set in a neatly-organised room, and the lights are on. Conversation is spirited, but once it turns out Riki isn’t a heroine (despite being voiced by the legendary Yui Horie), the others pull him aside for “research” purposes. This was one of those moments that I don’t have any background in, and as such, the moment flew over my head. However, it also suggested that perhaps now is the time to get into Little Busters.

  • Towards Kaginado‘s end, Yuri ends up deciding that she wants to take on the role of a student council president, having seen how much power the role entails. Originally, Yuri had sought the power to help those around her after losing her siblings and her own life during an armed robbery that went bad – she most regretted being unable to protect them, and since then, had sought vengeance against the god of a cruel world. Angel Beats! had left the existence of a god ambiguous and suggested that any higher powers in their world did not intervene in the world of humans, but was benevolent enough to give people a second chance.

  • Admittedly, seeing Yuri’s determination in Kaginado was adorable because of all the characters, she feels the most unable (or unwilling) to accept Kaginado‘s world – she retains all of her old resolve to destroy this world, and this comes across as being immensely out of place, leading to humour. With CLANNAD and the other characters, their comedy comes from being placed into ridiculous situations or what’s known as meta-humour, in which the characters critique or challenge the writing that created their circumstances.

  • However, even Yuri begins showing signs of desiring a normal life: after her latest tantrum, Yukine passes her a cup of tea, and Yuri loosens up a little. Here, I remark that discussions on Kaginado have been limited despite the series’ entertainment value, and this time around, I do have a guess as to why this is the case – CLANNADKanon, Air and Angel Beats! are older than a decade, and the constant stream of anime means that older titles can be forgotten. Interest in Kaginado is understandably diminished, although it’s worth reiterating that folks who have previously seen Key’s works will find Kaginado worthwhile.

  • To Yūichi, Tomoya, Yuzuru and the others, seeing their worlds collide in a hilarious way leaves them without words – as the student council president race heats up, smaller groups form as the campaign for different things, and this creates a multi-way race. Seeing this leads Yuri to employ under-handed techniques to win the election, and while Angel Beats! may have accommodated this because of the Afterlife’s unique setting, the other characters eventually intervene and chuck Yuri into solitary confinement for some self-reflection.

  • Seeing Ayu and Yuri together is something that was only possible in a crossover like Kaginado – Ayu’s here for stealing taiyaki repeatedly, and is apparently a repeat offender. This room was seen in Angel Beats!, used to confine students engaged in misconduct. It speaks volumes to how memorable Angel Beats! had been; even eleven years later, I still recall smaller details within the anime. While I’ve watched many series since then, the fact that Key adaptations still stand out speak to their staying power.

  • Although the so-called losers end up bemoaning their fate and even coughs up blood, the four of them pull their act together and try to encourage Yuri to simply do her best. Things turn around after the SSS appear, having rounded up the traitors within their ranks. Seeing this returns Yuri to her old self, and she resolves to campaign with all of her heart.

  • Going through Kaginado is a far cry from my usual anime experiences: since episodes are only four minutes each, it was possible to watch the whole of Kaginado in a single sitting, and this in turn made the series very easy to go through. Normally, I watch one or two episodes of a given series in a day, and it takes an average of two weeks for me to complete an anime if it has fully aired. While some people prefer watching their shows all at once, I’ve found that this can be an exhausting process. I personally enjoy going through things more slowly so I have time to take in something and give some thought to what I watched.

  • There is no right or wrong way of watching anime, and different people will find different processes better suited for their schedules. Back in Kaginado, after the campaigning comes to an end, and the results are in, it turns out Ayu was absent from the vote, making her Key to a tiebreaker. The entire school ends up pursuing her across Japan to secure her vote, and in the end, it looks like the new student council president’s identity is a mystery. However, with the elections over, everyday school life returns to normal for the students, who welcome the routine and enjoyment of an ordinary life.

  • Throughout all of Key’s works, it does feel that the ordinary as something to cherish is another common theme. In keeping with tradition, Kaginado also presents this, albeit in a more roundabout way as the series parodies every aspect of the works the characters featured in. Overall, because of its presentation, I count Kaginado to be an enjoyable experience that is worthwhile for anyone who is a fan of Key’s works. Since Key series tend to be emotionally charged, it is nice to see everyone interact in an environment where there is no tragedy.

  • Kaginado features six of Key’s works, and here, I’ve featured stills from the four series I’ve previously watched. At present, I feel that my next Key adaptation is going to be Little Busters; this anime is actually quite lengthy, running as long as CLANNAD did. With my schedule, assuming I start next month, I could be done by the time summer arrives. On the other hand, I’ll probably look at Rewrite at a later date; I’m still on the fence about this one owing to the more dramatic portrayal of the supernatural, but again, Kaginado has shown me there may be merit yet in keeping an open mind and giving this one a go.

  • Once Kaginado comes to a close, Ushio expresses a desire to see more of the world, and Yumemi explains that while the show’s done, it will continue living on so long as she remembers it. Kaginado was one of the projects done to celebrate Key’s twenty-first anniversary, and over the years, this developer studio had accrued a reputation for creating works of emotional impact. With their extensive history, Key continues to produce visual novels and kinetic novels (essentially digital picture books), and their company also produces their own music through Key Sounds Label.

  • With both halves of Kaginado in the books, and the appearance of Planetarian‘s Yumemi, I am reminded of the fact that while I have watched Planetarian in full some six years earlier, I never got around to watching the Planetarian movie despite having promised one of my readers I’d do so. Because it’s been so long, I don’t think said reader is around, but there probably is merit in my going through the Planetarian movie at some point in the future so I can finish things off.

  • We’re now a shade over two thirds of the way through January, and with Bofuri and Mō Ippon!‘s third episodes past, I plan on writing about them. Both series have impressed me enough to warrant a discussion. In addition, word has reached my ears that Maiko-san chi no Makanai-san‘s live-action Netflix adaptation has become available. Titled The Makanai: Cooking For the Maiko House, this series will present Kiyo and Sumire’s experiences from a different perspective and looks promising. I look forwards to writing about this along with, Lycoris Recoil and a revisit of Kokoro Connect come February.

Having now completed Kaginado, I am reminded of the fact that amongst Key’s works, I’ve yet to take a look at Little Busters! and Rewrite. The Key adaptations I’ve seen so far (Air, Kanon, CLANNAD and Angel Beats!) have been remarkable experiences, masterpieces, because of their ability to strike a balance between comedy and drama, using moments of levity to build a connection to the characters such that when tragedy struck, the impact was felt ten-fold. However, Key works have also accrued a bit of an unfair reputation amongst some viewers, who feel them to be inconsistent and incomplete. These sentiments come from the storytelling approach Key works tend to take; because Key stories are rooted in themes of longing and regret, their resolution is reached when the protagonist is able to overcome their past regrets and make peace with what’s happened. Because different protagonists have different backgrounds and regrets, it can be a little tricky to definitively tell when a resolution does occur, and this in turn creates a situation where a given story’s ending can come across as open-ended or inconclusive. However, this mode of storytelling is consistent with the idea of transience, and folks who approach Key’s works aware of this have typically found moving stories. With this in mind, Kaginado acts as encouragement for me to give Little Busters! and Rewrite their fair chance: these series have initially not drawn my interest, but seeing all of the characters here in Kaginado, having a ball of a time with folks from Air, CLANNAD, Kanon and Angel Beats! has piqued my curiosity. As such, I do see merit in taking the plunge and giving the remainder of Key’s animated adaptations their fair chance. In the meantime, today is the Chinese New Year, and I’d like to wish all readers a Happy Year of the Rabbit!

Planetarian: Review and Reflection

“I think of space not as the final frontier, but as the next frontier. Not as something to be conquered, but to be explored.” — Neil deGrasse Tyson

After a devastating global war eliminates civilised society, survivors eke out living in a grim world fraught with danger. Originally a kinetic novel, Planetarian is told from the perspective of a Junker who takes refuge in an derelict shopping centre while hunting for supplies. He encounters the planetarium’s guardian, Yumemi Hoshino, who offers him a special performance on account of his being (nearly) the planetarium’s 2.5 millionth customer. Despite finding himself annoyed at Yumemi’s talkative nature, he agrees to sit through one of the projections and assists in repairing the projector. Yumemi insists on escorting him out to his destination following the show, but the pair encounter a heavily-armed combat robot. The Junker’s efforts to engage it ends with Yumemi attempting to protect him, and she is torn in half by the robot’s auto-cannons. She recalls her pre-war memories before powering down, and the Junker is left to make his way back outside the city walls with Yumemi’s memory card. A relatively short and poignant OVA about the seemingly paradoxical dichotomy between human excellence and human limitations, Planetarian is one of the summer season’s shorter offerings.

That human constructs, such as Yumemi and the planetarium dome, continue to persist well after the fall of human civilisation suggests that, in the event that our so-called intelligence causes us to wipe ourselves out in a global conflict, aspects of our world will nonetheless continue to persist. These aspects can speak both beneficially and detrimentally about our species; in particular, humanity is capable of great good and great evil. In Planetarian, Yumemi represents the side of civilisation where creativity and ingenuity has resulted in the forging of a construct that serves to further an observer’s knowledge of humanity’s history with the stars and their desire to visit them: ever-cheerful and totally devoted to her assignment, Yumemi’s persistence is able to sway the Junker who comes across her old planetarium. At the opposite end of the spectrum are the large battle droids that continue to carry out their initial assignments. Programmed with (presumably) sophisticated machine learning algorithms, these droids are purpose-built to fight wars, mirroring the side of humanity that is war-like and barbaric in nature. Although we might be capable of great good, humans are also more than capable of committing atrocities towards one another. These dynamics appear to be mirrored in the robots: towards the end of Planetarian, Yumemi is destroyed by a war robot, but the Junker retrieves her memory card. Thus, although destruction may seem to be the more powerful force, this only holds true in the short term; the Junker’s recovery of Yumemi’s memory card and aim of resurrecting her suggests that the human spirit and desire for constructive acts outweigh our tendencies for destruction.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • The protagonist in Planetarian is only known as a Junker and remains unnamed, so for this post, I’ve opted to refer to him as such. Here, he’s evading some anti-personnel combat robots while venturing into the derelict city to scavenge for supplies and high-value goods, using the FN P90 to fend them off in the process. The P90 depicted here seems a little shorter in proportion and seems ill-suited for taking on the heavier armour on combat droids. Earlier this week, I dropped by a local pub for wings and nachos to mark the deployment of a prototype at work: it’s surprising as to how quickly the summer’s passing by.

  • Technically, the Junker is not the 2.5 millionth customer to visit the planetarium, but according to Yumemi’s algorithms, he’s “close enough”, and so, she offers him a makeshift bouquet before stating that his prize is to be a special viewing of the planetarium’s main feature, which includes a bonus segment. Kindhearted and quite fond of speaking, the Junker does not take too kindly to her friendly personality when they first meet.

  • This is Miss Jena, the planetarium’s main projector. Generally, planetariums make use of dome projectors to simulate sophisticated views of the heavens. These projectors can be set up to work with sophisticated systems that can project the night sky for any given time point, with systems that enable for laser and fog effects optionally present to further the planetarium’s experience. Owing to their size and cost, large setups are typically restricted to museums and science centers.

  • I’ve not seen a full planetarium presentation since I was in primary school, but I do recall that I enjoyed the two that I had the opportunity to see. There’s a magic about dome screens that can’t quite be captured even with VR headsets; in recent years, I’ve not seen any planetarium shows at the new Telus Spark Science Centre. My last visit to their dome theatre was for the Giant Walkthrough Brain, and I was quite nervous about the prospect of implementing a camera to project the show onto a dome screen. Fortunately, this feature was not needed, allowing me to focus my attention on ironing out remaining bugs in the show, and our Beakerhead presentation’s two performances to a sold-out crowd proceeded very smoothly.

  • I’m still getting used to the whole idea of using Flickr as an image host, and while they’re a little clunkier than Picasa, Flickr allows for bulk image editing, offers a reasonably powerful set of tools for organising albums and above all, allows for images to be copied directly to this page (whereas Picasa limited users to copying from a link, which is slower). For now, the time taken to set up a post is roughly the same, but Flickr offers 1000 GB of storage against Picasa’s 15 GB, so it’ll be a suitable replacement I’ll quickly acclimatise to.

  • While quite resistant to the idea of watching the planetarium’s show, the Junker eventually comes around and consents to repair the broken projector to see what sort of presentation awaits him. He catches rainwater for consumption during a break, remarking that a special filter renders the water potable: the war that devastated their world arose with the deployment of a biological weapon that precipitated a nuclear war. Society collapsed, and similar to Metro: 2033, survivors were forced to eke out survival amongst the ruins of a once-great civilisation.

  • Yumemi assists the Junker in repairing the planetarium’s projectors, using her onboard power stores to test various pieces of equipment before installing them into the projector. On the topic of installation, the reason why this post did not come out sooner was because I’ve been remarkably busy over the past week; my 6 GB EVGA GTX 1060 SC arrived. It was Tuesday afternoon when I received a phone call saying the the video card I reserved was available for pickup. I dropped by the retailer after work and picked it up, installing it on Thursday evening and got around to testing it yesterday evening.

  • The 1060 is so far, proving to be a beast of a card: some of the games I initially tested ran quite poorly and saw frequent frame rate drops, it turned out that it was because I was running several downloads and other processes at once. Once the downloads completed, most of my games seem to run very smoothly, maintaining a steady 60 FPS at 1080p on ultra settings. In particular, Battlefield 4 and DOOM run buttery smooth now, as does Alien: Isolation. I’m very excited to try out Deus Ex: Mankind Divided now, having spent today preloading it.

  • Back in Planetarian, the Junker and Yumemi succeed in repairing the projector, so the show can finally get started. While skeptical, the Junker finds himself amazed, in spite of himself, at the wonders of the night sky seen on screen. Technology has come a very long way since I was a wide-eyed primary school student with a newfound curiosity in all things science, and although we may have 4k screens, consumer-accessible VR and even augmented reality devices now, very few display methods can compare to the immersion provided by a dome screen.

  • Despite introducing herself as a basic android model, Yumemi is remarkably sophisticated by contemporary standards. She is programmed to be effective in looking after her customers, and there are several points where viewers see the world from her perspective. Advanced image processing algorithms allow her to quickly ascertain her environment, and her AI is capable of allowing her to make her own decisions in the event that her access to a centralised database is removed.

  • Yumemi’s internal storage would presumably not be spent largely on the planetarium’s programmes, and instead, be used to hold her memories: the uncompressed text of Wikipedia occupies around 51 GB of storage, which fits comfortably on a 64 GB memory card. Here, Yumemi presents a story about the mythological stories behind each of the constellations seen in the sky. The show proceeds nominally until the emergency power stores are depleted.

  • Despite the lack of imagery, the Junker is now interested to see Yumemi’s take on the special presentation. This special presentation follows the history of humanity’s interest in the heavens above, and how humanity strove to, through its technological innovation and determination, eventually allowed them to begin exploring other worlds. Aware of the strife and warfare in the world, Yumemi remains optimistic that humanity will eventually be able to reach other stars.

  • I was on campus last Saturday to clean up my office space. The Korean BBQ house on campus remains one of my favourite places to eat on campus: I enjoyed their Korean BBQ spicy chicken on rice with a side of noodles and sweet potatoes while watching the final three episodes of Planetarian during noon hour. The Junker is visibly moved by the presentation, and reluctantly agrees to allow Yumemi accompany him to the city walls. While Yumemi is well-suited for her role as a guardian of sorts for the planetarium (which I’ve read is set on the rooftop of the Matsubishi Department Store), her algorithms for movement are not so advanced as to allow for learning to move efficiently on uneven surfaces, and so, she trips on several occasions.

  • After making a short detour into an abandoned liquor store and finding a bottle of Scotch Whiskey inside, the Junker contemplates taking Yumemi with him, finding a power supply to keep her running and allow her to continue on with her wish of serving people, telling them wondrous stories about the heavens above. However, their path is blocked by a massive combat robot.

  • The Junker fields a M79 break action 40mm grenade launcher, a standalone grenade launcher that was adopted by the American military in 1960. Despite its versatility in being able to fire a wide range of projectiles, from HE to smoke rounds, it was limited in being able to fire only a single round, and moreover, restricted the user to carrying a sidearm as his backup weapon. The US Army would address this with the M203 under-barrel grenade launcher, which could be mounted to the underslung rails of the M16 rifle.

  • High-explosive rounds for the M79 arm themselves after travelling 30 meters and have a muzzle velocity of 75 m/s. However, the Junker’s plan to use such a round on the combat robot is unsuccessful: it fails to detonate, and the robot trains its railgun on him, forcing him to retreat. While he is able to deal some damage to the robot, he becomes injured in the process.

  • Having never seen a combat robot before, Yumemi walks out into the open and attempts to initiate a shutdown protocol. The robot does not respond and opens fire on her with its secondary cannons, blowing her apart. In the chaos, the Junker lands a round that finally disables the robot, but Yumemi is now critically damaged. In her final moments, she shares her memories with the Junker, revealing that she’s served many happy customers and desires nothing more than to continue doing so.

  • Instead of a system of mighty organs lying strewn across the pavement, Yumemi’s power cables, hydraulics and other components are exposed. Being a robot herself, Yumemi remarks that she can continue to exist even with the destruction of her body, as she can be transferred to a new body. Moved by her plight, the Junker takes her memory card, a 128 Exabyte (1018 bytes, or a million terabytes) device that holds her personality and memories, resolving to restore her.

  • As a final gesture, the Junker leaves Yumemi with his necklace, depicting the cross-shaped constellation Cygnus. It can be seen in the northern hemisphere during the summer and early autumn, and its brightest star is Deneb, which has an apparent magnitude of 1.25. These final few images bring my Planetarian to a close, and all told, I found a rather enjoyable, straightforward story in Planetarian.

  • My posting patterns have become (unsurprisingly) sporadic as of late owing to my schedule, but once I finish this last journal paper, I imagine that I’ll be able to find some time in the evenings to continue blogging. I intend to write about Brave Witches (Strike Witches‘ long-awaited third season) during the fall season in an episodic manner, as well as Hibike! Euphonium‘s second season in the two-post format. Before we reach October, I have several other posts upcoming, including my final impressions of Alien: Isolation (as of today, I’m one mission from finishing), and first impressions of both DOOM and Deus Ex: Mankind Divided. From an anime perspective, I’ll be dropping by in September to write about Amanchu! and New Game!.

Simply written and surprisingly moving, Planetarians’ five episodes were remarkably enjoyable to watch. From a technical perspective, the post-apopcalyptic environment was rendered quite well. Similarly, Yumemi’s voice is masterfully delivered by Keiko Suzuki: slow and precise, yet joyful, Yumemi sounds as an android should, adding much depth to the anime and giving the Junker’s interactions with it a much more plausible feeling. Similarly, the soundtrack was a joy to listen to, While I enjoyed Planetarian, there is a single caveat I found with the presentation. Given that Planetarian was originally a kinetic novel, I felt that the entire story would been better presented in a movie format: in the absence of break points, the extended runtime of a movie would permit for the story to be presented in a fluid manner. Curiously enough, there is in fact going to be a movie format for Planetarian: titled Planetarian: Hoshi no Hito. Set for release in early September, this movie is presumably going to be a sequel of sorts. I’m quite excited to see what themes lie in this continuation; this series of OVAs is relatively short and quite worth watching. For individuals interested in seeing what’s happening next, but have yet to see Planetarian for themselves, there is a small time frame to catch up on this anime.