Decades after a nuclear apocalypse, a Junker- a person who lives by scavenging essentials from the remains of the old world- enters a planetarium, which still is somehow receiving power, and still has a staff member- a robot (given the name Hoshino Yumemi) who has been patiently awaiting a new customer for 29 years. The Junker (if he has a personal name, we'll never learn it) decides to stay for a bit (it's shelter, after all) and help repair Hoshino's projector. When he finally hears her presentation, he's so entranced that he wants to take her, and her presentation, to as much of the human race as still remains.
I do wish Hoshino's builders had given her more situational awareness. She talks incessantly, apologizes profusely ("I think I might be a little broken"), and generally seems unable to process the changes that have occurred in her external environment since her creation, kind of a problem for a robot designed to interact with the public, in my opinion. She's sweet, though (even if it's just programming), so I guess our Junker can't hate her too much, and I would imagine he's grateful to hear another "human" voice, even if she barely allows him to get a word in edgewise, and remains oblivious to most of what he's trying to tell her. (Though she DOES appreciate his help with her equipment.) I was fascinated by the fact that Hoshino's ribbons display her current operational state. She also DOES seem to have been programmed in accordance with Asimov's Three Laws of Robotics. The 5 OVAs cover the Junker's encounter with Hoshino and the planetarium.
I'm not quite sure what to make of the background music here, which is the tune I recognize as "What A Friend We Have In Jesus." Well, there IS some speculation about heaven here, and how things there SHOULD be; and this is a Key/Visual Arts show, which tend to be both sentimental AND into the supernatural, so maybe we'll come back to this in the movie.
The movie is set decades later, and reprises all the critical parts of the OVAs, so it's pretty much stand-alone. Our Junker is now an old man with a new name, Storyteller of the Stars. He carries around a small planetarium projector and makes presentations to the surviving people, but things are even worse than they were in the OVAs: nuclear winter has firmly set in, the surviving humans lead hardscrabble existences inside shelters, and lectures about stars that can no longer be even seen through the thick snowclouds seem a pointless luxury, at least to many of the adults; besides, he's an old man, unable to contribute in any practical way to their survival while representing a drain on their resources. (I've been reading N. K. Jemisin's Broken Earth trilogy, and even though it's a different sort of cataclysm, the human reactions, and coping strategies, depicted are very similar. Hopefully we’ll never find out if these are accurate visions of the Apocalypse.)
The kids have a much more receptive attitude to the Storyteller, however. (The kids are all given Biblical names- another of the show's religious references- though the names were apparently assigned heedless of traditional gender-specificity.)
Before I wrap this up, maybe a bit of real life:
Once upon a time, I'm sure there were itinerant (there were certainly homegrown) "Storytellers of the Stars" who led parties of people out beyond the firelight, where the stars seemed to fill the night sky, and told them stories of the gods and creatures they fancied in the patterns they saw there. And the stars were relevant, too; they marked the seasons (and the times of planting and harvest), and learned men thought they contained portents of the future.
By the middle of the 20th Century, stars seemed- well, farther away, even as scientific knowledge of their real nature increased by orders of magnitude. Air and (especially) light pollution robbed people in the cities of all but the brightest objects in the skies, a trend which still continues. Planetariums, instead of just showing the sky, started doing laser light shows just to survive- and many simply didn't make it. And even scientists were relegated to either setting up their observatories in remote corners of the earth, or in outer space.
So Planetarian's vision of kids getting excited over a sky they no longer even have the possibility of seeing might be too optimistic. But the show's really even more optimistic than THAT: Hoshino's presentation to the Junker included one segment on humans' attempts to reach for the stars. By the time of the movie, it certainly looks like that dream is dead and buried- but check the show's end titles.
The show is very gracious to the Junker/Storyteller in the end, too. I really hope that it has this right. For everyone. — Allen Moody
Recommended Audience: Rated TV-14, presumably for violence and some Adult Situations (or more precisely adult cruelty, necessary or no.)
Version(s) Viewed: R1 DVD
Review Status: Full (6/6)
Planetarian © 2016 David Productions.
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