Astra Lost in Space Episode #04 Review

Synopsis: On a trip to another planet for a school sanctioned camp experience, a group of nine kids suddenly finds themselves transported 5,000 light years away with little hope of survival. Their only chance of making it back home lies in an abandoned ship known as the Astra, which was found floating near where they warped. Now this group of strangers will have to come together, and make a journey across several planets in order to safely make it back home.

Synopsis: On a trip to another planet for a school sanctioned camp experience, a group of nine kids suddenly finds themselves transported 5,000 light years away with little hope of survival. Their only chance of making it back home lies in an abandoned ship known as the Astra, which was found floating near where they warped. Now this group of strangers will have to come together, and make a journey across several planets in order to safely make it back home.

The Review

After spending most of last time on the traitor subplot, this week it’s back to space exploration, as the crew arrives at their second destination, Planet Shummoor. Of course with a new planet comes a new set of problems for them to face both, with the planet itself, and their own personal hangups, as Yunhua’s end up taking the spotlight this time around. This ends up making a lot of the episode a bit of a balancing act in terms of material, but like with the gang’s first planetary stop, it’s one the anime proves to be more than equipped to handle.

Having avoided a potentially fatal crash, the gang’s first order of business after landing on Shummoor is to put the matter of the traitor behind them for now since whoever it is seems to be cooperating for now. With that issue put to the side, they begin exploring the planet, and like with the first one they landed on, I really dig how unique its environment feels. While the kids encounter some helpful animals they dub Grupples (because why not) it’s also inhabited by large fungi that actually feed on some of the herbivores, and serve as the planet’s dominate species since they produce spores that are lethal to the animals. I wouldn’t exactly call myself a huge science nerd or anything, but I’ve always been fascinated by different ecosystems and how the creatures living in them have adapted for their survival, so the fact that this one was pretty well detailed was a neat touch, and it helped to add a little more spice to the show’s exploration angle.

Unfortunately, the kids end up learning this little lesson about the circle of life the hard way, as several of them end up falling victim to the toxins. Their hopes end up resting in the hands of Kanata and Yunhua, with the latter getting the most amount of focus this time around. While most everyone else seems to have found a way to contribute to the team, Yunhua still feels like she’s the weak link, and Ulgar and Luca’s backhanded comments only make her even more anxious about it. She eventually decides to try running away, but when Kanata goes after her we learn a little more about the reasons behind her self-loathing. Yunhua dreamed of becoming a singer when she was little, but her mother squashed her dreams and demanded that she simply stay in the background as much as possible, saying she was “too useless” to be the center of attention. Her mother’s words continued Yunhua deeper and deeper into her own little shell as she grew up, and now she’s afraid of standing out at all, since she only sees her self as a burden to others. While we don’t know the details on why Yunhua’s mother was so desperate to keep her out of the spotlight, since she was a singer herself it’s likely that at the very least, she probably saw Yunhua’s talent as obstacle for her own success, and wanted to nip it in the bud as soon as possible. Regardless of her actual motives though, it’s very emotionally abusive parenting, and like with Quitterie’s story in episode 2, I’m glad this series is continuing to be extremely upfront about the kinds of scars that can leave on kids.

Thankfully all’s not lost for Yunhua, as while she might not see herself as valuable, some of her actions here end up saving the day. On a more direct front, she happens to come across a plant that the planet’s animals use as an antidote for the mushrooms’ spores, which helps Kanata in tracking them down, and on a much softer level, her singing ends up being a source of comfort for the others while they attempt to fight off the poison. On the downside we don’t get an immediate resolution to the poison problem, since the episode ends a little before we see Kanata safely return with the antidote, but Yunhua trying to help the others ends up reigniting her passion for singing, so we at least get to see her character arc cap off on a high note. That being said, we also don’t really get to see anyone besides Kanata react to her dream of being a singer, so I do hope we get at least a little bit more with her and the others next week. Putting all that aside for now though, I’m glad the show was able to deliver on another good one-two punch of cool space exploration, and good character drama, and while not everything here wraps up perfectly, it’s certainly consistent, and I’m happy this trek through space still has plenty left to offer.

Rating: 8.5/10

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