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
Boy, that escalated quickly. If you thought last week’s episode of Astra was pretty packed, this one is even more stuffed as we dive into Charice’s backstory and the kids find themselves in their greatest crisis yet. This all leaves the show with even more than usual to accomplish in a single episode, and while not everything here sticks perfectly, it manages to lay some pretty good groundwork for what’s to come
Following up on last week’s cliffhanger, as everyone grills Charice for answers regarding his lie about being in the same class as Aries, we learn he’s actually a transfer student and he came to the school around the same time she did. This automatically makes him the most suspicious person in the room, and when the others proceed to immediately point this out, he’s left with no choice but to talk about his past. Charice was born into the royal family of Vixia, the last nation on Earth allowed to be ruled by monarchy after the rest of the world merged into one unified government after a World War in the 1960’s (more or less confirming this show takes in some kind of alternate timeline, rather than the distant future). His childhood friend, Seira, on the other hand, was a commoner, and when she was found sneaking into the nobles’ territory with Charice, she ended up being horribly injured in an accident and is now in a coma. Eventually her family moved her away, and Charice decided to throw away his nobility to start a new life.
This makes Charice’s story one of the most immediately interesting ones compared to what we’ve gotten with the other kids, but at the same time it’s also the most lacking in substance. While it does help to explain more of the show’s setting, and it does kind of break the ongoing chain of having every character’s backstory connected to bad parenting in some way, the whole bad parenting angle also helped to give the other stories a little more weight, and this feels a little too cliche and melodramatic in comparison. At the same time though, while the kids all seem to be pretty moved by this story, it’s clear that there’s probably more to it than what Charice told them, so hopefully whatever that is ends up being more interesting than what we’ve gotten so far.
Fortunately, (or unfortunately for the kids) Charice’s story is far from this episode’s biggest development. When the gang arrives on the fourth planet of their journey, they run into some unexpected trouble when some of the plant wildlife attacks and damages the ship, leaving them stranded. On top of that the planet itself is the most inhospitable of the ones they’ve landed on, with everything outside of its epicenter being either too hot or too cold for most life to survive in. Even though they’ve faced plenty of dangers up until now, this the most hopeless the kids have ever felt about their situation, and Quitterie in particular has an especially bad time accepting her new reality. However, Zack mentions that there is one potential way for her to escape this crisis: going into the Astra’s hibernation pod and hoping that someone someday comes across the ship and rescues her. Of course, while this would save her, it would also leave her alone as the others are left behind to die, and she sees this as too terrible of an option to be worth considering. It’s not a particularly big scene in and of itself, but it at least helps to demonstrate how much she’s come to care for everyone compared to where she started at the beginning of this show.
Dark as things are though, there is some potential light at the end of the tunnel for the kids, as they happen to stumble across what appears to be a second ship that resembles the Astra. The ship itself is even more damaged than the Astra, but it does seem to be inhabited as it also has a hibernation pod, and a mysterious woman inside of it. As many questions as this development raises, I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a little disappointed at how little time it took for the kids to find a possible way out of their current crisis. Ideally, I kinda wish the episode had ended before this little discovery, just to make the stakes here feel heavier, but I’m also aware that there’s still plenty of the manga left for this show to run through, and only so much time to spare, so I can live with it. Crammed as some of this episode was, everything here still more or less worked, and with an even bigger mystery now being dangled in front of us, I’m plenty excited to see how it all unfolds.
Available on Funimation