After a long journey, our kids have finally reached their destination, and with it, the end of this show. With how strong last week’s climax was, it was up in the air how much more of a punch the finale could bring, and especially if it would be enough to justify being an hour long, but fortunately it has more than a few tricks up it’s sleeve. There’s still a few lingering questions to be had here, and the show does a great job of not only tying in the answers to everything its had to say so far, but in giving us a few more good gut-punches for the road, as it heads into the finish line at full speed.
Before we get deep into the show’s final big twist, there’s still the matter of what’s to be done about Charice. While the kids understand his motivations, and sympathize with his harsh upbringing, there’s no changing the fact that he betrayed them, and that his actions cost Kanata his arm. Quitterie in particular seems to be the biggest voice of resentment on that end, but Kanata refuses to allow Charice to take the blame for what happened to his arm, since Kanata sees that whole situation as a choice that he made, and he’s prepared to live with the consequences. He also doesn’t want Charice to get taken down with their originals as a part of this whole conspiracy since even with everything that happened, he still considers Charice to be one of them, and while Ulgar decides to play devil’s advocate about it, in the end, he and the others decide to forgive him as well. Honestly with this show’s optimistic tone, there was really no way the other kids weren’t going to ultimately forgive Charice for betraying them, and it’s sweet they did, but I’m glad to see that there was least a little bit of resentment there. It would have been weirder had the show just glossed over the whole thing with how much that subplot was built up over its run, and taking the time to address it helped in making this whole situation a lot more nuanced than it could have been.
And with all that settled, the kids finally decide to grill Charice about what he knows about the truth behind Astra’s history, and strap yourselves down kids because it’s quite a doozy. Polina was right about an asteroid heading towards the Earth, and humanity seeking out new planets to colonize, with Astra being the one they found. However when the foundations for the migration were settled and it came time for the world’s governments to tell everyone about the move, chaos broke out as people started fighting over who would gain territory in the new world, and the fighting that broke out wiped out half the Earth’s population in just two months. The survivors colonized Astra and established an era of peace, but to maintain that peace, they orchestrated a worldwide cover-up, by deciding to tell future generations that WWIII was the cause of humanity’s downfall, and rolled back the calendar by 100 years in order to ensure their descendants wouldn’t be able to piece together the truth, and instead live in blissful ignorance.
Once again, there’s a heck of a lot to unpack with this twist, and it’s a heck of a number for the show to drop at the last minute for how dense it is. Luckily, while the details of this can be scrutinized to death, the part of this that’s actually important to the show’s purposes is more or less spelled out by Aries: the adults lied future generations about their history, and restricted their choices, robbing them a certain sense of freedom and identity. While they might have done this for purely benevolent reasons, as they genuinely thought this was the best way to ensure a lasting peace, it’s ultimately not much different from what the king did to Charice by raising him with a total lack of identity. Framing it this way adds a lot of substance to what would have otherwise been an unnecessarily convoluted revelation, and seeing it from that point of view makes the decision that the kids come to on it a lot more understandable, as they decide it’s their duty to inform the people of Astra about the truth so they can all decide for themselves what to do next. Whether or not you agree with the conclusion they came to is something I can see a lot of potential debate over, but given how well it ties into the show’s pre-established themes, and the amount of issues we face today because of people in power rewriting or obscuring history for later generations (and often for far less benevolent reasons), I can behind their decision pretty easily. It’s certainly something to chew on, and even with how strong the show’s writing has generally been up till now, I’m still pretty impressed that it was able to bring such a complex issue to light in a way that’s fairly easy to understand, and it just makes me appreciate even more how strong it’s turned out to be from it’s relatively simple origins.
Of course while the kids might have resolved to tell the world the truth, the question remains if the people will be ready to hear it, or if the government won’t just attempt to finish them off before they get the chance to spread the word. While we get just enough tension about this potential hiccup to make it seem like the kids could get assassinated right before they land, they manage to make it safely back to Astra thanks to some careful planning, and their originals are all sent to prison for their crimes. As the kids eventually persuade the government to release the truth about Astra’s history to the pubic, anti-government protests inevitably break out, and a wave of discontent sweeps the entire world. However when Kanata releases a novel about his adventures in space to the public, and ends it on the importance of going out to see what’s beyond the horizon with your own eyes, the discord gradually dies down, and the people decide to do their best to uphold the peace they have now. Admittedly this outcome is a tad overly-optimistic for this show, since it’s hard to believe the fallout from such a giant conspiracy wouldn’t have lead to a massive revolution, or at least some serious political upheaval, but it’s handled just well enough that it doesn’t feel irresponsible, and this outcome pretty much works the best with what the show’s themes were aiming for, so I’m more than happy to give this a pass.
The rest of the finale is pretty much a victory lap as the kids all start their new lives. Quitterie and Charice go on to become famous models, with Charice in particular eventually taking over as Vixia’s king in order to shut down the monarchy and help make the wormhole technology that they were hiding away public. Funi enters high school, and Polina becomes a teacher, deciding to use her knowledge to help teach the younger generation about the Earth she knew. Yunhua of course, becomes a famous singer, while Aries and Kanata eventually get engaged before Kanata sets off on a new journey through space with Zack and Charice as his crewmen. Normally these kinds of epilogues can be a little too clean and idealized for their own good, but in this case it’s both pretty well deserved, and arguably more important to this story’s goals than similar ones have tended to be. Seeing all this helps to drive home the idea that the journey the kids went on allowed them to break from their parents and be their own people, and seeing how much happier they are now because of it makes the entire journey of the show feel even more rewarding
If you do need a little something a little less fluffy from this epilogue though, it mostly comes from what we see of Ulgar as he lives out his goal of becoming a reporter. He decides to confront his father in prison to learn the truth about his brother’s assassination, and he was indeed taken out by Luca’s adopted father Marco after coming too close to the truth about the cloning conspiracy and Astra’s history at large. Ulgar’s father was of course, aware this happened, and while he claims to have been sincere in his wish that Ulgar had died instead of his brother, that he saw Ulgar’s brother as disposable enough to be sacrificed at all, speaks to the reality that not even their blood relation was enough to actually see Ulgar’s brother as his own person and not merely his offspring. While this might have been a tougher pill for Ulgar to swallow in the past, he’s become enough of his own person that he’s long since moved past his father’s cruelty and no longer desires his approval. This is something that his father realizes all too late as he briefly sees how much Ulgar has become like the son he lost, and it’s as strong a note as any to ride out this show’s core theme of how our experiences and the people we connect to can be a bigger part of our identity than how we’re raised.
Astra Lost in Space is a series I’ve been fond of for a good while now, and while I was happy with how impressive it was as a manga, I’m happy to say it’s just as impressive as an anime. From beginning to end, Masaomi Ando and the rest of the anime’s staff at Lerche have had a really solid grasp of what made this such a compelling story, and have done an excellent job of presenting its themes and characters, with an especially good eye for pacing and direction. While it’s not quite as detailed as it’s manga counterpart, his has been a strong enough adaption overall than I can safely say it’s worth checking out the story in either format, and that the presentation is strong enough that you’ll get some mileage out of it even if you already sat through the manga. It’s a good thing too, because while Astra may have started off as a relatively straightforward tale of kids going on a journey of survival through space, it grew into an surprisingly hefty sci-fi narrative that highlights the importance of how overcoming trials and hardships are what ultimately allow us to form our own identities. It’s a message that’s delivered with an unbridled sense of joy and confidence, and I really hope that message will continued to be talked about, not just for the rest of this year, but for many years to come.
Available on Funimation