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.
After a knockout of a premiere last week, Astra continues chugging right along with it’s journey through space as the gang arrives at their first stop, Planet Vilvarus. There’s a lot to see and do here, both for them, and the show in general, as this episode has a lot going on between the kids exploring the planet and the show’s general character drama. It’s quite a lot for the show to juggle this early into its run, and I was more than a little concerned as to how this would all be paced considering this show has a fair amount of material to burn through if it it hopes to cover the whole manga. Once again though, this adaption’s exceeded my expectations in terms of presentation, and it manages to deliver on another fine entry that also helps to add some extra stakes to this story.
After landing on the planet, Kanata decides to split everyone into groups in order to search for food and water. While everyone else is mostly on board with Kanata taking charge as the leader, Quitterie still remains skeptical about if he’s up to the task. This only gets made worse when Charce’s science know-how proves more reliable than Kanata’s survival tips, and Quitterie’s constant insults cause Kanata to run off in an attempt to prove himself. We soon learn that Quitterie’s bad attitude mostly stems from her upbringing as she never had a father, and her mother largely ignored her growing up, leading to her getting spoiled and not knowing how to interact with other people. It’s especially bad in the case of dealing with her adopted sister Funi, as Quitterie has no idea how to act like an older sister, and resents that her mother took responsibility for another child when she barely made time for her.
While this isn’t exactly the most dramatic backstory out there, it works pretty well for giving us an idea of why Quitterie isn’t exactly the friendliest person in the group, and I appreciate that the overall execution on it feels thoughtful and well-directed in spite of how simple the material is on the surface. However even though Quitterie claims she doesn’t really know how to love anyone else, she’s clearly more concerned about others than she lets on, and her problem seems to be less a lack of understanding love, and more not really knowing how to express it. Something that’s made even more apparent when Funi finds herself in danger and Quitterie is among the first to rush to her rescue. After seeing her sister in trouble, and that Funi still likes her in spite of her general attitude, Quitterie admits that she’s not good at being honest about her feelings and wants to make an effort to improve on it. This is a surprisingly efficient character arc for the span of single episode, and while all of it could have easily felt rushed or unearned, the show manages to make all of this come out pretty naturally and it’s a testament both to how strong the material is and how well the anime’s been handling it thus far.
Even more impressive is that while Quitterie’s stuff is the biggest focus of this episode, it’s far from the only highlight. When Kanata also attempts to rescue Funi, the others take note of how athletic he is and we learn that he used to be a track and field star on the behalf of his father who constantly pushed him to the point of abuse. Kanata changed when met the teacher that got him into space travel, and after failing to save him during the accident at camp, Kanata vowed to live for the dream of someday going on his own space exploration, and stopped living for his father’s. Seeing Kanata and Quitterie’s stories back to back provides a pretty good demonstration of the effects bad parenting can have on the children subjected to them, and since that’s a theme that’s only going to become more prevalent going forward, I’m glad that the anime seems to understand it’s importance.
I’m also glad that even in the midst of all this, the show still finds time to have the kids explore their new environment a bit, and while there’s a little less detail in some of the science behind how everything on this planet thrives compared to manga, it still feels pretty interesting, and it also helps in letting us get to know a little more about the other characters, even when they aren’t exactly the focus of the episode. It’s a bit of a relief since this particular element of the series seemed like it’d be the most expendable in the show’s bid to cover the entire story, and I’m glad it seems like the anime staff is making a clear attempt to balance those elements in between all the character drama. Said story also gets a pretty major shakeup in the last few minutes, as while the group is slowly starting to come together as friends, it seems like one of them is sabotaging their little expedition, and might be behind the mysterious black orb that transported them all in the first place.
As you can clearly see by how much I wrote here, this episode had quite a bit to run through, and while it easily could have felt rushed in the character drama department, it all managed to come together really well. Both Quitterie and Kanata’s backstories feel strong in spite of how simple they are, and the show manages to combine that with the kids learning how to survive the dangers of the planet to make for an episode that was equal parts exciting and heartwarming. I was a little worried the rest of this adaption might not be able to hold up to the premiere, but if this episode’s any indication, it’s still in extremely good shape, and I’m eager to see how it tackles what’s coming next.
Available on Funimation