Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Uninhabited Planet Survive

John Schlosser

It is the 22nd century, and man has been driven into space by the collapse of Earth’s ecosystem. Luna is a fourteen-year-old orphan girl living in a space colony. During a routine field trip, her school’s transport vessel is hit by a gravity storm. Although the ship successfully escapes, a single lifeboat containing Luna and six school-mates is somehow cut loose. Fortunately, the nearby planet is habitable, but with only the clothes on their backs, the contents of their (wrecked) shuttle, and Luna’s robot pet, can they survive?

First off, let me say that this is very much a story for children. The main charac-ters are essentially stereotypical grade-schoolers. There’s the plucky young girl (Luna), the no-nonsense class president, the spoiled rich-kid, the rebellious loner, the shy worry-wart, the strong go-getter, and the young genius; and obviously their first obstacle is learning how to work together. To the show’s credit, this is not resolved as smoothly or as happily as one might normally expect.

Another childish aspect is Luna’s robot pet: Chako. Chako is essentially a pink anthropomorphic cat who (given her status as an orphan) is Luna’s guardian. Such a character could easily become a sort of robotic deus ex machina for the writers but, other than helping them find safe food, the robotic aspects don’t come into play until very deep into the story. It is hinted that Chako serves Luna as an educator and confessor, and her/its childishness is only in her/its appearance.

As with any survival show, the setting is also a vital character. The uninhabited planet is full of surprises for our young heroes. Most of these will be perfectly obvious to anime (and sci-fi) veterans, but don’t let that stop you, there’s much more going on than meets the eye at first.

There are a number of flaws: The plot unfolds very slowly- as in Robinson Crusoe, most of the first part of season one is concerned with finding food and building their new home. The spoiled rich-kid, Howard, gets very annoying after a while and one begins to wonder why the others don’t just toss him out. There are also a number of minor, but annoying, gaffes such as the scenes in episode 26 where everyone is running around with lit torches in the pouring rain.
Recommended for: fans of Fushigi Yuugi, Future Boy Conan, Nadia: the Secret of Blue Water, or anyone who wants a big bold adventure in the manner of a classic Heinlein juvenile. Those who enjoy survival stories like Robinson Crusoe or My Side of the Mountain will enjoy this also.

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