Examining Planetes’ Ending Credits

Sorry for the low quality, but this was the only one on Youtube I could find.

I’m not really too much for anime openings in general and even less for their ending credits. But Planetes is one of the very few anime I watch where I never press the chapter skip button after an episode ends. The song is a big part of it, but by itself it’s nothing that special. It’s a tolerable cheery song sung by some Japanese dude I don’t know that carries a bit of impactful triumph underneath its beats, but if I heard it without knowing of Planetes’ existence, I wouldn’t exactly give it a second glance.

What I really like about these credits is the way it showcases the main character Hachi and his progression through life in all sorts of ways. It starts with him as a kid as he’s running across a fenced area whilst playing with a toy ship under a bright blue sky. And as the scene goes on, we see that the real reason he’s running is so that he can see a ship lift off, showing us his love for flying into space. In fact, he’s mostly just holding the toy until the ship starts lifting off, after which he pretends the former can fly. Personally, I think it’s a very effective way to showcase the innocence of childhood whilst establishing Hachi’s desires that would serve as the grounding for most of the show without actually putting it in the show itself (I don’t remember if we ever saw him as a kid in the show’s proper run). We never actually see Hachi’s face here, but I’ll bet it’s cute enough.

The scene soon fades into sunset where an older Hachi – who I think is in his teens – is just biking across the road with nary a spaceship in sight (but on the other hand, there’s a lot of cars). I’m not sure what the significance is of him cycling faster halfway through this part of the credits is, but I think the scene’s purpose overall is to showcase how when you grow older, what you liked as a child doesn’t matter so much anymore compared to real life. I know that happened with Pokemon for many people two years after its popularity, although I think that was mostly because back in those years, nerd culture wasn’t exactly cool. Alternatively, it could be because Hachi knows that dreaming isn’t enough and that he’s struggling hard with reality to achieve his childhood dreams. Either way, growing up sucks.

But it’s not all bad news forever. Planetes’ ending credits’ final scene stars an adult Hachi riding a motorcycle, once again under a big blue sky. He’s just taking it easy until he sees a rocket taking off, in which case he cranks up the speed and heads towards the launch location before we pan up to see the rocket going into space. This is to show that despite being a more cynical adult who rides more advanced vehicles now, his childhood dreams still remain. And now that he’s older, he can actually work towards making it a reality.

These scene changes are synched with the pitch of the vocals with the teen Hachi one in the sunset being sung in a lower/melodramatic voice whilst the Hachi ones under the bright blue sky are triumphant (and the scene where adult Hachi sees the rocket ship even more triumphant). Combined with everything else I said and you’ve got one of the best ending credits this medium has produced in terms of song and visual themes. I love it just as much as I love the anime, and that is no mean feat.

2 responses to “Examining Planetes’ Ending Credits

  1. Glad to see you write something positive about a show.
    Because we get to know a person’s tastes not only by what elements of art don’t work for them, but also by what elements do.

    • I’ve written plenty of positive things in the past. My recent Arkham Knight review is relatively positive, as is when I called Rick and Morty the best anime of the season.