In the Planetarian anime series, we see a few days in the post-apocalyptic life of a nameless man who, through a chance meeting with an android, learns that dreams are as important as survival. In Planetarian: Hoshi no Hito, we see how that small event has shaped his life for decades to come.
[This article contains spoilers for the Planetarian anime series.]
As a film, Hoshi no Hito is about two-thirds an abridged recap of the series (and rest assured it is as emotional on the big screen as it is on the small). However, the remaining third–the film’s framing device–stands out as something truly special.
Set long after the original series, the new portion of Hoshi no Hito follows the nameless man as his long life nears its end. Yet, while he still does not have a name, he proudly wears the title he chose for himself at the end of Planetarian: The Starteller.
In the years since Planetarian, The Starteller has lived the dream he once had for himself and the planetarium android Yumemi. With a small portable projector, he has spent his life traveling from settlement to settlement, teaching the ragged, starving survivors of humanity about the wonder of the stars–stars forever blocked by the clouds of a nuclear winter.
The film begins as The Starteller collapses in a blizzard. Found and saved by the children of a nearby settlement, the old man proceeds to teach them about the stars.
What makes the teacher-student relationship of this film so special is that the children, as well as the generation before them, have never seen a cloudless sky; it’s possible that the Starteller is the last living human to have seen the stars with his own eyes. To the children, even things like the sun and the moon are abstract concepts. Sure, they know the sun makes day brighter than night, but they have never seen the glowing ball in the sky. Stars are likewise mystifying as they have no frame of reference. It’s nearly impossible for them to imagine something beyond the clouds.
Yet, The Starteller can show them the universe beyond the clouds and allow them to dream of a world beyond their bunker–a world populated by myths and legends thousands of years old, written in the stars. Is it any wonder the children become enraptured with the old man?
Of course, the children are not the only ones to view the Starteller with awe. While the young know nothing of him, to the eldest of the adults, The Starteller is a legend–a man as revered as a living saint. In his long life, he has traveled for no other reason than to share the epiphany he gained with Yumemi decades before.
Yet his one true regret is obvious, thanks to the box around his neck: In all the years, in all his travels, he has never found a new body for Yumemi. Because of this, it’s clear that he still feels like a failure within. All he has done in her name is a hollow victory next to this. But despite his inner sadness, he goes on, always encouraging others to hope and to dream.
Planetarian: Hoshi no Hito is one of the better recap movies I’ve seen. The movie weaves logically between the new framing device and the reused content from the series, keeping the two stories intimately intertwined. And as the entire series is not much longer than the recap portion of the film, it’s perfectly possible to watch the film alone without losing much of what makes the series so great.
That said, it’s the new content that truly shines. (And I suspect that when I add this film to my collection, it’ll be the only part I watch as I plan to own the series proper.) It provides an extra bit of closure and shows that the small, personal story of Planetarian has blossomed into something grander–that the hopes and dreams of one android have made the world a better place.
Planetarian: Hoshi no Hito was released in Japanese theaters on September 3, 2016.