Teenagers Set Loose in Space… Oh Wait, I Meant Lost in Space
Astra Lost in Space Episode 1
Kanata no Astra or Astra Lost in Space has a 47 minute first episode and while the first fifteen or twenty minutes might make you wonder if they are going to do anything to really distinguish themselves, by the end of the episode I was very much drawn into the story. And that’s mostly because other than a brief opening which puts us right in the midst of a crisis, the first half of this episode follows Aries Spring as she prepares for a camp and arrives at the space port and gets into a bunch of trouble.
Admittedly, this does help us understand technologically what the time period we are in looks like, a little bit about Aries and Kanata’s characters as they encounter each other after a thief steals Aries’ bag, and we also get to meet the other teens going on this camp and get a basic exposition about why they are going into space etc. It is all very mundane but pleasant enough viewing; however it is most definitely just the warm-up act.
Now, I’m not spoiling anything given the synopsis on Anime Lab and MAL tell you straight up that once they arrive at the camp they encounter a weird light that transports them thousands of light years away.
While there’s certainly a bit of plot convenience at play with the kids having put their helmets back on just in time not to die instantly in space as well as just happening to find a parked and functional space ship nearby, it is possible there will be an explanation for the space ship later and all things considered it is kind of necessary for the story to get going.
There was some real tension in this first episode as Aries spun off into space all alone and out of reach of the others. Regardless of whether I liked these characters when we met them initially or not, these are high schoolers suddenly plunged into a life or death situation and all things considered they’ve coped beautifully and pulled mostly together.
Now they’ve got a plan for getting back and I guess we’ll get to find out how that goes and what other problems they encounter along the way. While I’m not expecting this to be brilliant I’m pretty sure I’m going to enjoy watching more of this journey so I’m looking forward to it.
Astra Lost in Space Episode 2
Oh yes, Astra Lost in Space is definitely looking to be one of my favourites this season. Not a huge amount happens in this episode as they arrive at the first planet on their stops to get home and begin searching for resources. It so reminds me of playing No Man’s Sky in that sense. We get a bit more from the more vocal members of the group this week but still have a couple of characters we know practically nothing about but the group dynamic is working pretty well so far.
I think what works about this story is it isn’t being too ambitious. The first thing they see after disembarking on the new planet are these flying monsters and later in the episode the major crisis point for the episode will revolve around one of those monsters trying to take the youngest character away. It is a pretty straight forward set up and execution.
Between the two points the characters learn about the environment and different plants and trees which will become important later on, or just allow them to eat, and there’s a bit of a relaxation for the teens now that they are on their way home.
However, we do have the ongoing story elements at play. Midway through the episode they encounter the weird light sphere again in the forest and are more than a little concerned that they’ve run into it again, given it dumped them deep into space last time they ran into it and what would be the odds of them landing right next to an empty ship again? Also, there’s definitely a problem on the ship itself with implications that may very well tear the newly formed team apart.
Basically this one is fun to watch so far with a simple enough ‘get home’ plot driving the story and a reasonably fun cast of characters. Hopefully it can continue to be an enjoyable watch for the rest of the season but if you haven’t given the first episode a go I do recommend trying this one.
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Images from: Kanata no Astra. Dir. M Andou. Lerche. 2019.