Previously on Astra Lost in Space
The teens crash-landed on a planet with seemingly no way to escape, where they discover another ship that has been there for years and years. Within this deserted space boat, they find a woman that has been in cryogenic sleep since the crash, waiting for someone to wake her with good news of a rescue.
Please note that this write-up shall contain spoilers—mild to major—for episodes nine through twelve, so proceed at your own discretion. You can catch all of my previous musings on the anime at the bottom of the post.
At the end of episode eight, we learned that two of the characters were clones of one another, so when the big revelation of them all being clones does drop in segment nine, the surprise wasn’t as, well, surprising. The kiddoes have some interesting theories for why they were created and why they were being disposed of, such as their “parents” creating them in an effort to prolong their own existences. But something either went wrong with the cloning experiments or the entire situation wasn’t done through legal means, and thus it necessitated the execution of all the kids involved. Other things that happened in the segment including the revelation that they aren’t from planet Earth, but actually a place called Astra, which makes their hitch-hiking survivor lady go into supreme panic mode.
My initial reaction to the revelation of Astra not being Earth was mild curiosity more than anything else. I think because the first episode establishes such a phenomenally futuristic atmosphere that somewhere in the back of mind I had assumed that the name for the planet must’ve been changed or evolved from Earth to something else as the people of the planet grew, modernised, and evolved as well. I’ll admit, I didn’t expect it to be a whole different fucking planet and that part surprised me somewhat. But it didn’t come off as life-altering or desperately shocking as it did to Paulina; then again, I sure as hell didn’t have the same tragic experiences she did.
The anime did scare me here because to drop that kind of bomb with only a handful of episodes remaining (three to be precise), was pretty damn risky. I was worried that it was going to get so far in over its head, narratively speaking, that a second season would be inevitable. However, after finishing those last three episodes, I have to applaud it for its creativity and the fantastic storytelling prowess of the writers.
In the last three segments, we learn that the reason everyone has established themselves on a separate planet is because the humans of Earth ended up getting into such a tight corner of hate and discord, it triggered a Third World War that led to the near extinction of the human race. In order to protect themselves from the catastrophic natural disasters that were a direct result of their wartime activities (as well as some out of there control), they needed to vacate to a new place (I’m simplifying this for many reasons).
We also learn that the terrible mistakes of humanity’s past were buried by world leaders, so none of the residents knew anything about what had occurred, it’s never taught in schools either. Essentially, a full century was deleted from the history books and the minds of civilisation. The reasonings behind the clones also ties into all of this in intricate ways, but to keep the long story short, there is a shit ton of information that gets revealed in the almost two hours remaining in the series (the final episode is another forty-eight minute one, just like the pilot).
I ended up chatting with a friend about my thoughts because it left me with a nice pile of ‘em. One of the things I absolutely loved about Astera Lost in Space is how experimental it was with the story, and it wasn’t afraid to use cliff-hangers in a fun way. A lot of recent anime turn to cliff-hangers to incite shock value and interest in something that is either poorly constructed or extremely one-dimensional. But Astra is very much neither of those things. The cliff-hangers work as a transitionary piece to help the characters face their next challenge or solve their current one as it also moves the overarching plot forward. It has some filler moments, but there are no actual filler segments. Everything has a reason to exist and I cannot express how fucking refreshing that is, as well as how addicting it made the entire series.
Another bit I appreciated was the symbolism. There are many things in this sci-fi treat that can leave the watcher sitting in a deeply contemplative state after the credits have rolled on by, yet that symbolism has to be the most powerful. For example, one of the things that we’ve seen from beginning to end is how Kanata saves everybody. He’s reaching out his arm for them grab on to so they don’t get lost, both literally and figuratively. He’s constantly uplifting them and taking accountability for everyone’s survival and safety. It’s a humongous responsibility to take on. However, in the second to last episode when the big reveals occur, including an identity for our saboteur, he loses his arm. The whole crew reaches a point where they can no longer lean on Kanata for guidance and assistance. He’s not their saviour any longer. It was time for everyone else to walk on their own feet and to use their own hands to pull themselves up. Rather than turning to him as a leader, they helped him by standing shoulder-to-shoulder with him as a colleague and friend, to share the heaviness of the responsibilities that Kanata had been enduring for so damn long.
That is something that’s a bit more on the nose, but it seeps into every aspect of the anime. Metaphorically, it’s an allegory for the power of hope, especially in dire and nigh impossible situations. When the madness of inevitability starts to set in deep into our consciousness, hope and faith are the only things that can combat it to the point where we can continue to fight. Even so, trauma and stress can be godawfully suffocating and prevent us from being rationale and accessible with ourselves in extreme trying times.
The portion that involved the erasure of human history for the sake of a peaceful future was a very fascinating concept to me. I can see so many perspectives on it that I’m not entirely sure if I agree with what the world leaders did to protect themselves and their future, or if I feel it was unethical and ended up robbing humanity of an entirely different and more promising future.
On one hand we have this big belief that knowing our past is important so we won’t be doomed to repeat it. Yet, is that really even true if all we continue to do is to use that past as a blueprint for making the same mistakes but in newer and more horrifying ways?
At the end of the Second World War, Americans said they’d never intern any one community of people ever again, yet back in 2018-19, everyone was ready to slap some barcodes on the Muslim community and place them into the very situation they vowed shouldn’t ever happen. What did our history teach us in reality? That interning Japanese and Japanese-Americans was a grave and inhumane error, or that it’s the epitome of American patriotic duty during severe wartime?
Then there’s the other side of that. Knowing our histories can help make us more empathetic and ethically and morally self-aware of how to grow as a united front of individuals. But given that we haven’t really done this in the modern age, it becomes nothing more than an interesting fantasy for the foreseeable moment. So, does potential reality of radical peace and unity truly justify erasing our entire history and laundry list of fuck-ups, in that sense?
As you can see, there’s a lot of shite to unpack after wrapping up Astra Lost in Space. Taking away the psychological and philosophical babble that I can go on and on about, I’m going to have to say that it’s a supremely well produced and intricately constructed anime series, and one of the best science-fiction ones I’ve ever watched (mecha serials not included, of course). It’s so powerfully nuanced and examines the essence of humanity as well as the energizing beauty of space exploration, including its trepidations, quite remarkably. Between the excellent character-centric and team-based survival situations, the gorgeously animated and ecologically diverse planets that are visited, the plethora of themes and allegories on war, family, and identities (especially in a large-scale societal measure)—it’s got everything a person could want from a magnificent science-fiction anime.
It’s also great for folx that aren’t necessarily into sci-fi stuff as it’s not super techno and science-jargon heavy. The show does take time to explain certain things in an easily comprehensible manner that may come off as too strong in those particular respects. There is good-natured, typical high school anime comedic elements as well, but it doesn’t dominate the story or the situations. It’s there to help lighten the more intensely emotionally schematics of each episode, yet it doesn’t steal the spotlight and attach disjointed shades to the story, if that makes sense. In many ways, it can be construed as pretty straight forward slice-of-life, coming-of-age type of gig that just so happens to be set in space.
All in all, my final opinion on Astra Lost in Space is that it’s fucking fabulous. I would HIGHLY RECOMMEND this anime to an abundant variety of watchers of the medium, and am looking forward to going back and reading the original manga because I loved it so damn much.
You can check out all of my previous posts for more information on the series, which are linked below. A full list of serial content warnings are also shared below, along with streaming sources.
Astra Lost in Space First Impressions
Astra Lost in Space Episodes 2 & 3 Musings
Astra Lost in Space Episodes 4 & 5 Musings
Astra Lost in Space Episodes 6, 7, & 8 Musings
Source: Manga by Kenta Shinohara
Season: Summer 2019
Director: Masaomi Andō
Content Warnings: Theft. Violence. Mildly intense paranoia and anxiety. Caution advisory for claustrophobia, kenophobia, acrophobia, and nyctophobia. Mild language. Preparation and consumption of food. Bullying. Psychological child abuse. Mass illness. Animal death and dead bodies. Body amputation. Blood.
AniList: Kanata no Astra
Streaming: Funimation, Hulu, Anime Lab (Aus)