Planetes: selfishness leads to Jupiter

In real life, I can say that I’m decent at best. I have my own quirks, and I’m not a very nice guy. If there’s anything I could be proud of, though, it’s that I’m no asshole. I don’t think I can have my cake and eat it too. I don’t live life under the shadow of romanticism, but I do believe in an illeity, in a love that is other-oriented, although not as extremely as Levinas proposes. What other people saw as realistic and gritty in Planetes I saw as self-serving and borderline uncaring, and this was represented with its protagonist, Hachirota Hoshino. I won’t be illogical and attack the technical aspects of the series, as they are top-notch and well-done, but I didn’t feel empathetic towards Hachimaki. I didn’t like how he disrespected Ai, even though she was all right with that. It felt to me as if he led her on to a relationship, let her go, led her on again, and leave Earth, because what he really desired was to go to Jupiter. He married her and impregnated her, and went to Jupiter afterwards. I really just don’t see an iota of a sense of responsibility in him with regard to relationships. It’s a very personal problem, but I would be very willing to put farfetched dreams of mine on hold to take care of my wife. I saw my parents did that for us, and while we’re imperfect and sometimes grating children I believe we’ve grown to be relatively good people. Sometimes we do evil, of course, but I sincerely think we’re better off than most of the children of our time.

planetes

Does it really justify leaving one’s wife to pursue one’s own dream? If I’m so determined to pursue something I try my best not to damage other people I care about: I’m even very willing to push them temporarily aside so as to prevent them from being hurt. I guess he’s a lucky asshole that way. It’s something very weird, because while technically speaking, Spike was a criminal and also pretty much self-serving, one can really see that he continued to exist for the sake of his love. He kept on living because he was single-minded towards his goal of reuniting with Julia. He did not have her as merely another one of his goals. She was his goal, his utter reason to exist that not even space could stop. By the end of the show I really, really liked Ai and I really despised Hachimaki. She was truly a loving human, while he was a self-serving bastard. And nothing really changed.

The difference between Planetes and Honey and Clover is that while Honey and Clover is essentially tragic, it had one of the most endearing protagonists I have ever seen. He was imperfect, and prone to jealousy as well as failure. Takemoto was also prone to doubt and loving, but his love was true. I like people who are single-minded, and those who respect the existence of women, not as mere harbors, but as people.

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9 Responses to “Planetes: selfishness leads to Jupiter”

  1. Marc Says:

    I can understand your point of view, but have you tried seing things from Ai’s point of view. Would she be willing to “force” the man she loves to stay by her side while he has a dream he wants to accomplish. It wouldn’t be a healthy relationship if he indeed stood by her side. Of course, he should be able to make some sacrifices for his family, but then again, the wife too has sacrifice some things.

    I guess Planetes depicts a very Japanese concept of family, where the wife is at home, caring for the man’s child, while he is away for work. Although this kind of family setup is becoming old, it is still often the case. I remember a Japanese colleague telling me he lived 5 years away from his newlywed wife before being able to move in together…

  2. gaguri Says:

    One might say it’s impossible, almost unthinkable, to have a healthy long distance relationship (like that of between earth-jupiter).

    However, like Marc says above, lot of families still do live a long distance life like that for good reasons. Just one example would be what Koreans call a ‘swan father’, who chooses to work very hard in Seoul to send his child to a country with better living conditions such as America or Canada. And the mother would also often tag along to take care of the child, away from her husband. They might see each other once or twice in a year.

    You can call it selfish, but often it’s a decision made together by the couple, to provide what they think is the best for their child. And this love and trust is what makes it possible, makes them strong to endure it. And just as Hachimaki is strong enough to leave Tanabe and his soon to be born child to chase his dream, Tanabe is strong enough to let him go, and wait patiently like a harbour for that ship to return. This is possible because they love each other.

    One may argue that this is too cheesy or unrealistic, but in my opinion what is important is not the ‘realistic’ views and opinions we hold in our real world, what is important is the relationship that we actually see become alive in front of the screen, and Planetes is a wonderful anime that made this possible for me with brilliant execution. Characters of HC and Planetes are different but I can appreciate them both not as ‘me’ in the real world, but as a viewer.

    Anime is a wonderful medium, to let you see the world differently, to feel differently than you would in real world, to be immersed is a wonderful thing.

  3. Michael Says:

    gaguri:

    He was really lucky Tanabe was willing to stay in the kitchen. He lucked out, for being an asshole. Not once had he really explained to Tanabe why he wanted to try for Jupiter, or why he never contacted her, or did all those things only assholes do. It was good for him that Tanabe was nice and patient, but he was really lucky after all. It wasn’t that Hachimaki was strong enough to go, it was that he was willing to leave her behind because of space.

    Tanabe is just Job, really. I’m not Japanese so I can’t understand totally the cultural conditions of the place, but it really pisses me off that dickheads get happy endings.

  4. gaguri Says:

    Yea you don’t find women like Tanabe just anywhere, but by the end Hachi and Tanabe do come to full understanding. Just because the way a character interact with his loved one differs from Takemoto from Honey Clover doesn’t make that character’s feelings for her null. And even if you don’t get other culture like that of japanese or swan fathers, you should at least be open enough to be in their shoes and understand their beliefs and values, what it means to stay behind and send your loved ones to achieve their goal, and what it means to leave him, waiting for that moment when they could be together again. They don’t do it because they’re dickheads.

  5. coy Says:

    I thought it was pretty selfish of him to leave her too. Kind of wish they had mentioned they had made compromised. Maybe she would keep trying to get back in space so when he gets back from Jupiter he would stay with the kid while she went back to space to the job she seem to love.

  6. moritheil Says:

    It’s interesting because this is a clear conflict of values and priorities. What level of obedience should our dreams command from us?

    One has to wonder: has all human progress (in exploration, research, etc.) come from people who similarly shirked their duties elsewhere?

  7. smashingtofu Says:

    Huh. I have to admit this is probably the first time I was irked at any of your blog posts.
    I’ve only read the manga version but…is Hachimaki really that much of a dickhead in the anime series?

    Gaguri pretty much said everything I have to say though… except for incomprehensible cursings: @*U%!#%#$ which I will leave untranslated because you are a seemingly otherwise awesome person. : )

    I won’t really say anything though because I may be biased; it’s a personal series for me and it’s probably of an understatement to say that this series is my proverbial ‘Messiah of my life’ as a person and an artist/storyteller.

  8. Smashingtofu Says:

    Well I’m going to check the anime series out soon, but I honestly can’t see why Hachimaki as being self-serving when ultimately one of the whole major focal point of the series was his progression as a human being and seeing importance in people and love. The whole ‘harbor’ bit seems a bit silly to me too when considering the opposite gender can go for similar dreams with the same mutual understanding. Maybe it’s an asian thing (I’m a horrible Korean, but a Korean nevertheless) but I know of many real life instances where love still exists even after divorce or long distances. I’m actually interested now in how they ended the series in the anime. I only remember casting it off in the first couple episodes a couple years back when I thought the extra characters (there were only Fee, Yuri and Hachi in the crew) were killing the pacing.

  9. Michael Says:

    It really just rubbed off me the wrong way. I don’t like it when people have their cake and eat it too. I’m also an Asian, and I understood that it was sacrifice and understanding that empowered real love. Do watch the anime series … it troubled me a lot.

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