Astra Lost in Space was one of the most frequently mentioned titles in Most Anticipated discussions for this season. After seeing the double-length first episode, I can perfectly understand why. It takes the basic survivalist premise – a diverse group of youths stranded far from home who will have to survive on their own mettle – and turns it into a mostly-compelling story set in space. Its first two minutes, where lead girl Aries is adrift alone in her spacesuit, is one of the most immediately-gripping starts to an anime series that I have seen in quite some time.
Before I delve further into the episode’s merits, a couple of quibbles. The series is set in 2063, which seems much too near-future given current levels of technological progression. The old woman mentioning that she did space camp in her youth also doesn’t fit into that time frame at all, as it would imply that the capability to do this kind of space camp has exist since our current time. Also, just dumping a passel of students off alone on a planet for a few days – even if it is a biologically friendly one – seems inordinately expensive and irresponsibly dangerous for whatever practical benefit is supposed to come out of it. But practicality is seldom a consideration in spacefaring scenarios, so these factors are just one of those things that has to be conveniently ignored.
As for the actual story content, the mix of characters seems like a standard one so far for a scenario like this. Thankfully the cast isn’t so antagonistic towards each other that they cannot overcome their differences and work together when needed, and that made the scene where everyone works together to help rescue the stranded Aries a beautifully satisfying one. I can easily see Aries’ particular brand of ditziness quickly wearing thin if she isn’t handled carefully (and really, Aries Spring for a full name? Redundant much?) and Kanata’s backstory is maybe a little too cliché, so the cast is not perfect, but they should be functional for this tale. Besides, the whole business about having to hop from planet to planet and gather resources along the way is the selling point of the series, and that is set up quite well. Initial technical merits by studio Lerche are also quite solid. Though the first episode does not have explicit fan service, the camera lingers a little too long on the chests of the bustier female cast members, and the space suits are a little too form-fitting on both genders, for the content to be considered entirely tame, either.
This series is directed by Masaomi Andō, who hit a home run a few years ago directing an entirely different type of survivalist story (School-Live!). Hence despite the ratio of humorous content seeming too high, I’m willing to trust that good things will come from this one. You can also free Kanata no Astra anime watch online and free download.
Around a Hundred years down the line from now, we might have human colonies on habitable far away planets and space travel might be common place. It may seem farfetched right now, but then again, who could’ve imagined the progress in technology humankind has made in the last half a century? While learning about the different planets and galaxies, almost every kid might have had a fleeting dream about going into space and experience what it may be.
Kanata no Astra (Kanata: Lost in Space) is set in a time when the aforementioned things have become possible. Science has advanced so much that teenagers are going to other planets simply as a mundane school trip. A group of high-schoolers from such a futuristic world are visiting a nearby planet called McPa as a camp. Of course though, after arriving on planet McPa, things don’t go as planned for them as they’re sucked into a mysterious black orb that transports them into space but luckily for them, they somehow manage to find an abandoned spaceship in the middle of outer space. The spaceship would then become their means of travel as they jump from one planet to another in hopes of surviving and getting back to their home planet together.
What Kanata no Astra excels at is showing us the raw emotions of teenagers as they battle their way through the harsh conditions of the various planets that they stop by on their way. The feelings of hopelessness, betrayal, anger, joy and relief are portrayed extremely realistically amongst the characters. Add in a bit of drama around the circumstances surrounding their situation and you’ve got a highly entertaining anime that’s so underrated that it hurts.
The endless depths of space can be daunting and that’s exactly what Kanata no Astra tries to present to its viewers. As the characters begin to overcome this fear, new predicaments emerge. The mystery about the black orb that got them there, the lack of trust between them as well as the different problems that they face through their journey binds the characters and develops them into a team capable of surviving in space on their own.
One of the best things that Kanata no Astra has done is developed each and every one of the crew. They’ve all gotten mini-arcs of sorts where they’re faced with problems of their own and begin to realize what they truly are and their reason for existing. The execution of this is impressive because these arcs don't just start and end in an episode or two; they have their time to take shape. The face of the show is most certainly Kanata Hoshijima, the titular character however. He’s first introduced as a cheerful character who’ll do almost anything to help others even if they might not want it. This is a reason of annoyance for a few, but as they get to know him and his past better, they begin to support him for what he’s done for them. Then we have Aries Spring, the secondary protagonist and a girl whose stolen purse is retrieved by Kanata in the first episode. They instantly strike up as they’re both caring and cheerful as well as selfless.
Next we have Quitterie Raffaeli, the irritable blonde whose outspoken nature doesn’t allow her to make too many friends, and Zack Walker, one of Quitterie’s only friends at the beginning who’s a genius at almost everything he does. His calm demeanor in the face of hopelessness manages to save the crew more times than one. The rest of the cast includes Charce Lacroix, the charismatic and dependable guy, Ulgar Zweig, the quiet one who’s at odds with everyone else because of his ill-tempered nature, Yunhua Lu, an extremely shy girl who thinks she’s the source of everyone’s problems, Luca Esposito and Quitterie’s adopted younger sister, Funicia Raffaeli. The way all these youngsters deal with their personal problems and change in order to work together is the central narrative of the show.
Now, having spoken so positively about the show, there are a couple elements that do cause an issue. Firstly, the pacing in the second half of the show feels rushed. I wasn't aware that the source was completed so I didn't actually think that this series would reach its conclusion in just 12 episodes. Granted, it's more akin to 14 episodes since the first and the last episode both are an hour long. Still though, the part towards the end did feel slightly rushed as even until episode 9, I still felt that there could be a lot of content remaining. The second issue could be a sort of spoiler so I'll only say that this series won't make you "sad".
The art and animation of the show are both impressive. The characters have pretty distinctive designs and the scenes with outer space and the different planets are all drawn beautifully. The animation is fairly fluid, and I didn’t find myself complaining about it in any of the 12 episodes. The soundtrack is pretty unremarkable to be honest although the voice acting is on point. As I’ve mentioned a few times in this review, this show depends upon character emotions and their interactions, and the Voice Actors do a pretty good job in both of these aspects.
I’d certainly recommend this show and would encourage you to give it a try. It’s got an extended first episode of 48 minutes and that’d probably be enough for you to check if you’d like it or not. For me, I immensely enjoyed Kanata no Astra and certainly would’ve liked for it to have a few more episodes.