Astra Lost in Space – Anime Preview
Synopsis: In the year 2063, eight high school students and a kid are flown out to Planet Camp, tasked with surviving on their own for a few days. But shortly after arriving, an ominous glowing orb warps them to an unknown quadrant of space, nearly 5,012 light years away. Now, the only way back home is a slow, dangerous trek across the universe—a journey that’ll test them in ways Planet Camp never could. (Official Funimation Synopsis)
1st Episode Review (Warning: Minor Spoilers to Follow):
Linny: Astra Lost in Space opens strong, immediately hooking the audience with questions about how these high school kids end up stranded, floating in space. Even if you end up not taking to a single member, you’re still likely to be pulled in on mystery alone. It wouldn’t be surprising if it’s the plot that wins people over as the characters themselves feel rather bog standard. First up we have the ever popular ditsy but friendly and perky female heroine, Aries Spring. She’s balanced as both the show’s heart and frequent comedy, and how you take to her bubbly, yet inept ways entirely depends on how often you’ve seen this type of character before. Then we have the classic shonen lead character aka super enthusiastic but also a bit idiotic, bursting with positive energy and never give up attitude hero, Kanata Hoshijima, who even comes with the mandatory tragic backstory™. All he is missing is a vacuum suction like appetite. There’s plenty more characters to round out this tired set, making for a clearly ensemble show but these two get the most spotlight in this first episode and both fall so solidly into classic stereotypes that it’s going to be hard for them to impress a more jaded or well watched audience.
Tom: My experience with Astra Lost in Space is a complete one. Before there was even an announcement as to the anime I’d read the entire series as Viz offered it online, even prior to their 2019 subscription shake up (Astra Lost in Space is actually quite a short series, concluding its story in a tight 5 volumes. You can even still read it in full if you have a subscription.) Overall the adaptation is fairly faithful, cutting/condensing a few sequence, while also improving the story through a few small, yet important additions that help to solidify the series’ core ‘together is strength’ message. Like with the first few chapters of the manga, I walked away impressed with this first episode, feeling like it offers a solid, if a little slow, starting point filled with mystery and potential. That said, this time I know where things up end, and unless the anime plans on entirely reinventing the series’ grander mysteries, one should be aware Astra Lost in Space collapses beneath a compounding level of contrived and convoluted reveals that sent the manga out on a gloriously disappointing whimper. If you feel inclined, and don’t mind spoilers galore, you can check out my reviews for the entire 49 chapters here. Whatever you choose to do though, know that Astra Lost in Space’s answers craft a series of reveals that feel ever cheapening and outlandish compared to the series’ well constructed start.
Linny: This might stem from being someone who’s read many thrillers but a lot of the problems the cast face in this episode have glaringly obvious solutions. It doesn’t help that the episode also presents some unexplained but convenient plot points such as the kids being ‘lost in space’ over 5000 light years away yet the ship they are on has information on ALL the planets between them and home, including information like which are hosting life and resources along the route and can even charter a course back home. So basically the kids have access to a very detailed GPS (or in this case UPS-universal positioning system) and thus the ‘Lost in Space’ part loses its sting quite a bit. Now, one can always excuse and explain that the kids take some time to find solutions due to the fact that they are young and likely in a state of panic, shock and confusion. And from a story telling point, it would be hard to build tension and engage the audience if every solution was immediately offered in the blink of an eye. So it’s understandable why but still, the solutions fail to sound impressive when you’ve already been screaming them at the screen in the time it takes for the show to actually arrive at them. It’s one of those things that probably worked better on the page than played out in real time. Then there’s a much smaller quip, but a quip nonetheless, at how the show seems to abandon logic for the sake of a joke that isn’t all that funny to begin with. One of the characters, a little girl named Funicia, has a puppet that, apparently, speaks her inner thoughts. It initially shocks the audience, and our cast, early on. Yet later, despite having already been exposed to it, one character again has a startled reaction to this bizarre quirk. (Tom assures me this isn’t a clue to a mystery. Heck it wasn’t even in the manga, it’s one of the anime original pieces of content.)
Tom: Honestly, knowing how contrived the answers to the series’ greatest mysteries get, you’re better off sticking with Astra Lost in Space because you’re enamored with the ensemble cast and how they play off each other. It’s actually the series’ strong component, watching these characters grow and develop, addressing their tragic or emotionally stunting backstories and growing into better people. I wish I could recommend Astra Lost in Space, because the series is actually fairly good until it finally starts to deliver its biggest reveals. If you don’t mind an increasing suspension of disbelief, it can still be quite fun. But if you want something that’ll suck you in, and not have you scratching your head at the sheer wealth of contrivances needed to make this story ‘believable’ Astra Lost in Space just won’t hold it together.
Linny: As Tom has warned, it’s a shame that the mystery core of the show is likely to disappoint anyone invested in the series for the sake of answers. If you aren’t a big reader or consumer of similar mysteries and thrillers, you might still find the journey and answers worthwhile. However, given the for now cookie cutter cast members and a mystery doomed to be contrived, it might be best for anyone interested to go in with tempered expectations. To its very solid credit, the series hasn’t really exploited its female characters which is a huge plus and makes the show accessible for all audiences, There is a singular shot in this episode where it acknowledges the bust of one of its female characters but it’s very quick and discreet about it and so definitely not something that would offend or upset most. If you’re in the market for a sci-fi based mystery thriller this season, so far Astra Lost in Space feels like a decent option as long as you go in braced for some disappointing developments and don’t mind popular character archetypes.
Astra Lost in Space is available for streaming via Funimation.com