To infinity and beyond! Aye, Yeah!
What’s the Story?
The year is 2063 and eight high school students and a kid are flown out to Planet Camp, where they’re expected to survive on their own for a few days. Unfortunately things don’t go according to plan as just as soon as the group land they’re attacked by a mysterious orb and transported into the depths of space. With only an ancient spaceship and a desperate plan, the kids must find their way home and uncover the truth behind the attack on them. However, with a variety of wild and dangerous planets between them and home and the possibility of a traitor onboard, do these kids stand any chance of survival?
Do you know what I love most about this series? It’s not the intricate and well thought out plot, it’s not the charming and funny characters, no, it’s the fact that it can pack so much into twelve episodes. Maybe I’ve become jaded over the years, but I’m just so used to only getting one cour of a series, it ending on a cliff-hanger and then I have to go track down the manga to find out what happens next. This series though? Whole package, twelve episodes of goodness (even if a couple of those episodes are double length) that tell a complete and satisfying story. I realise this may just be me being caught in the moment, because as I stop and think about it there are plenty of series that give a complete story, but a sci-fi adventure series? Typically these types of shows are the ones that make me go buy the manga afterwards (when we actually get sci-fi shows, the genre of choice does feel like its been fantasy for a good few years now). The moment I realised this series was going to give me the whole story, it just felt so special, partly because I really wanted the whole story.
Again this show packs so much into its runtime. We’ve got different planets each with their own ecosystems and particular quirks for us to explore, there’s the mystery surrounding who attacked the group and why, as well as some bigger mysteries about the world at large. Add on to that the need to get to know each and every member of the crew and that is a lot to get through. I won’t say there aren’t times were things feel rushed or a bit convenient for characters, but for the most part those are tiny bumps in an otherwise smooth road. There is no better description for this series than a roller coaster, it can go from intense drama, like the crew realising just how dangerous a planet is, or a shocking revelation, to comedy in the blink of an eye and it always works. It knows just when to raise the tension to draw you in and then when to release it with one of the cast being silly or deflating the egos of a crewmate.
Speaking of the crew of the Astra, I love all these guys. They each have their own quirks and back-stories that we get to know across the series. Nothing too deep, the series has way too much to get through to do any kind of in depth character explorations, but we learn enough to care, which is the important part. Honestly the thing that comes across most with these kids is the friendship between them. When they’re sat around just bantering and joking, it feels genuine and you can see how these kids keep their sanity through all the crazy things that they have to deal with. You want to see them happy, you want to see them get home, which just makes all the moments were they’re in dire peril all the more tense. If I had to single any particular character out, it’d be Kanata. I love the big doofus, he’s a good leader, he works well under pressure (even if sometimes he needs a nudge in the right direction), he’s strong and capable, but more than anything he knows how to keep the mood light and he will risk his life for one of his crew. They needed all of the crew to make it home, but without Kanata in charge they’d have all died in the depths of space. I’d want Kanata to be my captain.
Lastly I just want to praise how well thought out this series is. I mean planets alone are beautiful, from worlds were mushrooms rule to a planet half burning, half frozen, it’s the kind of imaginative sci-fi I adore. I could quite happily spend a whole series exploring just one of these beauties. Add on to that the mysteries that the crew have to deal with, like finding out why they were targeted, and this series just reaches another level. The plot is so intricately detailed that a lot of the reveals made me want to bang my head against a table because, of course that’s the reason behind it all, why didn’t I see it sooner! The clues were all there, but you get so wrapped up in the adventure and the danger that you don’t notice until the story wants you to, which is always the mark of a well-written story. In fact the only complaint I have is the ending, and while I love the conclusions for each characters and I’m glad for them, there’s also the part of me that feels like it was a bit convenient. Things shook out in just the right way that everyone gets their happy ending, it just stretches my disbelief a little too far (or maybe I just want another series about them after they’ve just got home and dealing with the immediate fallout).
All in all, Astra Lost in Space is a great ride from start to finish. It’s the kind of series I love, exploring imaginative and unique planets with a group of fun and charming characters. There’s plenty of drama and high stakes, but also a wealth of comedy, both sides equally balanced with one another. If you’re into sci-fi or just an intricately plotted story, then check this series out.
Chris Joynson, aka the Infallible Fish, is a writer, blogger and lover of animation living in Sheffield. The blog updates every Friday or you can follow me on Twitter @ChrisGJoynson.