Early Impressions: Kanata no Astra

kanata no astra cover

I have made the joke many times throughout the course of my blog’s existence, but I always feel the need to highlight that The Visualist’s Veranda began as an anime-themed blog. Prior to last night, I hadn’t watched any anime in over two months. My past self would be amazed at such ineptitude.

Before I dive in, new readers should know that I’ve read the manga this anime is based on. Therefore, a lot of the mystery and whimsically foreboding moods this series incorporates are lost (ha) on me because I know what’s going to happen. Watching the anime adaptation provides good opportunity to test the series’ capability of hooking me even with all the context of what comes next. Thus far, it’s been pretty capable. Only things holding it back are similar problems I had with its parent source.

Unfortunately, my memory is not perfect, so I tend to remember things as they happen. Watching the opening scenes in the first episode, it was almost like experiencing the story anew. Perhaps it is the inclusion of voiced lines or the timing of the jokes being more streamlined, but I never recall the humor being so one-dimensional. Someone (usually Aries) makes a dumb comment and the “straight man” retorts with gusto. That’s a majority of what the humor is through the first three episodes. It misses far more than it hits, not to mention gets repetitive.

kanata no astra 3

Astra‘s first episode specifically also gave me some worrying presumptions based on the number of times Kanata flashed back to his sensei. After the fifth time in the stretch of fifteen minutes, I audibly said, “Jesus Christ.” Way to pound the point home way more than necessary to establish motivation. The audience does not consist of three-year-olds who will forget something shown just minutes before. I feared the entire series would be like this, with a sizeable chunk of each episode dedicated to showcasing character’s motivations/anxieties through gratuitous flashbacks.

Logic is another topic that will likely turn some away from this series. I’ve read the manga, and I know of how grandiose the story gets. Even within the first three episodes, there were some things that reminded me of how hilariously fictional the writing can be, specifically with the capabilities of these characters. In recent years, I’ve felt that stories don’t need to be 100% realistic in order to be effective, and with a story taking place many years in the future that embodies a giant space opera, I can allow some leeway. Some. I look forward to seeing people’s reactions to the final two episodes (probably).

It’s oddly fitting how similar my impressions of the first three episodes of the anime are with the entirety of the manga. If nothing else, the producers did a good job at adapting the material to fit it to a “T.” Should I describe the experience in a generalized way, it’s “Dumb fun.” I liked Kanata no Astra as a manga, despite its faults. There’s a certain adventure-filled magic to it that works through its commitment to the camaraderie of its characters. It reminds me somewhat of Nadia: Secret of the Blue Water.

kanata no astra 2

More than anything, there’s a consistent quality of writing attributed to the more dramatic moments. It may not always be logical, but the adrenaline rush provided makes for great entertainment value, and some subtle relationship builders. Deep in the foreground, these characters that seem egocentric and smug are slowly getting closer to their peers through survival-based teamwork, building trust in their abilities and wits. I said it before with my thoughts on the manga, but it’s these characters that make the series work. The anime follows that lead.

And now for the part that I can’t compare to the manga: animation and vocal work. Kanata no Astra‘s anime art is kind of meh. Some tasteful detail is made into making these characters stand out more through high-profile hair colors and bodily features, though the quality of actual animation can be suspect at times. Lots of zoomed out shots that don’t require much little detail, not a whole lot of creativity with the reactions (typically offscreen), quality typically only heightens during dramatic moments. I wouldn’t say it’s bad, but it could certainly be better. I really dug the shots of space, though.

I don’t speak Japanese and I barely understand any words, but starting the anime, I thought to myself, “Wow, Aries’s actor is kind of bad.” Of course, they were only the first lines of the series and she didn’t have much opportunity to assert yourself. Still, when speaking philosophically-inclined dialogue about fear or loss or whatever, you should probably sound, I don’t know, fearful or lost? Initial impressions were mixed, but I slowly grew used to the cast at large. I give extra points to Quitterie’s and Kanata’s seiyuus just because they sell the characters’ spirited personas that much better.

kanata no astra 1

As a quick aside, why was there a point where Funicia (age 10) was falling from a high point and, upon landing on the ground, the animators felt it necessary to zoom in on her ass as a landing point? Thanks, animators with pedophilic tendencies? I don’t recall how much sexual fan service was included in the manga source, but there’s a decent amount through three episodes of the anime, even if they aren’t highlighted.

Ending the two-month anime absence with this was a solid choice. It took a little time to grow immersed in the world, but by the waning minutes of the first episode, I was back in the swing of things. Kanata no Astra, assuming it continues to abide exactly by the manga, will be a memorable foray into the unknown with a keen focus on characters and an over-the-top plotline. I know of some who adore the series, so I’m happy that the series was given the greenlight for further exposure. I’m looking forward to finishing up the series when it ends in a couple weeks.

Thank you for your time. Have a great day.

2 thoughts on “Early Impressions: Kanata no Astra

  1. It would be different watching this knowing where it is going. A lot of the fun has been in the speculation and while I am loving the show, I suspect that if I wasn’t so focused on figuring out the character motives and the like I’d probably be more critical of other aspects. Hope you continue to enjoy the anime.

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