“It’s Just a Story”

忘れ去られた封印都市
A sealed city left to be forgotten

迷い込んだ男と
待ち続けるロボットの少女
A man who’s led astray…
and a robot girl whose time never stops

星に道かれた奇跡の物語
A miraculous story leading to the stars

Quick Disclaimer: Some of the content of this entry may contain some very minor spoilers to the story. They will not be inherently revealing of the actual plot of the story. However if you wish to dive into the story with absolutely no knowledge of it whatsoever, then I suggest either proceeding with caution, or just wait until you finish the game or finish the anime.

About a couple weeks ago, one of my friends had informed me that one of Key’s old visual novel, Planetarian -The Reverie of a Little Planet-, was getting adapted into an anime. There was a lot of skepticism regarding its announcement as it was released on the 1st of April. It was until a few days elapsed that people (including myself) started to believe its announcement was genuine. The website that they left up was still there along with the video.

planetarianpic-2I had actually recently finished the visual novel some months ago and was really moved by its story. It left quite a few messages that would leave you pondering for a little while. Unlike most of the other Key visual novels, this one was completely linear. The game had no choices you were supposed to make, no mini games, nothing extra. Just CGs, music, and a great story. At times, stories like these are refreshing so you can just let the story take you wherever it wants to.

So because its story was going to be released as an anime, I wanted to at least talk about it with my mother and why I really liked it. Before I could even remotely get close to finishing what it was about, she stopped me by asking, “So what’s the point of you talking about this? It’s just a story.”

I was a little shocked by this and didn’t immediately reply back. This is mostly due to not being witty enough to come up with an answer quickly (which is the biggest reason why I never do well in live-debates). I’ve never really had to explain why I enjoy talking about some of these shows/books/games I’ve watched/read/played.

In fact, why is it we often feel compelled to talk about something we’ve recently seen, played, or even read? Do we just enjoy sharing something we like with others? Do we find it as a normal social activity to partake in? An interesting article from UC Berkley suggests one, yes, it is part of our social structure to use stories as a way to affiliate ourselves with strangers to find common values and interests. It also claims that when stories are emotionally and personally compelling, it engages more of the brain and thus are easier to remember. Secondly, it states effective stories often “transports” us into the characters’ world which can help us further empathize with the situation.

planetarianpic-3As the article would suggest, it’s because of how effective these stories are at drawing emotion from us that we are able to connect and feel more attached to these stories. They can also help affirm and ground our values. When we find the one that resonates within our soul, the one story that really speaks to us on a deeper level, we can’t help but share the story. As social creatures, we constantly desire to connect with others and share our experiences and thoughts. Stories are there to help create that bridge to ease the tension between socializing with strangers.

Due to how obscure Little Busters tend to be, I tend to find myself really interested in others who have either played the visual novel or watched the anime. The game represents so much of what I hold dear to me and the values I prioritize over everything. I will have to explain a bit more in depth in a later post, however just know that Little Busters has quite literally changed my life in the way I perceive social connections.

Back to the original topic, Planetarian.

The visual novel (which was created by the same company who brought us Little Busters) had a very straight forward story that would work very well as an adaption. It presented a few questions which demanded a bit more consideration and pondering. One of its message wasn’t as difficult to come to a conclusion to, but the other really forced you to change your perspective and that’s what I love in a story.

planetarianpic-4You see, life is never just black and white; everything in this world is in a very wide spectrum of gray. I admittedly fault myself into thinking in a very black and white train of thought, but there are times when I recognize that there is no such thing as a concrete answer. In Star Trek: The Next Generation, they often revisited the idea of artificial beings (such as Data) can be considered sentient beings. Regardless of how terribly the TNG writers executed this (though some were actually well done), it really did make you wonder if they should, in fact, be considered a life form.

Planetarian explores that area through idle chatter with the robot you encounter in an abandoned building. The more the main protagonist chats with her, the more he feels compelled to treat her as an actual person. This is why I’ve always felt visual novels were the best way to present these ideas. Unlike anime or movies, visual novels (even traditional RPGs) allows you the time and freedom to really appreciate the almost meaningless banter between each character. It’s through these senseless chitchats one can create a sort of bond, a way to “transport” yourself into the story.

I’ve seen a lot of people claim that they liked Planetarian because “it was beautiful” or “had a better story than any other”. While I would agree to a certain extent, I would risk the assumption these people say this because they tend to be easily swayed by the emotions the specific scene was meant to draw out. It’s extremely important in these kind of stories that one really reflects upon the story and understand how it impacts them.

So, if it’s “just a story”, then why do we care? I think the reason is because they help us identify our own values and beliefs. They help us connect with others in ways that would not be as accessible as other methods. The stories ultimately help us better ourselves so that we can provide a desirable future for our young.

It may just be a story, but it’s up to us to learn and grow from it so that we can make sure our own life story has a happy ending.

planetarianpic-1


Also today, they just released a second promotional video. If you’re still interested, be sure to check it out!

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