A space adventure with one of the key people behind Neon Genesis Evangelion and more? The Orbital Children is the most promising content to come out of Netflix in a while, so let’s get right into the review!
The Orbital Children Overview
The Orbital Children, or Chikyuugai Shounen Shoujo in original Japanese, is an original space and sci-fi anime brought to Netflix by a new studio, Production +h. It will be released in Japan as two movies over a period of time, but Netflix decided to split the two movies into 6 episodes. The series is also referred to as Extraterrestrial Boys and Girls. The show’s release coincides with the first movie’s release in theatres.
The series, and by extension the movies, was the brainchild and creation of renowned animator and animation director Mitsuo Iso. Iso has been involved with the animation and production of several sci-fi and mecha shows in the past, including Neon Genesis Evangelion and Gundam. He has also been a part of Perfect Blue, a Satoshi Kon production, and directed and wrote Dennou Coil.
– Chikyuugai Shounen Shoujo Review does not contain any spoilers –
The Orbital Children Review- The Plot
“In the year 2045, Internet and artificial intelligence have become widespread in the outer space. Following a massive accident at a space station, a group of children are left behind. Using narrowband and SNS, low intelligence AI, and smartphone-controlled drones, they overcome numerous crises.”– Courtesy MAL News.
The best thing about the entire experience in this series is the atmosphere it creates and the world that it builds up. From the first frame, subtle foundations are placed that benefit the overall setting and make it feel more alive. Being a space and si-fi show, the setting and technology is a huge part of the experience, and the show does a spectacular job in bringing everything together to create an immersive and dense world.
The show’s overall plot is decent, if a little overexposed at times. The narrative is very tightly written, and the show doesn’t even waste a second in telling the story it set out to tell. There is no wasted motion, and every scene holds some value in the overall conclusion. While the story is somewhat predictable, that’s not really as bad of a thing as people these days have grown accustomed to thinking. Predictability often means consistency, and that’s the case here.
The concept revolves around Artificial Intelligence and how its gaining sentience is bad for the world, something that the majority of media fans have already seen in many other places, in your Terminators and what not. The overall application of the AI is also somewhat flawed, and it doesn’t seem to make a lot of logical sense sometimes, something that the show is very good at other times. However, the show does manage to pull off a good and high-quality narrative.
From what we’ve discussed already, the plot is somewhat flawed yet still good and evokes some strong feelings. Unfortunately, the ending falls into that statement’s “flawed” section. It is too goody-goody, and everything is tied into too neat of a bow. There aren’t any real consequences, every character gets everything they ever wanted out of life without any major repercussions from the ordeal they just went through. That might work for some, but it didn’t quite work for this writer. It was still a good ending, but it was almost too good to be true.
The Orbital Children Review- The Characters
The show’s biggest flaw lies in its characters, who are tolerable at best and annoying at worst. They are all kids, and young ones at that. The kind who think that they know how the world works without ever having seen even a minuscule version of it. You have your usual suspects here, such as the authority loving guy, the social media-friendly girl, the anarchist who wants to change the world, and the young kid who follows the anarchist around. They all fall into varying degrees of annoyance, but the show is always good with their development, and they all grow and mature a lot during the show.
The adults here aren’t much better, especially Nasa Houston, which at least is a self-aware terrible name. The AI characters are far more tolerable than the human ones, although they all get their time to shine throughout the show. The ending does them all right, but as we discussed earlier, perhaps there is such a thing as doing someone “too right”. If I never hear a “Mina Mina, Mina” or an “Atatatatata” in my life ever again, that would still be too much.
The Orbital Children Review- Art and Music
Seeing as it comes from an animation wizard like Mitsuo Iso, it shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone that the series is absolutely beautiful. The sceneries, the tremendous attention to detail while constructing environments, and ship and technology design are all astounding. The character design can be a little average, but they were designed as a throwback to the older sci-fi anime of the eighties and nineties, so that’s an intentional choice and one which works fine in the overall scheme of things.
The music and sound design are also great, in a similar vein. The way sound director Youji Shimizu of Redline(!) and Yuri on Ice fame depicted the noise, and stationary sound of space was amazing. A great thing to look out for if you want to check if something sounds good is to pay attention to the silence and how it is implemented. It is done very well here, in case you were curious. The Orbital Children sounds just like one would imagine space to sound like.
The Orbital Children is a great series, consisting of a gripping and watertight plot alongside fantastic animation and sound design. While the characters and logic could use a little tidying up, the overall experience is still a good one.Instagram & Facebook to keep yourself updated with the latest news and reviews.