Imagine the working class cynicism of Ridley Scott's Alien mixed with the grace and understated realism and existential angst of Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey and you're close to imagining Makoto Yukimura's masterful Planetes. Following the crew of the Toybox, a ship floating in space to ensure a lack of damage to satellites and spacecraft from space debris, the series has weightier subjects on its mind, such as whether humanity deserves to explore space instead of trying to solve problems on Earth, the unfairness of corporate culture - Unsurprisingly, seeing as the lead characters are literally trashmen in space - and the relationship humanity has with the great void. At once glacially paced and utterly compelling, Yukimura's five volume series is a sobering take on the side of space exploration that we normally ignore in favor of more traditional heroics.
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