Planetarian: The Reverie of a Little Planet
|Planetarian: The Reverie of a Little Planet|
Planetarian: The Reverie of a Little Planet original visual novel cover.
(Planetarian: Chiisana Hoshi no Yume)
|Publisher||VisualArt's, KineticNovel (Windows, Android, iOS)
Prototype (PS2, FOMA, S3G, PSP)
Sekai Project (Windows)
|Platform||Windows, PS2, FOMA, S3G, PSP, Android, iOS|
|Written by||Yūichi Suzumoto|
|Illustrated by||Eeji Komatsu|
|Published||April 28, 2006|
Planetarian: The Reverie of a Little Planet (planetarian ～ちいさなほしのゆめ～ Planetarian: Chiisana Hoshi no Yume?) is a Japanese post-apocalyptic visual novel developed by Key, a brand of VisualArt's whose previous works include Kanon and Air. It was released over the Internet on November 29, 2004 for Windows PCs, and is rated for all ages. The game was later ported to the PlayStation 2 (PS2) and PlayStation Portable, as well as mobile devices. The story centers on a middle-aged man who comes across a malfunctioning robot in a dead city. The man, known simply as "the junker", stays with this robot for a time and attempts to fix the projector of the planetarium where the story takes place.
Key defines Planetarian as a "kinetic novel", since its gameplay offers no choices or alternate endings. Instead, the player proceeds through the story solely by reading. The story is written by Yūichi Suzumoto and Planetarian is one of two Key games not to have Itaru Hinoue as an artist, using Eeji Komatsu instead. The game's soundtrack was composed and arranged by Key's signature composers Magome Togoshi and Shinji Orito. A light novel of short stories set in the world of Planetarian was released in April 2006, and three audio dramas have also been produced. In the February 2007 issue of SoftBank Creative's Gemaga magazine, the PS2 version ranked first for console games in terms of satisfaction; the game had ranked fourth in the previous issue.
Planetarian is a post-apocalyptic visual novel in which the player assumes the role of the junker. Unlike traditional visual novels, no choices are given to the player in Planetarian to advance the story, and there is only one possible ending; this is what Key referred to as a kinetic novel. The player can choose when to advance to the next dialogue screen or put the game on auto play. In this respect, the player does not play the game as if it were a video game, but plays it rather more like one would play a music track on a CD or play a DVD film. During gameplay, the player can choose to hide the text from view and go back to any previous lines. The game can be saved at any point in any of the five save slots available, and a load option is available where the player can load any of the automatically saved chapter markers, or choose to load any of the manually saved games.
By length of story, Planetarian is the shortest of Key's games. Excluding the opening and ending sequences, there are 16 parts to the story; the first half is set within the planetarium while the latter half is set outside in the ruined city where the planetarium resides. The novel takes four hours and forty minutes to complete on auto play.[note 1] After the game has been completed at least once, two new options appear on the title screen. The first is a feature that allows the player to view twenty images of CG artwork observed in the game. The second option allows the player to listen to eight of the nine music tracks featured in the game.
The game is set in a post-apocalyptic world. It is said that due to the depletion of natural resources, overpopulation, and the failure of the Space Exploration Project, humanity has virtually eradicated itself through biological and nuclear warfare, turning a once prosperous civilization into complete ruin, cast in darkness and poisoned by constant rain from nuclear fallout. One military invasion in the past was at Mare Nectaris. The bloodshed continues 30 years after the war in a dystopic world via automated war machines, which kill anyone trespassing into their territory. Of the remaining humans, there are those known as "junkers" who go around scavenging for anything in order to survive; the protagonist in the story is one.
The main location where most of the story takes place is the fictional Flowercrest Department Store in a derelict city. It is based on the real Matsubishi Department Store of Hamamatsu, Shizuoka in Japan, although the planetarium on the rooftop is fictitious. The onset of the story takes place within the planetarium which is where the protagonist first meets Yumemi. The most prominent feature in the room when a show is not taking place is the large black planetarium projector called "Miss Jena", which is placed on a stage in front of the seats. The planetarium has electricity when the protagonist arrives, but only for a short time. Once a year, for 168 hours, electricity in the planetarium is operational, but the projector is broken. The rest of the floors in the department store are in ruins; mold and rats run rampant.
- The junker (屑屋 Kuzuya?)
- Voiced by: Daisuke Ono
- The protagonist is a nameless middle-aged soldier living the life of a "junker"—scavenging useful items among ruined cities to survive. He enters a derelict city searching for undamaged goods and finds an abandoned planetarium on the roof of a building he first thinks is a military facility. There, he meets Yumemi Hoshino, a gynoid designed to look like a young girl who annoys him greatly due to her constant talking. The protagonist has a tough personality that comes from trying to survive in a dystopic world. He carries a grenade launcher with him and covers himself with a waterproof coat to protect his skin from the toxic rain. For drinking water, his canteen has a water purifier that can purify the rain. He is constantly searching for rarer substances such as cigarettes and alcohol which can be sold at high prices.
- Yumemi Hoshino (ほしのゆめみ Hoshino Yumemi?)
- Voiced by: Keiko Suzuki
- Yumemi is a goodhearted but extremely talkative gynoid attendant of an abandoned planetarium; she is designed to look like a young girl. Yumemi is slightly damaged and completely unaware of the changes that have occurred in the past 30 years, as none of the facilities and databases that she connects to exist anymore. Therefore, she treats the protagonist like a regular guest by calling him "Mr. Customer" (お客様 Okyaku-sama?), speaks of the world as it was before the war, and fails to understand any information he tells her, other than things related to her job at the planetarium. The name "Hoshino Yumemi" itself is a pun—"hoshi" means star or planetary body; "no" is a possessive particle; "yume" is a dream or a reverie; "mi" means see. Yumemi is the only character shown to the audience of the game.
- Yumemi is very adamant about protecting humans and is happiest when she is helping those she serves. When she is unable to help someone, she gets terribly worried that she is incapable of offering assistance and must instead indirectly help a customer by directing him or her to someone who can. Protecting humans is her top priority and will even ignore previous orders to make sure no human is harmed when in her care.
While dodging detection from war machines in a ruined city, the protagonist enters a building with a dome on the roof to search for usable supplies. Once inside the dome, he meets Yumemi, who offers to show him a special commemorative projection especially reserved for the 2,500,000th customer, although he is in fact the 2,497,290th customer. Despite his aggravation with her, he agrees to attend her show. However, the projector device, "Miss Jena",[note 2] has broken down and is in need of repair. After he repairs it, Yumemi starts the show, presenting a projection of the starry sky, something that cannot be seen from the surface because of the polluted skies. The power goes out in the midst of the show, but Yumemi proceeds through the rest of the event with no visuals at the request of the protagonist.
Afterward, both of them leave the planetarium, as Yumemi insists on escorting him back to his vehicle outside the city walls. The protagonist plans to transport Yumemi out of the city after her battery runs out and find a way to reactivate her. A machine the protagonist calls a fiddler crab, due to its design, is guarding the entrance to the city in which he came from, and he devises a plan to destroy it armed with only a grenade launcher. After his initial plan fails and he is forced to face the machine front on, Yumemi tries to protect the protagonist, but is blown in half by the war machine's machine guns.
Yumemi spends her emergency battery life replaying her pre-war memories to the protagonist using a tiny holographic projector on her ear. When the video fades, she reveals that she had known that the planetarium would never have more customers during the 30 years she was alone, despite her apparent infinite optimism up to this point. In her final moment as she "dies" in front of him, Yumemi ejects the memory card from her artificial brain for his safekeeping. Touched and completely shaken by the loss of the beautiful world she left in his mind, he throws away his gun and puts the memory card in his coat, before wandering off with a broken leg as the fallen war machine's automated backup units are closing in on the scene.
Planetarian is Key's fourth visual novel, and had a small staff of three main people that did the majority of the work for the game's first release. Unlike previous Key titles, Planetarian 's art director position was given to Eeji Komatsu instead of Itaru Hinoue who had held the position for the three previous games. Komatsu was chosen not only because of his specialty in depicting mechanics and robots, but also because he could represent short scenes which touch on a robot's existence to reproduce a person's ideals. Furthermore, Key was not short on staff at the time, and was not forced to outsource the artwork of Planetarian. Jun Maeda, Key's main scenario writer and project planner, was left out of the project, and Yūichi Suzumoto was given the position of planning and scenario. The music, excluding a single piece composed by Shinji Orito, was arranged or composed entirely by Magome Togoshi, one of Key's signature composers. Planetarian was the first game under the brand name KineticNovel to be described by the term "kinetic novel".
In the original version, Yumemi is only voiced during the beginning and ending scenes, while other characters are not voiced. When Planetarian was released for Windows PCs on CD-ROM, Yumemi had full voice acting. The PlayStation 2 (PS2) port offers full voice acting for the entire cast. Other changes to the PS2 version include a higher resolution for the computer graphics and an extended soundtrack. All other later versions contained full voice acting.
Planetarian was released on November 29, 2004 via download over the Internet playable on Windows PCs, and was first made available only to Yahoo! Japan Broadband users. The game was opened up for general sale on December 6, 2004. Key released a CD-ROM version for Windows PCs on April 28, 2006 in limited and regular editions. An updated version of Planetarian compatible for Windows Vista PCs was released by Key on July 31, 2009 in a box set containing five other Key visual novels called Key 10th Memorial Box. Another updated version compatible for Windows 7 PCs called Planetarian: The Reverie of a Little Planet Memorial Edition was released on April 30, 2010. The Memorial Edition also came bundled with the three previously released Planetarian drama CDs. Planetarian was released on Steam by Sekai Project in English for Windows on September 12, 2014, with later support planned for OS X and Linux devices. The Steam release was updated on September 17, 2014 to allow the user to switch to the original Japanese version of the game.
A consumer console port of the game was released for the PS2 on August 24, 2006 by Prototype. A version playable on FOMA and SoftBank 3G mobile phones was released by Prototype through VisualArt's Motto on November 28, 2006. A limited edition version of Planetarian developed by Prototype playable on the PlayStation Portable (PSP) was available for purchase between February 28 and March 1, 2009 at Key 10th Memorial Fes, an event held in commemoration of Key's ten-year anniversary. A downloadable version of the PSP release via the PlayStation Store was released by Prototype on August 24, 2009. Prototype again sold the PSP version at their Prototype Fan Appreciation 2010 event on May 30, 2010. The PSP version was re-released on May 12, 2011 as a fundraising release for the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami. A mobile app version playable on Android and iOS devices was released on November 30, 2011. An updated iOS version released in January 2013 includes support for English readers.
A light novel featuring a collection of four illustrated short stories, including a prologue and an epilogue, and based on Planetarian's story were written by Yūichi Suzumoto and illustrated by Eeji Komatsu. The 243-page novel was originally bundled with the limited edition of the CD version of Planetarian, and was also included in the limited edition of the PlayStation 2 version. The book was re-published as a commercial release by VisualArt's under their VA Bunko light novel imprint on October 31, 2008, and was the second title on the imprint. A downloadable version of the novel titled Hoshi no Hito: Planetarian Side Story on Android devices was released on November 30, 2011, followed by a version on iOS devices on December 14, 2011. The first two stories presented occur before the events of the kinetic novel, and the latter two occur during its aftermath. The front matter of the book reads, "Starry sky, words, God, robots. A collection of short stories in the key of these four themes." A short preview of the book is available online.
- Snow Globe (雪圏球 Sunō Gurōbu?)
- This story occurs before the events of the war that brought the world to ruin; at this point, Yumemi has been working at the Flowercrest Department Store's rooftop planetarium for about ten years. One day, Yumemi begins to act strangely, culminating in her simply walking out and wandering around the town. The staff of the planetarium are bewildered, and one of the workers—a woman named Satomi Kurahashi—is ordered to go follow Yumemi and bring her back. Before long, Yumemi begins to run out of battery power.
- Jerusalem (エルサレム Erusaremu?)
- This story occurs as the war reaches its height. The South American Unification Army receives reports of a rogue sniper operating deep in the jungles of Patagonia, and sends a platoon under the command of Master Sergeant Murdock to neutralize the threat. However, the entire platoon is killed off one by one by the sniper, until only Murdock is left. All alone, Murdock catches a glimpse of this mysterious sniper through his binoculars—and is shocked to find that he gazes upon the figure of a beautiful nun.
- Hoshi no Hito (星の人?, lit. "Man of the Stars")
- This story occurs some time after the events of the kinetic novel, as human civilization struggles in a losing battle against the poisonous rain. Three of the last inhabitants of a nearly abandoned underground fallout shelter—named Levi, Ruth, and Job—find a quaint old man collapsed in the snow outside the bunker. When they bring him down, they are surprised to hear the adults calling him "Man of the Stars". The children grow quite interested about his strange nickname, as well as the fact that they have never seen a visitor from the outside world. The old man recovers a bit and has the children help him in putting together a portable planetarium projector. This story offers an ultimate conclusion to the story in the kinetic novel.
- Tircis and Aminte (チルシスとアマント Chirushisu to Amanto?)
- Identical twins Tircis and Aminte study alone in a world of their own. Tircis begins to wonder why he is studying and how long will it go on. This is the story of how the answer reveals itself to Tircis and Aminte.
Music and audio CDs
The visual novel has one main theme song, the ending theme "Hoshi Meguri no Uta" (星めぐりの歌 Song of Circling Stars?) sung by Mell of I've Sound, an arrangement of the folk song by Kenji Miyazawa. During Comiket 70 on August 11, 2006, the original soundtrack for Planetarian was released, and was re-released on December 28, 2006. Aside from the songs in the game like "Gentle Jena" and "Hoshi no Sekai (Opening)" (星の世界 World of Stars (Opening)?), the soundtrack included new songs such as the vocal version of "Hoshi Meguri no Uta". A majority of the soundtrack was composed or rearranged by Magome Togoshi, who also worked on Key's previous games, Air, and Clannad. The musical tracks played at the beginning and the end of the game (track one and eight in the original soundtrack) are rearrangements of the hymn "What a Friend We Have in Jesus" by Charles Crozat Converse, and their titles reflect this as well: the original title "Hoshi no Sekai (Opening)" refers to the Japanese version of the hymn named "Hoshinoyo", and "Itsukushimi Fukaki" is the Japanese translation of the hymn's original title.
The first drama CD titled A Snow Globe was released on December 29, 2006 during Comiket 71, and was re-released on May 25, 2007. As its name suggests, the CD covers the "Snow Globe" story from the limited edition book. The opening track takes place one year before the protagonist arrives at the planetarium and the "Snow Globe" story is told as a flashback. The end of the drama CD is where the kinetic novel begins. A second drama CD titled Jerusalem was released on July 27, 2007 and covers the "Jerusalem" story from the limited edition book. The final drama CD titled Hoshi no Hito was released on the same day as the second drama CD and covers the "Hoshi no Hito" and "Tircis and Aminte" stories from the limited edition book. The "Hoshi no Hito" story plays like a regular drama CD with several different voice actors acting out the parts, but "Tircis and Aminte" is a recited story by Keiko Suzuki, the voice actress who plays Yumemi Hoshino.
Reception and sales
In a review by Marcus Estrada of Hardcore Gamer, he praised Planetarian for having a "beautiful story," gorgeous CGs and a soundtrack that "sets a melancholic, but hopeful mood fitting with the story." He also noted that "even as an aging property Planetarian still looks and sounds good." Planetarian is one of several kinetic novels featured in the Lycèe Trading Card Game; Yumemi and the planetarium are playable cards in the second VisualArt's card set. In the February 2007 issue of SoftBank Creative's Gemaga magazine, the PS2 version ranked first for console games in terms of satisfaction; the game had ranked fourth in the previous issue. In the Japanese video game magazine Famitsu released on September 8, 2006, it was reported that the PS2 version of Planetarian sold 8,170 units the week of August 21 to August 27, 2006 (the PS2 version was originally sold on August 24, 2006). When the PSP version was re-released as a fundraising event for the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami, 16,663 units were pre-ordered by the day of its release on May 12, 2011. From these sales, Prototype and VisualArt's donated 22,415,069 yen.
- The stated time assumes that the default auto play speed is used, which allots 0.07 seconds per character with a minimum time of 0.3 seconds. This reflects about the average time it takes the text to be read aloud at a normal pace. Quick readers can easily go through the entire novel in less than half of this stated time.
- Jena is a manufacturing city in Germany, specializing in precision machinery, pharmaceuticals, optics and photographic equipment, and is home to the famous Zeiss optics plant. In 1926, the world's first modern planetarium was built by the Zeiss company in the Damenviertel district of the town.
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- Untranslated quote: Hoshizora, kotoba, kami-sama, robotto. Yottsu no shudai ni yoru shōhinshū. (星空・言葉・神様・ロボット 四つの主題による小品集?)
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PS2 8170／8170 Planetarian: The Reverie of a Little Planet
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- Key's Planetarian website (Japanese)
- KineticNovel's Planetarian website (Japanese)
- Prototype's Planetarian website (Japanese)
- Planetarian: The Reverie of a Little Planet at The Visual Novel Database