Astra Lost in Space (彼方のアストラ) is a 12 episode sci-fi series from 2019 by studio Lerche based on a manga.
In the year 2063 with space travel common a group of eight students go on a field trip to a nearby planet. Shortly after arriving a mysterious orb appears and sucks them all through a worm hole dumping them into space next to an unknown world; the kids only surviving thanks to a lucky combination of still being in their suits and an old ship in dry dock nearby. Now the kids have to begin a 6-month journey of planet leap frogging to keep resupplying while making their way home, all the while knowing one of them tried to murder them once and will likely sabotage the endeavor again.
Theres a bit of old school classic sci-fi adventures at play here, just a group of people thrown deep into space and working together to get home, that gives the series a throw-back simplicity that works. While the kids are all conveniently genius in different fields (for plot reasons actually) still seeing how they adapt to each challenge or new resource they need to find works just as well as it did in Swiss Family Robinson.
On top of that is the conspiracy mystery angle, you know someone is responsible for the wormhole’s appearance and the underlying tension of that gives the kids a plausible reason why they don’t trust each other for a long time while also running parallel with a subplot back home of certain parties not being very interested in searching for the missing kids as they may have been involved in the disappearance.
Character wise each of the kids does hit a bit stock trope, just by the way they introduce themselves you can read a lot into the kind of person they are. Again though it works here for the relative simplicity of the story, the tropes play well in letting them overcome their obstacles and everyone has at least one secret that maybe doesn’t upend how you view them, but does let them have extra development as the show goes on. By the end they’re still functionally the same tropes they started as while also significantly more matured and that kind of writing isn’t always easy.
Hey kids, you know what might make your trip a bit easier? Rationing! Its a little thing to be fair, the show splits itself between survival story and conspiracy so much that it kind of undercuts both with that being possibly the most stand-out aspect. There are a few times when they are worried over not having enough water or food to reach the next planet and yet never seem to take into account ways you can stretch supplies by simply not taking a shower everyday/limited how much people eat. On the conspiracy side of things… well its a good set up for a conspiracy with the actual explanation perhaps best not thought of at too much length.
Going back to the characters, unfortunately due to there being eight of them on the journey plus their parents back home there’s too many to really work with and some are essentially ignored. Yun-Hua and *REDACTED* both get hard by this as they’re just there for the ride, even when they get their big revelation episodes it takes them from being useless to useless-morale-boosters-for-everyone-else.
Weeb Level: 2/10- As noted pretty much all of the kids are a different trope, otherwise its a pretty universal sci-fi adventure.
Fanservice: 2/10- There’s a beach planet with everyone running around in swimsuits, otherwise for the most part people tend to wear space suits that aren’t exactly revealing.
Quality: 8/10- I might even knock this up to 9/10 with time, its just a tad too recent to say for sure how well it’ll hold up to rewatching.
Where to watch: One of Funimations first exclusives it got a bit overlooked as there wasn’t much else on there at the time. Its still only on Funi and a big reason to look at a Funi subscription. It looks like it might be on Hulu for rent, but I can’t verify that currently.