Down on Earth, Hachi brings Tanabe and Yuri to his mother’s house. Since Fee destroyed Toy Box, they’re taking a holiday until they get a new ship and apparently Tanabe and Yuri didn’t have anywhere else to go. While the three of them get acquainted with Hachi’s mother over breakfast, they hear a strange rumbling coming from outside. Mrs. Hoshino warns Tanabe and Yuri to take cover just as a small runaway rocket bursts through the back door, nailing Hachi in the nose before powering down and crashing in the next room. A young man runs in after it, apparently more concerned about the rocket than the property damage he just caused. Turns out this is Kyutaro Hoshino–Hachi’s 13-year old brother–who is immediately scolded by his mother for putting their guests in danger. Hachi notes that nobody seems to care what happens to him and remarks that Kyutaro hasn’t changed a bit. Kyutaro collects his rocket and runs off. Taking an interest in the boy, Yuri follows Kyutaro to a shack on the beach, where he test fires one of his rocket engines. Yuri introduces himself and notes that Kyutaro is extracting hydrogen from the seawater for his fuel supply. Kyutaro asks him what he wants and Yuri explains that he had a few ideas for his rocket. Meanwhile, Hachi and Tanabe head out on Hachi’s old motorcycle to do some grocery shopping. While at the store, Hachi runs into an old college friend of his, who’s already settled down and gotten married. Hachi congratulates him and his friend mistakenly assumes that Hachi’s about to get married, too, since he’s brought his girlfriend home to meet his parents and all. Hachi and Tanabe suddenly become very self-conscious of each other as they head home. Fortunately, their embarrassed thoughts are interrupted by a nearby rocket launch. Back down on the beach, Kyutaro sees the launch and remarks that he’s not going to lose to them. Yuri asks him why he decided to become an astronaut, to which Kyutaro forcefully replies that he’s not going to become an astronaut–he wants to be an engineer and eventually go on a trip to Mars on a rocket of his own design. Some ways off, Tanabe and Hachi leave the motorcycle by the road and take a walk along the beach. Hachi tells Tanabe how he saved up for a motorcycle in high school and spent all his time tinkering with it. But then, he saw a rocket launch similar to the one they just witnessed. Impressed by its awesome power, he decided that motorcycles were no longer impressive enough for him, and that’s why he decided to become an astronaut. Tanabe remarks that such a simple reason is totally his style and smiles at him. Noticing the warming atmosphere between the two of them, Hachi attempts to change the subject by asking Tanabe if her feet are okay, as this is her first time back under normal gravity after prolonged exposure to zero-G. Tanabe replies that she feels fine, but then stumbles over her own two feet. Hachi catches her on the way down and suddenly they find each other’s faces awful close together… At that very moment, Kyutaro re-launches his rocket. At first things go very smoothly thanks to the new software Yuri provided for him, but eventually the rocket plows back towards the ground; pulling up just in time to smash the wooden barrier Kyutaro and Yuri were hiding behind. The rocket continues down the beach, causing Tanabe to cancel her near-kiss with Hachi in favor of shoving them both face down into the sand in order to avoid being decapitated. The rocket finally crashes into the surf and Hachi begins yelling at Kyutaro. Yuri goes to recover his jacket from the ruins of their barrier and discovers that his wife’s compass, which was in its pocket, has been smashed. Kyutaro, running back to make sure Yuri was okay, notices the compass and asks if it was important. After taking a moment to collect himself, Yuri lies and tells him that it didn’t matter to him.
After dinner, Hachi gets a phone call from Fee, who informs him that they’re being given a brand new spaceship, most likely due to Fee’s new hero-status. After she hangs up, Kyutaro asks Hachi about Yuri’s compass. Hachi explains that it belonged to his late wife, and that Yuri became a debris hauler in the first place just to find it. He tells Kyutaro to get out there and apologize and then tells him to give up on his rockets–they cause nothing but trouble. Hachi goes on to call Kyutaro’s rockets a kid’s game before Kyutaro starts firing back–accusing Hachi of becoming complacent and forgetting about his own dreams because he’s scared of failure. Hachi and Kyutaro take it outside, while Tanabe wonders if she should do something about that. Mrs. Hoshino seems anything but worried, saying that the men in her house don’t die easily, and that’s what makes a good astronaut–coming home safe, no matter what. Kyutaro manages to knock Hachi through the paper door and runs off to find Yuri at the beach. Yuri is about to throw the remains of the compass into the ocean when Kyutaro catches up to him and begins to apologize. Yuri just smiles and tells him that when he was 20, he spent a lot of time traveling around the Earth, looking for answers to his many questions. He was looking for a direction, among other things, and continued walking hoping for the day when he could find something totally absolute to hang on to. One day he came upon an old sailor, who laughed at his questions, telling him that he was trying too hard to put everything into its own clear-cut category. Noticing the confused look on Kyutaro’s face, Yuri illustrates his point by asking him where the boundary between Earth and space is. Kyutaro starts listing off the altitudes which feature sharp drops in atmosphere, but Yuri tells him that, as far as he can tell, there is no boundary–everything is relative. He goes on to tell Kyutaro that he had originally planned to quit being a debris hauler once he found the compass, as he didn’t really have any other reason to be up there. Noticing Tanabe and Hachi coming toward them, he wraps up by thanking Kyutaro for breaking the compass. Kyutaro doesn’t understand and says so, but Yuri just replies that he doesn’t really get it either and starts laughing. The days fly by as the various members of Debris Section visit with their various families, and eventually Hachi, Tanabe and Yuri meet back up at the spaceport to fly back to Seven. As their ship lifts off, they get a good view of Hachi’s neighborhood, and see another one of Kyutaro’s rockets blast off. This one, however, flies straight and true. Yuri tells them that his compass is in that rocket’s nosecone and a surprised Hachi says that there’s something different about Yuri lately. Yuri just smiles. Down at the beach and surrounded by the smoke of his launch, Kyutaro tells himself that he’ll catch up with Hachi soon enough.
After finally being able to accept his wife’s death after finding her compass, in this episode Yuri is finally able to let go, deciding to stay a debris hauler for himself and not for anyone’s memory. It amuses me that Yuri once spent time walking the Earth–like Caine from Kung Fu. Yuri’s philosophy is a bit convoluted, but I think what it boils down to is that nothing in life is cut and dry, it’s all shades of gray and the sooner you accept that, the sooner you can get on with your life. Not a bad philosophy, really. It also bears mentioning that things are finally heating up between Hachi and Tanabe, as they get caught up in the moment and nearly kiss on the beach. The musical montage near the end of the episode features a few characters that only play a part in the Planetes manga–such as Tanabe’s former rock star father and Fee’s rebellious, dog-loving son. Just try not to pay much attention to the lyrics in that song–the lyrics are all Engrish and don’t add much to the moment.