Uchuu Kyoudai – 03

[HorribleSubs] Space Brothers - 03 [720p].mkv_snapshot_09.53_[2012.04.15_14.33.13] [HorribleSubs] Space Brothers - 03 [720p].mkv_snapshot_13.19_[2012.04.15_14.36.38] [HorribleSubs] Space Brothers - 03 [720p].mkv_snapshot_20.01_[2012.04.15_14.43.21]

Let there be no mistake – while Space Brothers is an all-ages show, the series (especially the humor) is aimed at those old enough to see the humorous side to life’s challenges.

I’m quite fascinated by the fact that Watanabe Ayumu is directing both this series and Nazo no Kanojo X.  These two series could hardly be more different, yet both are excellent – sensitive, funny, and extremely incisive about the human condition (especially that of the male).  Of course I’m sure Watanabe-sensei would be the first to give credit to the source manga in both cases, and indeed both are very well-regarded works.  But a good manga does not always make a good anime, and what impresses me is the depth of understanding Watanabe shows for his subjects and what makes them tick.  In MGX he’s shedding light on adolescence, sex and love – perhaps remembering his own youth – and here, on a still young man already beginning to see the ominous silhouette of middle age appearing on the distant horizon.

I mean, come on – who was the entire opening montage aimed at, if not such men?  The medical exam with its incumbent indignities, the image of Serika popping into his head at the most inopportune moment, prompting Mutta to think “I’ll save it for later”.  I’m impressed that Uchuu Kyoudai, like “The Right Stuff” (which the mangaka clearly admires a great deal) isn’t shying away from showing us the mundane and embarrassing details of the astronaut selection process to focus on the glamorous.  It’s those elements that give the story depth and texture, and without them the realism factor would be out the window.

It’s still a bid odd for me to hear Sawashiro Miyuki voice Serika, and then have a flashback scene immediately following where she voices young Mutta.  That’s not a choice I would have made, because Sawashiro’s voice doesn’t really change that much when she’s voicing boys, and it’s a bit weird seeing the adult Mutta crushing on a woman who sounds exactly like he did as a child.  That’s a small quibble though, as I quite liked the scenes involving the two of them this week.  My favorite was when she walked in on him trying to see himself in the reflection on the faceplate of the space suit in JAXA’s lobby, and the way he kept the swashbuckling smile on his face even as he was dying of embarrassment inside.  Of course, as with the loose screw on the chair Mutta has actually done a good thing when he thought he was screwing up, because Serika remembers her own father doing exactly the same thing when she was a child.  He walks in on her doing it the next morning, and this embarrassing but very human connection between them is appealing.

I find Serika appealing generally, because so far she’s quite unlike the usual anime heroine.  She’s obviously smart (she’s a doctor) and in great shape, but she’s no supermodel – she has a friendly and open face but her looks could fairly be described as “plain”.  That’s something you rarely see in female leads, anime or otherwise, and it reminded me of the way the series treated Aunt Sharon’s apparent lesbian relationship with Tamura-san in the previous ep – it wasn’t a big deal, just two people who happened to be together.  No fuss, no jokes, just dignity – it’s unusual for an anime to allow people to just be ordinary, and I appreciate it.

The deeper we get into Space Brothers the harder it is to see anyone besides Hirata-san playing Mutta.  There’s so much of Kotestu in Mutta, who’s a man of great depth who can’t see himself as anything special, and feels the passage of time and the weight of each life decision in a way young people simply don’t.  Though Mutta’s a young man still, he’s not so young that he (and Kenji) can’t see the difference between the young studs in their 20s who seem as if they can run forever and themselves.  He’s bearing the weight of being Hibito’s brother, as most of his rivals assume he’s milking it for all he’s worth – when in fact he’s done nothing to try and use it to his advantage and, I suspect, has doubts himself about whether he’d have gotten this far with a different family name.  I’m always struck in the flashbacks that even though Mutta is three years older than Hibito (which feels like a million at that age) even then he was always trying to keep up with his younger brother – the younger brother who was taller, faster and blonder than Mutta.  Hibito likely never knew the impact this had on his brother, and seemed to adore and admire him – but that experience seems to follow Mutta to this day, and Hibito being so successful only confirms the doubts Mutta has about himself.  It’s no wonder he cut Hibito out of the pictures on their JAXA field trip.  The adult Mutta’s dream about their relationship, though – “Hibito, don’t take off my pants!” – was certainly the comedic highlight of the episode (I don’t know why Hibito was doing that, but I hope he didn’t have a doll tied to his head).

Mutta did prove himself exceptional in one area – the lung capacity test, a scene that was almost a frame-by-frame homage to the one in “The Right Stuff”.  He trounced all the younger and healthier candidates, thought whether it was his trumpet playing that built his capacity or his capacity that made him a natural for the trumpet I don’t know.  One one candidate beat him – and that was Serika, and it was admiring her that distracted Mutta long enough to make him lose. I look forward to seeing the two of them grow closer, though if he starts tasting her drool that will feel a lot out of context here.

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[HorribleSubs] Space Brothers - 03 [720p].mkv_snapshot_13.25_[2012.04.15_14.36.45] [HorribleSubs] Space Brothers - 03 [720p].mkv_snapshot_13.44_[2012.04.15_14.37.04] [HorribleSubs] Space Brothers - 03 [720p].mkv_snapshot_13.49_[2012.04.15_14.37.09]
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[HorribleSubs] Space Brothers - 03 [720p].mkv_snapshot_18.11_[2012.04.15_14.41.30] [HorribleSubs] Space Brothers - 03 [720p].mkv_snapshot_18.37_[2012.04.15_14.41.57] [HorribleSubs] Space Brothers - 03 [720p].mkv_snapshot_18.59_[2012.04.15_14.42.19]
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[HorribleSubs] Space Brothers - 03 [720p].mkv_snapshot_21.24_[2012.04.15_15.35.30] [HorribleSubs] Space Brothers - 03 [720p].mkv_snapshot_21.32_[2012.04.15_14.45.05] [HorribleSubs] Space Brothers - 03 [720p].mkv_snapshot_24.07_[2012.04.15_14.46.59]


  1. K

    hardly be more different, yet both are excellent – sensitive, funny, and extremely incisive about the human condition (especially that of the male).

    Yes but I was very happy that Serika seems to be the voice for the female side. Obviously she is Mutta's love interest but it looks like they are giving her her own story too (which makes me happy).

    Because I know there are lot of anime series with female characters but most are to appeal to the male viewers POV or even more so the male anime fan's POV.

  2. K

    This episode was MARUU !!!

    I really like how Mutta and Serika's relationship is slowly shaping up.

    Also, props to the production company/ mangaka for not turning female characters into sex objects. It's a refreshing change to see normal looking characters.

  3. D

    The reference to 'The Right Stuff' just filled me with glee as it's one of my favourite movies, and the book is well worth reading too.

    I'm definitely hoping Mutta and Serika get together, though.

    The brilliant thing about Mutta is that yeah, he's in his thirties, he's desperately uncool, but you can't help rooting for the guy. He is kind of an everyman.

    Vomit comet next week, that should be fun!

  4. I

    Watanabe-sensei (how many directors with that name are there?) seems to have taken a leaf out of Sakurano Kurimu's book: "Understand the differences of media." Taking a great manga and making a excellent anime.

    I never watched Tiger and Bunny, as I thought it would end up like one of those Marvel-Madhouse collaboration and Heroman. I've already started downloading after seeing Hirata's wiki.

    I think I've said this before but Uchuu Kyodai puts the biggest smile on face(even when re-watching). Like you said GE, it is because I have reached the age where the difficulties of the real world are in full flow. Dreams are put in album and placed on a shelf, until enough dust has gathered to take them out and have a laugh. Mutta's (humorous) last shot at his dream reminds me of my own attempts at chasing my dreams, futile and childish as they were.

    That I think is the beauty of this show and why I love it and why it really is a family watch, there is something in it for everyone. I'm not sure how long it will last(12 or 48 episodes?) but I'll savor every moment of another achievement in anime.

    I don't know about you but for me this is the best season of anime I have ever watched and this show is the cherry on the icing.

  5. I think the number of one-cour series (best guess is still this one will be four) make it very, very unlikely this season can catch Spring 2007. I think there are just too many masterpieces that came out of that season for this crop of shows to match up.

    However, I would say this season has a chance to be the best since then – I'm not sure what that currently is, maybe Fall of that same year. We still haven't seen Hyou-ka, remember, and if that turns out to be excellent the sheer volume of very good shows this season will be even more impressive.

    As for Space Bros, being in a position of being an adult who sees the clock ticking on chasing dreams, this one holds a real resonance for me. There really is something for everyone here and the show celebrates the optimism of childhood as much as it mourns the loss of it in adulthood, but I think it's older viewers who will likely get the most out of it. Which, given the realities of anime demographics, means it isn't likely to sell many frisbees or make a lot of money. It might do OK in the TV ratings, though, and give manga sales a nice boost, as Chihayafuru did.

  6. I

    It's true that the usual anime viewers will not bat an eye at this show, but considering the time it's aired there plenty of kids and their parents who will be exposed to it. We can hope that they like it enough to go out and buy the DVD (doubt blue ray quality would have much point with a show like this).

  7. d

    There is a trend in your writing nowadays.
    "This Studio/Director/etc is doing series A and series B. that is shocking because series A and series B could not be more different."

  8. I can't think of another show on my current list I've said that about besides the two Watanabe (Ayumu) is directing.

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