There’s an old, old saying – “It’s better to be lucky than good”. In my experience it’s true more often than not, but for someone like Mutta who’s spent his whole life trying (with some success) to be good and not seen the results he’d like, it can be a hard lesson to learn. As usual, in his case the whole thing comes down to thinking too much. It may not have been totally honest, but the results of the incident as Arcadia were good – the bad guy got caught and nobody got hurt – so this is one time he needs to check his neuroses at the door and let good fortune wash over him.
Fortunately for Mutta he had Ozzie (Ozzie Smith? LOL!) to push things along in the right direction. It’s refreshing to see a “hero” in an anime get ahead because of blind luck, and that’s exactly what happened here – Mutta wasn’t trying to capture anybody and he didn’t even knock out the Fire Extinguisher Thief himself – he was chasing Apo, and Apo did all the work. To top it off, Mutta chose not to reveal the truth of TV for the most superficial of reasons – he was trying to impress the pretty girls in the audience. But rather than something to be ashamed of, to me this is exactly as Ozzie says – a long overdue break for a guy who’s owed a few. The role of luck in achieving success isn’t portrayed often or well in anime, but it’s an awfully important of the equation in real life.
The fact is, then, that Mutta advances to the third phase of the exam (rumor has it that the JAXA candidates will be dumped on an island and instructed to try and steal each other’s tags by any means necessary) for the most superficial reasons possible – good publicity – and that doesn’t bother me a bit. To be honest Hoshika-san was really backing Mutta as a personal crusade, on purely subjective grounds, even if his instincts were good. But life is so often about being in the right place at the right time, and this appears to have finally happened for Mutta. And it doesn’t hurt that JAXA’s chairman Nasuda Shigeo (Aoyama Yutaka) is a man obviously concerned with the value of public image, and he makes it clear to the committee that he’s taken notice of Mutta’s newfound fame. Circumstances have conspired in Mutta’s favor at long last. I could see where one might take the whole development as overly cynical – as Mutta says, “There’s something seriously wrong with this country!” – but I see it more as a cosmic balancing of the scales.
The other interesting development comes towards the end of the episode, courtesy Hibito’s habit of hiding his secrets in the same place he used to hide his porn. The subject of mortality hasn’t come up much during Space Brothers but of course it’s a very real part of the equation for astronauts, and surely will be in 2025 just as it is today. We’ve seen Hibito mostly as the carefree, golden boy, focused on the now and not worrying too much about the future, but it’s clear from (spoiler from preview follows) Mutta’s discovery of his will and letters to his family that he has his introspective side too, and the realities of his vocation aren’t lost on him (and who is “Brian”, I wonder – a colleague who died?). I’ll be very interested to see what’s in those letters. I think what hit Mutta hardest was seeing this side of Hibito, so unlike the naif he thought he knew better than anyone in the world. And of course, it serves as a reminder of the risks Mutta intends to take in his own right.
With these developments I suppose it’s all but confirmed that Mutta’s future does indeed lie with JAXA and not NASA, though he’s clearly made an impression there too (and so have his parents). That was always hinted at in the OP but the series did a good job of sowing just a little doubt lately. The OP also suggests that Apo will be returning to Japan with Mutta, which I suppose makes sense as Hibito is going to be in space long before Mutta even if Mutta is accepted at JAXA. Also of note is this week’s space photo, which is highly appropriate as it depicts a solar eclipse – and the “Ring of Fire” solar eclipse will be visible across the Western US and Japan (among other places) this evening. Make sure not to look directly at the sun, Kids!