To be honest, I was very tempted to watch the preview first this week, as it was the part of the episode I was most looking-forward to. I went in a little peeved at the way the Mutta storyline is being teased and delayed, which feels cheap and unfair to the audience – bordering on a stunt, and not up to the usual standard Space Brothers has set for itself over these last three cours. Still – it is what it is, and there’s the matter of the episode itself to deal with. It never seemed likely we were to get any real news, so the fact that we didn’t doesn’t come as a disappointment at least.
Manufactured suspense and low-hanging emotional fruit aren’t two elements that generally lead to outstanding drama, but it’s fair to say this episode turned out better than it might have – better than Kenji’s last week, probably. From the moment Serika’s reasons for wanting to go into space were revealed she’s been a lock to pass – not to mention she’s the only major female character and potential love interest for Mutta. So suspense? Sorry, can’t help you there – and the story of a dying parent is pretty easy pickings when it comes to getting an audience reaction. Having lost a parent I can certainly empathize with what Serika went through, which is something close to a universal experience, and it does dovetail with the overall themes of the series.
It’s probably the fact that it’s nearly impossible to watch events like what we saw this week without feeling some emotional reaction that gave it a little more bite than last week’s ep, even if we didn’t really learn anything new about Serika or her motivations. It was a little self-indulgent to take what we already knew and pad it into a full episode, but it was competently done – I especially enjoyed the moment when Serika forced herself to walk past the bathroom at the hospital without crying, expressing her resolve to act rather than mourn. The tragedy of course is that her father wouldn’t make it long enough for her resolve to help him, but there will always be other fathers, mothers, sons and daughters who might be helped by her actions.
The fact remains, though, that even forgiving the drawing out of Mutta’s results Space Brothers is a better show when the “Space Brothers” are on-screen, and their absence – especially Mutta’s – has been sorely felt these last two weeks. There’s nothing conclusive to be drawn from the aforementioned preview except that Mizuguchi is (mercifully) not getting an entire episode for his results (no sign of Nitta). It appears that Hoshika-san wants to tell Mutta the results himself, and in-person too – read into that what you will. While it would seem there’s no suspense as to what Mutta’s results will be, either, but until he hears the news there’s still just that tiny bit of doubt – this is a man for whom life has not always been an easy road, and it can’t totally be ruled out that he’s going to face another detour here. Hopefully we’ve been played long enough, and next week will finally bring the news we’ve been waiting for – though I fear the ep may end on the cliffhanger to end all cliffhangers.