Uchuu Kyoudai – 49

Uchuu Kyoudai - 49-2 Uchuu Kyoudai - 49-10 Uchuu Kyoudai - 49-21

Uchuu Kyoudai continues to make this annoying cliffhanger weekend.

I still suspect that how viewers enjoyed the JAXA exam arc – especially the isolation pod sequence – is a pretty good barometer of how they’re likely the current one.  I know that exam phase wasn’t a hit with everyone – a lot of folks seem to feel it went on too long – but it was one of my favorite stretches in the entire series.  So it’s really no surprise that I’m finding the events playing out on screen right now just my speed.  I love Space Brothers when it really digs into group dynamics and gives Mutta a chance to show how exceptional he is in his own self-effacing way, and these situations always seem to bring out the best in him.

I’ve also been someone who’s been clamoring for development for Nitta Reiji, who’s been the mystery man in the cast.  I always felt there had to be something roiling under that too-serene facade of his, and it was only a matter of time until something caused it to crack.  It seems as if there was good reason the series was biding its time in getting to that, and that’s another reason why I’m pleased with the way things are progressing.  Nitta the iceman had to have an Achilles heel somewhere, and – as is the case with many such types – it appears to be his family.

Training exercises like this one are always interesting for the way they force the hand of the “victims” in showing their resolve and their priorities.  Fact is that every one of the ASCANs is a ruthlessly ambitious person – I don’t think there’s any way they’d be in the position they’re in if that weren’t the case.  But Vincent seems to be rising above and beyond the guidelines of the training he’s executing in turning into as much of a competition as he possibly can.  There’s no hard evidence that the way the candidates rank in this training (if indeed they’re ranked at all) has any impact on how quickly they make it into space.  But Bold has them convinced that every moment lost in the desert is a rung further down the ladder they’ll need to start from, and that they can only move up a place at the expense of knocking someone else down.  It’s a very popular motivational technique – not one I consider effective in most cases, but often the easy refuge of the poor leader.  In effect, Bold is testing himself as a leader as he tests his trainees, and so far I would argue he’s failing.

It’s interesting that this particular exercise may be pointing up an issue with Kenji’s leadership style.  It was on his watch that Team E fell into last place, which (partly thanks to the fraternity-caliber punishments he inflicts upon a member of the last place team every night) they’ve since been unable to escape.  Kenji might in fact be too nice – too eager to always get buy-in and get everyone to be on the same page – to effectively lead a strong-willed group of astronauts.  It’s worth noting that despite their odd mix of personalities Mutta’s group fared much better in the pods than Kenji’s group did – he ended up advancing himself while leaving all his teammates behind.  We don’t know how the first two women to lead the desert march fared (or which two) because we skip to Nitta on the fourth day, but his reign is predictable – he drives the group as hard as he can. not paying much attention to their condition as he pushes forward.  But it’s effective enough to lift Team E into 4th place, freeing them of the punishment cycle and giving them a little extra burst on the fifth day, when Mutta takes over.

It appears that Mutta’s big challenge is going to come fron Nitta, who announces in the middle of that fifth day that he needs to go back.  I’m not sure what the logic of that is, given that they’re already well over halfway to their destination – but the reason is clear enough.  It seems very likely indeed that the problem child in Nitta’s family is the little brother he doesn’t admit to having (which may partly explain his relentless mockery of Mutta as “Onii-san” – jealousy), and what’s more, there’s some evidence that Nitta is partly to blame.  It seems as if his stony facade hides a temper, and one he’s unleashed on his brother with enough severity that his sister needs to warn him not to do so again when the brother calls Nitta – “if he feels up to it“.  The details will probably come out next week, but it’s pretty clear that this is a bad situation.  It also seems likely that this will be the catalyst to finally force Nitta to open up to his teammates – I’m not sure how he can avoid it under the circumstances – and give Mutta the opportunity to do what he does best.

With Mutta’s turn coming on the fifth day we’re left to wonder who might be the leader for the final push – I suppose it’s most likely to be Serika from a dramatic standpoint.  If so that will be an interesting development, as we’ve seen very little from her in terms of leadership up to this point.  That Nitta would choose this moment to come clean suggests that things really must be pretty bad, because it’s hardly ideal.  In addition to the time pressure the team is dealing with rattlesnakes, handguns (something which the Japanese members at the very least will have no comfort level with) and and sheer exhaustion.

Uchuu Kyoudai - 49-8 Uchuu Kyoudai - 49-9 Uchuu Kyoudai - 49-11
Uchuu Kyoudai - 49-12 Uchuu Kyoudai - 49-13 Uchuu Kyoudai - 49-14
Uchuu Kyoudai - 49-15 Uchuu Kyoudai - 49-16 Uchuu Kyoudai - 49-17
Uchuu Kyoudai - 49-18 Uchuu Kyoudai - 49-19 Uchuu Kyoudai - 49-20
Uchuu Kyoudai - 49-22 Uchuu Kyoudai - 49-23 Uchuu Kyoudai - 49-24
Uchuu Kyoudai - 49-25 Uchuu Kyoudai - 49-26 Uchuu Kyoudai - 49-27
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9 comments

  1. K

    I believe Kenji's team problem is similar to what Bold is doing now. Kenji's team ranked the members and this caused competition not collaboration (although if I recall correctly Kenji did not support this method it was that guy's idea who did not pass)

    Mutta's team did well because they did not worry about rank until the end and even then well we saw the idea Mutta came up with to decide.

    Anyways the pod arc was my favorite of the series because we got to know more characters and I tend to like group stories so yeah I also like where this arc was going.

    What I didn't like about the pod arc is I felt Mutta got to solve practically everything for his team. Although I was happy that Mutta earned everyone's respect.

    Although I was happy that Mutta saved Nitta in this episode, it was a nice touch and I expect Mutta might make a decision to help Nitta in the next episode as well.

  2. K

    Okay there are so many typos/mistakes in that post if only I was able to edit. lol

  3. t

    Itou-san was day 2's leader though right? The interesting decision comes for day 6's leader I think, as if the members are physically capable after backtracking it would make more sense to ditch the tents and walk through the night. That could guarantee first place.

  4. G

    They must be going back for the phone that Nitta needs. Either the whole team goes back or they split into 2 groups with 1 group moving forward and the other trying to rush back and find the phone.

    Bold is a horrible leader. Its ok to be competitive but an excess of that will lead to a dog eat dog mentality and people becoming enemies. Pitting all the teams against each other will make some team members conflict with others. One thing that might happen with his style of management is some folks will end up quitting and he might be trying to get that 30 people in the program down to a smalled number.

  5. Yeah I guess it's pretty clearly hinted in the preview that Nitta dropped the phone, but it didn't sink in that he probably did so in this episode.

  6. G

    I'm sure it happened when Mutta speared him to save him from the rattlesnake.

  7. N

    there were two things I didn't like this episode. the first was how we were manipulated to think Mutta was attacking Nitta, by way of sleazy editing. that felt really cheap. the second is how the preview revealed that Mutta and Nitta will team up to go looking for that phone.

    also, I'm pretty sure it would be the Indian chick turn to be leader next time

  8. B

    Too bad nobody had anything on hand to whack the snake, they could have supplemented their evening meal with some fresh protein.

  9. R

    I like the insight into leadership style in the post…I guess you can easily spot and talk about it because of your experience in the corporate world.

    I agree — Kenji is too nice for a leader. He lacks the resolve and inspiration to help his team leap forward. Nitta can probably be a good manager for driving short-term results — he did lay out his reasons clearly for why he needed to wipe his team real hard. However, he didn't connect with his team, so a high productivity in the short run may yield a high turnover that hurts productivity in the long run. Take Taichi or Chihaya for example, you do need to know your team and give them a boost from time to time in order to win.

    Bold is for sure a bad leader. I don't know if he is the right person for training the ASCANs to begin with. From what we learnt in the JAXA exam arc, a good astronaut places team above competition. Bold's reasoning seems to miss the point of what makes a good astronaut — I don't think he is doing his job to help the ASCANs succeed and help NASA nurture the next gen. Yes, a team will perform the best when it is under an immense challenge. However, Bold seems to overlook the purpose of his role and imposes something that only serves his own desire, so I think he fails on his job. Mutta's interpretation on the objectives of the survival training, on the other hand, seems more convincing and logical. I am wondering if we will be able to see how Mutta changes Bold…

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