We’ve been waiting a long time for the impassive wall of nonchalance that is Reiji Nitta to cast off the armor and finally join the human race – or at least the small part of it that is the cast of Uchuu Kyoudai. No one has been asking for it more than I have, but I have to say I’m pretty satisfied with the results so far. There was a reason why this development has been so long and coming, and that’s all I really hoped for – something that was worth the wait, and which made sense with the overall story.
In practical terms, things fell into place just about as expected this week. As some of you suggested it was when Mutta tackled Nitta that the phone was lost, and it does indeed turn out that Nitta’s brother Takuya (Tokumoto Eiichirou) is a hikikomori. This problem exists everywhere in the world, but somehow it seems to have risen to the stature of a serious and widespread cultural crisis in Japan. Why here? That’s a matter for speculation, and in another venue besides – but in the specific case of Nitta’s brother it seems there may be other issues involved as well (though that’s a matter of speculation too, for now).
Needless to say, this explains an awful lot about Nitta’s behavior towards Mutta. Most obviously and poignantly, his determined insistence on derisively calling Mutta “Onii-san”. Everything with Uchuu Kyoudai always seems to come down to brothers – Mutta and Hibito, Eddie and Brian, and now Reiji and Kazuya. And it’s clear that the real issue here is Nitta’s feeling that he’s at least partially to blame for his brother’s condition. How much veracity there is to this is anyone’s guess, because all we really know is that there have been several instances in the past where Reiji responded to his otouto’s decline with outbursts of anger – the worst possible thing to do, of course – and that he feels he’s missed many chances to try and reach his brother through kindness.
In terms of the training exercise and how Nitta’s crisis factors is, I can’t really say how realistic any of this is because I simply don’t know. I was glad to see an explanation for why Nitta was allowed to carry a phone in the first place, though again – would he have been, really? What I can say for sure is that Mutta reacted to the crisis in about the only way he could – there was no way he was going to allow Nitta to go back and hunt for the phone himself and it made no sense for everyone to go. And of course here again we see Mutta’s eerily keen attention to detail come into play, as he not only recalls where the phone likely was lost, but reasons that it will be easier to find at night if it’s flashing (as it was, after Kazuya’s missed call). I did, however, find Mutta’s decision to hand the gun to Kenji and tell him to “take care of things here” more than a tiny bit sexist.
What happens now? Well, if Kazuya has indeed been a full-on hikikomori for two years it’s not as though one call to his brother is really going to change anything. But there does seem to be a connection there – it was apparently Kazuya’s passion for space that got Reiji interested in the first place – and ultimately this development has to be more about Reiji than his brother, in any event. There’s a clear path to understanding between he and Mutta now, at the very least. And on another note, it appears as if old pal Azuma is going to the moon after all – apparently as part of a Russian lunar mission. That’s a bit of a surprising development in its own right, and despite its in-passing introduction here, I suspect we’re going to hear much more about it in the coming weeks.