Uchuu Kyoudai – 50

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Sooner or later, Space Brothers always seems to return to the themes that are closest to its heart.

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.

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  1. G

    You are right on the sexist Mutta part. Well as much as I love the guy he has a weakness when it comes to young females, and he really shouldn't cause they are fellow trainees after all and this kind of preferential treatment is unacceptable as an astronaut and downright wrong in general. Notice that he is never angry towards Serika or the other girls, like when she used up all the food she was responsible for during team training. If that was a guy who made that mistake he would likely be a bit angry in his awkward Mutta way.

    That's why Bold is the best 🙂

  2. Because he's an equal-opportunity douchebag?

  3. Well, I admit, Bold doesn't seem like a sexist at the very least. And he apparently was sensitive enough to allow Reiji to take his phone on the jamboree, It may be just a bit harsh to brand Mutta as an unpardonable chauvinist though – I don't think he has a long-term pattern of demeaning behavior towards women. I just think he's a bit lovestruck around pretty females, and possibly a little old-fashioned (as many Japanese men are).

  4. G

    Yeah you actually nailed it. He is not demeaning, he would probably be sad and confused if you accused him of that, cause of course he doesn't mean any harm. And yes, despite his unpredictable insight on many things, at his core he is a traditional man, often jealous of other capable men and fidgety around young women.

  5. i

    Wouldn't it be kind of funny if it turned out the Mangaka had no brother but always wished for one like how an Otaku who never had a little sister wishes for an imouto to come wake them up in the morning.

    Actually that's pretty rude putting him on the same level as an Otaku. But it still would be funny like how Mark Webber wished Red Bull was an Australian racing team not an Austrian one. He'd at least have the upperhand on Vettel then.

  6. B

    I didn't read sexism from Mutta giving the gun to Kenji at all. Yes, the other 3 staying behind were females, but I think that was just incidental. Which of them was Mutta supposed to give the gun to instead? Kenji is his BFF, the person on that team that he trusts the most and knows the best, of course he's going to give it to Kenji.

  7. That was not incidental. It's as much context and tone as anything – he did everything but say "Make sure the wimmin'folk is protected". But as I said I see no malice in it – he's just kind of a well-meaning, old-fashioned Japanese man.

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