It’s a new cour, and that means a new OP and EDs for Uchuu Kyoudai (I especially like the ED “animation” this time, even if it’s basically still frames). As I speculated, the return of Deneil Young was imminent as soon as the first T-38 showed up on our screens a few weeks ago. He certainly represents a recurring pattern for Space Brothers: the eccentric who ends up having a great influence on Mutta’s life. Japanese literature seems quite fascinated by the eccentric as a character model, perhaps because conformity is such a treasured ideal here. And of course, there’s the fact that eccentrics are more interesting than conformists as subjects for fiction by far, so their prominence in anime is going to be much higher than in real life.
The truth is that Mutta is very much an eccentric himself, and this series is something of a celebration of the square peg – the one who doesn’t get there first, the one the rest of the world doesn’t quite get. It stretches credulity to think that Mutta would be lucky enough to have so many helpful ones cross his path when he needs them to, but maybe there’s an element of noted eccentric Joseph Campbell’s philosophy here – “Follow your bliss, and doors will open where you did not even realize there were doors.” As Mutta has found his calling in life (or rather, returned to it) the likes of Hoshika-san, Pico and Deneil Young have always shown up at the right moment and seen the real man beneath the sometimes awkward and struggling exterior.
Deneil is very much cut in the mold of Pico Norton, albeit with a more ebullient personality. He’s the booby prize, the “punishment” the last-place finisher gets, but in reality he’s the cream of the crop if the ASCAN is willing to put in the work. The question, of course, is whether Vince knows this and it’s his newfound respect for Mutta that leads to these pairings, or whether Mutta simply “earns” them with his initial flailing. Deneil is kind of crude and gross physically (like Pico), and now he’s a menace to NASA society in his souped-up wheelchair (as Mutta finds out to his discomfort). But he and his likewise tricked-out personal T-38 can get Mutta where he wants to go faster – if he can keep up – and that’s a reminder that Vincent Bold himself is another one of those awkward eccentrics who may be just what Mutta needs. Like Mutta himself the true measure of these men isn’t always apparent at first glance.
While the stuff with Deneil is entertaining, it wasn’t my favorite moment of the episode. That came from Nitta, in response to the T-38 instructors mocking Mutta (in his absence, always a high-class move) for his low score in the T-38 exam (which necessitated a retest). His friends know the truth of why that happened of course, but it’s a measure of how much ground Mutta has won with his old teammates that it’s Nitta who steps up and tells the instructors to step off. For a Japanese person to publicly say that to a senpai – never mind in a quasi-military setting – is extraordinarily difficult. That was a true show of loyalty from Nitta there, and as for Mutta himself it seems likely that he aced the retest – he certainly blew through the Scantron form with no problems.
This seems to represent something of a transitional moment for Uchuu Kyoudai, as for the first time members of “our” astronaut class are finally taking to the air. First off (natch) is Kenji – he, Serika and Amanti were among the top scorers, quite impressive in Serika’s case considering the Sharon situation – who flies in the company a top-rated instructor Alexander. Here at last is revealed the source of Deneil’s misnomer for Mutta, as Greek-American Alexander likewise sports an afro of black hair. Deneil dismisses the rankings of the instructors as “how nice they are and how sexy they sound on the radio” and declares himself the only “super top class” in the group. Deneil reveals that Hibito was likewise the low-scorer in his test group (though as Mutta guesses, likely because he didn’t study) though he declines to answer Mutta’s question about what happened to his legs. But he can walk when he needs to and he can still fly, and next week Mutta himself finally takes to the skies at last.
ED6: ”Yozora no Taiyou” by Flower Companyz