I was pleased that the recap at the start of the episode was a manageable one minute this week, but then the ED credits started rolling at the 19-minute mark, meaning a full three-minute Hibbit had been grafted onto the end of the episode. This is seriously starting to piss me off, honestly – there are something like 80 manga chapters unadapted so it’s not as if A-1 is running out of material here. This is a good story, and I don’t like being cheated out of so much of it every week.
I’m quite wrapped up in Mutta’s current saga, because as with so much of Uchuu Kyoudai I see echoes of my own life in the more mundane aspects of the story, the ones most authors ignore but which Koyama-san takes an almost perverse pleasure in depicting with grim realism. The telling moment of this episode came when Mutta, frustrated about the politics involved with his dream, said it “reminds me of when I was a salaryman”. This is a hard truth – politics exists everywhere, in every job that required interaction with other people. If Mutta wants to get on a backup crew he needs to convince Butler. Butler needs to weight every decision against the impact it will have on his own position – his influence with his superiors, with the money people, his stature within the organization upwards and downwards. It’s a tangled web, a game of mutual pretense that everyone plays knowingly and pretends not to.
I’ve used Mutta’s trick before – go online and research the hell out of the person (or company) you’re trying to impress. Quite simply, it works – people are impressed when you know things about them, and more likely to be receptive if you talk the way they talk. The problem here is that by basing his strategy around an old interview from a young Jason Butler, Mutta may have unwittingly stepped into a minefield because there’s a part of the story you can’t find via Google. From where Mutta was sitting the idea of learning a vertical climb roll in the T-38 makes perfect sense. For the public Jason Butler, it seems the perfect way to make an impression. But the private Jason Butler has his own memories attached to that manoeuvre, and they’re not so pleasant.
I suspect Butler’s old friend Ronald Cooper was indeed trying the vertical climb roll when he crashed, despite his lie to the contrary – and I suspect Butler knows this. As such, Butler likely blames himself for the crash which effectively ended Butler’s career (and nearly his life). This is likely also the reason Butler is being so protective of Hibito, even at the expense of Mutta’s career – to assuage his guilt over what happened to Cooper. It’s yet another conspiracy life has seemingly concocted to throw obstacles in Mutta’s path, and this indeed is a core theme of Space Brothers – nothing, ever, comes easily for Mutta. It makes the achievement all the more sweet, but the journey for him is always fraught with peril. My gut feeling is that Butler is going to be outraged and excoriate Mutta for doing something reckless and against regulations. Will that be fair? No – just as it isn’t fair that Mutta is being held back from lunar training because of an imagined impact on Hibito, who’s already been to the moon. But if Mutta hasn’t figured out by now that life isn’t fair, he’s nowhere near as smart as I think he is.
We’ll see how all this gets resolved. There’s a spot opening on a sub crew, and I still think Mutta will land it. Azuma has clearly emerged as an ally, and he’s already tried to talk sense into Butler regarding the Hibito issue – he’ll likely do the same with the vertical climb roll incident. And with strong suggestions that Sharon’s condition is quickly worsening, the urgency for Mutta to get started on his lunar training has never been more, well – urgent. And the fact is, he flat aced the lunar buggy test. He came up with an ingenious and even more importantly cheap solution to the problem. He exceeded expectations for someone in his position and in the process, made his boss look good. That’s how you get ahead in business, and space is a business just like any other.