Maybe it’s not a bad thing that I have so few carryovers this season, given how large the Fall schedule is. Space Brothers has been a staple of my weekends for a very long time – almost as long as Hunter X Hunter (Sunday feels very strange without it) and figures to be around for a good while yet. The show is going in a bit of a new direction now, though, specifically as it relates to Hibito. It’s safe to say we’re seeing him in quite a different light than we have before.
The headline this week is that A-1 has foiled my plan to avoid racist cartoon theatre by actually inserting it into an episode and making it part of the plot, which is a real pity because it’s every bit as offensive as ever but now I have to at least watch it. Hopefully this is a one-time thing, but the connection is going to be with us a while. That’s Olga, the daughter of Ivan Tolstoy (I fully expect an English astronaut by the name of Nigel Shakespeare to show up) the veteran who’s been put in charge (by old pal Azuma) of Hibito’s rehabilitation from his worsening panic disorder.
The funny thing is, Olga is the “hot Russian doctor” I thought I saw in the preview last week, and she’s supposed to be 15 years old. I get that folks of European descent often appear older than they are to Japanese folks, but Olga sure as borscht doesn’t look anywhere near 15. She’s a fan of “Mister Hibbit” (so would Vladimir Putin be, I suspect) and immediately struck by how different the real guy is than the animated character. In short, this Hibito (Ivan has nicknamed him “Hibichov”, fitting given how proud Russians seem to be of their dour nature) is a mope – a listless and depressed guy who “doesn’t have the face of an astronaut”.
There’s a larger symbolism at work here, for certain – the Hibito we’ve seen up to now is something of a cartoon character, the Moon Bunny who hops through life untroubled by hesitation or worry. This Hibito is a lot more vulnerable, a lot more real and a lot more interesting – but I wonder where the series is going with the Olga angle. They can’t possibly be playing up a romance angle with a 15 year-old (though I would have said they can’t possibly portray an African-American as a gorilla) apart from a schoolgirl crush, no matter that she looks 35. Hell, they wouldn’t even show her drinking alcohol (though it wouldn’t be such an odd thing in many cultures, including this one). Maybe she’s there to play up the contrast between the face Hibito has been showing the world, and the real guy inside. The fact that she’s a dancer may play in too – perhaps she’ll show him some plies as part of his therapy.
ED7: “New World” by Kasarinchu