What do you know, we have another “good news, bad news” situation this week – but Uchuu Kyoudai has completely flipped them around this time.
Sometimes it makes sense to start a post by referencing the last one – specifically, the very end of it:
This is an interesting dilemma Uchuu Kyoudai has created for itself here – they’ve engineered a drama with tremendous sentimental impact, but it’s one where sentiment really should play absolutely no role. I’ll be interested to see how it resolves that contradiction next week – though I won’t be watching the last couple of minutes of the episode.
Let’s go with the good news first again, because it’s simple as can be – I did watch the last couple of minutes of the episode, because Racist Cartoon Theater’s return was apparently a one-week aberration (abhoration?). We did get an unnecessarily long flashback of recycled footage from Hibito and Damian’s misadventures on the moon (it’s not as if viewers will have forgotten it any more than Hibito did) but I’ll take that over Buddy the Gorilla any day of the week.
That’s well and good, for certain. It’s probably going to make me sound like the bad guy, but in terms of the episode content itself I didn’t buy what Space Brothers was selling this week. It’s not so simple as good guys and bad guys, but in effect I don’t buy the simplistic argument that Butler did the right thing and Gates was just being a douche – which is the argument it seems, based on this week’s evidence, that the series is making. If I were in charge of making sure tragedies don’t happen on space missions, I’d rather have guys like Gates in charge of these sorts of sessions than Butler.
For me it goes back to exactly what I said last week – this is a drama with sentimental impact where sentiment should play no role. Yet, the resolution ended up being completely driven by sentiment. It was a reunion of most of Hibito’s lunar crew (maybe with Buddy actually in the episode, Buddy the Gorilla just seemed too tasteless), with Damian joining him in his simulated EVA. It was Butler reminiscing about his old friend who couldn’t beat his disorder, and how much he wanted Hibito to beat his. It all amounted to a nice, warm security blanket around Hibito – and that’s exactly what this test should not have provided. Sorry, I call bullshit on this one.
Butler himself asked a very telling question – in effect, “Is the purpose of this exercise to test Hibito – or to help him?” If we take Uchuuu Kyoudai at face value, its answer seems to be the latter – and I think that’s completely the wrong answer. The time to help Hibito was in getting him prepared to be tested – with many good people did, bless them. This was all about putting him under extreme pressure and seeing if he could stand up to it. If he’s not able to do that – and to overcome his panic under his own power, with no training wheels – of what value is the test? Let’s say this test was 98% effective in proving Hibito was sufficiently recovered so that he could safely go back into space (which I think is generous). For me, that 2% far outweighs the 98%.
The burden of proof is on the defendant here, sadly but unavoidably. The truth is there truly is no way to completely guarantee that someone in Hibito’s shoes is safe to return to space, which is why NASA should be so skeptical of his return. Any test of his readiness should be focused on trimming down that uncertainty percentage as much as possible, which means throwing as much pressure at him as possible given the reality that deep down, he knows this is a safe environment. It should not be on helping him pass by whatever means necessary. I don’t blame Hibito’s friends for wanting to help him, or Butler for wanting to see him succeed. But it won’t only be Hibito whose life is put at risk if he turns out not to be ready to have returned to space after all, and only finds out during a mission.
This was a good episode in dramatic terms, no question. Mutta was great, as he always is – I loved the cafeteria scene with Karen and Serika, and I loved the contrast between his masculine “brothers should keep their distance in times like this” take, and theirs that he should be at Hibito’s side. The BGM never fails to soar and touch the soul, and the way Hibito’s test played out was certainly artfully done and touching. I just have strong issue with the message being sent, and I think it’s a departure from realism that doesn’t do a show that needs to maintain a certain level of realism any favors. There may be more to this story – Gates walked in the middle of the test, having in his eyes seen enough, so he might raise a voice against Butler’s interpretation of the results. But he’s probably be cast as a villain for doing so, and if he is that will be a serious misstep as far as I’m concerned.