There’s still no announcement about the fate of this series, which seems odd given that barely a month from now it’s going to give up its timeslot and seems very likely to go on a long hiatus at the very least. That silence at least makes me wonder if the show might continue in a different timeslot, but with the movie in production and the TV continuing to be a ratings winner, that just makes very little sense – if the anime were to continue for another season, I really don’t think it’d be moved. Stay tuned.
The series is definitely behaving as if it’s going to start tying up loose ends and establishing a good landing spot, especially given the preview indicating that next week is going to divert from the main storyline to tie up Kenji’s arc (there’s also an interesting bit of foreshadowing when Mutta says “That’s a good question” when asked about when Hibito will start training again – he takes it as a given that all is back on-track, but I’m not so sure). The humanization of Mutta’s oddball crew began right on schedule, starting with Betty (it turns out to be Lovell, not Ravel – sorry, Bolero fans). But the back-story there turned out to be altogether more connected than I expected.
What to make of Betty being the widow of Tack (??) Lovell, one of the astronauts who died with Brian Jay when those parachutes tangled? My initial reaction is that it’s a bit too convenient from the dramatic point of view – artistic license I suppose. But it’s interesting in its implications. In addition to the onee-san crew, we also have two close relations to the same tragic accident in the same crew – something I really wonder if NASA would ever consider doing, with the media focus it would surely engender not being the sort they would usually covet.
As for Betty’s backstory itself, it was perfectly fine and very standard. She and Tack had a son named Chris, he grew up (well, till the age of eight so far) to love space just as his parents wanted. And it was Chris who encouraged Betty to return to being an astronaut after she’d retired when her husband died, while everyone else in her family and friends circle was (understandably, to be fair) dead-set against it. This is pretty low-hanging fruit from the perspective of creating sympathy for an unsympathetic character, but more or less in-line with the sort of show Uchuu Kyoudai is so it doesn’t feel out-of-place.
For the team itself, the big story is the mysterious object that’s been airlifted onto the desert training site. Turns out it’s STITCH – a new landing module designed by none other than Pico Norton, its intent being to solve the problem of the “graveyard” of landing modules being left behind when they’re decapitated as the re-entry module launches. This part of the story is well-thought out and quite realistic – in a time of frequent lunar missions, all those dead modules would mean the new missions would have to land farther and farther away from the lunar base, leaving the crew with a long EVAC when they’re exhausted upon finally arriving. Pico’s solution is elegant and very cool – whether it’a technically feasible or not I’m not qualified to say, but it’s exactly the sort of thing I’d expect Mutta to eat up.
There’s a reunion of sorts in the desert as both crews get together for the unveiling of STITCH, and it’s Pico who gives Eddie’s team the moniker that’s sure to stick to them like glue – The Jokers. I rather like it – it fits this group of “unsuited” odd socks perfectly, and knowing Pico it’s meant affectionately since he clearly thinks of himself as a joker too. The last wrinkle is the reveal that Mutta is going to be the CAPCOM for the main crew’s re-entry – taking Rick’s role in the shared dream of Rick, Pico and Vince. This is certainly realistic – that’s a role backup crew members often do fill. We won’t get to see it in the anime, sadly – at least not for a good while – but it should be a signature moment for Space Brothers.