Absent any announcement to the contrary I’m still assuming Uchuu Kyoudai is ending (for now) after its 100th episode later this month – it’s certainly the most Occam’s Razor friendly scenario. It is odd that we’ve heard nothing officially, but assuming it’s true this episode can be taken as a bookmark for Kenji (and Nitta’s) story, with next week seemingly Hibito’s turn. That’s fine, but I confess if we really only have five episodes left I hate to see an entire one utilitzed the way this one was.
I feel kind of like a grinch for saying so (especially about a Christmas episode), but as I’ve said before I find Kenji to be pretty boring, end eps that heavily feature he and not Mutta tend to be snoozers as a result. You can factor in Sawashiro Miyuki’s really shameless and grating performance as Fuuka and the results are pretty mediocre from my perspective. Kenji is a decent enough guy – just not very interesting. You can only watch unbelievably lucky guys smile at the world while silently wishing they were even luckier so many times before it becomes a drudge.
I’m actually more interested in Nitta (admittedly it’s a low bar) because at least he has some darkness and edge to him. But any development with Nitta has been mostly a tease for this series so far, and while he’s joined at the hip to Kenji professionally right now he’s strictly window-dressing. There are two sides to this subplot, Kenji stressing over what his assignment is going to be and his wife’s impending delivery of their second child. The former is certainly the more interesting, and it’s at the Christmas party that Butler delivers the news (just as something else is about to be delivered) – Kenji and Nitta are joining “a veteran and an expert” for a mission that will make them the first humans to land on an asteroid. Not a bad coup for a couple of rookies, really – and while it will always be overshadowed by Mutta’s lunar career path, the asteroid mission is one that looks interesting as a future plot point.
As for Mutta, the main drama here is the aforementioned Christmas party – which happens to feature line dancing. Serika has already signed up and of course, upon hearing this news Mutta immediately adds his name to the mix. There’s certainly a good excuse for this relationship not developing much – Mutta has an awful lot else on his plate – but it’s nice to see the two of them actually holding hands and dancing (sort of). I’m resigned to this going nowhere at least for a while, but I suppose it’s just possible Mutta could confess before the series goes on hiatus to set that up as a cliffhanger.
It seems next week’s major focus is going to be the other shoe dropping for Hibito. There was obviously a difference of opinion over his test results and frankly, there should have been. Butler is thinking with his heart on this one, and the burden of proof should still be on Hibito to provide more solid proof that he really is fit to go into space again. It’s pretty clear that’s where his story is going to be left off, which is an interestingly open-ended scenario for him. We’re also going to see Mutta’s parents for the first time in a while.
One final note – kudos to Seijisensei for noticing that Kenji was driving on the left side of the road this week. Nice job, A-1! I always wondered if Japanese (and English) drivers slipped up that like that sometimes – it’s clear now that animators do. At least he was in a left-hand drive car…