Year-End Report: “Space Brothers”

June 9th, 2013 in Anime, General Reviews by


This is another long-form anime. We are at 52 episodes and there is apparently no end on the horizon, but this is not a “Houston, we have a problem” kind of issue. This is a story that takes a long time to tell and needs practically every episode to do it. Much like preparing to go into space, you can’t slap it together and hope for the best.

The Space Brothers in question are Mutta (to the left) and Hibito Nanba (to the right; the dog is Apo). They have always been interested in space and its exploration, but feel that their circumstances at birth set their fates in motion for the life they now lead.

Mutta was born on the day that Japan lost in the World Cup preliminaries (for those keeping score, October 28, 1993). Hibito was born when Hideo Nomo became the first Japanese pitcher to throw a no-hitter in US Major League Baseball (September 17, 2006, for the record).

Despite being the older brother, Mutta has always trailed his younger brother, especially when he got into space first. Mutta became a car designer instead. We now flash ahead to 2025. At his career, while on the job, Mutta’s boss makes an injudicious comment about Hibito, so Mutta head-butts him (a la Zidane) and gets fired. Unable to live as he had, he has to move in with Mom and Dad, who needle him endlessly about his job status.

This brings my first question: if he is that well-known as a car designer, wouldn’t some other company snap him up, or at least admit his boss was the type that needed a head-butt? I mean, if someone talked smack about my brother, I’d do the same thing.

Anyway, while perusing the papers and going on endless job interviews that go nowhere, JAXA (Japan’s version of NASA) is opening up an opportunity for regular slobs like you or me to try and become an astronaut. The worst that they could say is no and 100% of nothing you do will fail, so he flings his hat into the ring.

The show is Mutta’s attempts to get into the space program, all the trials and tribulations he has to go through, all the people he meets and what is going on with his brother, who may become the first Japanese person on the moon. (As it’s 2025, some light attempt at colonization on the moon is in swing).

The series is really a set of arcs: getting past the first hurdle of selection, two weeks of isolation testing, waiting for the results, next round of testing, waiting for the results, etc., etc., etc. Certainly in a long-form series, there will be dud or slack episodes, but, overall, they have kept both interest and appeal pretty high. The only real drawback is that you kind of know what is going to happen, so the tension and confusion is undercut by telegraphed results, as if Mutta is going to get dumped on his buttocks and has to get a job at Startbuck’s or WacDonald’s.

One big problem I have with this show is the errant sweat drop. EVERYONE seems to get it, but Mutta is leading the conference in that category. I see at least five globules an episode, and that’s just from him. Maybe he needs a better anti-perspirant or at least a pocket fan. Wait! Could he be going through manopause? Maybe all he needs is a portable spritzer to keep him cool. Some of the character design gets a tad off-the-hook, designed more to see if we would accept the odd design, but nothing that intrudes to the point of distraction.

It does help to catch two episodes in a row, as it really helps with the flow. And if you are coming to this show now, you can get pretty far before you have to do just the one-latest episode. We still have some way to go, but I’m re-upping for this mission.
On a scale of 1 to 10:

Artwork 7 (It’s functional for what is needed)
Plot 8 (Pretty straight-forward)
Pacing 8 (Good use of tension)
Effectiveness 7 (It sometimes seems strained)
Conclusion 0 (Not as of yet, but this is more a neutral comment)
Fan Service 0 (A similar show would be “Honey and Clover”)

Overall 8 (Although not over, it keeps me coming back)

And remember, it’s first run until you see it. Stop sweating so much!

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