The tone and personal resonance of Space Brothers was unexpected, and like ghostlightning, I wasn’t ready. Episode 01 displayed a captivating style of writing which I found similar to the energy of Moyashimon or Level E. Stylistically pleasing, with light humor, the episode drives the premise home by juxtaposing simple human facilities anyone might find identifiable: family, career, and dreams. There is no cunning or large mystery, merely an earnest situation concerning two youthful brothers and a common childhood dream. What’s more adventurous is the nature of the story, the momentum behind Mutta and Hibito Nanba, a dream of space exploration.
I’ll be honest here, the OP sequence was enough to convince me this show is personally relevant. NASA, shuttles, rockets, and launch pads bought me back to childhood. This was my childhood, the first 10-11 years at least. I was born in Cape Canaveral Hospital and my grandfather spent ~50 years as a communications engineer, from the early days of Apollo to finishing at OPF-3. The space coast had a profound impact on my life. Like many children, I also dreamed of being an astronaut, and on a fundamental level, I understand what drove Mutta and Hibito as children towards the void.
Hibito is tough to discuss at this point as we simply do not know enough about him aside from his excellent brother qualities. But I could align with the phone call between him and the mother, seeing how conversations with my mother often include topics my brother (or sister) would prefer I ignore. Still I wonder what challenges and development will be in store for Hibito, or if the story will focus primarily on Mutta.
Mutta is an awesome character. I like his minor eccentricities and the fact he maintains a relatively normal presence, giving off an “I’m just anybody” vibe. Also, I find it easy to identify with him as someone who lost sight of his dream along the path to becoming an adult. Most of us can identify with him. But Mutta’s personality is not on the side of dreams, for his pessimistic tendencies and disorganization encourage chaos. Just what the hell is he doing with so much stuff anyway? Compare the aesthetic of Mu-chan among boxes to Hi-chan on the sofa. We are comparing clean lines to noise. One might suggest a clear Red Oni, Blue Oni distinction between these two, but I won’t push for it. I enjoy the polarity but would prefer seeing the brothers relate rather than differ.
Although I think the characterization is fantastic, the tone of Mutta’s existence, his current struggle, stands out and is essentially why I believe this episode is brilliant. He is an adult, has known success as an engineer in the auto industry, but seeing Mutta hit a low, especially because he Zidane’d his supervisor, speaks to youth rather than wisdom. As Mutta strolls home in the sunset, I felt the sky calling to this burning youth, or possibly the latent passion he left behind on a
Denon DEON cassette. This feeling is immediately highlighted as two children appear beside him, scrambling after one another. He thinks of his role as a brother, and I feel that is where Mutta finds his youth.
These brothers have youth in each other. I love this concept.