First Impressions – Uchuu Kyoudai

TO INFINTY AND BEYOND~

How could you not want to love a series called Space Bros? It implies that there are two male characters (who may or may not be attractive) and outer space shenanigans. There’s no reason not to at least turn your head in the direction of this show, so..well…here I am with the other Meta writers!
As I mentioned in the season preview, my recent discovery of Planetes is what’s driving my interest in this show. The less exaggerated art style, the hard science fiction, the more adult themes dealing with things like careers and unfulfilled dreams – such shows are not common in anime (with good reason, of course, given the target demographic for the vast majority of anime). This show looks like it has a chance to scratch that itch that Planetes made me realize I had.
Spring has begun! ^^ I’m excited to start my first show of the season, especially since it’s one I’ve been greatly looking forward to. I’m a sucker for space-themed shows, so let’s get this started!
Wow, Spring’s already here, eh? This show came out A LOT faster than I expected! I don’t really know what to expect with Space Brothers. It looks to have a unique and interesting plot line, but as to how that’s going to be executed, we’ll have to see. I never read the manga, but you can’t go wrong with outer space, I guess!

Meet Nanba Mutta, born October 28th, 1993 on the day when Japan failed to make it into the World Cup.  His brother, Nanba Hibito, on the other hand, was born September 17th, 1996 on the day where Japan won an important baseball game. This luck, and lack there-of,  seems to follow the two brothers all through their lives…

I’d be pretty upset if Japan farted when I was born too…

In 2006, on the night of the infamous world cup final between France and Italy (…France totally should have won…Damn it, Zidane…You could’ve owned the PKs…Yes, I’m still bitter…), soccer is the last thing on the minds of young Mutta and Hibito. They’re out exploring in the woods, splitting up to cover more ground. They have entirely different approaches – Mutta is careful and methodical, Hibito reckless and aimless. Hibito stumbles across something amazing, however, and hauls ass to show it to Mutta. It turns out that it’s a UFO and it’s the inspiration for their dreams of becoming astronauts.

Mutta is thoroughly unamused…

Flash forward to 2025. In Houston, Hibito is working for NASA as an astronaut. He’s soon to set forth on a mission to the moon. Not only so, but he’s the first Japanese person to step foot on the moon. At a press conference, he states that somebody was supposed to reach this point before him.

That somebody is Mutta who is, at this time, suffering from a bit of a mid-life crisis. And it’s not pretty. Fired for headbutting his superior à la Zidane, he’s back home on the search for jobs. He’s out of luck unfortunately, seeing as he’s been blacklisted from all other auto companies, despite designing an award winning car.  Not only so, but also he’s having a rough patch, confidence wise. It’s not easy to have one’s younger brother be much more successful, especially since societal standards seem to dictate that the older sibling should lead the younger.

ZIDANE!!!! Pretty sure that if I ever tried this sort of stunt on Kyo, I would get MURDERED.

Hibito finds out from his mom that Mutta got fired and decides to give his older brother a push in the right direction. He asks Mutta to listen to the tape they recorded the night that they saw the UFO. Mutta listens to the tape and hears his younger self proclaim that he would make it to Mars. His motivation is revved up but he doesn’t seem as though he knows what to do. After quitting yet another job, Mutta arrives home only to find a package from JAXA. It turns out that his brother submitted his resume and the organization accepted him as a possible candidate to be an astronaut! And thus begins Mutta’s journey to outer space.

 I’ll be like this when/if I get into medical school.

Looks like he peed himself, honestly. 

Right from the get-go, Space Bros feels like something special. It doesn’t start with a girl running to school with toast in her mouth, or with a boring introduction of an “average” lead character or even with a flashy fight scene. Space Bros starts with two brothers being born and then coming across an UFO racing across the night sky. While these typical opening scenes don’t always mean the anime is going to be bad, it’s always nice to see something refreshing like Space Bros. I’m sick of high school! Let’s go to space! The whole premise of the show is great, and I can see it becoming a highly character-focused show as it chugs along in its 50+ episode run. Just one episode in and I’m already attached to Mutta like I was to Tiger & Bunny’s Kotetsu. He has the same level of endearing charm as him, and is even voiced by the very same Hirata Hiroaki. Oyaji-moe is finally becoming a thing! I would be perfectly content to see more middle-aged characters grace the anime scene as main characters. They have completely different issues as teenagers do. Mutta isn’t concerned about getting a lover, living out his youth, or being jealous of his friends spending time with other people – he’s having a midlife crisis and moving back in with his parents.

Watching Mutta is a joy. He has this stubborn wish to be ahead of his brother on all counts despite that being a bit far from the truth at the moment, and he’s zany enough to take that stubborness to the level where he will headbutt anyone who badmouths his little brother. He’s going through serious problems, but he always adds some goofiness to them to balance out everything. As a result, Space Bros has a mature feel, but it doesn’t take itself so seriously that it won’t crack little jokes now and then. They’re lightning fast and never drag on – allowing the story to never be halted to make room for a gag. Which is good because while Mutta being a lovable character right from episode 1 is a good thing, so is the story. It’s a story about astronauts and UFOs told in a fairly believable manner. It’s not like we’re fast-forwarding to the year 3000 where everyone has hover cars and everyone lives in a spaceship. This is in the not-so-distant year 2025 where things really aren’t that different. I love the tone they chose to approach the series from.

The first episode wasn’t exactly exciting by any means, but it’s as solid as a first episode can get. The ending spot was PERFECT and has me officially hooked to see just what kind of hell Mutta will be put through to be an astronaut. If it’s going to be a long series, I hope it continues to take its time and really let the characters develop. I can’t even imagine where this will go in 20 episodes let alone double that. I wasn’t blown away by the first episode, but this strong start has me incredible enthused for the rest of the series. Where will it take us? Err..don’t answer with ‘space’…I kind of guessed that much on my own. Anyways, I’ll be eagerly watching this every week to see what happens from here on!

What stood out most to me was the cinematography and overall visual direction. There was heavy use of a moving camera – not usual at all in anime – some split screen bits, and lots of careful framing reminiscent more of a live action movie than of an anime TV show. Not being a Doraemon fan, I’m not familiar with the director’s previous works, but clearly this is someone who has a careful attention to detail that’s all too lacking in TV anime. Impressive stuff, and I’m looking forward to seeing how Mysterious Girlfriend X will look.

Story-wise, it was a bit hard to swallow the idea that one could just send a resume to the Japanese aerospace agency and get into the 2nd round. I know that NASA requires all prospective astronauts to have at least a master’s degree, and 2 years of work experience in the field, and that’s before even looking at the physical constraints. I liked the show tying the story of the brothers with the various sports events, especially the Zidane-inspired headbutt that got Mutta fired. So Mutta was born on a day of Japan’s failure, Hibito on a day of Japan’s glory, and they thought they encountered a UFO on a day that is internationally famous but not directly connected with Japan. It’ll be fun if the show can continue to build on these parallels.

The pacing was just right for a 1st episode, I think, with all the necessary setups, but I imagine that if the show really is going to have a 50 episode run, it will slow down in the immediate future. If that proves to be the case, Space Brother‘s success may hinge on its ability to build a cast of likable and fully-realized adult characters while the plot trudges forward. We’ve spent a lot of time learning about Mutta so far, and though I’m not saying we need other characters to be leads, I would love to see every other character get a similar treatment. Or maybe I’m just hoping for that because that was part of what made Planetes so great.

That had to be the fastest a series has ever managed to pull in my full attention and hold it. Even if the idea of two grown men chasing their childhood dreams isn’t your cup of tea, you should definitely give Space Bros a chance. (I’ll be honest, having seen few shows with grown men as main characters I was hesitant at first.) Not only did I find myself completely absorbed in Mutta’s difficult, and often humorous life, but the imaginative (and almost childlike, shonen-ish) way the show tells the story of Mutta’s astronaut dreams left me entertained from start to finish.

I feel as if real brotherly-blood relationships are rare in anime, especially as a central part of the story, I really can’t even remember the last show I watched with one in it (maybe that soccer anime I dropped …). Sister-brother and sister-sister relationships seem to be much more popular, and probably more profitable, but anyway, Space Bros did an excellent job bringing the viewer right into their friendly competitive sibling rivalry, and the way it played out as a method of supporting Mutta was very endearing. Mutta and Hibito are extremely likable and realistic characters, probably even relatable to some older viewers, and for me that’s one of the most important reasons to continue watching a series. With that said, I’m eagerly awaiting next week’s episode. I’m completely clueless on the episode length of this show (different sites are telling me different things), but this could really go places!

Wow. I absolutely LOVED this. I’m not quite sure what I expected, but it definitely wasn’t this! It’s been a long time since I’ve gotten so quickly attached to a show and it’s such a good feeling!  Space Bros is a refreshing show, doling out humor in perfect dosages while simultaneously maintaining a surprisingly mature presence. It’s a stand out among other shows this season, primarily because of its protagonist. Mutta is a middle-aged man in the midst of a mid-life crisis. He’s not a glamorous bishie off to save the world. In fact, he’s quite the opposite; he’s an anti-hero, really. And this is what makes him so much likeable, really. He’s flawed, insecure, hilarious and real. It’s very refreshing to see a character like him, these days. It brings to mind Daikichi of Usagi Drop. Furthermore, he’s actually younger than me. I was born 22 days before he was. It makes me wonder how I’ll be like in 2025…

Perhaps my favorite thing about this first episode of Space Bros was the relationship between Mutta and Hibito. Close sibling relationships have always struck a particularly strong chord with me seeing as I, myself, have always had a strong relationship with my own younger sister. Though it wasn’t explicitly stated anywhere, this episode did not try to hide the fact that Mutta and Hibito care for each other, very much. Hell, Mutta HEADBUTTED his boss for insulting his brother! If that’s not love, I don’t know what is. It’s nice to see that the brohood is reciprocated, of course, on Hibito’s side as he is eager to make his older brother’s dreams come true. Furthermore, it’s quite interesting, to see the differences in their approaches. Even from a young age, Hibito’s always carried his older brother forward. Mutta, on the other hand, suffers from supposed bad luck, even in his expressions of concern for his brother.

This leads me to my next point about luck versus bad luck. Mutta seems convinced that he is unlucky and, in a sense, I can see how that would be. His everyday misfortunes, such as boxes falling and being escorted from him job in a car that he designed, seem rather comedic in the moment but I can definitely see how, as they build up, these everyday mishaps can be disheartening. However, you can’t say that Mutta’s luck is entirely that bad. After all, he is clearly talented, seeing as he designed an award winning car and made it into the JAXA program. He just needs a bit of an attitude adjustment, and I’m hoping to see that development as the show progresses!

Preview: 

What is going on…

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We live, laugh, enjoy and strictly believe on "more the merrier". When together, we usually come up with very chatty, conversation-based episodics and interesting posts.
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14 Responses to “First Impressions – Uchuu Kyoudai”

  1. akagami says:

    If nothing else, that ending pic made me go o.O

    Is this really a 50+ season show? Shocking. I thought it would be more of a niche show in Japan.

  2. Bob from Accounting says:

    ZIDANE!

    This was great. I’d say it’s the strongest Spring show so far (okay, the only other competitors that I’ve seen yet are OZMA and Zetman, but those are quite good so it’s not exactly a complete non-achieve). Mutta is a charming, charismatic-in-his-way, generally likeable and even a little sweet. He’s a fantastic lead and this opener gives me faith that this is going to be a fantastic series.

  3. The_Magus_Killer says:

    No, it’s not going to be a 50 episode show. That was wrong info. The corrected info states it will run for about 12-13 episodes. I’m watching it for the plot and the bulldog/pug. It’s so cute. XD

    Daily Lives of Space Bros for sleeper hit of Spring 2012 season! XD

    • leokiko says:

      Check that news again, it wasn’t about the end of the series, it’s still 4-cour.

  4. Metalsnakezero says:

    A really solid show with a solid premise and interesting characters. Also Tiger going into space!

  5. FirstImpulse says:

    Best spring show so far, excluding Accel World (the concept of that amazed me!).
    I’m intensely looking forward to this- its so different than all the other “teenaged” anime and has a Bakuman-like outlook, both of which are captivating. Can’t wait! :D

  6. Jrow says:

    Couple of quick things. First, one less ‘h’ in the title, and could the post just be titled ‘Space Bros’? Such a better name imo.

    I felt the same as Hawthorne on how fast it pulled me in. Even after the cold opening with just the history of the brothers, I really was into the episode. Well paced, good cinematography and really interesting characters as you all said.

    • Kyokai says:

      @Jrow, that was a typo mistake on the category which I’ve fixed and don’t worry, space bros tag will be used for all episodes. xD

  7. Liza says:

    When I first started watching this show I wasn’t sure I was going to like it. I don’t know, something about the art style and the way it set up bugged me for some reason. However the further into the episode I got the more I started liking the two brothers and I really started feeling sorry for Mutto at the end with all of his failures. This will definitely be a show which I will keep watching.

  8. Amutofan123 says:

    This was fantastic~ The characters are very likeable. I’ll definitely continue to watch this!

  9. Snowley says:

    I really enjoyed it. I love such not-your-typical-anime series. I already like both brothers a lot. Best anime of the season?

  10. Joojoobees says:

    I’m glad you included the space bath shot at the end. What is it with anime and their space baths?

    @Zabo: “Furthermore, he’s actually younger than me. I was born 22 days before he was. It makes me wonder how I’ll be like in 2025…”

    I think this was an interesting thing about this setup; they can have grown ups as characters, but still speak to the majority of the anime audience, because the relationship to their own lives is obvious. I hope this show inspires somebody to work harder so they can go to space. We need more astronauts!

  11. Rakuen says:

    What caught me the most was Mutta’s imagination. It’s not often you see a full grown character in [i]anything[/i] who is a daydreamer. Look at a hamburger, no, it’s a UFO! If they can keep that and his constant internal monologue going for an entire series, I’ll probably watch it no matter how long it is.

  12. [...] Watanabe Ayumu’s 2nd anime series this season, the other one being Space Brothers, whose 1st episode was very good, showing some good directing work especially with its cinematography. Mysterious Girlfriend X is [...]

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