Uchuu Kyoudai 1 ~ people lose their jobs every day
April 1, 2012
Uchuu Kyoudai (Space Brothers AKA SpaceBros) episode 1 does a great job introducing us to its near future (2025) setting, and to the two brothers whose story we are all eager to see. Though this show is ostensibly Science Fiction, at this point it is really a story of human pathos. Our principal viewpoint character, Mutta, is one of the two brothers who finds himself falling behind, while his younger brother, Hibito, pursues his dreams.
Dante began his Divine Comedy with these words:
Nel mezzo del cammin di nostra vita
mi ritrovai per una selva oscura,
ché la diritta via era smarrita
In the middle of our life’s journey,
I found I had come to a shadowed wood
Where the straight road had been lost.
When his supervisor at work insults Mutta’s brother, Mutta loses it. His spirited (violent) defense of his brother, who is on the way to being the first Japanese astronaut to set foot on the Moon, causes Mutta to lose his job, and nobody in his field (automotive engineering) wants to hire him. Mutta is living with his parents and struggling.
Mutta is a very likable character, and his seiyuu, Hiroaki Hirata, was excellent in a somewhat similar role as Wild Tiger, the aging superhero of Tiger and Bunny. Like Wild Tiger, Mutta is down on his luck. Life seems ready to cast him to the side, a situation he seems to blame on his being born during the Agony of Doha, when Japan lost their first real chance to compete in the World Cup Finals. And yet, like Wild Tiger, Mutta has a sense of idealism. Mutta believes it is his responsibility to be a few steps ahead of his younger brother, even though he finds himself behind.
The Namba brothers promised each other that they would both go into space as astronauts. When we are young it is easy to have big ambitions, but as we get older Life seems to teach us that we are never going to amount to anything much. Somehow Hibito kept his part of the promise, and we see him preparing for an upcoming flight to the Moon, where he will participate in an extended stay mission, as an experiment to develop the technologies and practices needed for a manned trip to Mars.
Clearly Mutto was as excited as Hibito was when he was young, but he has lost faith in himself. We see that he is a talented engineer who designed some award-winning cars. When the boys go to Miraikan (the Japanese National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation), Mutta is at least as excited as Hibito to meet Dr. Mamoru Mohri, a Japanese astronaut, who performed experiments on the ISS.
When their mother lets on that Mutto lost his job, Hibito takes action from afar. There hasn’t been a lot of time to develop it yet, but the relationship between the brothers seems nicely handled. On the one hand, there is clear competitiveness, while on the other, they both care deeply for the other. Mutto lost his job defending his brother’s honor. For his part, Hibito has a secret plan to get his brother back on the “straight road” that he has lost sight of.