Uchuu Kyoudai 2 ~ I’ve gotta think positive right now
April 10, 2012
The second episode of Uchuu Kyoudai (Space Brothers) was, in some respects, even better than the first. Or perhaps it is because the first episode did such a good job of establishing our main character that the second episode was able to make such great use of him. Episode two had three main components: 1) the contrast between Mutta’s childhood optimism and his current low self-esteem, 2) the story of how Mutta handled the opportunity to interview for JAXA, and 3) the character insights that were offered at the end.
As a child Mutta was not only excited about space, he was also ambitious and confident. As an adult he has lost that confidence and barely remembers his love of space. Through a series of contrasts between his current self and his childhood self raised by conversation with “Aunt Sharon”, an astronomer who knew the Namba brothers as children, Mutta gradually regains his love of space, and a little bit of his lost confidence.
Though Mutta initially decides to forgo the JAXA exam, his talk with “Aunt Sharon” motivates him to sit for it. Fortunately he passes, but this leads to an even more grueling process. Out of an initial 1,225 applicants, only 45 candidates remain. The first stage is a panel interview, but it looks like this phase will continue with a physical examination, and possibly last as long as a week.
The part that really was compelling to me, however, was the panel interview. Mutta isn’t in the greatest states of mind going in, and the presentation of this scene was very effective. The panel was sitting in front of a row of windows, so their faces were shown as under-exposed, as if from Mutta’s perspective his eyes were adjusting to the bright light behind them, making the panel impersonal and thus more ominous. It also was very intense, with most of the scene being silent except for a heartbeat-like pounding (again, it was almost like we were Mutta, hearing our own heart pounding in our ears). The way panelists mouths were shown silently mouthing un-hearable words was terrifying. I also noticed Mutta fumbling under his chair throughout, so when he came out afterwards and thought he had blown it by obsessively fumbling with a loose screw, I thought he probably had failed the interview. As Mutta said, “They’ll probably reject me right off the bat, due to my posture.”
The final section of the episode gave some character insights, not only into Mutta, but also two other applicants who will probably join Mutta as trainees in JAXA’s space program. On the one hand, Mutta makes his own observations in the dining hall, and on the other one of the interviewers offers his own analysis.It turns out that Mr. Hoshika intentionally loosened the screw on the chair, and that only three candidates noticed.
Parenthetically, Itou Serika (whose name didn’t appear in the episode, but I dug up on ANN), is being voiced by Miyuki Sawashiro, who is absolutely awesome. In just this season she will also be the seiyuu for Fujiko Mine (Lupin) and Acchan (AKB0048). Some of her past great roles included, Maria (Arakawa Under The Bridge), Celty (Durarara), Shibasaki (Library War), and, of course, Shinku (Rozen Maiden) to name JUST a few. If that’s not enough, she also voices Mutta as a kid! Yeah, she’s awesome.
I like the way Cratex phrases this:
Only one, Mutta, actually attempted to do something about it.
I actually had a situation like Mutta’s once, when I went for a job interview. I got dressed early in my suit and tie, and waited around the house, then when it was time to go I put my sneakers on and drove to the site of the interview. I didn’t notice that I was wearing sneakers until I stepped out of the car, and by then it was too late to go home to put dress shoes on. I spent the whole interview process self-conscious, and trying as best I could to hide my feet. I was certain I had blown it, but ended up getting the job anyway. About a year and a half later I was talking with the woman who had hired me, and said I guess she never noticed that I was wearing sneakers that day. She said she had noticed, and thought it was cool, and that it convinced her I would fit in with the other people that worked there.