Uchū Kyōdai

Title:Uchū Kyōdai
Space Brothers
宇宙兄弟
Overall:Rent
Keywords: , , , , , ,
Notables: Animation - A1 Pictures
HIRATA Hiroaki
KENN
Original Concept - Kodansha Manga Award Winner
R1 License - Sentai Filmworks (ADV)
When they were young, the brothers Mutta and Hibito promised each other they would become astronauts. Now, in 2025, Hibito has followed his dream to become the first Japanese on the moon, but Mutta has just been fired from his job. His brother reminds him of their childhood promise, and Mutta decides once again to aim for space.
(Summary Courtesy of Anime News Network)

[TV series, 2012-14, 99 episodes, 23 min; based on an ongoing manga with 21+ volumes since 2008; animated by A-1 Pictures]
1:06min Series PV - YouTube Video
OverallArtAnimationCharacter Design MusicSeries StoryEpisode StoryReviewer
Rent 8 7 7 6 7 7 Ggultra2764 [series:2543#1552]
Space Brothers is focused on the challenges faced by Hibito and Mutta with their involvement in JAXA and NASA with Hibito being a NASA astronaut and Mutta trying to work his way into becoming one with the two having promised to be on a space mission together someday. Being a shounen series with such an optimistic promise between the brothers, you would think this would spin an idealistic take on the two working together to get what they want. However, the series doesn't go this route as the title's first half is mostly focused on Mutta struggling through the evaluation and training stages to be an astronaut, with the second half focusing on Mutta working to get in a position where he could finally earn the right to have a mission while Hibito gets focus on overcoming a panic disorder he sustained during a mission that has effectively sidelined him from future NASA missions.

The series has a rather large cast consisting of those part of Hibito and Nanba's personal life, other trainees, instructors, and JAXA and NASA staff. Many of these characters get a good amount of fleshing out for one to know of their backgrounds and what led them to making the decisions that got them their positions with JAXA or NASA, even at possible risk of their lives if they are astronauts. Plus for the most part, the series does believably explore the challenges and preparations that have to be made in training as an astronaut and accounting for all possible scenarios for a mission involving equipment and any hazardous conditions in space. The series takes place in a near-future setting and does believably incorporate future developments that are being considered by NASA such as decommissioning the International Space Station and setting up a research center on the moon.

That isn't to say this baby's all perfect with what it offers, with some elements to its storytelling being a double-edged sword. While the slow pacing of the series allows decent buildup of suspenseful moments involving the cast and allowing one to take in developments explored with the cast, it does lead events to drag at points (particularly during one of the stages in Nanba's evaluation and on Hibito's moon mission) and there are a few episodes straight of recap episodes during the middle of the show's run. While the comedy helps to lighten the mood of the title's more serious moments, I found its delivery to be hit or miss at many points of the show which mostly consisted of odd quirks and mannerisms with Nanba and others. Some other general issues I had with the show included some plot developments seeming a bit too convenient to occur and the series lacking a proper ending as a number of lingering plot developments involving the characters of the series are left hanging.

Visually, the presentation for the series is decent for what it offers sporting vivid scenery shots and a good amount of diversity in the character designs drawn that sport a decent amount of visual detail. CG animation is used in the rendering of rockets, space stations and other manned devices used by astronauts which do stick out quite prominently from the regular animation and animation shortcuts are employed quite often with still shots and resorting to reused scene shots to conserve on animation budget.

Despite what issues I do have to express though, Space Brothers is still a decent watch in its focus on Hibito and Mutta dealing with their issues in aiming to be or making sure they can still be astronauts. With a good amount of depth on its large cast and mostly believable exploration of the technologies and preparations employed for space exploration, this is worth a watch provided you are willing to commit to it for a long haul with its 99 episode length.

Last updated Saturday, March 22 2014. Created Saturday, March 22 2014.
Unevaluated Stretch [series:2543#628]
(24 episodes watched):

Once I got a grip on the premise of Space Brothers, I was reminded of Rocket Girls--a show in which unlikely people literally shoot for the stars. In this case, a fired auto designer, Mutto, decides to completely change his life and attempt a new career as an astronaut. "A big brother should always stay ahead of his little brother" has always been his motto, and he feels humiliated when he finds himself unemployed while his younger brother is gaining fame as most likely to be the first Japanese man to set foot on the moon. Whether this will be at all plausible remains to be seen, but there is enough humor that it doesn't absolutely have to make sense. Character designs are distinctive and the OP sequence had me laughing in a WTF way. This might be interesting; the premise has been clearly explained, and Mutto seems a likeable guy who you can root for. A girlfriend for him would be nice. The question, again, is whether it will be believable or more along the lines of wishful thinking. I noticed that NASA seemed to be among the credits, which would suggest that Space Brothers has done some homework.

Sure enough, a potential girlfriend for Mutto has turned up. The one thing that is bothering me about Space Brothers is that it seems to me that the process of becoming an astronaut is being made to seem too easy. He didn't even submit his application himself, it was done for him; so, he is kind of drifting casually into an extremely serious job. Would an auto designer really have, both mentally and physically, what it takes to be an astronaut? Perhaps not enough attention is being paid to the thoughts which must be going through Mutto's mind--like what happens if he fails. Still, this is an amusing show even if I can't take it completely seriously.

The rivalry between the brothers seems dull and undeveloped to me; more a source of drudgery and depression than drama. Mutto has come to America, but what for? To argue and sulk? Perhaps because the rivalry between them was played for laughs earlier on, it's hard to take it seriously now. Mutto's spirit, and my interest in the series, revive when he faces a threat to his chances of being selected as a new astronaut. I still can't say that this show is highly engaging, but it holds enough of my interest to keep me watching. Maybe something remarkable will happen. My own thinking is that the odds of being accepted must be extremely thin, and the plodding pace of the show make it unclear how far Mutto will get. Will be actually go into orbit before this show is over? Surely that would demand at least 24 episodes. Given the degree of excitement which I'm feeling, I would sort of prefer that it wrap up in twelve.

I thought episode ten, which involved an interesting test to see how astronaut candidates interacted with others as they lost track of sunrises and sunsets, was the stuff that there should have been more of. Since the characters aren't highly engaging and the jokes are so-so, more intriguing astronaut stuff like this is needed. Episode eleven was better yet; for once the episode seemed to go very quickly and I was dismayed when it ended before I got an answer to the question of how Mutto had figured out the answer to an important question. It seems like Space Brothers waited until it was almost halfway through before it began delivering the stuff which I had been expecting almost from the beginning. But it seems to me that the test of prospective astronauts in an isolated chamber dragged on too long--the novelty wore off long ago, and I would much rather have seen something new, since (again) it's the space technology which is most intersting about this show. At one point I had been thinking about dropping Space Brothers, then with the chamber arc it seemed to have finally kicked into gear and I was enjoying it. Now I'm pretty much back to where I started. Maybe this story could have been fitted into a 12 or 13 episode series, and wouldn't have had to stretch what interesting stuff it had as thinly as has been the case.

Oh my God--now an episode twenty-seven becomes available, which means this series will be at least 39 episodes long. I think I have had enough; the entertainment that I get out of Space Brothers only justifies one season, not three.

Last updated Tuesday, October 16 2012. Created Thursday, April 05 2012.

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Official Japanese Series Web Site http://uchukyodai.com/

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