Sunday, February 3, 2013

Uchuu Kyoudai - 43

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So – anything much happen on Space Brothers this week?


[HorribleSubs]_Space_Brothers_-_43_[720p].mkv_snapshot_03.24_[2013.02.03_18.56.48]I can’t help but feel something like the Grinch on a bad day for what I’m about to do, but if I’m going to be honest I wasn’t completely thrilled with this episode as a wrap to the current arc.  I’m guessing that’s probably a minority opinion, and maybe I’m just too much of a cynic, but while it was undeniably a nail-biter it was all just a bit too much for my tastes.  The strength of Uchuu Kyoudai has always been the subtlety it brings and the way it maximizes the emotional high points by soft-selling them.  This was something quite different, and it’s not a change I wholly like.

[HorribleSubs]_Space_Brothers_-_43_[720p].mkv_snapshot_04.18_[2013.02.03_18.57.42]If I were to sum up this last arc generally and especially this week’s episode, it was like a very good storyline in a different series.  It just didn’t feel like Space Brothers to me, though generally that was all to the good, as it’s been a very exciting and nerve-wracking ride.  But given how predictably everything ended up, the way the series went about it feels pretty shameless.  I’ll give the show credit for instilling the tiniest bit of doubt in me there at the end about whether Hibito was going to make it, but it’s been telegraphed pretty hard for a while now that Brian-3 was going to arrive and save him – and there was never any real possibility he was going to die anyway, truth be told.  The countdown to the last second, Brian’s specter appearing everywhere, Hibito standing up and walking despite having been out of oxygen for what seemed like at least a minute – it was pretty heavy-handed by Uchuu Kyoudai standards.  For me, there was enough drama built-in to the moment that it didn’t need to be milked to that extent.  The ultimate reveal of Mutta’s fate in the JAXA selection (while the preamble was certainly two eps too long)  was a study in how this series usually deals with the big moments, and I definitely prefer it.

[HorribleSubs]_Space_Brothers_-_43_[720p].mkv_snapshot_05.58_[2013.02.03_18.59.22]But I’ve probably kicked enough puppies for one post, so let me acknowledge that as the last few eps have been, this one was certainly gripping.  If I’m going to be emotionally manipulated I’d at least like to to have been done well, and this was done very well.  The most poetic moment of the ep for me was when Hibito picked up “Little Brian” and saw the photo of the Jay brothers on the back.  My initial reaction was, “Wait – why is there a picture of Mutta and Hibito on that thing?” and then it clicked.  The connection between brothers is probably the most powerful theme in the series, and this image reached across time and connected the Jay and Nanba siblings beautifully. Nothing Hibito could have seen in that moment would have been more heartbreaking for him, I expect, as it brought home just how much was about to be lost.  I also liked the fact that the Brian model ended up having no direct link to the Brian-3 at all, but was a red herring in the practical sense, and it was nice to see a different side of Brian himself in Hibito’s flashbacks – a wisecracking, cocky bastard as well as a genius astronaut and father figure.

[HorribleSubs]_Space_Brothers_-_43_[720p].mkv_snapshot_07.01_[2013.02.03_19.00.25]The funny thing is, Brian was just like Hibito in that he was a younger brother that surpassed the older.  He and Hibito shared the same dream – to see their elder brother join them in space, preferably on the moon.  It’s interesting to speculate on Eddie Jay, and why his younger brother had so much more glory in his career before it was cut tragically short – perhaps he was simply better at his job, or perhaps as is the case with Hibito he possesses an easy confidence that allows him to motor past the speed bumps and potholes that the elder brother always seems to struggle with in life.  It also makes me wonder if Mutta might have the opportunity to talk with Eddie in the future – I suspect they’d have a lot they could connect over.

[HorribleSubs]_Space_Brothers_-_43_[720p].mkv_snapshot_08.11_[2013.02.03_19.04.16]Telegraphed ending or no, Space Brothers was certainly willing to dance right up to the edge of the cliff to try and make us doubt – and pulled no punches in its depiction of what looked like Hibito’s last moments.  It wasn’t easy to watch him struggle like that, right down to the capillaries bursting in his eye sockets as his oxygen ran out. It can’t be an easy way to die, running out of oxygen and being poisoned by your own carbon dioxide – one wonders if, in Hibito’s place, they’d be tempted to throw open their suit and let the moon’s vacuum finish things in a few agonizing seconds.  It was agonizing on Earth, too – agonizing for Hoshika, who I’ve never seen unnerved as he was, and who had to decide whether to tell Mutta his brother was about to die.  And for the Flight Director, who didn’t want to hear Hibito’s life counted down and had to live with the knowledge that JAXA had told him where to send the Beetle, and he’d (correctly, under the circumstances) declined to agree.  About the least agonized person seemingly was Mutta, though that was an act at least in part, and he didn’t know the immediacy of the crisis.  There was a touching faith in his refusal to believe anything could possibly happen to his little brother, the one who was always racing ahead of him in life.

[HorribleSubs]_Space_Brothers_-_43_[720p].mkv_snapshot_08.13_[2013.02.03_19.04.19]In case you missed my post earlier in the week, Uchuu Kyoudai has been renewed for a second season of unspecified length, starting in April, and been promoted to a highly coveted Saturday evening timeslot where it will share a block with Detective Conan.  That’s obviously fantastic news in its own right, and I confess knowing that made the torture of this week a little more bearable.  What was happening on the moon was obviously urgent, but knowing that there’s now plenty of time to see Mutta takes his first steps as an astronaut meant not having the count the seconds as they ticked away not just Hibito’s life, but the chance to see those first steps on screen.  The anime has covered a little less than half the manga, so it seems a pretty good bet that Space Brothers will be with us in anime form for quite a while longer – and hopefully, prove that anime can succeed commercially in a different way than anime is usually measured, and in a timeslot where anime of this seriousness rarely venture.

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11 comments:

  1. Well that was the great death. I stopped watching after 19 min as it was very powerful, but oh man, oh man. I am just so very glad that they killed Hibito, a major character, off with cold hands for good instead of milking the drama and making all of us feel cheated. What a death... right?

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    1. I love this series but kinda feel this whole arc has been stretched and milked way longer then it should have.

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  2. Never mind the slight lack of subtlety, I think this episode was pretty damn good. For a while I actually thought that they will kill Hibito off and the magic oxygen machine will arrive ever-so-slightly too late. The drama and atmosphere managed to override my belief that they would never kill one of the titular brothers, and that is a big plus in my book.

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  3. I was equally impressed with the nuanced attention going into the oxigen running out business, with how much it depends on physical exertion, how hard one is breathing and whatnot. PROTIP: the SI unit for amount of oxigen is not minutes.

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    1. I think you'll find this is a drama series and not a documentary.
      Showing minutes remaining of oxygen is far more meaningful to the general viewing public than the correct SI unit.

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  4. Well... if I think about what was suggested, it's actually somewhat plausible since while you still would suffocate to death the same, but at least you wouldn't get the headache with CO coming out of mouth filling up the hamlet while you suffocate. Having said that, I think the effect will be rather minimum; it'd be similar to dying with a plastic bag on your head, one could imagine. Besides the death will come soon enough either way, some headache or not.

    Taking off the suit will quicken the death, but once that oxgen was depleted, taking off or not wouldn't make much of a difference. Much more effort to go through all that trouble while you're suffocating; it's not exactly taking off a cashmere wool hat, you know :P. It's only in fictional domain, Hibito survives this long without oxygen in the suit and it appears that he's suffering needlessly too long. Also if someone is being suffocated to death due to complete absence of oxygen, I don't think she would be screaming because her head hurts, LOL! She would barely last 15 sec before losing consciousness for good. I don't want to go all geeky, so don't ask me why only 15 sec when many folks can last underwater for more than 1 minute without breathing.

    Oh by the way, it has nothing to do with this, but you do not balloon up and explode; nor instantly freeze; nor your blood boil; and you do not instantly lose consciousness if you take off your suit and expose to the vacuum. These are fun but just fictions. Your saliva on your tongue and in your mouth might boil, though. Fun time.

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  5. I am honestly glad Hibito didn't die and this was one of my favorite arcs of the series but I do feel the last few moments of Hibito's crises could have been done better.

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  6. That poetic moment was very powerful for me, I cried instantly upon seeing the picture of the two Jay brothers and the link between our titular space brothers.

    While I think they shouldn't have milked the arc to this extent at times, this episode was good in my opinion, it helped shed more light on Brian Jay.
    "This is the veteran Brian Jay who came to see you"... and Brian-3 arrived.

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  7. I was on the edge of my seat for the entire episode, and at one point I thought they really had killed off Hibito, and that the oxygen generating robot Brian had been so flagged up it might turn out to be a red herring. So when it arrived preceded by the ghost of Brian Jay, I cheered!

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  8. This episode gave me a heart attack. The countdown to death was really felt. I wasn't sure if I was ready to part with Hibito yet. I'm glad they didn't kill him off entirely but I was imagining what kind of narrative would that bring to Mutta.

    It would be interesting to see how Mutta would begin to feel scared at the possibility of dying as well. He's just at the starting point of his dream. Is all the challenges he'll be facing worth the possible death that his brother experienced? Will people still remember Hibito if ever? Then Eddie Jay connection, you mentioned would have been a great bridge to close off all his fears and doubts. I could come up with more ideas but the one I just said was I was thinking throughout the whole ordeal.

    Even though we were cheated in the end, it was still very powerful episode. As everyone mentioned, seeing Brian's picture was a great highlight.

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  9. Okay, Space Bros, you ALMOST got me, you ALMOST made me believe he wasn't going to make it. Well played. Now can we wrap this up so we can get back to the more subtle Space Bros that I originally fell in love with? Please?

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