I am not completely sure why, but the anime series Space Brothers is slowly becoming one of my favorite animes of all time. It lacks the usual, stereotypical hype that I have seen in other animes, where the main character is a god among mortals or some sort of super genius. It, in fact, has a main character that is surprising normal. Nanba Mutta, the main protagonist of this series, had once shared a dream with his brother of becoming an astronaut.
As he grew older, he slowly forgot this dream and leaned towards a more pragmatic goal. Simply put, he got a job working for a car-design company and even had a hand in designing well-known cars. His brother, however, continues his dreams of one day becoming an astronaut until he finally succeeds. He even becomes slated to be the first Japanese-born astronaut to set foot on the moon. The once close brothers seemingly lose touch as they grown apart until one fateful day when Mutta, in an attempt to defend his brother, headbutts his boss and gets fired.
Mutta soon returns home to live with his family whilst he job hunts. He has little luck, however, as his boss essentially has him blacklisted from any reputable company that might hire him. Mutta and his brother’s (Hibito) worlds collide when their mother submits Mutta’s applications to the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), which is essentially the NASA of Japan. This sets Mutta on a path of realizing his childhood dream and reigniting of his brotherly rivalry with Hibito.
I am not entirely sure why this anime hits home for me…. it has no real climactic moments to other anime where the protagonist trained, levels up or just goes OP. But its normalcy gives the common viewer the ability to relate. You root for Mutta and other astronaut hopefuls in their wild adventure. Many of the other characters have personal reasons for wanting to become astronauts, some even have a more important goal than the main protagonist, you never want to see any of them fail and yet you know that some of the have to.
You get to see moments of pure elation and even share in, said, moments. When Hibito steps foot on the moon, effectively making Japanese history, you get to share in the spectacular moment and get to see his first steps as if you were actually there.
And that might be why I like the show….it makes you feel part of the personal journey between the two brothers and you get to see the gap between the two, that begins very wide, slowly close. Mutta is, like any normal person, seriously flawed. You get the impression that he is not exactly the astronaut that JAXA or NASA set out to look for, but somehow desperately need. It is not an overly faced-paced anime and is more in the realm of the “Slice-of-Life” genre than anything else, but it is a quality show that makes you feel all warm and fuzzy.
Mutta shifts between being a funny character and being capable of real genius. He also has an astronomical amount of luck on his side. He seems to have the ability to learn quickly, in some cases absorbing information while multitasking. He even has an odd superpower that allows him to generate and “air abacus” which allows him to calculate things somewhat quickly.
However, he struggles in situations that require strong presentations, he tries to, sometimes, say the “right” answer rather than the real answer that he thinks. This is something that improves overtime, however, as he learns to answer more candidly as the show goes on.
He also gains many friends along the way. Some stay in the series while other become eliminated from the astronaut-pool. Jaxa even goes as far as to split the candidates into teams and have them live in a confined space together for a prolonged period of time, adding in issues as tests. I am unclear if it is just blind-luck or due to Mutta’s personality, but his team clearly becomes the strongest team in terms of pure teamwork. They are tasked with having to vote for the two, within the given team, are the best suited to become astronauts and it is assumed that those chosen would get to move onto the third exam. The other teams come up with thing like a point system or a voting system, while Mutta’s team realizes that they would much rather leave as friends and decide to decide the fairest way possible: Via rock paper scissors.
It is a beautiful scene, too. As other teams are acting selfishly for their own personal interests, a group of would-be astronauts decide to leave their future in the hands of fate simply to maintain the bonds that they shared in just a short couple of weeks. Many assume that Mutta is an idiot riding his famous astronaut-brother’s coattails at first, but grow to respect him overtime.
The series is currently still airing and there is a lot that I left out as to not spoil the show for anyone but I recommend this anime to those who want a solid feel-good show with a great storyline. I plan on continuing my viewing and hope that Mutta will eventually go to the moon or even Mars. I cannot wait to see what this series has in store!