I always wished that Pigs in Space from the Muppet Show was its own thing, with all the bad bacon puns and Star Trek parodies. But when the Spring Preview rolled around, I figured I’d have to settle for bros in space instead. And I wondered, what would that be like? Would the international space station’s sound system be blasting Dave Matthews and John Mayer constantly? Are keg stands easier in zero gravity? We may never know, because that too is a bit inaccurate: it’s Space Brothers. And before I further tangent on the racist potential of some sort of low-rent flick starring some lesser-known Wayans siblings, I’ll just point out what you already know: that it’s about actual brothers, and their semi-realistic quest for space.
I was wary of starting this thing at first, as the rumor of it being 40+ episodes was daunting. But now, oh well, apparently it’s down to a single cour. Which makes sense, since nothing starts out more than 26 episodes in these days of cautious anime production, let alone something that doesn’t seem to aim even close to the moe strike zone of modern anime.
Of course, the people who were excited about Space Brothers were excited for that very reason: it’s something a little different, something we haven’t seen in a while, and on that front, Space Brothers delivered. It’s a real-world story that, let’s face it, could easily be delivered in live action so far (although the effects budget would probably eventually be prohibitive).
If you’re twentysomething, or slightly older like myself, and you can’t identify with the protagonist, then I admire your ability to feel comfortable in your life. It’s not his dedication to familial honor that make him a great character, although the head butt is admirable. It’s his lack of direction, and the compromise of his dream, that make Mutta identifiable. Who doesn’t dream of something huge when he or she is a kid? And who doesn’t find that dream subjugated by the need to put food in his mouth?
I have two fears when it comes to Space Brothers:
One is that it will get too maudlin and sappy for my tastes by the end. The sentimentality was pushed to the edge in the opening episode, with every swell of the strings in the soundtrack and every flashback to childhood dreams. And while I’m sure space-dream-conquering will rock and there will be plenty of humorous and inspirational training and/or space scenes, that sentimentality is definitely going to come back at the end and pummel me with “why don’t you feel something, you dead-inside husk of a man??” And I will say, meh. I’m as close to my brother as can be expected given our geographical and age differences, and my “dream” has been pushed back to a hobby but I still live it (No, it’s not aniblogging, thanks).
Second, I’m afraid that in the end this is going to be one of those typically Japanese reinforcements of conservative, don’t-rock-the-boat values, a reassurance that not everyone gets to be a snowflake and being a meter maid is just fine because that’s where you belong. That’s not to say I’m all for lying to people and telling kids that they will all get to be president of planet earth when they grow up, but that’s the thing with seinen anime: if you grew up watching shounen heroes battle the beasts with only their determination, you might think anything’s possible. But then you start being told to grow up and have realistic thoughts.
It’s altogether possible (I haven’t read the source material) that Space Brothers will turn out to be just the opposite: A more follow-your-dreams message that will uplift its viewers and inspire me to quit my day job. At this point, I can only be optimistic, because at least I got to see something animated that didn’t involve lolipantywhatever stuff.
What are your hopes for Space Brothers? Tell me to go join Colony Drop, I can handle it.