We return to crunch time as Space Brothers' episode count reaches double figures, with the third astronaut qualification exam about to commence. After a quick visit to Aunt Sharon (and a little flashback into her history with the Nanba brothers) to clear any lingering doubts he has, it's off to JAXA we go.
Upon arrival for the start of this intense, long-term exam, it's surprise after surprise for the successful applicants - for starters, there are more applicants assembled than anyone was expecting, and following a brief introduction from the director of JAXA himself the group find themselves bundled onto a completely enclosed bus - with no windows and no time-keeping devices, it's pretty obvious that they're headed somewhere top secret and away from prying eyes.
The same cannot, however, be said for the wannabe astronauts, some of whom quickly realise that they are being monitored by camera the entire time - knowledge which increases the pressure when an "ice breaking" activity has all of the candidates talk to one another one by one for ten minutes at a time. With this done, the candidates are faced with an even bigger challenge - ranking everyone present, themselves included, for their perceived suitability as an astronaut. A daunting task, made more so when you remember that this is just the beginning of their exam...
As episodes of Space Brothers go, this week's instalment falls very much into the "simple but effective" category - no real panache is required as all of the items of interest and any tension is created simply by the scenario itself and its examination wrapping. As build-up to the wider implications of the third exam and the challenges it might bring, I can't really fault this episode, and once again my wider fascination with its subject matter is enough to keep things running along smoothly in terms of holding my interest.