Sunday, 1 July 2012

Space Brothers - Episode 14

As their training and testing continues apace, and with even their downtime being closely monitored as part of the selection process, we see our first real signs of the pressure that this knowledge is putting upon our prospective astronauts.

At the centre of our attentions for this episode is Naoto Fukuda, as we get a glimpse into the past of this fifty-something candidate and get a feeling for how much he's sacrificed to reach where he is today.  It's this past family hardship which seems to be the driver for him to succeed here no matter what transpires, leaving him determined not to allow his age to stand in the way of his long-standing dream - but can he really ignore the loss of his glasses in a freak accident with Furuya.

Although it would be simple enough for "mission control" to simply order Fukuda another pair of glasses, JAXA's director is reticent to do so - not to test how Fukuda copes under pressure, but to see how his rivals within the team handle the situation.  In particular, the real question here is how Furuya Yasushi handles the guilt of being responsible for the breakage - despite his outward belligerence and seemingly uncaring attitude, internally his guilt and feeling of responsibility is clear to see.  Although he's adamant that he shouldn't apologise, and even sees the loss of Fukuda's glasses as "levelling the playing field", a combination of his internal angst about the situation and the words of both Serika and Mutta seem to sway him in the morally right direction.

Having commented on how this series managed to turn the question "what time is it?" into a gripping cliff-hanger a few weeks back, Space Brothers does it again by wringing plenty of drama out of a pair of broken glasses.  I'd possibly argue that its flashbacks into Fukuda's past were too numerous and long-winded - we got the idea about his story pretty quickly from the first one - but somehow the series continues to hang together comfortably even when tackling what could otherwise be rather mundane material.  This is doubtless largely because of the time we've invested in Mutta and some of the characters around him, and I do wonder whether it'll run out of steam before the series moves on to its next major component, but for now thins are fine exactly where they are.

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