Sunday, 19 August 2012

Space Brothers - Episode 21

It's crunch time for our wannabe astronauts, as their third selection exam finally comes to an end.  With Mutta and company taking the inevitably oddball idea of choosing who should go forth to become an astronaut via a game of rock-paper-scissors, who is going to win out in this ultimate game of chance?

Rather cruelly, this week's episode has little intention of filling us in as we see the participants released from their two weeks of confinement and back out into the real world, which was closer at hand for the duration of the test than any of them had imagined.  As normality returns for all and sundry, we slowly begin to learn of at least a few individuals who didn't get automatically selected, although with additional places still potentially up for grabs hope isn't lost for anyone involved at this point.

While a conversation between Kenji and Mutta suggests that neither of these two individuals qualified automatically, much of our time in this episode is spent following Furuya, another loser in that all-important rock-paper-scissors game.  It's this story which holds the bulk of the episode's emotions, as Furuya pays a visit to the man who is in many ways responsible for enabling and encouraging him to attempt to become an astronaut by inventing the spacesuit which ultimately solved Furuya's height problem which would previously have prevented him from becoming part of the space programme.

Much like its candidates as they step back out into the sun for the first time in weeks, this instalment of Space Brothers feels like a breath of fresh air after spending so long contained within those self-contained testing pods.  Despite teasing us mercilessly with the simple information surrounding who passed the exam we've spent all that time observing, I genuinely enjoyed following Furuya's story and how he was drawn towards space - perhaps this proves that all that time spent on the previous exam was a sensible move, as it felt more like learning more about an old friend that a needless side-story; a triumph that has consistently occurred in this series thanks to its unerring focus on strong characters.  It looks as though we're going to be kept on tenterhooks a little longer before learning Mutta's fate however, so I expect some more gripping but simple cliff-hangers in the near future.

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