Monday, 29 October 2012

Space Brothers - Episode 30

The countdown to launch is drawing painfully close, but the whole thing is all-but forgotten as a more pressing concern comes to the fore - where has Apo gone?

After disappearing from the pillar restraining him thanks to the "good deed" of an errant kid, all of Mutta's friends quickly join the search for Apo once they learn that he's missing while worrying about the possibilities of where he could have gotten to, whether it's being hit by the shockwave of the launching shuttle or being eaten by crocodiles.

Luckily, it doesn't take too long before Mutta finds Hibito's dog - but who is this strange old man about to drive off with him?  After catching up with him, we learn that the man in question is a NASA employee, and after mistaking Mutta for someone else he still insists upon taking him for a drive into what seems to be the middle of nowhere, but actually turns out to be a spectacular spot to view the shuttle launch from via an old NASA blockhouse.  As the countdown hits zero, it's finally time for Hibito to get one step ahead of his brother and enter space...

After really worrying that this episode of Space Brothers might be a bust (not to mention a distraction from the real business of the shuttle launch), the series actually succeeded in handling this instalment pretty well - sure, the stuff with Apo was kind of frivolous and pointless, but it led into some nice moments with Mutta as he got to watch the launch from a more secluded location, in turn allowing him to reconcile some of his emotions about Hibito's launch.  More importantly, the final countdown to the launch itself was an absolute triumph for the series, somehow managing to concentrate all of the excitement, tension, exhilaration and overflowing emotion of those final agonising seconds quite beautifully - scenes matched by our view of the final minutes before launch of the astronauts themselves as they waved goodbye to their final human contact before the launch and prepared themselves in their own ways.

It's those scenes that really reminds me of the power of Space Brothers in capturing the reason why we're so engaged by space exploration from both a human and technical perspective - it's wonderfully achieved here and now we've finally seen the Mars I launch I hope it's the beginning of this series exploring some fascinating material as surely it has to at this juncture.

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