Now that Hibito and his colleagues have been successfully launched into space attention returns, albeit briefly, to the forthcoming results of the next astronaut selection exams.
While most of the prospects to qualify as astronauts return home to wait for that potentially life-changing phone call, Mutta remains in Houston to keep a close eye on his brother's progress, while Hibito himself seems to be having a whale of a time as he makes his way towards the moon in-between TV appearances and the like as the public gaze upon what is about to be Japan's first man on the moon intensifies.
In the midst of all this we resolve what was something of an unresolved issue a little earlier in the series - that being Azuma and his relationship with the Nanba brothers. As he sits and eats lunch with his family at NASA's Houston base, Mutta decides to drop by his table to say hello - although little is said between them, what words are shared do wonders for Mutta's understanding of this enigmatic man, while a conversation with his wife also helps to affirm the fact that Azuma doesn't have a jealous bone in his body. As we flash back into Azuma's past and his frustrations at the press' intrusion and relentless questioning following his return from a mission, it becomes clear that Azuma stepped aside to let the more relaxed Hibito take on the burden of being the first Japanese man on the moon.
Now that Hibito is finally in space, it feels like there's something a little more substantial to bolster the relatively slow pace of the series as a whole - every cut away to the unfolding mission offers up some kind of fascinating vignette or other to pepper the show with great little insights. Mind you, even without that I was more than a little happy to see Azuma's story resolved here, as it had felt rather like an unspoken and unexplained (if not hugely relevant to the central plot) aspect of Space Brothers' narrative. Ultimately, it was the kind of slightly saccharine feel-good stuff that the series is so great at offering up, but that is in no way to its detriment - indeed, Space Brothers remains a solid drama with enough lovable characters and intelligent undercurrents to make it absolutely enjoyable almost every week.