This week's Space Brothers is all about Hibito's return to Earth along with a couple of his colleagues, meaning that we spend our time building up to the big event before finally getting to see how it pans out.
Of course, Hibito's planned return means different things to all those involved - for Pico, it's an opportunity to finally remove the burden that has been placed upon his shoulders ever since the shuttle launched, and beyond that from the accident which killed Brian Jay; for Hibito's parents it's once again a mixture of excitement and worry; and for Mutta it's a strange mix of his new professional role which sees him shown around mission control as they build up to the capsule's re-entry, and of course his personal concerns about both Hibito's landing and his life from that point forth.
Crunch time finally arrives as the shuttle capsule hits the Earth's atmosphere and begins its re-entry, and we're treated to this scene in what is effectively real-time to make full use of its inherent tension, watching as the forces placed upon the capsule grow ever greater (and hotter), and in turn seeing the tension both inside and out of the capsule reaching a peak. Ultimately however, re-entry goes without a hitch, and more importantly Pico's parachute system deploys beautifully, to the ecstasy and relief of all involved.
It's really those minutes surrounding re-entry and Hibito and company's landing that are the highlight of this episode of Space Brothers - wonderfully crafted to place a certain frisson of tension in the air and then ramp it up by the second in an almost imperceptible way. It's only when the parachute deploys and you suddenly feel tension draining from your body that you realise that your stress levels and tension had actually been raised by the whole thing, proving your engagement towards the series and the characters contained within effortlessly. If I didn't already know how much I dote upon this series, Space Brothers certainly managed to confirm it yet again - a fine piece of work, as always.