Uchuu Kyoudai – 01
OP: 「Feel So Moon」 by ユニコーン (Unicorn)
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「弟ヒビトと兄ムッタ」 (Otouto Hibito to Ani Mutta)
“Little Brother Hibito and Big Brother Mutta”
I’m positive it’s safe to say that everyone, at some point in time, dreams of going into outer space. There’s something magnificent and romantic about the idea of leaving our small spot in the universe and venturing out into the unknown – an innate desire to explore beyond the bounds of what’s already known. Uchuu Kyoudai, written by Koyama Chuuya and adapted by A-1 Pictures, tells a story along these lines: a story of two brothers and their dreams of outer space.
To quickly summarise the episode, two brothers head out one night to record the sounds of nocturnal creatures as the rest of Japan watches Zinedine Zidane’s legendary headbutt (lovingly recreated in anime form). During this excursion, they witness the mysterious floating object which sparks their dreams of becoming astronauts. Jumping ahead 19 years, we return as Namba Hibito (Kenn) speaks at a press conference regarding his upcoming journey to the moon (as the first Japanese man or woman to set foot on the moon no less), but saddened that a certain other would not be making the journey before him. Meanwhile, the elder of the two brothers, one Namba Mutta (Hirata Hiroaki), has just lost his job as an automobile designer (headbutting your boss is a bad idea, seriously) and moves back in with their parents.
Time passes and Mutta begins to notice that he’s being subtly phased out by his parents in an attempt to convince him to get a job. Once he declares his intentions to do so, he gets strawberries. Unfortunately, the termination of his previous employment proves detrimental to getting a new job in the automobile industry and he finds himself sitting in MoDonald’s, reminiscing about the promise he and his brother made 19 years previously. A little push from Hibito and Mutta listens to the tapes from that night, and hears the words, spoken so long ago, that spurred their dreams; Hibito would become an astronaut and travel to the moon, Mutta would stay one step ahead and aim for Mars.
One month later, all Mutta can think about is getting home to continue reading books about space. But having quit yet another job, he’s on the verge of giving up on his dreams as a failure. Arriving home, he finds a package which informs him that his application for the New Astronaut Selection Exam, secretly sent in by his mother, has been accepted.
“A big brother should always stay ahead of his little brother.”
Everything seems to come back to this line and I have a strong feeling it will remain an important theme throughout the anime. The idea that the elder of two brothers should remain ahead of the younger has always had great appeal to me. While I can imagine it might not be quite so pleasing to the younger sibling, nor always hold true, I’ve always felt that our primary job as elder siblings is to stand ahead and be someone dependable to look up to or turn to for help. Unfortunately, at this point in time, Mutta has fallen a step behind his younger brother, but I have faith that we’ll see him catch up, and possibly even take that step ahead over coming episodes.
It may be fairly early to be wondering this, but I can’t help speculating over what might have caused Mutta to lose sight of his dream. His success as an automobile designer (and the awards his designs received) seems to belie the idea that it could be due to having failed the required examinations. In fact, if anything, his employment suggests a high intellect which could be well suited for the job (I can’t speak for the state of his physical fitness though)! I can only assume that there were other factors which gradually pushed him away from their shared dream and hope to learn more as the anime progresses.
Of course, we also have the grand mystery that sparked it all – the strange UFO which headed for the moon and the unusual static it left behind on the tapes. Was it actually an alien spaceship? An experimental government probe? Possibly even a strange natural phenomenon? It’s much too early in the anime to make any judgements, but the part of me that loves sci-fi is hoping for the former of the three. Regardless, aliens or no aliens, as first episodes go, this manages to be an extremely varied and entertaining watch. Should the series continue with this level of quality, I’m fairly sure it will quickly become one of my favourites.
Music (and sound in general) is handled extremely well throughout the episode. It amazes me how the episode manages to move from being comedic, to slightly depressing, to touching, all without missing a beat or feeling spliced together. Certain scenes had me in tears of laughter, while others had me on the verge of a completely different kind of tears. Music and sound helps a lot on this front; the well placed comical effects during the more humorous scenes and the variety of touching music which plays during both the more depressing scenes, and those that are more emotionally elated. While I’d love to credit this entirely to the music, the directing and the writing itself contribute immensely. Only one episode in and already one line of dialogue has stuck with me while multiple others have managed to bring emotions to the surface. I literally cannot wait for the next episode!
I’m sure I don’t need to remind anyone to try and avoid manga spoilers as much as possible. If you really must include them, please make use of the spoiler tags. Thanks!
ED: 「素晴らしき世界」 (Subarashiki Sekai) by Rake
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