Uchuu Kyoudai – 02
「俺の金ピカ」 (Ore no Kinpika)
“My Shining Star”
When faced with multiple options, all with similar outcomes, do you pick the easiest or the hardest? Personally, I like to go with something in-between the two, something that’s just hard enough to give a sense of accomplishment but not so hard that the chances of success are extremely low. The harder something is to master, the greater the sense of achievement derived from mastering it. As a child, it would seem that Mutta was one of those rare people who would always try all the options and then, when faced with a decision between them, would pick the hardest. This is reflected in the instrument he chose from the few Sharon presented to him. While the trumpet is undoubtedly the hardest of those instruments to coax a sound from (initially at any rate), I would argue that in the long run, the piano can be much harder to master. Unfortunately Mutta seems to have lost sight of this concept at some point, whether from a setback along the way, or just a gradual drifting is anyone’s guess. Maybe the reason is that as children we’re so full of hopes and dreams, but as we age and grow into adulthood some of us become jaded and cynical while others manage to keep their inner child alive.
I felt pretty sorry for Mutta this episode. From his viewpoint, the second round of JAXA screenings have not been going well. He may have passed the first round without too much trouble (if he was that stumped by the English test, I have no idea how he managed) but fate seems to be conspiring against him for the second. Losing your phone down the toilet would definitely not be a good way to calm one’s nerves prior to an interview, that’s for sure. It was a pretty cruel interview too (just look at the size of that panel… and the sun in his eyes), made worse by the addition of an element often used in ‘stress interviews.’ I’ve heard many stories in the past from people who have undergone those nasty interviews designed purely to make you feel uncomfortable, but I’ve only ever experienced it once myself. Techniques vary a lot, from ridiculing your victim to giving silent stares for extended periods of time between questions. In my case, it was an apple hurtling towards me at great speed the moment I opened the door (I caught it, don’t worry). Fortunately, the element used during Mutta’s interview wasn’t quite as violent, but still at least as effective.
The loose screw on the chair, while not one of the most extreme forms of stress interviewing, actually works in Mutta’s favour despite his worries to the contrary. While it may have seemed to him that he was overly focused on the screw (I’m pretty sure he was a little too focused on it), this definitely singled him out in the eyes of the interviewers. Not only that, but it proved his determination was so strong he even managed to screw it back in a little bit. Since this is a test to see how candidates react to an uncomfortable situation you might think that those who didn’t appear notice at all would leave the better impression. In a normal interview that might be the case, but noticing that something is slightly off could be seen as an important skill for an astronaut. Merely noticing that something is configured slightly wrong and fixing the problem before it can escalate has the potential to save lives in the long run. Outer space is an incredibly dangerous place and minor problems can become major problems very quickly.
This test seemingly served its purpose, revealing three candidates who noticed the problem. Whether all three succeed and go on to become astronauts is uncertain at this point, but it feels to me as though they’ve introduced out the cast. Should Uchuu Kyoudai actually take us into space (and I sincerely hope it does), these three seem likely to form the body of the rocket’s crew. The first of these three requires no introduction, but the second and third are new faces. Makabe Kenji (Katou Masayuki) seems to have a thing for guessing people’s ages (and getting it right). I want to say that his bearing and attitude mark him as a somewhat serious and collected leader type (I have suspicions that he could end up leading the crew) but Uchuu Kyoudai doesn’t seem to like conforming to archetypes (which is awesome). About the second of the two, Itou Serika (Sawashiro Miyuki), not much can be said – the only thing revealed by the episode is that she’s extremely polite. I’m sure I’m not alone in suspecting she will play the role of love interest though!
The last thing I want to touch on here is tension. I can’t praise Uchuu Kyoudai’s ability to create tension and get me emotionally invested in a scene enough. The music contributes greatly to this, the gradual buildup, the lack of resolution and the extended pause really worked well during the scene in which Mutta recieves his results from JAXA. It’s not just the music though, the story and characters already have me completely engrossed. I want to see Mutta succeed in fulfilling his dreams. Heck, I almost feel as though I’m living vicariously through him. During the interview scenes, it was me sitting in that chair, my future on the line and my dreams at stake. I really hope those dreams don’t end up being crushed!
- In case you’re curious, the music performed by Mutta and Hibito contains portions of Danny Boy/Londonderry Air, a fairly well known Irish air. There are multiple different sets of lyrics, but the most popular deals with longing (for a loved one, admittedly) which seems pretty appropriate when both Mutta and Hibito long for outer space.
- I really like the OP. Not just the music, but the way it seems to suggest that dreams are shared, regardless of age and nationality.
- I’ve heard a lot of people complain that Sawashiro Miyuki’s voice is overused these days. I, however, absolutely love her voice and am glad that she’s voicing another character in addition to the young Mutta (I do hope they stay away from bad Engrish though…)