「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!

Random thoughts:

  • 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…)

* Full-length images: 15, 32

 

Preview

Omake

31 Comments

  1. Can’t say enough how great Uchuu Kyoudai is and this is definitely one of my favorites this season. I rooting hard for Mutta and as you said, it feels as though I was the one sitting on the interviewee’s chair when he was being grilled. Sawashiro Miyuki’s overused? No way. She’s amazing!

    Seishun Otoko
    1. Sei, I tried to watch this show one more time but I guess it really just bores me. I don’t find anything strong in it or anything awesome. It’s really just too plain, too ordinary for my taste.

      The Moondoggie
  2. Unrelated to actual post but:

    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…)

    Is that even something to complain about? She’s REALLY I mean REALLY talented. From Dalian in Dantalian no Shoka (HNNGH); Kanbaru in -monogatari; Carl in Blazblue; Yomi in BRS; Lilliana in Fam: Last Exile and countless other roles that I didn’t even notice till I checked the credits, it just goes to show that she has a wide range of different “voice sets” and what kind of roles she can play.

    Not a hardcore fan-boy by any means but I can certainly appreciate her versatility. There’s a reason why she’s voted #1 female seiyuu with the best voice by the Japanese.

      1. Bloody fart, isn’t it the same thing with other veteran seiyuu out there, working on multiple projects then (i.e. Megumi Hayashibara, etc. in their heyday) and now? Go check your ears.

        v3000
  3. Mutta, Kenji, and Serika. *GASP* I sense a Macross-esque love triangle on the horizon, minus the girl being an idol singer. “Kimi wa dare to kisu o suru?”

    Shippers, get ready! XD

    ‘I FEEL SO GOOD. FEEL SO MOON.’ *the opening theme makes one want to dance like Mutta* XD

    My thoughts/questions about the show:
    1. Why is it when Mutta takes one step forward in terms of pursuing his dream, he takes one step backward (he qualifies for the JAXA exams in the first episode, but hesitates taking it in the second episode, until Sharon convinces him)
    2. When is Mutta’s bulldog/pug gonna play a major role in the show?
    3. Since Mutta is already an engineer, that’s obviously got to be a chekhov’s skill, right? He’ll probably save the crew when the “houston-we’ve-got-a-problem”-situation arises.

    P.S. I experienced the loose screw (actually it was a bolt-and-nut) in my seat when I got interviewed for a science-curriculum high school after taking the entrance exams. Like in the show, it’s really designed to see who pays attention to out-of-place things and who doesn’t.

    The_Magus_Killer
    1. Funilly enough, the first thought that popped into my head during the preview last week was that they’d introduce Serika and give us a love triangle between her, Mutta and Hibito! Now there’s an extra layer of drama to add to a love triangle! I guess we’ll see what happens on that front as the series progresses.

      I’m not sure if he’d fully resolved himself to follow his dream by the end of the first episode. Sure he was back to reading books about space and daydreaming about it instead of working, but it was his mother who actually sent in the application on his behalf. So in a sense, I don’t see him so much taking a step forward and a step backward as I do building his resolve by talking to Sharon in order to take one single, large step towards his dream. He seems to be the sort of guy who needs a lot of pushes at this stage – Hibito pushing him to remember his dream, his mother sending in the application on his behalf and then Sharon giving him that final push to remember that even if the path that leads to your dream is the hardest option, you shouldn’t be dissuaded.

      I definitely agree that Mutta’s engineering skills (and quite possibly his obsession with fixing that screw) are likely to be a Chekhov’s gun. The main question for me is what the focus of the series is going to be on – are we focusing on the training, preperation and drama that comes with aiming to be an astronaut or will we actually be heading into space? If they cover the whole training next episode (which it kinda looks like they might), the latter seems quite plausible. The latter is definitely what I’m hoping for!

      Moomba
    2. I thought I told you that the pug is Hibito’s, not Mutta in previous post? He/she will appear around the end of episode 4 or beginning of 5, I’d assume. You sound a little obsessed with the pug, my friend, though :). Well if you can’t wait 2-3 more weeks, then there is always the source material. It may dampen the effects of the next 2-3 weeks’ anime though if you spoil yourself by doing that.

      As for Mutta’s meekness, there is two answers: 1) the main character has to have doubts/faults for the audience to root for him and identify with him, It’s the old trick. 2) it’s explained by foreign blondie aunt (lesbian couple??) in this episode, but he’s got a big brother complex where he was scared to show his little brother, who really looked up to him like a superhero, any failure and in the process, he more or less gave up trying and accepted failure as norm. His little brother surpassing him and becoming the astronaut made things only worse for Mutta. So the episode 2’s Muta lacks confidence, is the gist of it.

      passing
      1. I know, but I’ve gotten used to promotional art of Uchuu Kyodai with the pug being held/led by Mutta, so I got a habit of calling the pug “Mutta’s dog/pug” XD

        The_Magus_Killer
    3. Well… [spoiler about the love triangle]
      Show Spoiler ▼

      TheDoorIntoSummer
  4. man, I shouldn’t have read translated manga… I devoured through the available 10 chapters, so… It’s always not the same if you know what will happen. Still a great watch, a great watch. Now I can’t wait until it catches up. Well, it’s only 2-3 more episodes before doing so. But then I will be hooked up weekly like a junkie like the rest of you, held in suspense, waiting for the following week to come. Darn.

    some guy
  5. Wow. I broke out in a huge smile when Hoshika-san fessed to messing with the chair. And then saying that Mohri-san did that to him.

    I think Mohri-san will be a major “character”, and bringing him into the story was brilliant. It’s almost like when Mutta and Hibito had their picture taken with Mohri-san- it’s as if he’s continuing to push them both forward.

    Go Mutta!

  6. i can tell right away this is going to be a good series very much like ohana and chihaya were. It doesn’t have the same attention to aesthetic but the story is just as compelling thus far. So far for me, the only series worth watching in the new season.

    hwighting
  7. Agreed on the trumpet/piano part. I wanted to play the trumpet back in middle school, but after I failed to make the sound, the director told me my mouth was too big (lol) and that I should try the sax or clarinet. And the piano has a very steep learning curve.

    Hell, from my experience any single-noted instrument is easier to get started with than piano, where your two hands handle different things. It might be easier with pop improvisations, but as a classically trained musician, I think that piano is harder to master than any instrument Mutta tried.

    When you mentioned Londonderry, I thought you were trying to type aria but then I realized that’s only for Italian. orz

    And unless Tiger & Bunny gets a second season this year, I’m calling Mutta for Most Heartwarming Protagonist. ^_^

    1. Interesting. I made it to concert-level piano, and intermediate-advanced-level guitar. However, I sucked tremendously with the flute, clarinet, and trumpet. Go figure.

      petitorenji
  8. I dislike having too many flashbacks/nostalgic moments at the beginning of the series, because the characters haven’t been totally fleshed out yet. And when is the “that woman is too beautiful, it’s hard to believe she’s working in _________ field,” going to get old?

    I hope more characters get introduced, and fewer inspirational-poster conversations. I wish the interview could have been fleshed out more, and his actual deep knowledge of space and mech. engineering, instead of the fluffy “I had a dream when I was a kid, and now I still have that dream. At the same time, I want to catch up to my brother.” He has talked the talk, but I’ve yet to see him walk the walk. I yawned throughout the whole “you wanted to try every instrument!” scene.

    petitorenji
    1. Since the mood of the main character Mutta goes through so many up’s and down’s, I think the wavering style of flashback is a very appropriate techniques to tell the story. We already know that Mutta is very good in science stuff– as he has been an award-winning engineer. So there is no need to “sell” him any more in that regard. I think it was a good idea to use the change of view points during the interview to show the hidden side of Mutta’s emotion, as well as a hint for the story’s development.

      Matroid
      1. How can someone sell more of a character if he has never been sold in the first place? Yes, I’ve been told he was good in science, Yes, I’ve been told he got an award for it. But show me.

        Would you be satisfied when soccer/game board/basketball/design prodigies in anime just get “awards” and never show their skill? What would Hikaru no Go have been like if they’ve never played Go, or Honey and Clover never showing its characters drawing and designing all we the viewers get is hearing them get this job or that award? Why should it be any different for science? Sure, character drama is all fine and dandy, but it falls flat when there’s no point behind it. He designed a car, for heaven’s sake. How much more applause and pat-on-the-backs does one need?

        petitorenji
  9. I kinda don’t get why they make it out like Mutta’s some kinda failure. I’m sure the guy who designed the Toyota Camry is not feeling like he lived a failed life.

    JohnG
    1. He’s taking the “Big Brother” role seriously and have always believed that the older brother should be always better than the little one. It’s like he’s made his goal in life to be one step ahead of Hibito. Seeing how his Hibito is way ahead of him, yeah he does consider himself a failure. And add the fact that he wasn’t able to follow his real dreams up until just now.

      IMO he’s easily on of the easiest characters people can relate too. He’s perfectly imperfect.

      The Story You Don't Know
    2. I concur. It becomes really corny when the series is treating him like the poor’old geek boy who finally gets a chance to shine. And as TheStoryYouDon’tKnow states: “Seeing how Hibito is ahead of him, he considers himself a failure.” WHAT? Inferior complex much? Threatened much? So instead of “I want to go to the moon to find our what that UFO was,” it’s “I want to beat my brother so that I can always walk one step ahead!” Yes, he is most definitely taking his big brother role way too seriously. So seriously that it’s becoming disturbing.

      And apparently, Mutto’s extremely relatable for many. Does that mean that most big brothers who are “behind” their younger siblings in the world are practically mentally screwed? That’s scary.

      petitorenji
      1. What society projects onto someone as success has nothing to do with how fulfilled a person feels. Mutta isn’t a failure because of an inability to “do something” with his life – and you’re absolutely right in saying that his car designing is nothing to scoff at. But fundamentally, Mutta doesn’t care – he never has. His metric for his own happiness is idealistic and beautiful, measured not by money or his triumphs in the marketing world, but by his commitment to realize the dream that he and his brother set as children. This is a good message to be sending.

        Jif
      2. ^
        This. You said it perfectly, Jif.

        He doesn’t care about his current achievements – that’s not his dream. And it’s obvious that he has a kind of superiority complex over his brother. He states it clearly, “the older brother must always be one step ahead of the younger brother”. One example is when Hibito said he’d like to go to the moon, Mutta answered that he’d go to Mars then.

        The Story You Don't Know
      3. I think that Mutta is feeling like a failure for not following his dreams (initially) and that he had fallen behind his brother that he always thought he would be “one step ahead of.”

        Jel

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