「日々人の隣」 (Hibito no Tonari)
“Next to Hibito”
Ahh interviews… no matter how many you get through, there are always more waiting to trip you up. It looks like the most recent interview may have done exactly that for Mutta. The question was a tough one – I personally can’t understand people who have the ability to come up with intelligent answers to unusual questions without even blinking an eye. It would seem Mutta and I are similar in that regard (talking about shampoo… really?). Kenji, however, continues to display amazing levels of calm when placed under pressure – his answer was well thought out and showed just how aware he is of his own preferences and development.
These interviews haven’t exactly been kind to Mutta – people have mentioned that he probably gives a better impression to those around him (oh really?) than he does to us (since we can see his inner monologue) and while this is true in most cases, JAXA have brought in his ultimate nemesis: a psychologist who can tell when you’re putting on an act. It might not be so bad for most of the candidates, but even Mutta is aware of how poorly this bodes for him. Not all the interviewers were overly captivated by the impression Mutta left, but a few at least still saw the potential within him.
I also enjoyed seeing the varying reactions of each key character at the conclusion of their interview, and noting how they reflected their personalities. Kenji, typically, was quietly relieved – the interview probably didn’t phase him anywhere near as much as most people. His calm and collected attitude seems to have gone over well with the interviewers too! Serika reacts with elation – an obvious joy that the interview is finally over, though doubtless she must have given a good impression since the interviewers singled her out as the most promising candidate. Mutta, however, leaves with a forced smile on his face, but despite the obvious setback he still manages to keep his confidence up – something I don’t think he could have done before. It’s good to see how his resolve has strengthened since the start of the series!
It’s also interesting to note how all the candidates gravitated towards the corridor lined with portraits of Japanese astronauts, something I think was probably intended when the location of the interview room was selected. There’s nothing like standing in front of the image of your idol to lift your spirits and restore your resolve after a gruelling interrogation. We already know why Mutta and Serika want to go into outer space (both at least partially because of family members) but I’m really interested in hearing Kenji’s motivations, about which very little can be gleaned from what we know so far.
Mutta’s goals seem to have been phrased in a slightly different way this episode. Instead of talking about taking a step ahead of Hibito, it became about standing alongside him. Whether this was purely because of the circumstances (he couldn’t exactly request his future portrait be put ahead of Hibito’s) or a gradual change in his perceptions is unclear for now. It’s also entirely possible that Mutta realises that before he can step ahead of Hibito, he first needs to catch up and walk alongside him.
We also learnt a little about Hibito’s fellow astronauts (not much really, mostly just their names), none of whom appear to be Japanese. The portraits in the corridors, while not the best thing to base assumptions on, didn’t seem to suggest that there were any more astronauts who passed their tests alongside Hibito either. Of course, I could be wrong about this, but perhaps only one candidate will be chosen. These tests only cover Japan after all – there are still other examinations taking place worldwide, and across all these exams, only a few will go on to become astronauts. Again, this is just speculation – I personally hope we see all three of our characters succeed and head into outer space!
- For those interested, every single one of the named astronauts this episode once again correspond to a real Japanese astronaut (they all have Wikipedia pages too)!
- Poor Mutta… looks like losing his phone down the toilet had further consequences. At least Kenji, being such an awesome friend, managed to remedy that for him!
- Of all the faces you could accidentally make in a group photo, it just had to be a duckface didn’t it?
- It’s mentioned that the next mission isn’t until next year – normally I’d be worried, but Uchuu Kyoudai has shown it has no qualms about large time skips.