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Space Brothers Collection 1 Blu-ray Anime Review

9 min read

Space Brothers Collection 1 Blu-ray CoverThe beginning of the near perfect series.

What They Say:
Mutta’s life has hit rock bottom. He’s been fired, blackballed from his profession, and even had to move back in with his parents. Meanwhile, the career of Mutta’s brother, Hibito, has taken off like a rocket as he trains for the job Mutta once dreamed of: becoming an astronaut. But is it ever too late to go after your dreams? Through a little coercing and a bit of covert activity, Mutta’s family and friends can get his resume on the right desk, but from that point on it’ll be up to Mutta himself.

Does he have what it takes to turn his life around and put his footprint on the moon? The first step on the highway to the stars is always the hardest, and in a job where crash and burn isn’t just a euphemism, it’ll be the biggest risk Mutta’s ever taken. But with the right support team, maybe he’ll find what he needs to rekindle the spark inside him and light the biggest candle of them all!

Contains episodes 1-13.

The Review:
Audio:
The audio presentation for this series comes with just the original Japanese language track in stereo encoded using the DTS-HD MA lossless codec. The show is one that definitely uses its forward soundstage well with what it does as it handles the dialogue well as it shifts from the characters talking to particular internal dialogue, but it also handles some of the space and machine based elements in a really good way to give it the kind of attention to detail it needs to come alive. The show is one that is definitely largely dialogue based though with what it does and it plays it well here with solid placement, appropriate depth in a few scenes where needed and generally has a strong and clear design to it that’s free of problems and distortions during regular playback.

Video:
Originally airing from 2012 to 2014, the transfer for this TV series is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 in 1080p using the AVC codec. This set comes with thirteen episodes spread across two discs in a nine/four format. Animated by A-1 Pictures, the show has a great look to it overall as it presents a great range of characters across ages, ethnicities and jobs in a way that few shows do, which makes this feel like far more of a real world than normal. That character designs are definitely a good point, but it’s the set and mechanical design that shines even more as it spent a good bit of its time and money on research in order to be quite accurate and well detailed, and that’s wonderfully brought to life here in the transfer with the quality of the animation shining through. Colors have a great look, the detail within the series is given a very solid look and the overall flow of the animation is strong here when it goes big with many sequences.

Packaging:
The packaging for this release brings us a standard sized Blu-ray case that holds two discs against the interior walls. The front cover gives us a decent image that has Mutta and Hibito together in their respective gear for the start of the series as they’re set against a partial earthscape with a large swathe of it covered in black. The logo along the top has a simple approach with a blue-ish purple that plays to a space kind of theme, but just feels kind of off in general. It’s not a bad cover, but it doesn’t exactly sell it all that well with certain aspects. The back cover is a bit better as we get a bit of the moonscape along the background while over it we get the breakdown of the premise along with a look at the disc and episode count. THe shots from the show are decent with a good variety while the rest is given over to the usual production credits and the technical grid which covers everything cleanly and clearly. No show related inserts are included nor is there a reversible cover.

Menu:
The menu design for this release has a nice touch or two to it, though it has to deal with the mediocre at best logo. The layout is straightforward with a static image for both discs that focuses on the characters in different forms and designs, with space oriented material for the backgrounds to provide the right feel. The logo is stretched across it in a way that may just a be a bit too big, but I like the menu navigation along the right where it uses some lunar designs to it for the background and a solid font that ties it into a slightly near future kind of kind but also something that fits in tone with something more professional oriented like the whole JAXA and NASA angle. Submenus are minimal as there’s no language selection menu to be had here and extras are on the second disc.

Extras:
The only extras included here are the clean opening and closing sequences.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Based on the manga by Chūya Koyama, Space Brothers is a ninety-seven episode anime series animated by A-1 Pictures. When the series first premiered, I wasn’t even planning to watch it because it had a goofy title and the promos just didn’t really sell it well. But I ended up watching it because I figured it would be over in a season and it might have a few interesting moments. Little did I know that it would run for two years and have a theatrical anime feature in addition to the live action one. As the series progressed, it became the rare show that I was completely invested in because it did the thing that few anime series do by truly having real growth, change, relationships and more to it. Sadly, the show caught up to the manga as it went on so it ended at that point, but now there’s a chance to relive it – and hopefully for more people to be introduced to it.

Taking place in 2025, the series revolves around the central character of Mutta Namba, though it also plays heavily over time to his younger brother Hibito as well. The two are close brothers overall as we see a lot of time in their childhood years where they were true lovers of space exploration and everything involved with JAXA, to the point where they could give the tours easier and better than everyone else. Both brothers are certainly distinct in their own ways, physically and in terms of skills and interests, but their bond of space is what really has them together since they believe they saw a UFO when they were kids. There are those they got close to over the years as well that helped to further their interests, such as “aunt” Sharon who works a pretty big telescope, and the impression they made at JAXA as kids with how they were seemingly always there. Through the nods to the past that we get regularly, it helps to fully flesh them out more while also being instrumental to things going on in the present.

And the present is certainly interesting in how their lives have turned out as Mutta has just found himself fired from the auto maker he was working at where he was an award winning developer that brought some important and now very common cars to market. His firing is because his boss made some poor remarks about Mutta’s brother Hibito, who has followed his dream in a big way and is in Houston at NASA where he’s in the astronaut program. All of this is the catalyst that slow but surely changes Mutta’s life as he ends up blacklisted from automakers because of the incident and is kind of lost in life, living back home with his parents now and just trying to find something. What starts to turn is that Hibito, upon learning this, puts things into motion to get Mutta in at JAXA where he can try their exam process to become an astronaut.

Now, it sounds simple, but you know it’s far from that. And what this series covers is Mutta’s journey to become an astronaut. Mutta’s journey is one that takes him to many places and the start of it here is fascinating as he starts going into the exam process, works through a lot of his past and memories that had him and Hibito wanting to pursue this together, to make their journey to the moon and to Mars, to realize those dreams. This process not only takes him to a lot of places but also introduces him to a lot of people, and connects him with people that knew of him in his childhood years that had come across the brothers. With the complexity of what it takes to be an astronaut, seeing the process in such detail could get bogged down in a lot of ways, but it plays beautifully through the various exams that go on as they’re spread out well and exam a lot of different facets of the whole organization and process and all those involved. The array of characters that begins to populate the series here is impressive, particularly as they do make their way in and out of the show over the course of the entire run.

But the real charm here are the brothers – and Hibito’s pug named Apo. Mutta’s journey takes him to Houston for awhile as Hibito is going through his press and training for his upcoming moon mission, which will be a huge thing for Japan, and seeing the way the brothers interact, their quirks and their personalities come to life is fascinating. Particularly for Mutta as he deals with being there was the first two rounds of the exams back at JAXA are being gone over. Though the brothers have been apart for some time, there’s an amusing kind of ease between them but also some great tension as Mutta struggles with the way he’s missed out on doing what he really wanted to do all these years while Hibito has just been waiting for him to catch up. But each brings their own things to the table and seeing those skills starting to come out, through Hibito’s training and mission planning and Mutta’s exams and interactions with others vying for positions, is fantastic.

This is a character show that takes the time to really allow you to become invested in them and to really feel it in a big way.

In Summary:
While I would have loved a dub for this series since it would give the actors a chance to really invest in the show themselves, and to do some really fun stuff, it’s no surprise that a long show like this isn’t getting one. That said, it’s something that shouldn’t keep people from checking it out. Space Brothers is a fantastic show that does some great character work and really brings what they’re doing here to life, both in what the applicants go through and the importance of the larger mission itself and all that it entails. This opening installment of episodes covers an impressive amount of ground in establishing the basics and putting Mutta on the course he’s on. There’s a lot to like with what it does here and it’s a series that I think largely holds up throughout, making it an engaging experience all around and this release brings it to life in a very good way.

Features:
Japanese DTS-HD MA 2.0 LAnguage, English Subtitles, Clean Opening, Clean Closing

Content Grade: A-
Audio Grade: B+
Video Grade: A-
Packaging Grade: B
Menu Grade: B
Extras Grade: B-

Released By: Sentai Filmworks
Release Date: February 24th, 2015
MSRP: $59.98
Running Time: 325 Minutes
Video Encoding: 1080p AVC
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Widescreen

Review Equipment:
Sony KDL70R550A 70″ LED 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.

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