What They Say:
As the competition to become an astronaut continues to heat up, the candidates are subjected to a grueling series of tests designed to test their physical and mental qualifications to the utmost. Trapped inside a sealed environment with his closest rivals, Mutta’s challenge is to force himself to think as a team player even as he jockeys for one of the two open seats to the stars. When things start to go wrong with the test mission, however, the tension really begins to build.
It’ll take the combined resources of the whole team to solve the life and death problems being thrown at them… but what are they supposed to do when it becomes apparent that one of the team members is intentionally sabotaging their assignments? Will any of Mutta’s team survive the ordeal and move up to the next phase of training? Or will they all wash out before they ever hit the launch pad?
The only negative thing I have to say about the audio in Space Brothers is the change in the show’s title music. Unicorn’s “Feel So Moon” was a song I constantly found myself humming almost every day. Other than that, the audio is presented primarily in Japanese, so don’t come in expecting a dubbed edition of the series.
Space Brothers is a gorgeous series and the Blu-Ray version lets its beauty shine. The animation is lovely and because its displayed in high resolution, there is no artifacting or other video quirks to spoil the canvas.
It’s as simple as it gets. The box prominently features brothers Mutta and Hibito as they stand side by side in space. Other than that, there’s nothing particularly special about the packaging. The discs are held in place on inner sides of the case, which is nice because I always tend to have issues with those flat plastic inserts.
Like the package itself, the menu designs are simple and straightforward. The right side of the screen is occupied by a list of episodes on each disc and a shot of Mutta fills in the rest of the area. It’s nothing special, but I really don’t mind these stripped down, static menu screens. They are a lot less visually busy.
I was hoping for a documentary of sorts on Space Brothers’ realistic approach to the astronaut training program, but the only extras you’ll find on this set are the typical Sentai fare: clean opening and closing credits and a series of trailers for other shows licensed by the publisher.
Where anime has the power to take viewers on extraordinary adventures to alien worlds, offer goofy or dramatic slice of life tales, or depict chilling visions of the future, the joyful reality of Space Brothers makes it so much more than anime – it is food for the soul. Like a bowl of warm soup on a cold, rainy day, Space Brothers’ optimism and positive spirit soothes the mind and spirit. Centalized around space travel, the theme of the show continues to celebrate the power of the human condition as the remaining members of JAXA’s astronaut training program look inwards to find the strength to endure a most challenging exam.
Season two opens with Mutta and his team of hopefuls sealed inside a habitat set in an undisclosed location. For the next two weeks, the team must complete numerous mundane tasks and physical activities so that mission control can evaluate how each member operates under the pressures of isolation. Adding weight to an already grueling exercise is a special assignment: by the end of the test, the team must pick two of their own to be failed out of the program. As the days drag forward, the teams are constantly under the threat of cracking as strange events and mishaps disrupt the already tense atmosphere. While Mutta tries to maintain a grip on his sanity, his younger brother Hibito enjoys his own training regiment for his upcoming trip to the Moon.
JAXA’s isolation test takes up the majority of the season but it offers a deeper look into the lives and motivations of Mutta and his teammates find the strength they need to endure. His experience and handicaps as an older man working his way through a young man’s game drives the series but its heart and soul is the theme of perseverance. What I also love about the series is that it keeps its foot on the brake pedal so that everyone involved in the program has their chance to air their passions, goals, and dreams. For example, the viewer learns that Naoto, the oldest test candidate in the group, quit his job designing rockets because it estranged him from his wife and daughter. He is motivated to become an astronaut to help bring him closer to the family he unintentionally. The anime is isn’t so much about Mutta and Hibito’s wish fulfillment but the sacrifices people make to dedicate their lives for something they might not even accomplish. The threat of failing JAXA’s tests forces the applicants to encounter their adversities with confidence and faith in their own unique abilities.
The season’s focus on the isolation exam makes for a deliberate slow pace and in any other series (*cough* Dragon Ball Z *cough*) padded episodes are a disappointing way to stretch out weak narratives or give the author more time to complete the story. The isolation test story arc on the other hand, does a fantastic job of recreating the tedium real astronauts must have felt taking a similar exam. The series’ continued emphasis on painting a realistic portrait of the space program continues to impress.
Space Brothers will always be my favorite anime series. It’s a fascinating and addictive glimpse into a world rarely seen by the average person, unless they’ve seen movies like Apollo 13 and The Right Stuff. Endlessly cheery, funny (Mutta as a mall Santa!!), and sweet, the series can warm the coldest of hearts. It also tugs at the heart strings because the relationship between Mutta and Hibito feels so genuine and may resonate with those who share similarly close bonds with their siblings. In a time where cynicism is the attitude du jour, the innocence and level headedness of Space Brothers is the perfect cure for the blues.
Japanese DTS-HD MA 2.0 Language, English Subtitles, Clean Opening, Clean Closing
Content Grade: A
Audio Grade: A
Video Grade: A
Packaging Grade: B
Menu Grade: B
Extras Grade: B-
Released By: Sentai Filmworks
Release Date: April 21st, 2015
Running Time: 325 Minutes
Video Encoding: MPEG-4 AVC
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Widescreen
Sony Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, 42″ LCD Vizio television.