What They Say:
Taking a makeup exam after learning the test results of Sharon’s condition, Mutta stands on the verge of achieving the first major step on his journey to the stars: officially becoming an astronaut. But the written test is only a prelude to the most hazardous trials of all.
Strapped into the seat of a T38 jet, flying faster than the speed of sound, and learning to fly on instruments only, a single mistake on Mutta’s part can mean instant disaster. On the positive side, if he’s going Mach 1 when something does go wrong, Mutta probably won’t have to worry about it very long. It’s time to kick in the afterburners and aim for the stars in the sixth spectacular collection of Space Brothers!
Contains episodes 65-75.
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.
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 eleven episodes spread across two discs in an eight/three 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.
The packaging for this release brings us a standard sized Blu-ray case that holds the disc against the interior wall. Though it sticks to the same background design overall, the character artwork here is pretty nice as we get our two brothers together looking at the Earth from the moon’s surface. I like the way it’s laid out with the reflection, but wish it had better framing overall as it just looks so cramped. 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.
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 it as unlike past volumes, it eschews character artwork and just goes with the logo. 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.
The only extras included here are the clean opening and closing sequences.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
As Space Brothers gets perilously close to the end of its run, I find myself getting more anxious every time a new set comes out. Though I’ve seen it all previously through simulcast and loved talking about it then, I’m enjoying the revisit in larger chunks and in quicker fashion, resulting in a bigger picture being painted in a clearer way. The series is one that works a number of storylines as a whole and while there are intersections here and there, it’s more about the way that life bridges so many things for us and our connections that are made can surprise us in different ways as it goes on. There are some wonderful moments here that really shows just how Mutta’s life has changed and the impact he’s had on others and their impact on him.
Though reduced in time spent this time around, we do still get some important time with Sharon in this set. In many ways, she’s a far more important parental figure than their own parents and we know that she adores them like her own, which is nicely reinforced with a bit of tragedy as well. Her remembering cutting their hair and doing other things with them is now tied to the fact that her hands are failing her through the stages of ALS that she’s dealing with. We get to see how she’s coping with things a bit at different times here, but also how it’s impacting the brothers. Hibito does something to try and help her when he visits her, but it just reinforces for him what she’s going through – and what he himself is going through. For Mutta, his being so far away from her and unable to do anything other than to tell her that he’s going to go the distance is very distracting for him. Particularly so as he’s in the midst of testing ahead of his T-38 flight testing.
Hibito’s arc in this set is relatively minor, but it sets up for what’s to come next for him. With what happened on the moon, he’s now struggling to do self contained space training which means he can’t do EVA walks and that kills his chances of going back into space. It’s a rare astronaut that gets past this – and escape the gravity well again – but Hibito is intending to get it done because he doesn’t want to drag Mutta down with him. There are a few nods towards his struggling with this, but no solution is presented yet for him so it’s a delayed problem. It’s set up well and we get to see him dealing with other things, such as his trip to Japan where he discovers that he’s the flavor of the month with the Mr. Hibit gear and anime shows. Those are done as brief bonus pieces at the end of several episodes and while I do find them amusing in a general sense with how it portrays some of the characters, I just felt they went on too long and got old very quickly.
Mutta’s arc is what’s dominant in this set and it works out exceedingly well, even if things do fall together easily for him in the big picture sense. While he struggles with what’s going on with Sharon, it does serve as a motivator as well as he wants to be among the first to help build her lunar telescope. But that means getting back on track in a big way after some problematic tests recently. His time with the T-38 flights are really great to watch because it brings back Deneil Young and his particular ways of doing things, which means Mutta gets trained harder and faster than everyone else, causing him to go above and beyond without realizing it. The two men have a good bond and there’s some good exploration of Young as a character and what the old timers are like at NASA with what they face. He’s a difficult personality overall, but it again reinforces that Mutta gets along with just about everyone and finds a way to work with them – which is highly valuable in an organization like this.
Where things take shape in a neat way, even if it all moves far too quickly in its overall presentation, is when Mutta ends up declining a backup flight position after making the final cut. He’s holding out for what he really wants, though making this move is risky as most will do whatever they can to get into space. Serika gets what she’s after, which is good to see, but Mutta ends up being assigned to an engineering section that could last for years depending on what happens with the program in general. He’s at least given a solid assignment in working with a group of oddballs to help fix up the lunar buggies to try and prevent what happened to Hibito from happening again. It’s an assignment that is a natural fit for him considering his automobile background combined with the training he’s undergone, so while it could be seen as a punishment (and it is to a degree), it’s also a solid use of skills.
The way it unfolds is all too smooth and easy, though there are challenges they face. The group that Mutta works with isn’t anywhere near as fleshed out as some past groups that he’s had to deal with and that just makes some of this feel superficial. But I really liked the way it had him draw on his past, which is now given a new color because of not just the progress he’s made but also Hibito’s worldwide fame. He’s huge in Japan now and any company would fall over itself to help NASA and JAXA, especially when it comes to Hibito’s brother. There’s a lot to like in how the use of technology here can change the way that travel on the lunar surface will unfold, and the realism of the fact that even if it’s done cheaply it’s still going to cost millions of dollars. But what it does in the end is shows more of what Mutta is capable of achieving – which is combined with his forward request that if it’s approved he be assigned where he wants to be. Mutta’s not truly aggressive most of the time, but when he is it’s really great to see unfold.
Space Brothers delivers consistently collection to collection and this one is no exception. There are a lot of great little moments to all of this as we see events in Mutta and Hibito’s childhood that’s impact things now, the way Mutta lost his job coming back into focus and being a positive in the here and now, and both brothers moving on their paths for a future where they can both be on the moon together. There are challenges for both and some really great scenes. Mutta even has some of his best material when he deals with Chief Butler along the way and makes an awkward miscommunication that the Chief gets all flustered about. Light and small moments like that are a delight in this series, but it’s the big moments and the overall scope that continues to make me a huge fan of this show.
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: December 1st, 2015
Running Time: 275 Minutes
Video Encoding: 1080p AVC
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Widescreen
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.