What They Say:
The brutal survival ordeal isn’t over yet, and the strain of non-stop training is taking its toll on Mutta’s health. Struck down by a fever, he has to summon all of his reserves just to keep walking. And that’s before the revelation of an unexpected new challenge: the competing teams must create a rover vehicle of their own design in just two weeks! With an assigned consultant who’s less than helpful, and who may have a conflict of interest centered around the systems being used for Hibito’s return to Earth, Mutta’s own experience with engineering may be the deciding factor. And even if they make it past that obstacle, the even more dangerous flight training is about to begin back in Houston! Can Mutta power through the survival and rover competitions in order to take a seat in a T38 jet? It’s time to fly like an eagle in SPACE BROTHERS – COLLECTION 5!
The Japanese 2.0 audio is encoded at 48 kHz at 224 Kbps. The show mostly focuses on dialog and voices, and the presentation remains clear and natural. There is no distortion and a clean audio transfer. Some scenes have localized sounds, and they seem well defined for a stereo presentation.
As originally released in 1.78:1, the video is encoded for anamorphic playback. Playback is variable bitrate. I saw no distracting artifacts from a normal viewing distance, and the clean transfer looks good for a standard definition disc.
The standard size keepcase with one hinged leaf holds three discs. Disc 1 and 2 are on opposite sides of the leaf, and the hub for 3 is inside the back cover. Like previous sets, each DVD is printed with a moonscape and the repeated words “Space” and “Brothers” shadowed over in shades of blue. The cover maintains the collector theme.
On my shelf, the spines of 1 through 4 show Hibito standing in an orange space suit, holding the helmet in his right arm. The spine for 5 completes a small moon and introduces Mutta’s right shoulder and suit sleeve. It appears he is holding Apo in a space suit.
The front cover has a fun picture of Mutta, Hibito and several side characters floating in space in poses recognizable from the show. The top third of the background is moonscape, the middle third is starry space, and the bottom third is an earth sky view. The back cover has the summary framed on the sides by rocket shapes with a moonscape texture. On the top and bottom are scenes from the episodes. There are no spoilers and only one dramatic image. The special features are clearly marked and the bottom third, like previous sets, has credits fill in the space above the technical grid. The copyright information appears in small white on black print at the bottom.
The menu screen for all three discs are the same and continue the style of the previous set. In the top left corner, there is a small view of the moon, with space and light effects in the mid ground. The foreground is a large section of the earth on the right side of the screen. The chapters are listed in a vertical column. The special features are on the first disc menu. The selector is a blue rocket shape that goes through the chapter title.
The only extras are a clean opening and ending.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
People wanting a refresher on the series should adore set 5. Episodes 52-54 are retrospectives that cover earlier story lines. When we make it to episode 55, we get back to Mutta at the end of his survival hike in the desert.
Mutta has earned the respect of his group, and when he comes down with a fever, they split his possessions to allow him to walk out unburdened. The next stage of training will be participating in the CanSat competition where they compete with other teams to build a rover that will fit in a small rocket, and when it lands, will travel autonomously to a marked location. This sets up a story arc where they are teamed up with an engineer, Pico, who seems to be completely out of place in the NASA universe. His slovenly behavior and constant alcohol use contrast to Mutta’s professional team.
Strangely, Pico’s exaggerated drinking never seems to meet with anyone’s contempt, but it comes as a surprise when he meets up with Vince, the severe military guy who is leading the astronaut training. It turns out they are friends from a coal mining town where the mine not only provides the only economic opportunity, but where even the guidance counselor sees no other viable path in their future. Vince and Pico have a third friend, Rick, with whom they build and launch rockets. This is where the story becomes melodrama. The boys are dreamers who want to leave their dead-end town. Their fathers don’t understand and want them to follow in the family tradition of working in the mines. Pico’s father blacks his boy’s eye, and Vince’s father calls the guidance counselor to force Vince to go to the local technical college. Rick, distraught, and apparently the only one without a drunken, abusive, and oppressive father, reacts emotionally to his friends giving up their dreams. Not to give away anything, but when Mutta utters a phrase that mimics something Rick once said after the boys’ model crashed, Vince and Pico look at him with a new respect.
Amazingly, Mutta’s sober attitude and focused drive save the day in both the contest and forging new friendships, but he loses his focus when Sharon, on a visit from Japan, appears to be ill. Serika recognizes the symptoms as those her father had when he was diagnosed with ALS. For the first time, Mutta faces a challenge and fails.
While Mutta works through the CanSat competition, Hibito meets up with Azuma on the moon, and their icy relationship thaws. Upon returning to earth, we learn that Hibito will depend on a parachute designed by Pico. We also find out Brian Jay died from a parachute malfunction caused by another company producing a parachute without testing. Even after he lost the contract, Pico approached Brian Jay who promised to have a drink with him on his return. Pico drinks alone and waits for Hibito’s crew to validate his honorable intentions for Brian.
The episodes in this collection have more concern with side stories and how they intersect with Mutta and Hibito than previous collections where the focus seemed solidly on one of the brothers. It is rare to see a realistic animated world where people suffer with aging, substance abuse, guilt, family strife, and disease. To have all of those things rolled up in a three DVD set seems worthwhile. Even though three episodes are mostly clip shows, the side stories create character motivations that will play out in future episodes.
For a series with 51 prior episodes, the creators have found mostly solid material to advance the story and give the characters more depth. Some of the topics are serious, but the shows have been punctuated with very effective humor. You will never make the mistake of thoughtlessly eating a peanut you find in your hair.
Recommended for fans who have seen earlier episodes and for anyone who wants to see cultural differences of portraying serious topics in animation.
Japanese 2.0 language with forced English subtitles, Clean Opening and Ending.
Content Grade: A-
Audio Grade: A-
Video Grade: A
Packaging Grade: B+
Menu Grade: B+
Extras Grade: C
Released By: Sentai Filmworks
Release Date: October 20th, 2015
Running Time: 325 minutes
Video Encoding: 480i/p MPEG-2
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic
Samsung 40” LCD 1080P HDTV, Sony BDP-S3500 Blu-ray player connected via HDMI, Onkyo TX-SR444 Receiver with NHT SuperOne front channels and NHT SuperZero 2.1 rear channel speakers.