3-D Ant

3-D Ant is an anime episode of Space Brothers that was released on 06/23/2012

JAXA continues to monitor each team closely. The teams do tasks that test their endurance and concentration. For their last task of the day they are told to write a letter of protest to win over a news anchor who is against national funding for space exploration. This causes Mutta to remember a metaphor of a 3-D Ant from a lecture given by a Japanese astronaut that he and Hibito attended as children.

Plot Summary

Before entering the living capsule, each person was given a black bracelet for them to wear during the two weeks. Nitta figures out that it is probably to monitor their stress levels. Nitta laughs and realizes that now he cannot even relax in the washroom. Nitta overhears Serika giving Mutta permission to call her by her first name. Reiji walks past them and continues to call Mutta "big brother." (See Note 1) Mutta does not like this and tries to be cool and give Nitta permission to use use his first name. Nitta laughs and says that if Mutta beats him in the next task he will call Mutta by his first name.

Nitta thinks about the black bracelets they were given
Nitta thinks about the black bracelets they were given

On top of the bracelets they were given, Nitta is also puzzled about the additional rule they were given. The rule is that if any person steps out of the capsule before the end of the exam, the whole team is disqualified. Nitta wonders why they bothered to warn them about something that probably no one would dare to do in the first place.

Their first task of the day is "Running Math" which they will be doing once each day. In the challenge each member runs on a treadmill while answering as many math questions as possible withing 5 minutes (for example "45 x 82 ="). Mutta is determined not to lose to Nitta. When it is his turn, he pulls out his air abacus. However, Mutta is only able to get 4 questions correct. The reason was because his air abacus was too realistic, causing the beads to jump around while he was running. Their next task is to do a typing test for 2 hours. They each copy a wall of text, the text is a long broken string of English capital letters. Yasushi and Fukuda seem to be having trouble and voice their thoughts. Nitta is determined to remain calm and deliberate at all times. Nitta concludes from both the bracelet and the tests they have been doing, that JAXA wants quantitative measures of who is fit to be an astronaut.

Yasushi teases Mutta
Yasushi teases Mutta

On their next task they are first given a video to watch from a recent news show. The video is of a female news anchor named Shiokawa who talks about how expensive it is to fund space programs, which has yet to produce results. The funding of which could be put toward solving other problems. The teams are reminded that space exploration may be seen by the public in a negative light but JAXA is proud of the work they do and will be sending a letter of protest to Shiokawa. They are instructed to discuss with their team members and write a single letter that will win over Shiokawa.

1-D ants don't know where to go
1-D ants don't know where to go

When thinking what to write, Mutta remembers a lecture that he and Hibito went to as children by astronaut Nobuchi Souichi. Nobuchi explained why he thinks space exploration is important. Nobuchi gives the metaphor of 3-D ants which goes roughly as follows: First imagine a 1-D ant, who can only walk in a straight line forward or backward. Then if there is a rock in the way, the 1-D ant cannot go further until a 2-D ant comes along who can go both backward/forwards and side to side. The ants follow the 2-D ant's lead and move past the rock until they come to a wall that stretches infinitely from side to side. The 2-D ants are stuck until a 3-D ant comes along that can climb up and over the wall. Nobuchi-san concludes that we can find new solutions if we look at things from a different perspective. This was a hit with Mutta and Hibito, but Mutta is not so sure that it will be enough to win over a hard-headed journalist.

Team A discusses things while being watched by JAXA
Team A discusses things while being watched by JAXA

Over in Team B with Kenji and the others (Teshima, Yamato, Tomii, Kitamura and Kenji). Yamato begins to doubts that Teshima will end up being chosen as an astronaut, seeing how nervous he always is, and wonders why he was even chosen for the third exam. Tomii speaks for once and remembers reading about a metaphor of humans as the genes of Earth. As humans are trying to replicate themselves they must mutate in order to adapt to new situations or environments. In this case the next logical step is space exploration. Everyone is impressed with the metaphor, but Yamato is not so sure that the journalist will understand it even though it is a "correct answer". Kenji doubts that JAXA cares whether they give the correct answer, but are probably more concerned about their discussion.

Soon Hibito will land on the Moon
Soon Hibito will land on the Moon

Back in Team A, Yasushi's letter is very blunt and almost rude. Fukuda thinks that Serika's letter is the best which is concise and uses examples from current medical research. After half an hour, Mutta hasn't written anything other than the line for Nobuchi's ant metaphor. When asked what his answer is, Mutta turns over the page which is blank and says that his answer is for them not to protest. After thinking about the Ant metaphor and how to win over a 2-D hardliner, the only way is to take them into the 3-D world, into space. Yasushi protests saying that it will never work. Mutta says that it is fine because they have Hibito. Some day space will be more accessible, but until then, soon enough Hibito will land on the moon and be the first Japanese to set foot on the moon. That, Mutta says, will make space more accessible in people's minds. In the end, Team A decides to submit Itou's letter since they did not want to risk being disqualified on this task. The JAXA staff are about to submit Itou's letter, but Director Nasuda tells them not to. It seems Nasuda was affected by Mutta's words.

Points of Interest

  • In Japanese, Reiji is calling Mutta "onii-chan" which literally translates to "big brother" in english, but is can also be used to refer to males who are slightly older than the speaker. This is also a reference to the fact that Mutta is Hibito's big brother, who is already an astronaut.

Characters & Voice Actors

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Nitta Reiji ( x ) ( x ) ( x )
Takanori Hoshino ( x ) ( x ) ( x ) (Japanese)
Nanba Mutta ( x ) ( x ) ( x )
Hiroaki Hirata ( x ) ( x ) ( x ) (Japanese)
Serika Itou ( x ) ( x ) ( x )
Miyuki Sawashiro ( x ) ( x ) ( x ) (Japanese)
Furuya Yasushi ( x ) ( x ) ( x )
Ryo Naito ( x ) ( x ) ( x ) (Japanese)
Tsurumi ( x ) ( x ) ( x )
Eiji Ito ( x ) ( x ) ( x ) (Japanese)
Fukuda Naoto ( x ) ( x ) ( x )
Naoki Bandou ( x ) ( x ) ( x ) (Japanese)
Yamato Mizoguchi ( x ) ( x ) ( x )
Shintaro Asanuma ( x ) ( x ) ( x ) (Japanese)
Shigeo Nasuda ( x ) ( x ) ( x )
Yutaka Aoyama ( x ) ( x ) ( x ) (Japanese)
Kenji Makabe ( x ) ( x ) ( x )
Masayuki Kato ( x ) ( x ) ( x ) (Japanese)
Yuri Teshima ( x ) ( x ) ( x )
Masayasu Nagata ( x ) ( x ) ( x ) (Japanese)
Tomii ( x ) ( x ) ( x )
Shigeyuki Susaki ( x ) ( x ) ( x ) (Japanese)


Add a credit to 3-D Ant. (No voice actors. Add voice actors to characters above.)
Yoshio Suzuki Episode Director
Ayumu Watanabe Director
Chuuya Koyama Original Concept Creator of the manga Uchuu Kyoudai.
Koji Yabuno Character Artist/Designer
Toshizo Nemoto Writer
Yoshihiro Oka Storyboard
Toshiyuki Watanabe Music


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