An Engineer's Switch

An Engineer's Switch is an anime episode of Space Brothers that was released on 05/11/2013
Mutta and the rest of Team E are slowly making progress with their CanSat for the Comeback Competition. However, their first attempt fails miserably, as the parachute fails to deploy and the rover gets stuck. Can they complete their CanSat without any help from their advisor?

via Crunchyroll.com

An Engineer's Switch

Team E goes ahead with testing
Team E goes ahead with testing

So far Team E's advisor, Pico Norton, has been unhelpful in helping them building a CanSat (a type of small payload rocket, carrying a self-steering rover) for the upcoming Comeback Competition. Meanwhile Azuma Takio, a Japanese astronaut, has just launched into space with 2 other astronauts and is now heading to the Moon. Azuma looks forward to meeting Hibito on the Moon soon. Mutta and the rest of Team E test their parachute design by doing a test launch, but it fails. Thankfully they did not launch their rover prototype along with the rocket, or else it would have broken. Mutta tries to look on the bright side and they go ahead with their testing, assuming that the rover landed safely. Mutta places the rover on the ground to see if the rover can navigate to the goal, but this too fails as the rover gets stuck on a rock mound.

It is only 5 days until the competition and Team E still has a lot of work to do. Pico observes that the tires are too small, but Pico doesn't say anything about this. The next day Ena overheard during lunch that Team C is using a "fly-back" instead of a "run-back" CanSat. Unlike a run-back which uses a rover and must land and navigate to the flag, a "fly-back" uses a glider to navigate through the sky and toward the goal flag. Making the switch to a fly-back CanSat sounds tempting at first, but Pico pipes up and asks them to use their heads and consider the cons of using a fly-back. The obvious problem is wind, Pico explains that at this time of year the winds are pretty strong, so unless they want to embarrass themselves, it is best to stay on the ground with a rover.

Mutta feels his hair for inspiration for designing a new wheel
Mutta feels his hair for inspiration for designing a new wheel

With the other teams probably ahead of them, Team E really starts to think about how to fix their rover so it can navigate obstacles. With Mutta's automobile engineering background, he suggests to add a little more diameter on the tires, which should help speed and getting over some obstacles. However they have to still have to fit the rover inside the rocket, and they also have to consider the weight limit. Pico thinks that expandable tires would be the best option, even though they would be cutting the weight limit close. Kenji suggests this, but Mutta says no. Instead Mutta says they should make the tires using sponge! Sponge is lightweight, it can be compressed the fit inside the rocket, and it can help absorb shock from the landing! This is something Pico had never considered and is really impressed by Mutta's creativity.

Pico Norton talks parachutes and folding
Pico Norton talks parachutes and folding

As the team moves on to consider the parachute problem, Pico gives them one piece of advise. Pico shows them how to properly fold a parachute, and says "while you built this, were you acting as though your fellow astronauts would be riding inside?" Pico says that traditionally the women do the folding, this started during WWII when women working would fold the parachutes hoping that their husbands and boyfriends would come home safely. After some work, Team E completes their new rover and Serika works on her parachute folding skills. Their test run is successful and they even have some time to play a few kids games with Pico.

Azuma and 2 Russian astronauts land on the Moon
Azuma and 2 Russian astronauts land on the Moon

As Team E celebrates their finished CanSat, meanwhile people are celebrating the successful landing of the Luniere 2 on the Moon, along with 3 astronauts (including Azuma Takio). They are currently rendezvousing with CES-51 astronauts (Hibito and the other astronauts who are already working on the Moon). Vincent Bold hears this news and sees Mutta looking for someone in the parking lot. Vincent asks Mutta what Mutta is doing since training for the day has ended. It turns out that Pico invited him to go drinking. Meanwhile Pico, who is on his way to the bar, is still tense about the return of 3 astronauts (Hibito, Linda and Damien) aboard the Orion pod in 5 days, using the parachute that he designed. Pico thinks to himself "in 5 days, once that parachute successfully opens, I'll be free." (Alluding to the Brian Jay accident)

Points of Interest

When the parachute opens
When the parachute opens
  • The first kids game that Pico plays is a variant on the Dalmation Chase, where dalmatians climb up a set of stairs and then slide back down to the bottom. Instead of dalmations, Pico's version is with penguins. He also plays a fishing game, and a two-player soccer game later in the episode.
  • "pico" is the Japanese onomatopoeia for beeping, hence the joke when the rover started making lots of beeping noises.
  • Frank Zappa once said, "A mind is like a parachute. It doesn't work if it is not open." Which applies nicely to figuring out creative solutions to problems like in this episode with the tires. Also parachutes were a main plot point in this episode.

Characters & Voice Actors

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Nanba Mutta ( x ) ( x ) ( x )
Hiroaki Hirata ( x ) ( x ) ( x ) (Japanese)
Azuma Takio ( x ) ( x ) ( x )
Kenji Nomura ( x ) ( x ) ( x ) (Japanese)
Pico Norton ( x ) ( x ) ( x )
Houchu Ohtsuka ( x ) ( x ) ( x ) (Japanese)
Nitta Reiji ( x ) ( x ) ( x )
Takanori Hoshino ( x ) ( x ) ( x ) (Japanese)
Ena Kitamura ( x ) ( x ) ( x )
Yuko Sanpei ( x ) ( x ) ( x ) (Japanese)
Kenji Makabe ( x ) ( x ) ( x )
Masayuki Kato ( x ) ( x ) ( x ) (Japanese)
Serika Itou ( x ) ( x ) ( x )
Miyuki Sawashiro ( x ) ( x ) ( x ) (Japanese)
Amanti Patel ( x ) ( x ) ( x )
Ayumi Tsunematsu ( x ) ( x ) ( x ) (Japanese)
Vincent Bold ( x ) ( x ) ( x )
Kenjiro Tsuda ( x ) ( x ) ( x ) (Japanese)

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