After a long and arduous journey, Mutta and the other ASCANs have finally completed flight training, along with the rest of basic astronaut training, and are now officially astronauts. Mutta gives his flight instructor Deneil Young a fond farewell. Time passes as progress is made on the Moonbase. Now that Mutta is next to his brother as a fellow astronaut, Mutta must wait for his opportunity to go on a mission to the Moon.
Next to Hibito
Mutta doing zero gravity training in the pool
On August 23rd 2026, the anime "Mr. Hibbit" began airing on television. At that time Mutta was in the world's largest pool at the Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center undergoing zero-gravity training. During that training session he worked with Serika underwater. Then on November 1st, 2026 Deneil had his 68th birthday. At that time Hibito returned to Houston from his extended visit in Japan. Hibito started to notice that he felt more at home in Houston than in Japan. As time passed, Mutta received a lot more training, gained a lot more knowledge, more muscles and also many more letters from Sharon. Throughout all of Mutta's training he also gained many fond memories with his peers and his flight instructor Deneil.
Mutta's desk at the end of basic training
Eventually it was time for Mutta's last flight lesson with Deneil, and Deneil's last time teaching before retiring. Deneil saluted the portraits of the pilots who died in accidents once more after dressing up in the locker room. Deniel requested that Mutta have full control during their last flight from lift off the landing. Deneil said he wanted to relax in Max (the name of his jet) in the sky as if he were relaxing in a hammock. Deneil says that before he didn't have anyone he could trust with take off or landing, but he feels confident that since he taught Mutta that he can do it. Mutta agrees, even though it is breaking the rules. Deneil feels great getting the chance to completely relax in the sky and is happy that Mutta was his last student.
Mutta uses all his strength to thank Deneil
The tradition for a retiree like Deneil is for each person to dump a bucket of water on him as a show of gratitude. In this case Mutta is the first to dump a bucket of water on Deneil. So on June 20, 2027 Deneil retired and Mutta put his memories with Deneil Young in the notebook in his heart.
Everyone has worked hard on their dreams to get to where they are now
Over on the Moonbase in the present, Murasaki Sansei pranks his fellow astronauts with a remote controlled moon spider. Murasaki is part of the CES-56 crew (Hibito's crew was numbered CES-51) and he is also the third Japanese man to step on the Moon (the second being Azuma Takio, Hibito being the first). It is Murasaki's 6th day on the Moon and they are currently working to install solar panels to expand the Moonbase and are also experimenting with animals in 1/6th gravity. Murasaki sends a formal video message from the Moonbase to congratulate his fellow Japanese colleagues at JAXA for becoming astronauts (referring to Mutta, Serika, Kenji, Nitta and Ena). Murasaki adds that all that is left for them now is to wait for their assignments. Mutta comments how happy Murasaki looks.
Mutta is finally next to Hibito
Having completed basic training and gone through all the required tests and exams, Mutta and 27 other ASCANs are now astronauts. At the ceremony when they receive a badge and certificate, Mutta is happy that finally he will no longer be known as "astronaut Hibito's older brother". One of the first things they do is take a formal portrait to be hung on the wall next to portraits of other astronauts. Mutta wanted his own portrait to be next to his brother's on the wall. Over at JAXA, as they start hanging up the portraits of the 5 new Japanese astronauts, Hoshika and Nasuda-san reflect on how special this moment is.
Later, Mutta has a meeting with one of the Directors at NASA. After initially commenting on how poorly Mutta did during training and on the T-38 written test, the Director explains that there are several recommendations for Mutta as an astronaut. Mutta is then told that in 18 months there is spot open on a mission in the backup crew. The Director says it is up to Mutta to decide whether he wants to take the spot or not.
Points of Interest
- This is the second episode titled "Next to Hibito". A few other episodes also contain Hibito's name.
- The fictional anime "Mr. Hibbit" is a reference to Hibito's first steps on the Moon which made him look like an excited jumping bunny. (See episode 33 Moon Rabbit)
- When Mutta says "I'll be back," this is a reference to a line spoken by Arnold Schwarzenneger in the Terminator movies.
- Mutta's gift to Deneil, a pair of round sunglasses is a reference to Porco Rosso, an anime film about a human-pig pilot.