Well hi there! I hope everyone is enjoying the anime that they have been watching and finding cool things to think and talk about with all your friends and family. You know.. to show everyone how great anime can be. I recently finally started watching Monster, it's really nice (be sure to check out Tom's articles if you're interested in that series). Otherwise I have been watching more of the same (One Piece, Kids on the Slope, Mysterious Girlfriend X among other things). Also I started getting back into wiki editing, working on episode pages mostly. If you are interested, keep an eye out in the weekly Community Spotlight for some of my more recent work. >.>
A brief plot synopsis for those unfamiliar with Space Brothers: Mutta and Hibito are brothers with a few years age difference, Mutta being the older brother. One of Mutta's most important principles that he lives by is that "the older brother should always be leading the younger brother." As a result of this principle, Mutta, both as a child and an adult, has always tried to out-do, excel further than younger brother Hibito in order to be a model older brother who can lead and protect his younger brother.
As children, Mutta and Hibito while out exploring a nearby forest, witness what they think to be a UFO. After that moment Hibito swears that he will become an astronaut and go to the Moon. Mutta, wanting to be the leading older brother, promises that he too will become an astronaut, but he will go to Mars! Fast forward a dozen or so years and Hibito has become an astronaut who is currently training with NASA to go on a mission to the Moon. Meanwhile Mutta is a automobile engineer over in Japan, who just lost his job.
The series follows Mutta as he tries to become an astronaut. As he does so, he realizes that almost everywhere he goes, he is recognized as "Hibito's older brother," not as Nanba Mutta. So Mutta is determined to make a name for himself. However, at the same time Mutta's decisions and actions are largely influenced by his younger brother Hibito. In episode 9, Yamato, a character who did not pass the second round of recruitment to become an astronaut, comments that Mutta only passed because he is Hibito's older brother. Also if it weren't for Hibito saying, "I want to become an astronaut," and Mutta's desire to be a model older brother, Mutta might not have promised to become an astronaut.
So the problem is, is becoming an astronaut really Mutta's dream? It seems like his real dream is to always be one step ahead of his younger brother. However, if that is his real dream, then he will always be considered, even by himself, as "Hibito's older brother," because that's ultimately what he's going to be if all he does is try to compete with his brother. This problem is brought up explicitly, but briefly, in episode 7. Mutta is visiting Hibito in America, and Mutta almost gives up on becoming an astronaut. Then Hibito says angrily to Mutta, "if you can give up [on becoming an astronaut]... then becoming an astronaut was never really your dream." But was it wasn't really his dream to begin with?
Mutta is in a similar situation to Chihaya in Chihayafuru. Chihaya's initial dream is for her older sister to become a popular idol. Then after playing Karuta with Arata, she changes her dream to becoming the Queen of Karuta. But it is not exactly clear whether she chose this dream because of Arata, or because she really wants it for herself.
With only a few more episodes to go, I wouldn't be surprised if Mutta ultimately does not become an astronaut. It would be a bit of a downer, but given this series' more mature tone, it would certainly drive home a few good life lessons, if you believe in that sort of thing. Whatever happens, I'm excited to see how it decides to conclude.
-----------------Watch Space Brothers for free at Crunchyroll.com
Holly cow I talked about Space Brothers way longer than I thought I would. Errrr, I'll try (haha) to keep this one short. If you want a brief introduction to the series plot please check out my previous blog post.
This series has some excellent music. No really, just follow this link and listen to the attached clip. Since I play piano myself, I understand how hard it can be to improvise on piano and make it sound really good and authentic. Then I began to wonder how the songs for the anime were recorded. You can tell just by the above clip, a lot of it is (almost certainly) improvised. That's just how jazz works, there are some rules and guidelines for chords, scales, and ways to improve your technique and practice, but a lot of jazz comes down to feeling it on the spot.
Then I began to wonder how hard it must have been to match the animation to the audio recording. I mean... FUCKK. The animators must've worked really closely with the musicians/audio guys to get the movements of Kaoru and Sentaro down just right. I remember when I first watched that clip in episode 7, I believed that it was Kaoru and Sentaro playing, not just two characters who are animated to match a pre-recorded audio recording. And to make it so that something like jazz which is so heavily improvised, actually feel improvised and authentic, when it is actually pre-recorded and animated, is a HUGE accomplishment.
Kids on the Slope is my top anime pick for this season, possibly for this year. It's that amazing.
-----------------Watch Kids on the Slope for free at Crunchyroll.com
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