A new anime season has descended upon us. It’s a time for me to look at my Twitter feed and marvel: what vile crap you people are watching!
One of the pieces of interesting news to come out of the Gathering of the Juggalos this weekend (I mean Anime Expo) was Space Brothers being licensed for DVD release by Sentai Filmworks. Sure, it’s been streaming on Crunchyroll ever since the series began 14 weeks ago, but the license demonstrates some kind of faith of it being a viable property for the American DVD-buying anime audience, however fiscally inconsequential that audience is these days.
Space Brothers is about Mutta Nanba, a salaryman with an afro that, after being fired from his job, reconnects with a lifelong desire to become an astronaut. His younger brother Hibito never let that dream fade, and is already preparing for his first space mission. Mutta is accepted into an experimental program that will winnow down its participants until only a select few are chosen to become astronauts, and there his quest to catch up to his little brother begins!
Space Brothers is an all-out oddity as far as anime goes: it’s about adults without any fantastical or fetishistic elements thrown in. Naturally, it’s based on a Japanese comic, a medium far more conducive to variety than it’s animated counterpart usually is. It’s also unbelievably pleasant to watch. Mutta and Hibito are three-dimensional characters that wear their hearts on their sleeves, display unapologetic enthusiasm, and have relatable but unsevere adult problems.
Most recently I fired up episode fourteen, which featured a new opening song and animation. When I saw the characters doing badly choreographed dance moves, I was at first disappointed, then I realized it was inevitable.
Even as a huge fan of Space Brothers, I have to tell you, I think it may be a kind of moe show. There’s an underlying over-simplification to it, a sort of dramatic conceit that, if unaccepted, would make show unwatchable. Unlike traditional moe the conceit isn’t that the lives of young girls with big eyes and gaping mouths are entertaining to watch animated. But Space Brothers does ask you to accept an idealized and cutified view of adulthood. The world of Space Brothers is one where everyone is basically charitable, funloving, and plays by the rules. The severity of conflict is minor compared to anything resembling the real world.
I don’t think Space Brothers is sickly sweet, and I still love watching it. I simply have a better understanding of why it may not be to everyone’s taste. If there were twenty shows a season that did the same thing, I’d be tired of it by now. But Space Brothers still remains an immensely unique issuance from a medium that continues to be choked by superficial formula.
Have fun with the summer anime season. I think I’ll loop Feel So Moon a few times.