Space Brothers: Reaching for the moon and beyond

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I started watching A-1 Pictures&#39;&nbsp;<em>Space Brothers</em>&nbsp;not being sure what to expect. The main promotional image of the anime shows two brothers: one in an orange spacesuit, and the other in a normal suit carrying a pug, standing in space above Earth.


The anime&nbsp;<em>Space Brothers</em>&nbsp;is an adaptation of the manga by Chuya Koyama, which deals with the journey of the Nanba brothers as they transition from children to adults with dreams of going to space.&nbsp;


I&rsquo;m not usually a person that has a lot of patience for long anime, but I really enjoy the anime because the pacing is great, and everyone, including the side characters, are interesting in their own right. In its own way, it shows that going to space as an astronaut is not about one person, or a crew, but a great many people, both inside and outside the space agencies, who make space travel possible.


Let me back up a bit.&nbsp;<em>Space Brothers</em>&nbsp;is a story of siblings, the older brother Mutta and the younger brother Hibito. While the story flips between the two, their paths are intertwined by their fascination with space.&nbsp;


In the year 2025, Hibito is on his way to become the first Japanese astronaut to land on the moon, and Mutta had just been laid off at his job as a car designer for head-butting his supervisor (while shouting &ldquo;Zidane&rdquo;). Hibito reminds his older brother of the promise they had made as children, and Mutta is given a chance to follow him after passing the astronaut selection exam. Hibito had wanted to go to space and see the moon, and Mutta, wanting to stay ahead of his younger brother, spontaneously vowed to go to Mars. Over time, though, Mutta had lost his way by choosing to do jobs that are more concrete, more believable, more adult dreams, and tried to forget about being an astronaut until the day he was reminded by his brother.


<em>Space Brothers</em>&nbsp;treats space as an actual setting, and not a backdrop. It excels in the areas of a realistic take on becoming an astronaut: humour, pacing and character exploration. There are plenty of anime that take place in space, but in those cases, it feels like that space is just there to increase the number of settings and add another dimension of danger.&nbsp;


Studio Bones is particularly well known for writing stories where young male protagonists will simply jump into a giant robot without any prior knowledge, and pilot it into a fight, like in&nbsp;<em>Eureka Seven</em>,&nbsp;<em>Star Driver</em>, and&nbsp;<em>Captain Earth</em>. It is possible that user interfaces will be that advanced in that theoretical future, or we might even have space colonies be a reality in this lifetime, but none of these were so closely grounded and wholly possible as&nbsp;<em>Space Brothers</em>.


The show actually takes science and technology that exists today, and projects into a future where moon colonization is possible, and later, Mars.&nbsp;


It is undeniable that science fiction shapes the perspectives of those that consume it (I think we&rsquo;ve stopped asking about flying cars, for now?), and this is how the show comes off as extremely accurate, while being speculative of possibilities. After all, Waterloo engineering alumna Martha Lenio is leading a team in Hawaii for a Mars simulation mission right now. You can read about it on her blog at martianadventures.wordpress.com.&nbsp;


In this way, this anime is part of the science fiction that frames what we believe we can do. Science fiction can help define what we believe is possible; in the case of&nbsp;<em>Space Brothers,</em>&nbsp;a lot of the technology described is believable. Lunar telescopes, oxygen conversion rovers, crystals formed in space for cures are just some of ideas of what could be possible.


Mutta eventually does go to the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) to become an astronaut. I won&rsquo;t go into too much detail about what happens during exams, but the show works on multiple levels: showing what it takes mentally and physically to be an astronaut, the knowledge, the training, and the character interactions.&nbsp;


<em>Space Brothers</em>, outside of learning about how to become an astronaut, politics and all, is a heart-warming story, a drama about people who want to go up to space to climb the wall for humanity.


If you have a bit of time, (read: a lot), and like all things related to space, check out this show. This show has a lot heart; nothing &ldquo;important&rdquo; could be happening, and you&rsquo;ll still be warm and fuzzy, and hell, you might even cry at some parts.&nbsp;


The discs will be released by Sentai Filmworks next year, and from the sounds of it, they haven&rsquo;t announced a dub yet. It&rsquo;s currently streaming free on Crunchyroll.