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Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Simply Anime: Space Brothers

OTHERWORLDLY

As a life long fan of Japanese animation or as it is more commonly called, anime, I have watched many types of films and shows that have ranged from the absurd like Bobobo-bo Bo-bobo, to Hitchcock inspired thrillers like Perfect Blue, that would go on to inspire Hollywood directors like Darren Aronofsky in films like Requiem for a Dream and Black Swan. So for my first official review here with Simplistic Reviews, I decided to give you my critique of a currently on-going series that even those new to anime will enjoy, Space Brothers.

Created by Chuya Koyama in 2008 originally as a manga (which is essentially a comic. In Japan, people regardless of age read manga and they have various categories just like books in your local library {people still go to those right?}) is published in the magazine Weekly Morning. The manga was nominated twice for a Manga Taisho award in 2008 and 2010, and would win the Shogakukan Manga Award for best general anime and in 2011 the Kodansha Manga Award in the same category. I don't need to tell you how big that is, I mean these are like the Eisner's of Japan, (ok you don't know what the Eisner's are, sorry didn't mean to alienate you any more than I already have. The Eisner Awards are given for excellence in cook books, kinda like a Golden Globe or Oscars. Yes, I could've just use that analogy to begin with but I'm talking a completely different medium here folks!) So to put this in perspective, Space Brothers in prose shared award winning company with titles such as Bleach, Inuyasha, Golgo 13, Galaxy Express 999, Salior Moon and Akira! This manga is no slouch. So, in 2012 it was adapted into an anime and is still going strong with 91 episodes under it's belt (and counting) and even boasts a full lengthened live action feature film to boot. Now, still skeptical of anime; or maybe you just haven't watched a series since Ash was try to catch the original 150 Pokemon, but just chill for a second before you write off this series and review.

This was a show that I began on a whim, probably after looking at something on my Tumblr wall in a moment of boredom and/or depression. I was, broke, unemployed and pretty much feelign as low as I possibly could at that moment. So, with no expectations for this show, I took a chance and started the series. After the first episode I was hooked. Not in the way that an action show can grab you but in an emotional way, like the first time I saw Bridge to Terabithia (the original and not the remake which I shudder to think about). The series characters paralleled so much of my life at the time and was so compelling, that before I knew it I was 10+ episodes in. Now this isn't me getting on a soap box and saying that an anime changed my life or anything like that, but I am saying that this amine is one that people can relate to on many levels for a multitude of reasons.

The story follows Mutta Nanba, (in Japan last names come first, so when you watch you will see the surname come first, i.e. Nanba Mutta), he's just been fired from his rather sweet job as automotive engineer, because his verbally abusive boss was disrespecting his brother Hibito whom is going to become the first Japanese astronaut on to walk on the moon, so, quick to defend of his brother, Mutta headbutted his boss in the face! Freaking. Awesome. However as art imitates life and Mutta's actions come at a cost. He soon finds himself black listed and unable to find a job. Untriumphantly he returns home to live with his parents and is forced to take any menial job he can find, that is until his past actions eventually bite him in the rear, then it's back to square one again. All the while, Mutta is trying to remain the staunch older brother, telling his parents not to inform his younger brother what happened. Of course as parents usually do, they don't adhere to the request and his mother tells Hibito. What ensues from that results in Mutta remembering a promise that he made years ago as a child and the opportunity to make that promise become a reality, when his mother submits his resume to JAXA (the Japanese version of NASA). We get to experience the lives of the Nanba brothers as one is venturing off into space and the other is making his way to catch up to his younger brother.

Filled with a cast of memorable characters like Ozzy - the senior citizen that lives in Houston near Hibito, who has a penchant for gambling (but in a good way), Kenji Makabe – Mutta's fast friend that he meets during the astronaut candidate processing phase, Serika Itou – Mutt's love interest with an insatiable appetite, and the person who steals the show whenever he's on, Apo – Hibito's pet pug that Mutta ends up watching once Hibito goes to space, (and no Apo doesn't talk, it's not that type of anime). Each character has their own motivations for being in the place that they're in and are each developed so well. Their reasons are as real as you, or me if we were trying to get a job. At the heart of the series, space is the backdrop for every single one these characters hopes and dreams. If as a child you were ever enthralled with all things outer space, than you too can relate. The reason why is because space, and space exploration represents what we can do as human beings. We can colonize new worlds or even the moon if we want to. We can dare to dream again like we did when we were young and it's okay. Space represents hope in the face of all that's not, and sometimes that all we ever really ever need. So I highly recommend Space Brothers for that reason alone. Oh, and did I mention that the hallmark of every anime, Space Brothers included, is the kick ass opening and closing themes. The theme for the first 13 episodes in a awesome J-Rock (Japanese rock) song by a band named Unicorn called “Feels SoMoon”, that really sets the tone for the series. The themes never let up, and you will enjoy them every time that they are on. Inversely, the ending themes are just catchy and enjoyable and are like a kiss goodnight after a great date (get it together Hollywood, you don't need that much freaking ad time). Bonus, you get exposed to a different type of music that you may never have heard before, so thank in advance for broadening you musical pallet.

I could go on but I think you get my drift. Watch Space Brothers. But of course; you don't have to take my word for it.

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