- Animated by A-1 Pictures. They usually have great production values but they went easy on this one, so it doesn’t look as amazing as their other works.
- Directed by Watanabe Ayumu, who prefers to deal only with retro-style anime (Doraemon movies and Nazo no Kanojo X).
- Based on an award winning novel. Not a light novel, so there is going to be some quality here.
The show is in a nutshell about two adult brothers trying to fulfill the dream they had as kids -> becoming astronauts. The younger brother kept on to that and managed to be the first Japanese astronaut on the moon, while the other gave up and became a simple worker, until he got fired and now lives with his parents. After his younger brother insists, he decides to give it another shot, as there is an upcoming project to send a crew to Mars.
The series combines two seemingly very different genres. The first is sort of a motivational story of two boys trying to fulfill their dreams despite all odds. The other is a somewhat realistic slice of life where they face all sorts of everyday problems and issues. On paper it feels extremely interesting, as it is neither JUST a silly teen adventure with superpowers and improbable physics, nor a simple sitcom where nothing of importance ever happens. On screen though, it fails on both cases to be amazing, as it is neither exciting without the cool action, nor soothing enough to make you giggly inside.
SCRIPT & CAST
The main problem with this show is how easy going it is to the point nothing feels important enough to care. The story is presented almost entirely through the eyes of Mutta, the elder brother, who has a ton of issues to solve in his life. He has no job, he has no girlfriend, he lives with his parents, and the younger brother is way ahead of him instead of seeing his elder brother as a role model. One would think he would try really hard to fix all that, and that he would undergo vigorous training or face perilous challenges that would make him constantly angry, anxious, or sad.
Instead of all that, you barely get anything worth raising your eyebrow. To the most part he calmly criticizes everything with an internal monologue, and does his best to make it all sound silly and superficial. He is practically a comic relief in a show that has no tension to need relief. His dog is funny, his parents are easy going, his brother is always cheery, his love interest isn’t doing anything, the whole space exploration project looks as dangerous as writing a school exam; there is practically nothing to worry about in here. A guy with a ruined life plans to go to Mars and it feels like he is going for groceries and makes fun at the potatoes’ shapes. That is not motivational or interesting at all.
It is not that good as an elegiac type of show either. Mutta is constantly having flashbacks of his childhood, when he and his carefree brother were having a great time playing and making oaths of becoming astronauts when they grow up. And now he is none of all that, as his life is in ruins. Yet look at that, there is practically NOTHING for you to feel sad about, since he gets more than a little push by his brother and parents. And he is quite humorous about all that too. He is breezing through his problems with no suffering or much anxiety, which again ruins the mood.
More problems include pacing and duration. For a story with has close to no plot or tension it is far longer than most action or adventure anime, plus it moves way too slow, and even has summary arcs. As if we can’t remember what the hell they WEREN’T doing for the past 50 episodes. Just how stupid do they think modern viewers are? This is almost offending, but I was too bored to even care enough to hate it.
All the themes in this show were presented in a much more elaborate and interesting way in a similar older anime named Planetes. Compared to that show, Space Brothers is nothing but a lukewarm time killer and nothing else. The production values are ok but nothing amazing, the characters are ok but nothing amazing, hell EVERYTHING in it is just a lukewarm soup. As much as nice it feels to have a show that is not trying to be mainstream by having lolis instead of adult men, or improbable superpowers instead of a mostly realistic setting, it still fails to keep you interested for long. I mean, ok, it looks extremely more realistic not to have teenagers learning how to pilot huge super robots in a few minutes but rather adults that need years of mostly easy going tests just to steer a shuttle properly. It still ends up being another one of those relaxation series you watch after a hard day and not something you watch to be motivated in pursuing whatever dreams you have. And it surely doesn’t try to make you feel nostalgic of the dreams you DIDN’T fulfill either.
A completely mediocre show, despite looking so different next to whatever else was airing along with it.
And now for some excused scorings.
ART SECTION: 5/10
General Artwork 1/2 (typical)
Character Figures 1/2 (generic)
Backgrounds 1/2 (basic)
Animation 1/2 (basic)
Visual Effects 1/2 (basic)
SOUND SECTION: 8/10
Voice Acting 5/5 (mature tone)
Music Themes 3/5 (not great but fitting with the feeling of the series)
STORY SECTION: 5/10
Premise 2/2 (interesting)
Pacing 0/2 (terribly slow)
Complexity 1/2 (not much)
Plausibility 1/2 (so-so)
Conclusion 1/2 (cheesy)
CHARACTER SECTION: 5/10
Presence 1/2 (average)
Personality 1/2 (typical)
Backdrop 1/2 (generic and simplistic but it’s there)
Development 1/2 (overblown but it’s there)
Catharsis 1/2 (probably overblown but it’s there)
VALUE SECTION: 3/10
Historical Value 0/3 (none)
Rewatchability 1/3 (low because of too little plot)
Memorability 2/4 (feels different than most modern shows but still quite unimpressive)
ENJOYMENT SECTION: 4/10
Art 0/1 (looks typical)
Sound 1/2 (sounds ok)
Story 1/3 (good premise but dull presentation)
Characters 2/4 (they are ok but not interesting in any way)