Following the interview side of things Mutta’s next step at JAXA is a series of sometimes humiliating physical exams which go into quite a bit of detail.
Other than that while he believes that he had done well, he finds himself straggling behind Kenji and some of their fellow examinees who are still in their twenties, however the cute girl he saw in the cafeteria, Serika puts them all to shame. And even on the test side of things these feelings of inferiority continue as Kenji almost appears to know everything.
What’s more he also realises that he could be being singled out by the other examinees as the one to beat due to his brother, placing him at a further disadvantage, however things start to look up when it comes to lung capacity. Which with those years he spent playing the trumpet he completely dominates with ease, only stopping when he finds Serika keeping up with him. After which he confides these feelings of inferiority in Kenji, who cheers him up by telling him that they don’t only look for high results. However even this isn’t enough to put him at ease, and as he wonders whether he’ll even succeed he looks at his reflection in a spacesuit in the lobby, completely embarrassing himself when he realises that Serika is behind him.
However it turns out that she wasn’t weirded out by him at all, as when she cheerfully writes in her diary and talks with her mother she reflects on a visit to JAXA with her family where her father did the exact same thing, wondering whether she should try doing it tomorrow. The same night Mutta also reflects on a visit he and Hibito had taken to JAXA, running about taking photographs of each other. The next day Mutta meets up with Kenji again, noticing that their friendship happens to revolve quite a bit around handshakes, finding Serika in front of the spacesuit when they walk into the lobby, and with the exams coming to an end Mutta resolves to pass.
Another fun episode, it was great to see Mutta keep going despite falling behind the much younger and more in shape examinees, and Kenji doing what he can to cheer him up. Most of all though, this episode better introduced us to the apparent heroine and third member of the trio, Serika Itou.
Introducing her as a relatively young, and from how she writes in her diary, pretty cheerful as well, noting little things such as the weather and what she had for lunch, even throwing in a small doodle of a piece of broccoli for it. So far she seems young and healthy, contrasting nicely with Mutta, an old man who isn’t as in shape. Secondly we can also assume that she has strong ties with her family, the way she talked with her mother suggested that it was something of routine she does every night, and it goes without saying at this point that her father would have inspired her on her current path.
Being suggested in a rather nice way in how she remembered a childhood visit to JAXA with her family, where her father had goofily imagined himself as an astronaut, though from the way it was looked back upon that something had happened to him and that in part she’s attempting to become an astronaut in his place. More prominently though, it also provided a sweet way of bridging her and Mutta, whereby seeing Mutta do the exact same thing Serika was reminded of her father and inspired to try it herself, which in turn he was able to see that she held the same somewhat childish dreams that he has. It was just a nice way of connecting the two from just being fellow examinees.
Other than that one of the fun things about this episode were the somewhat stereotypical gruelling physical exams and how Mutta reacted to them, just when he was beginning to believe that he was doing well what optimism he had was crushed upon seeing examinees in their twenties and even Kenji dwarf his scores. Seeing the exams as a competition rather than a test, losing sight of his direct goal. However after this he was able to further gather his resolve and keep going, with Kenji giving him bit of a push and put his years playing the trumpet to use in the lung capacity exam. It was just great to see him overcome his doubts and manage to achieve some amount of success.