Having arrived back in Japan, Mutta finds himself haunted by the fact that his younger brother is already considering what would happen if he were to die, the letters he found being something of a will.
Because of this Mutta looks into accidents that had happened and finds that it would hardly be something uncommon for an astronaut to do when something like the parachute opening and not getting tangled could mean the difference between life and death. Following this he heads back to his parents’ house and tries to tell them about this as his father shows him the impressions he learned, and even when he does his mother suggests that he practice his calligraphy.
Back in the United States at this point, Hibito tells one of his apparent mentors, Eddie up in the International Space Station that his brother passed his exam and given that the ISS is floating over Japan, Eddie decides to wave at the supposedly watching Mutta. After this Mutta meets up with Kenji and his family, his wife and two year old daughter at a family restaurant, with Mutta later congratulating him on them and Kenji confiding that if he does become an astronaut and get accepted for the Mars expedition, it would mean leaving his daughter without a father for two and a half years. They then go on to a party with all the other members of their group where those who passed are congratulated and Mutta turns out to be quite popular after his incident on tv, and because Hibito refused to he was forced to do the kiss marks on the autographs himself.
During this they also begin to talk about what they would like to work on if they make it to the end, both Mutta and Kenji wanting to go on the Mars expedition, the latter revealing that things like Olympus Mons and Valles Marineris interest him, while Serika wants to work on the ISS. Leading to Mutta feeling a sense of connection only to have Kenji shut it down, and later find something sad about it, knowing that the ISS will be decommissioned before she will even have a chance to. Learning from the same examinee he had gotten Hibito’s autograph for, that her father died of an illness when she was fourteen and that he had attempted to create a cure before he passed away, so to fulfill her father’s wish Serika needs to be able to do research in Zero Gravity.
In the following episode Mutta finds himself lacking a sense of purpose in his plight to become an astronaut compared to the others, but his Aunt Sharon assures him that the one he has right now is more than enough, and as he leaves for his third exam she finds herself reflecting on how he and Hibito first came to her twenty years ago wanting to look at the moon. Following this Mutta arrives at the JAXA centre and other than finding that there are only fifteen participants left, he also finds that the weird hair guy is actually JAXA’s Director Nasuda.
Soon after this the fifteen are brought over to a rather cramped looking and closed off bus for the trip to where the exam will be taking place, Kenji noticing the cameras watching over the seats the instant he steps in, realising that this too is part of the exam. The instructor asking each of them to take a number, sit in the appropriate seat, and talk to their neighbour for ten minutes before moving on to the next seat, and while they’re left exhausted after this Mutta is overjoyed to have been able to talk with Serika.
Following this however the instructor passes around a sheet and tells them all to rank themselves and everyone else on how qualified they believe they are to become an astronaut. And after this they go on to have lunch before they’re asked to rest in preparation for the exam that will start as soon as they arrive at the top secret facility.
Unfortunately I got behind on writing these posts again but another good two episodes none the less, in these two episodes we’ve seen Mutta undergo both a mortality crisis regarding his goal and even whether his reason is good enough, and move on from both. All while the third exam started with a nice bit of development for both Kenji and Serika was thrown in.
Which in itself was good, Kenji has gone from the bro character who excels at everything and nonchalantly shoots Mutta down, to a man conflicted between accomplishing what has to be a dream he’s had for a long time and leaving his wife and young daughter without him and the effects it would have. While Serika on the other hand has went from the cute and perky girl to a slightly tragic character, just as I had suspected her reason for wanting to become an astronaut is related to fulfilling her now deceased father’s wish, which as Mutta had noted is being pulled out of her reach and while her cheerful attitude may be genuine that aspect can’t be easily ignored. So with these two aspects introduced it was nice to see a little more depth given to their characters.
In part it also led to something nice on Mutta’s part, unlike them he doesn’t have a reason to look back nor does he have a strong reason to become an astronaut other than a childhood dream which simply pales in comparison to the selfless goal that Serika has. But even so with Sharon‘s help he managed to get over this in the course of a single episode and realise that what he has is already enough, and before that he confronted and overcame the fear that in becoming an astronaut he was risking his life, the fact that his brother had written a will causing him to confront the risk involved. And so compared to how long his earlier sense of doubt and misfortune lasted this rapid development was great, it may not have nearly been such a monumental step for his character but it was still nice to see over the course of two episodes all the same.
Secondly how the third exam and with it this arc were shown to have already began was pretty fun, while primarily only Kenji seemed to notice from the start even their trip to the facility where they would be doing the exam could be considered a test. Observing how they coped in confined conditions without a clear sense of time with the same people. Let alone through the conversation exercise all the other participants in the exam were detailed over the course of a few seconds each, serving to turn what were otherwise faceless figures in the background to characters in their own right who it’s quite easy to see getting a bit of focus each over the course of this arc. So as a way of kicking this arc off it was a nice way of doing it, it contained a slightly subtle test and served to detail the other characters just enough to suggest that they wouldn’t entirely be left in the background.