Taking notice of the wristbands that were handed out, Nitta suspects that they’re used to keep track of their physical and mental condition before showing up just as Serika tells Mutta to refer to her by her first name, and attempting to do away with the nickname Nitta has for him Mutta tells him the same but Nitta agrees only if he can beat him.
“Eureka” by Sukima Switch.
Continuing from this Nitta remembers the rule that if even one of the members of their team leaves the exam their entire team will be disqualified, before he goes on to their daily exercises which involve answering multiplication questions while running on a treadmill for five minutes straight, and copying multiple pages of text. During which Mutta fails when he tries to put his air abacus to use in the former as the beads bounced with every step he took, while Nitta affirms to himself that JAXA must be looking for those who can maintain calm.
Following this all the teams are shown a news report where a journalist criticises the validity and cost of the space program, of how despite how much funding it gets nothing comes out of it, and are asked to put together a retort to convince her otherwise. For this Mutta remembers a story he and Hibito heard when the astronaut Souichi Noguchi gave a lecture nearby, answering this question by comparing humans to ants who had only one dimension to move on, eventually learning to move in two dimensions and later three. Then stating that sending humans to space is one such example of this and that the perspective it gives them could very well allow people to answer questions they otherwise couldn’t. From this Mutta concludes that it would be impossible to convince the journalist otherwise without taking her to space.
On Kenji’s team’s side of things, Yamato notes how nervous Teshima is and how Tomii is too preoccupied with his Rubik’s Cube during this and his resentment to Kenji stepping forth as their leader. At this point however Kenji asks Tomii for his opinion leading to him putting forth a series of theories comparing Earth to a living life form, Gaia with a desire to reproduce and humans to either genes or cancer cells before noting that mutation is necessary. Yamato immediately shutting it down on a practical matter while Kenji believes that how they work towards the answer is more important than the answer itself. Back on Mutta’s side of things each of his team members put forth their responses before coming to Mutta who believes that they shouldn’t respond, and should instead believe in Hibito to capture the hearts of the Japanese people by being the first Japanese man to land on the moon, however because a blank page wouldn’t work they settle for Serika’s answer. However even so Nasuda having heard Mutta’s answer decides that they shouldn’t respond at all.
In the next episode the teams enter their fifth day in their examination environments as Mutta and Furuya engage in some friendly competition over their pudding cups by pulling faces at each other until one of them breaks. Fukuda stepping up once Mutta loses and eventually overcomes Furuya. Following this we’re shown a glimpse into Fukuda’s past as his work on developing a rocket eventually took its toll on his marriage and even his relationship with his daughter, however as he reaches for his glasses he accidentally knocks them to the ground and Furuya steps on them. Leaving their team with the conundrum of how to deal with this while Fukuda insists on going on regardless, Mutta taking notice of how much he begins to struggle and insists that Furuya apologise even if it wasn’t intentional.
As Fukuda attempts to recover the flashbacks we were shown continue fourteen years prior to the beginning of the series, declaring his dream to design a rocket and travel to space on it while his wife dismisses it and how his daughter will have already grown up when he realises it. Leading him to remember one instance of where he had put his dream ahead of his family, unable to give his daughter a proper answer as to when his rocket would be complete as he left for work, serving to further temper his resolve. During another one of their competitions, Mutta notes the things that he’s noticed about his team members one week on, Furuya is sensitive to being called small and is quick to use chimpanzees as a measure of comparison, Serika is a good cook but always cooks too much, Nitta is always calm and the veins on his arms tend to bulge, and Fukuda is one tough fifty-four year old.
However once again Mutta loses to Furuya, who notes that it’s easier to balance on your knuckles than your palms while Mutta once again insists that he apologise for putting Fukuda in such a disadvantage, and when he notes that Fukuda was already at an advantage beforehand from knowing some of the examiners, Serika explains that he had quit his job to take it. So having contemplated it fully after this Furuya stands in front of the camera at night with a message asking the Mission Control to replace Fukuda’s glasses, dispelling any guilt he felt.
“Kokuhaku” by Angela Aki.
Another good two episodes, with them we’re seeing some nice development regarding the members of the Mutta’s team and how they all interacting together. Let alone it also brought up the problem that had plagued the space program and provided some nice answers to it.
The question of whether the space program is even worth supporting given the cost in comparison to the benefits it will grant, a conflict between a great short-term cost and the vast long-term gain that will come with it where the long-term in question isn’t exactly defined. It’s a question that must plague the space program even today and to an extent has already been answered in history, even with the pressures of the Cold War that drove it the space program would have still been resented for the funding it required but even so the moon landing is remembered as one of the definitive points of the twentieth century and today we don’t even consider the cost that it required. However some fourty odd years on and fifty for the show, there have yet to be any more equally monumental steps forward to capture all our hearts in the same way and the question is once more being asked, and for that I thought that it was nice to see this question brought up.
Out of the many answers put forward that which was put brought in by Mutta from Souichi Noguchi (who appeared to voice himself interestingly enough) was an interesting one, with the way it was put it portrayed the space program as a long unending path requiring one footstep after another but at the same time the perspective needed to liberate humanity of the chains of gravity and provide answers to questions on Earth. In accompanying the question of the relevancy of the space program such an answer was interesting to see, saying that in a matter of time humanity will reap the benefits it would offer and be grateful for them but its a matter of supporting it until then.
In both of these episodes yet primarily in the second one it was also nice to see the members of Mutta’s team further developed, as while we already know Mutta and Serika quite well the other members of their team aren’t exactly that detailed. We have an idea of what their characters are like, Nitta is cool-headed and confident, Furuya is quick to speak his mind, and Fukuda is the eldest of the examinees but doesn’t let it get in his way at all, but we don’t really know much else. So it was great to see this being touched upon, through things like the random competitions that Mutta has with them we’re getting a better idea of their characters and with it some fun scenes as well.
As part of this the development for Fukuda’s character was great, personally I thought that the drama that came with him losing his glasses was a little forced but what it put Furuya through and this development for Fukuda more than made up for the cliche in it. What he had mentioned to Kenji suggested such but I’m not sure whether to feel sad for him or admire him, he’s still chasing his childhood dream well into his fifties but at the same time has given up everything for it, becoming an absent father to his daughter, breaking the sacred pinky promise, drifting away from his wife, and even quitting what would have been a good job for it. His resolve is admirable but at the same time if it comes to nothing his sacrifices too would have been for nothing, he would have accomplished everything that constitutes succeeding at life only to lose it all. Either way to see his character developed this much was pretty nice, so hopefully we’ll see something similar for the other characters to explain why they’re there too, they’re willing to place their lives on the line to become astronauts but we don’t even know why.
Also on one final note the new opening that came with the fourteenth episode doesn’t feel as moon as the first but I still like the fun quirky style that the animation has with the dancing segment, and with it the new ending isn’t that bad either.