With his meal portions steadily shrinking at home Mutta comes to realise that he has to get a job in the time before he heads to Houston again, as such he ends up taking a job that couldn’t fit the Christmas season any better despite his general reluctance. Becoming Mutta Claus.
Alongside this Mutta also feels a sense of guilt towards his best friend not having made it through, but when JAXA contact him Terumi reveals that Kenji had felt the same guilt when he too made it through. Around this time Teshima meets with his father for what appears to be the first time in quite a while in order to discuss his path, revealing his fascination with extraterrestrial life that he had revealed to his team members during the second exam.
Back on Mutta’s side of things, Terumi reveals that they had selected nine people all up but the member of Team B with the highest scores, Teshima suddenly dropped out reasoning his prior hesitances to signing the form, taking both him and Nasuda by surprise given how hard his father must have pushed him. However for Teshima it was during the exam that he came to realise that he would rather defy his father than his dream, and as such he notes his intentions to join a project that would send a probe to Europa to search below the surface where life could possibly be found. His father noting some regret but accepting his son’s wishes, whereby having named him after Yuri Gagarin he hopes that he will name the organism Yuri and wishes him the best of luck, while at the same time below Europa’s surface something is shown lurking in the depths.
Before she goes to Houston, Serika also takes the time to visit her father’s grave and drop her journal off for him to read, her habit of keeping a journal revealed to have come from a request of his to keep in touch while he was in the hospital. After this she buys two taiyaki and dances in joy as she spots a plane in the sky, Mutta being revealed to be on this plane after he found that the exam was to coincide with Hibito’s launch and decided to head to Houston ahead of schedule. So after paying a visit to Kenji he headed to the airport, seeing each other off with their usual handshake.
Having met up with Hibito towards the end of the previous episode, Mutta now finds himself with an alarm clock, Apo who takes to licking his face when he doesn’t want to get up, and after seeing Hibito off he decides to help Ozzy out with his lawn mowing business. Around this point the details for Hibito and his team’s mission to the moon are starting to be revealed, that the first things they’ll be doing when they arrive will be to cover up the residential modules set up during previous missions with a layer of regolith, and when handed a handbook for the machinery Hibito decides that it would be faster to just start practicing.
Despite his attempts to avoid it, Mutta finds himself heading to the Space Center as he helps Ozzy out for the day, having a similar sort of reaction to Hibito when Ozzy explains some of the details about the lawn mower. As he does this he also finds himself pondering all the stuff Hibito has been and is still doing in the Space Center, where oddly enough what they’re doing appears to be quite similar as Hibito picks up on how to operate the machinery rather quickly. His fellow team members noting that his ability to pick up on things was what had earned him Brian Jay’s respect and his current spot on the mission despite another Japanese astronaut, Azuma Takio being more qualified.
When he meets up with Jennifer and another of Hibito’s friends, the Japanophile, Lowry who serves as part of the back up crew for Hibito’s team, he finds that Azuma will be the examiner for the third exam. While back on Hibito’s side of things, Hibito feels a sense of guilt after Azuma hadn’t shown up on the rooftop to play catch. Mutta revealing a few of Azuma’s achievements, that he had logged over fifty EVA hours in eight years and had orbited the moon as part of a mission to deliver materials, being taken aback by his overly cool nature to the media. Following which Mutta continues to help Ozzy, taking to wearing a hockey mask while he sleeps but still ending up with his face licked, while Hibito continues his training in preparation for the upcoming mission. Mutta ending the episode with the knowledge that Azuma could hold a grudge towards him as Hibito’s brother after being passed over for the mission in favour of him.
Just when I caught up I fall behind again but regardless another two great episodes, even if I do say that in one form or another each time. I wasn’t expecting the story to shift back to the United States so suddenly but if anything it was a welcome sight to see none the less.
There just wasn’t anything for Mutta to do in Japan as he waits for his interview in Houston, I do admit that it would be fun to see a few more episodes of him as Mutta Claus and working a few other part-time jobs on the side, a quick time skip was also viable, but neither would have really been a good use of time within the story. Other than that Mutta heading to Houston ahead and meeting up with Hibito also offers the chance for a nice breather arc after the long but compelling second exam, better familiarising us with Hibito and what he’s up to as well as some of the other figures that he will end up meeting over there.
Since when you think about it, when Mutta first went over there not that many characters were introduced. We met the likes of Ozzy and his wife, as well as Jennifer and a few of Hibito’s astronaut buddies and team mates the last time Mutta was over there, but while they were more than suitable for a few episodes they and the detail to them alone isn’t exactly enough for a long term arc. Hopefully these next few episodes should do that however, we’ve already seen the cast expand with Lowry Cuomo, Hibito’s Japanophile friend and possibly with Azuma as well, though the latter wasn’t exactly present in this episode, the impression we got was more or less Mutta intimidated that he could bear a grudge after Hibito’s success. Either way, shifting the story back to Houston was a nice move and all the subsequent episodes have to do is prove that.
The scene with Serika at her father’s grave was nice to see as well. Not only was it that she had effectively come one step closer to achieving her dream before the story shifted but it was also interesting to see that the entire reason she even writes in a journal pertains to him, acting as a way of her keeping him up to date on her progress and that by doing so she feels closer to him. Other than that there was nice feeling of elation as she danced about with two taiyaki in hand, and it served as a nice way of smoothly of transitioning to Mutta leaving Japan again. It was just a nice scene in general, providing some great insight into her character and actions as well as giving her a cute moment.
Lastly it was interesting to see how Kenji was able to advance. Him being left behind was something that I was concerned about after all the time that had been put into his character, however by Teshima dropping out he was able to keep up. In some ways it actually took me by surprise that Teshima would drop out after making it so far but now that I think about it, there were actually quite a few hints towards it. He had shown the most reluctance prior but most of all being an astronaut wasn’t what he was truly passionate about, rather something that his father had attempted to impose upon him, even naming him after the Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin. And what this does seem to say then is that you should have the courage to pursue your own dreams based on what you are passionate about, even if your parents are strongly pushing you towards what they believe is best, it was small but alongside every other inspiring message that this show has it was nice to see.