Hibito reflects on how he and Azuma used to play catch on the rooftop, himself still in awe of the interview he had given a few years back where he regarded the moon as being within reach. Following this he and Mutta talk about the distance between Texas and Florida, Mutta seeing it as a large distance and Hibito suggesting he take up flying.
Looks like I’m behind on quite a lot, time to start (trying to) catching up.
From this they go over their schedule consisting of all the important things Hibito has to do before the launch and all the random errands Mutta will be doing during this time, Mutta also notes that it’s around twenty days before Hibito’s launch and that tomorrow Hibito and his fellow team members will undergo a TCDT at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. An extremely strict rehearsal of sorts. Mutta’s third exam will also take place six days prior to the launch, Hibito mentioning that while his was an interview three candidates were cut.
Before Hibito heads off Mutta also decides to give him some advice as his older brother to his surprise, suggesting that he do his best to get to know and make friends with his fellow astronauts in his own way. Mutta however has no idea what to do in his time before the exam, noting that you can tell a lot from someone by how they spend it and seeing himself behind the others, but when he spots Hibito fly over in his T-38 he realises what he has to do. Deciding to take it upon himself to support his brother in this time. Alongside this he also decides to do some training himself, but calls it quits since it’s raining. At this time Hibito happens to be at a barbeque with his co-workers as part of the rehearsal, one of his team members confident that Mutta will make it through, but worried how Azuma could hinder this.
Shifting back to Mutta’s side of things, Ozzy and his wife arrive to help out and make sure Mutta is training, making him do sit ups and push ups while reciting prime numbers and pi. A few days after this Hibito arrives back and tells Mutta about the rehearsal, noting that while it rained then, if it rains on the launch day the launch could be postponed. Days begin to fly by after this as Mutta continues his training, this time doing squats while listing the astronauts that he admires beginning with real astronauts before going onto those that exist in the series such as Azuma and the Jay brothers, ending with Hibito. The next day a week before the launch Nasuda, Terumi, and everyone that made it through to the third exam head for Houston accompanied by Mutta and Hibito’s parents.
Arriving in the next episode, Mutta meets up with his parents who get to meet Apo for the first time, and reveals that Hibito is effectively in quarantine prior to the launch so if they test positive for a virus they won’t get to see him. The next day Mutta’s exam arrives, the astronauts that will be doing the interview delighted to meet Hibito’s brother and one of them, Murasaki surprised by how they look nothing alike. Before this though, Azuma arrives and takes a seat to the side while Murasaki wants to try out the screw test that Hoshika had put Mutta through. At this point though Mutta isn’t sure if he can even sit down.
When his turn arrives however he finds that one of the interviews is Noguchi Soichi, and just as he sits down the chair collapses, managing to spot Azuma staring at him just as he hits the ground. Once this is cleared up though, he finds that the third exam to be easier than expected, if anything a repeat of the initial interview he had at JAXA, and so following this he, his fellow candidates, and the interviewers head out to a bar to celebrate. Little do they know however that the actual third exam has just begun, Hoshika explaining to his co-worker Harada that the purpose of the interview is to make the candidates drop their guard, and that the interviewers will then observe and judge whether they believe that they could trust them.
In this time one of the interviewers, Kizaki explains some details about the ISS to Serika and Kitamura, revealing that it’s distance from the Earth makes Azuma the only Japanese person to see the Earth in its entirety. Murasaki also decides to play some tricks on Mutta and Kenji, filling a cola bottle with coffee to gauge his reaction, his fellow interviewer Miyata thinking that he’s not taking their job seriously enough. From this Serika goes on to help herself to the buffet while Murasaki asks Mutta about the other candidates. Revealing that Nitta’s cellphone wallpaper is a cat, Kitamura always tries to keep her mouth shut when she sneezes, and even that Morishima licks his lips before he starts talking. Murasaki finding him extremely observant. The only one who doesn’t seem to be enjoying himself is Yamato, Miyata catching him out by asking him about Nitta. At this point Murasaki also believes that Mutta is a shoe in, but finds him face to face with Azuma.
Another nice pair of episodes, seeing Mutta still at a loss as to what he should do and forcing himself to do some strict training to keep up appearances was pretty fun, as was seeing him bro it up and mess about with Murasaki and some of the other astronauts. The third exam too was pretty interesting when you think about it.
You could argue that the second exam did the same thing, by constantly observing them at all times for weeks they were bound to drop their guard eventually, even Nitta who had prided himself on keeping himself calm and composed cracked a few times, but at the end they knew that they were being observed. Just what they could and could not do constantly being at the back of their minds and restricting their behaviour. In this however they don’t know that, and in truth it also serves as a character test to see how they act when they’re not under constant pressure as well as a way of finding or not finding just how easily they can work with other people.
Alongside that the new characters that came with it were also pretty fun and served as a nice way of expanding the cast in Houston, a side of the cast that still seems to be kind of lacking and not nearly as detailed as that in Tokyo. Seeing Mutta and Murasaki mess about was particularly fun, at first I thought that Murasaki’s pranks towards Mutta were a little too much (even if the chair one resulted in an amazing reaction) but they ended up having a nice sort of dynamic together that gives the impression that they could end up being friends later on by how easily they got on. Other than that it was also interesting to see Noguchi make another cameo appearance, he seems to be showing up a lot.
Other than that an episode of Mutta training wasn’t so bad either, in a way it kind of felt like filler to put something between him going on ahead to Houston and the others catching up, and it was interesting that it seemed to reflect that. What had been an attempt to escape condemnation from his parents had ended up in him reluctantly doing some harsh training to give the impression he was doing something other than crashing on his brother’s couch. As part of such it was also interesting to see him hindered by the rain, it acted as a nice way of showing that no matter how far we come we’re still hindered by the most menial of things, and alongside it see Mutta offering Hibito some nice advice.
Suggesting another point where the two brothers differ, Hibito seems to get along with all those he meets but so far I just don’t think he’s the type to connect with them like his brother has been doing and is almost blindly what sits ahead of him. As such the scene with Azuma was interesting to see, it showed Hibito going out on a limb to play catch with one of his heroes, not to mention that it also showed the sort of relationship that they have/had and the meaning to those scenes of Hibito on the roof.