Uchuu Kyoudai has a premise more fitting of a Japanese prime time drama and yet it possesses a whimsical charm more often found in Japanese animation. Thankfully, Watanabe Ayumu seems like he knows exactly where he wants to go with the source material. The premiere itself is a rare gem of an episode that combines strong writing and excellent use of visuals to tell a story with a lot of heart.
Adults are usually in a different place in their lives, Uchuu Kyoudai is interesting because it shows just that. Mutta losing his job and practically being blacklisted from the Automobile industry was a great reality check, the news travels fast and at the (subjectively) young age of 30, he’s lost major career opportunities. Hibito on the other hand is only a few steps away from his dream of flying to the moon.
I think it’s a fact that most of us end up trapped in the rat race without truly pursuing what we want to do. We can’t all abandon our hopes and dreams because that’s not how life works. You need a job, you need to pay for the rent– your parents are old and they can’t provide for a fully grown adult all their lives. This is some serious depressing stuff. The reality of a real adult in a real working environment experiences is a wake up call. We all have dreams, but not all of us will ever accomplish it.
However, the first episode isn’t all about Mutta’s misery– It’s great to see a show balance drama and light hearted humor. The show maintains a light yet never obnoxiously optimistic tone all throughout. Life is both happy and sad in the world of Uchuu Kyoudai.
Somewhere near the end of the episode, Mutta gets selected for the Astronaut Selection Examination unaware that it was his mother that sent his papers. The family quietly supported Mutta, Hibito wanted to make his older brother remember that they both had dreams as a child and Mutta still has a chance to fulfill that. The brothers’ relationship is one of the most believable ones I’ve seen in anime so far, there’s friendly competition and at the same time they’re there to support and defend each other in times of need.
In terms of technical merit, Uchuu Kyoudai applies the split screen technique in a way I’m not sure I’ve seen before in anime.
This technique is used mostly throughout Mutta’s job search and resembles an animated montage of manga panels. These parts stood out to me because it’s not everyday you see such a creative and refreshing take.
The OP in particular uses all these childlike elements of crayon drawn rockets, stars and rainbow colors but puts a playful yet mature spin on them.
The show’s timing couldn’t be any better, we all need a story about hope, determination and family support every once in a while and it’s great to see that this story is being adapted in a format more well known for its teenage angst and saving the world. Uchuu Kyoudai’s premiere didn’t disappoint and sets a rather high standard for the rest of the shows this season. Not a bad start for a show about a jobless 30 year old man with an afro for a hairdo who wants to go to Mars.