When Mutta Nanba unexpectedly loses his job, he returns home to his parents. Whilst he is there, his younger brother Hibito gets in touch, reminding him of a promise they made to each other as kids to become astronauts. Hibito is on his way to fulfilling his part of the promise, already a trained astronaut and awaiting his first outer space assignment to be the first Japanese astronaut on the moon. Mutta remembers his promise as a child to outdo Hibito and go to Mars, and decides he will begin the process towards becoming an astronaut himself.
Based on the long running manga by Chuya Koyama, Space Brothers is 99 episodes long, as it follows Mutta’s long journey towards fulfilling his dream with painstaking accuracy and attention to detail. For starters, the show refers to NASA and JAXA, rather than making up fictional space agencies. The astronaut application process shown is also extremely accurate to real life, with Mutta taking part in exams, interviews, official and unofficial tests all designed to intensely scrutinise his suitability for working in outer space. I found this makes the anime hugely enjoyable in its own right. Even if you don’t have an interest in space, being able to watch the entire process and see the kinds of tests that are assigned – some simple, some amusingly clever – is a fascinating insight into what it really takes to prove you can become an astronaut.
However, what really stands Space Brothers out as a classic anime is the combination of this scientific testing process with complex, fallible human characters. Mutta has dreamed of being an astronaut since he was just a wide eyed kid going to talks to see astronauts he admired. But everyone else applying alongside him wants it just as much. Mutta’s perfect blend of a serious passion for his goal, and a slight daftness when it comes to social situations makes him easily relatable, and it’s easy to connect with the other characters through his relationships with them.
Space Brothers details the terrifying and awe inspiring process of following your dreams, and all the fear, heartache and excitement that goes with it, whilst keeping its characters grounded and emotionally honest. This is a must see anime for anyone, especially if you’re a space fan.