The past four episodes: character-development. It's slow and steady, but definitely there, and in all kinds of forms. Mutta changed and finally realized his strengths, gaining lots of confidence from it, and also becoming mature enough to forgive his former employer that he gave the Zidane, Sharon's condition subtly gets worse, the chief of Nasa gets some unexpected background (also I love that small scene of a young Deneil Young). And whoa, Hibito actually left with a big post-traumatic stress disorder after what happened on the moon.
I like that recently, the series has at least remembered to be varied: a few months ago I remember complaining that the arcs take too long, and that the series got too monotone. This arc again solves this by focusing on many things at the same time, so that we're not just stuck with just one scenario. It's still nowhere near the levels of the first 40 episodes, but I can't deny that these events really pushed the characters further.
This reminds me of the reason why I don't consider the Legend of Galactic Heroes to be the best anime ever. Sure, it's amazing. Among the smartest anime out there. However, like Space Brothers, it was just so incredibly long. At times it really felt like a chore to try and sit through it, and it sometimes spent a bit too much of its time meticulously developing its cast and storyline, at the expense of pacing. The same has happened with Space Brothers: technically it's doing everything right, but I want to see that amazement again of Mutta hearing that he gets to become an astronaut. The meticulous team building in an environment you could trust nobody thanks to the red cards. The longer a series goes on, the more chance it has of becoming stale in one way or the other. I'd like to view this with a bit of a broader perspective, using other, really long series and how they coped with their length. Generalizations will follow:
- Monster actually did this perfectly. The key was that it was built up meticulously: as it went on every single episode continued to deliver thanks to the build-up of the early episodes.
- Gintama also could not keep up for me after 100 episodes. The reason for that was that it ran out of jokes and started trying too hard. The other side of the extreme.
- Touch also had points where it got really stale, but what saved it was that it kept you on your toes. Although it only barely got away with this.
- Maison Ikkoku is another odd one. Helped by immense character-development and a ridiculously strong climax. It also didn't play all of its cards immediately.
- Hajime no Ippo is a strange one: it also suffered from getting stale a bit, due to the entire series being about boxing, not the most varied topic. And yet the second season came and improved upon it by being much more over the top and doing this really well.
- Hikaru no Go had some amazingly strong episodes, but it too suffered from being stale despite how it just kept being intelligent. Again, the way in which every episode was about Go had something to do with that.
- Kodomo no Omocha is also a weird one, because its worst arc was in the middle of the series, and it picked itself back up afterwards
- Jigoku Shoujo was helped by that it was about three distinct parts that all had a clear beginning and ending and purpose.
- Hunter X Hunter is only now getting really good because we've finally gotten to the actual point that everyone has been waiting for ever since they first announced the new series.
I can see the following patterns from these series:
- Monotony can make things get stale, but not always.
- It's not enough to only be ridiculously knowledgeable about your subject material. It's just a very important and welcome ingredient. like having a steak dinner be so much better if it's the meat from one of those Kobe cows or something.
- The best solution is: meticulous planning. Knowing exactly what you're building up for, and knowing exactly what you want to do with it. That can excuse a lot.
How to relate this to Space Brothers: what I feel like it's missing is planning. Up to the arc in which Mutta became an astronaut, the creators felt like they were in full control. Right now it feels like they're just adapting the manga chapters as they come along with a steady pace, without really giving the extra mile.
so yeah, another reason why it's wrong to adapt manga that are still currently ongoing. If you don't know where the plot is going, then you're going to be limited in one way or the other. I get that it makes sense from a commercial standpoint, but there are more things that do that that are just not right.
RATING: 4,5/8 (Good)