Like the first episode, Space Brothers 2 does some things extraordinarily well and stumbles on other things.
First, Mutta’s application has been accepted, but the odds of passing all the tests and the interviews are so small that he decides not to follow through. This is a very human decision to make. But he’s reminded of his dreams when he visits his aunt Sharon, who has an observatory on her third floor, owns a number of musical instruments that she can apparently actually play, and constantly wears a lab coat. In other words, she’s cool as hell. Mutta and Hibito used to hang out there all the time, and I can understand why. But the actual scene between Mutta and Sharon made me scratch my head. I wasn’t expecting a inspiring speech or a flash of revelation, but when Mutta leaves he’s focused on astronaut work again. Well, maybe it was what Sharon’s partner says: Mutta always shows up when he’s got something on his mind, i.e., he hadn’t given up on his dream, he just needed some affirmation. It’s not like his ridiculous mother gives him any.
But there are other questionable things. Mutta gets a job as a mechanic. Turns out he’s a whiz at fixing cars. Why didn’t he try for a job like that in the first place after he got fired? It’s not like the work he was applying for was any more dignified. It’s as if the series was dead serious about the space stuff and just cobbled together everything else without much thought. And we have a pre-interview scene where he accidentally flushes his cell phone down the toilet. What the hell was that about? Never mind. I wish they had spent more time showing the testing and interview process, because I was curious about it. Instead they focus on Mutta simply getting through it, and introducing two new characters, potential friends and rivals, but they throw in a gag when Mutta is caught staring at the girl. The creators treat most situations assuming we’re adults, so it’s sad when they suddenly go juvenile on us. On the other hand, the loose screw bit was interesting, partly because the guy who played the trick doesn’t explain why he did it. This whole show is five steps forward, one step back.
Moretsu Pirates runs true to form, too. It brings up a potentially dangerous situation which really turns out to be a lark. We think there’s serious danger when Misa hears a noise, pulls out her gun and sees two dozen eyes in the dark, whereupon Marika doesn’t hear from the Bentenmaru for too long (why didn’t she try calling THEM?) but no, it’s cute little monkeykitties! Oh, but they carry a malicious man-made virus, oh no! But all it does is give you a bad cold … The whole episode is like that. Marika has to recruit new crew and do one job or they’ll lose their license, so she goes to a spaceport disguised as an businesswoman and talks to unpleasant-looking people in seedy joints. She’s not alone because Gruier is tagging along, but I still worried for her safety, especially when an especially big scary one offers his services, oh no! But it’s really Chiaki’s dad Kenjo! And so on. On the other hand I rather like the idea that the yacht club going to do the job, in fact I should have seen it coming. I’m curious what sort of problems they’ll cause. It will probably work out like the rest of the show and seem very serious but turn out to be nothing at all.
Four episodes in and Ozma seems to be going through the motions of making an adventure show. They needed a scene where the hero runs off half-cocked. They needed a battle (which wasn’t bad, actually, though repetitive with those sonar pings and torpedoes that always just miss), for emotion they added another Bainas flashback to her boyfriend, Dick. But it doesn’t add up to much. We had the Dick thing figured out already. Sam’s moment of half-cockedness ends for naught when the enemy ship just dives and leaves them there. As I said, the battle wasn’t bad, a nice battle of wits actually, but the ending was simply bizarre. Both ships surface and the captains face off … for what? The only interesting thing was Gido’s decision to gain leverage on his commander by letting Maya (who’s not just a queen, but a goddess) take the ship where she wants, i.e., to an Ozma place, I assume. Again, the only character having any fun was Bainas; she got to shout orders with that great voice she’s got and managed to bamboozle Gido. Everyone else just grits their teeth and follows her orders, or play the stereotypes handed them.