Three shows that are more or less about space, and one that isn’t

Earlier in Space Brothers I wished I could have seen more of the testing process. Well, I didn’t need to see all of the physical exams, but I wanted to see what sort of physical and mental testing astronauts have to go through. With episode 10 we finally get a better look. The whole procedure, getting on the strange bus, noting the cameras (or in Mutta’s case, a guy’s toupee), the switching of seats and the ten minutes of talking for each person. I start to wonder how I would do in such a test, especially when they were asked to evaluate the people they just talked to. They had to remember all the names? I terrible with names! We also get a look at the other candidates, an interesting assortment of oddballs, and it was fun getting into their heads, hearing their speculations, and wondering if they were right or wrong. In truth, no one on that bus really knows what this test is all about, and neither do we. That adds to the fun–if you’re not a candidate, that is. I was happy, by the way, to see that one of the candidates is actually older than I am. There’s still hope!

Full speed ahead! Fire when … oh shit …

Moretsu Pirates 22 starts up an interesting story arc. We see a pirate ship taken down by some powerful, unknown, really big ship, and then learn that there is something out there hunting pirates. Everything that happens afterwards is tinted with this threat, even Marika’s yacht club duties. And frankly, it’s hard to imagine an episode without seeing the yacht club girls, even if they just giggle. Marika’s plan is to escort another pirate ship, the Big Catch, though it’s unclear they’re even going to get attacked. While they do their duties there’s speculation on the nature of pirating, whether they should or can band together, and whether the empire or whatever it is would stand for it. Interesting stuff, and it makes you wonder further what the pirate hunter is after, because no one at this point has any idea. When the attack comes it’s by a ship with abilities no one has ever seen before. It zig-zags, for chrissake! I have to say whenever a captain who’s not a regular character orders an attack right off the bat you know they’re going to get creamed. On the other hand, this mindset probably saved the Bentenmaru’s hide, as they got busy collecting data and not attracting fire … yet. Then ANOTHER big-ass ship appears; alas, its commander looks like the villain in Ozma, which kind of ruined the moment for me. Still, it looks like the Bentenmaru is in deep trouble. On the other hand, the previews show a bit with Marika happily clinking glasses, so it can’t be all that bad.

AKB0048 6 brings us the life-lesson: haters gotta hate (and I hate that phrase). But in this show’s relentless efforts to take the most negative and ugly aspects of idol life and turn it into a learning lesson, haters can also show us what we need to improve on. At least that’s what the boy hater who has a fix on Orine does. The fact that he promised to bomb the upcoming handshake event suggests he may need some help of his own, but the show doesn’t worry about that. So we have scenes with Orine freaked out and running out of the dance rehearsal in tears (the second so far) and the inevitable pep talk from a real member, and the nervous handshake event itself. It was a satisfactory moment when Orine’s first greet was to a star-struck little girl, but the real fun begins when the DES attacks and the girls get backup by what would normally be another sinister side of idol fandom, the rabid otaku, here played as sort of citizen militia who helps them out. And so once again AKB0048 gives me a moment of slack-jawed disbelief. That’s why I’m still watching.

Acchi Kocchi 9 won’t rank up there with the great school festival episodes, but it succeeds in its goal to milk all the cuteness it can out of the situation. Dressing up Tsumiki, a cute little thing with cat tendencies, in a cat costume, almost felt like overkill. Other good bits include Sakaki’s nearly fatal head wound (nearly fatal because the others just stand around talking about it while he bleeds. For a show dedicated to cuteness this series can certainly get violent), Io’s feeding of the girls, and, er, Tsumiki’s cat costume.

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