Something is awfully strange about this spring. Normally a season lays out all its crappy fanservice titles right at the start so everyone can judge it to be crap after 3-4 days, proclaiming anime to be going downhill and all that usual rubbish. Instead, what they’ve decided to do is lead the season off with Space Bros. I know the translation says Space Brothers, but fuck official translations, I’m still calling it Space Bros.
Space Bros is one of those rare anime that doesn’t deal with the story of some group of teenagers and their power fantasies. Rather, it’s about middle-aged dudes and their midlife crises. Think of it as some sort of cross between Tiger and Bunny, PlanetES and Black Heaven (even though the amount of people who will have seen all 3 of them amounts to about 1% of the those reading this post). Middle aged guy loses his job and tries to regain his youth and chase after his dreams all over again. The PlanetES side comes from the hyper realistic sci-fi angle, set barely 10 years in the future.
One area Space Bros excels at is it has a great sense of humour to it. The first episode was frequently sentimental, but it never felt overbearing because the show never took itself too seriously while doing so. There’s a mix of goofy humour, such as the main character’s cry of ZIDAAAANE when he headbutts his boss, to a dryer form of humour where he notes that the balding man whining at him owns a car he designed. One of my big problems with PlanetES was that it gradually lost its sense of humour as it went on and became stupidly over dramatic, but it doesn’t look like Space Bros will fall into the same trap. It really is too goofy to enter that kind of territory. Mind you, if it does, it will be even more jarring because of it.
Pre-season I noted the director was some guy who had only previously worked on Doraemon, the anime director’s equivalent of training in the mountains. So I was unsure how good a director he would end up being, especially since he’s also working on Mysterious Girlfriend X this season. But there was honestly nothing to worry about, it was very competently directed. I’d read a small bit of the manga, and the director changed the composition of a fair amount of the scenes, almost always for the better. It’s little things that don’t really need mentioning on their lonesome, such as the pan across to the Japanese flag on the brother’s shoulder, or the gradual run down quality of establishments until the reveal of the McDonald’s logo, but these touches build up and make the overall experience that much better.
There’s not a huge amount to say about the first episode, because it wasn’t particularly awe-inspiring or epic or anything. It’s planned to run for over 50 episodes though, so it doesn’t need to be. A human drama series like this excels on the strength of its characterisation and development, which won’t become apparent for many episodes yet. But the characters are lovable and has set itself a very solid foundation for the rest of the story.