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Manga / Space Brothers

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Let's go to Space, Brother!

This is a story about Mutta Nanba and his younger brother, Hibito. Mutta considers himself Born Unlucky, and considers Hibito much luckier. When they were kids, they started to get interested in space, and after seeing a UFO one fateful night, they make a vow to one day become astronauts...

...However, almost 20 years have passed since that night. And while Hibito is the one who had actually pursued part of their dream and become an astronaut for JAXA (Japan Aerospace eXploration Agency, Japan's NASA equivalent), Mutta, on the other hand, decided to work as a salaryman in a car company.

After Mutta's boss makes fun of Hibito going to the moon, Mutta headbutts his boss and is summarily fired. After a call from Hibito, Mutta remembers the promise they had made as children and is inspired to follow his childhood dream. However, Mutta's far from even achieving his dream of going to space, seeing as he hasn't even taken the first entrance exam yet... How is Mutta ever going to fulfill his personal philosophy that "the older brother should always be ahead of the younger brother"?


Space Brothers, known in Japan as Uchuu Kyoudai, is a seinen manga made by Chuuya Koyama, which began serialization in Morning magazine in 2007. It was nominated in 2009 and 2010 for the Manga Taishou award, and won as Best General Manga at the 56th Shogakukan Manga Awards and at the Kodansha Manga Award (alongside March Comes in Like a Lion) in 2011.

An anime adaptation started being aired in April 2012, and a live action movie also came out in May 2012, starring Shun Oguri and Masaki Okada. Sentai Filmworks licensed the anime for home release, while it can also be seen through Crunchyroll.


This series contains the following tropes:

  • The Ace: Hibito (not as a kid) has a habit of being better than everyone at everything. He's not humble.
  • Adaptation Distillation: The live action movie, of course. Mostly because it needs to fit the two hour frame, lifting up relevant events (mostly concerning the Nanba brothers) from the first 10 volumes.
  • Age-Gap Romance: Olga doesn't really give up the possibility of dating Hibito, despite him being 15 years older and not comfortable with the idea. However, it's vague whether Hibito returns her feelings or not. Either way, he promises himself that he will return to Russia when he's recovered from his panic disorder.
  • Almost Out of Oxygen: While on the surface of the Moon, Hibito actually does run out of oxygen during a mission. He's only saved by the timely arrival of the BRIAN oxygenating rover, which allows him to refill his tanks before he passes out and suffocates.
  • Amazingly Embarrassing Parents: Hibito and Mutta's parents. Especially their mom.
  • Anxiety Dreams: Hibito get a nightmare before the test to see if he had recovered from his PD, is so bad he get a panic attack.
  • Armor-Piercing Question: In chapter 201 of the manga "Mr Gates,what is about space that you love?"
  • Artistic License – Music: In the anime during a barbecue cook-out, Hibito is playing his guitar... but it sounds like a banjo. In every other scene with his guitar, however, it sounds perfectly fine.
  • Audience Surrogate: Mutta is a man who had many lofty goals as a youth but who eventually became just another Japanese salaryman, presumably much like many members of the show's target demographic.
  • Bad Boss:
    • Mutta's boss tried to sabotage his chance to become an astronaut because of the headbutt incident. He eventually gives it up.
    • Gates, this changes afther Mutta hits him with the above Armor-Piercing Question.
  • Berserk Button:
    • Hurt or make fun of Hibito and you will be headbutted by Mutta.
    • Don't use the words "short" or "small" near Furuya.
  • Big Brother Instinct: Mutta to Hibito, in that he strives to surpass his little brother, as he thinks it should be.
  • Big Eater: Mutta is inevitably thinking about Serika during key moments... Serika is inevitably thinking about food.
  • Bland-Name Product:
    • The manga sometimes avert this, with some real locations... even Mutta lampshades this when he first met Deneil...
      Mutta: "How can you trust someone with a Rolax watch?"
    • We got MoDonald's right in the first animé episode.
  • Blunder-Correcting Impulse: Double subverted. Nanba's team is assigned an engineer for a rover design competition that has to do with their astronaut training. The engineer, Pico Norton, thinks they don't have a chance to win and doesn't want to help. You expect he'll help after being impressed by Nanba's ideas for the rover, but then it turns out he helps because they were going to screw up setting up the parachute that delivers the rover.
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: Though it doesn't happen so much in the anime series, in-series JAXA's director Nasuda is the one who will be breaking it.
  • Brick Joke: Deneil Young refers Mutta sometimes as Alexander. Mutta thinks it's because he is being senile or something. Come a lot of chapters later, when he is already in Houston training to be an astronaut, and a man with an afro, almost same height as him appears, that is Alexander.
  • Broken Ace: After his near-death experience on the Moon, Hibito develops a severe case of PTSD which triggers panic attacks whenever he tries to put on a spacesuit. Aside from the people in charge, only a very few people he trusts are in on the secret.
  • The Cameo: Buzz Aldrin appears in the movie adaptation taking the same role as Deneil Young has in the series, and Japanese astronaut Akihiko Hoshide provided his voice in the 31st episode from the anime, recorded and performed from space. Also, creator Chuuya Koyama provided his voice in an extra character. Another Japanese astronaut, Soichi Noguchi, even became a recurring character, appearing in two episodes of the anime.
  • Canine Companion: Hibito has a pug named Apo, which Mutta constantly looks after.
  • Cordon Bleugh Chef: Betty (complain at your own risk).
  • Dancing Theme: The second opening sequence.
  • Death Is Dramatic:
    • Brian Jay and his crew's death deeply affect much of the cast.
    • Rick's death for Vince and Pico.
  • Devil's Advocate: Kenji calls himself this trope.
  • Disappeared Dad:
    • Fukuda has been absent from his daughter's life for many years, that he considers himself out of her life, as such.
    • This is one of Kenji's fears towards his daughter, Fuuka, if he is going to be absent for so long.
    • Serika's dad succumbs to ALS.
  • Drama Bomb: Later in the series, it is revealed that Sharon has ALS. The same disease that Stephen Hawking has in real life, and that it took Serika's dad to his death.
  • Drives Like Crazy:
    • Deneil Young , and also happens to be a pilot instructor who flies like crazy. Most ASCAN candidates try to avoid Deneil Young because nobody can stomach his flying, and everybody hurls on their first flight with him. Oh, and he also practices using a wheel chair (even though he can walk just fine), and he drives like crazy with that too.
    • There is Vincent Bold, who always drives extremely quickly because he has an obsession with avoiding wasted time. He also takes pleasure in intimidating ASCAN candidates with his driving (and gauging their reaction). Mutta earns his grudging respect by remaining unfazed, probably because he trained under Deneil Young.
  • Dysfunction Junction: The Jokers Crew.
  • Everyone Can See It: Mutta acts too obvious when he is around Serika. Except to Serika herself, of course.
    Furuya (in a text message sent to Mutta): "Stop staring at Itou-san. Now the whole country knows."
  • Exact Time to Failure: NASA has a 10 minute countdown until Hibito ran out of oxygen during after his accident on the moon.
  • Expressive Hair: Where some men wear their hearts on their sleeve, Mutta apparently keeps his in that afro.
  • Face Death with Dignity: Brian Jay and his crew.
  • The Fool: Mutta is a mild case; he's certainly not dumb, but by all objective measures he's a weak candidate for astronaut status. Nevertheless, his passion and optimistic determination in the face of adversity, as well as his uncanny knack for acting on gut feelings in ways that turn out to be exactly the right thing to do at the right moment, eventually win over even the most demanding and skeptical of his critics.
  • Gratuitous English: Since it's a story about going to space and being astronauts, the series has to reccur too much in this, especially since most of the time the series has a focus on the USA. Sometimes, not everything is accurate, however.
  • Green-Eyed Monster: Mutta feels like this at times about his little brother. Not only because he is going to go to the moon earlier than him, to the point that he wasn't surely happy or not about him when the shuttle was going to happen, but he is just a different person than he is. But he is an aversion of this because, at the end, they are brothers.
  • Grumpy Bear: Furuya and Pico.
  • In-Series Nickname: Mu-kun/Mutt-kun Mu-chan for Mutta, Ya-San for Furuya. Hibbit and Hibichov for Hibito (the latter used when he is in Russia.
  • Irony: "Now that's ironic, I'm being carted away in an award-winning vehicle that I designed".
  • Jerkass:
    • Yamato, who purposely brings up the crash in order to demoralize Kenji.
    • Pico and Vincent's highschool guidance counselor, happily shoot down their dreams of getting into space.
  • Kansai Regional Accent: Furuya talks in Kansai-ben, and they even mistake him being from Osaka, but he is really from Kyoto.
  • Late-Arrival Spoiler:
    • Unless you have read the manga by the time the anime was released... you sure wouldn't guess that the alternative cover of the 3rd ending single is in reality this to the arc where Hibito and Damian got stuck in the Moon crater after looking for the 'flash' this object reflected. And, though Mutta doesn't appear in this scene in the series... Hibito is suffering making it a straight example of this... by many couple of months before this arc happened in the anime series.
    • Averted with Unicorn's "Feel so Moon" PV, since it manages to be mostly spoiler free (the viewer sees lots of Mutta's training panels) although it was being recorded around the time volume 18 was released.
    • If you've seen any promotional material after Hibito's trip to the moon then you know that Hibito didn't suffocate after his crash in a crater.
  • Live-Action Adaptation: The movie starring Shun Oguri as Mutta, and Masaki Okada as Hibito.
  • Loads and Loads of Characters: Has over 50 characters, with almost all of them having some level of Backstory and Character Development. They are also a Cast of Snowflakes.
  • Love at First Sight: Mutta towards Serika, since the first phase of the JAXA exam.
  • Manly Tears:
    • Mutta when Hibito's launch is successful.
    • Hibito after Brian Jay's death.
  • Meaningful Echo: Hibito in chapter 1 "It is unfortunate that the person (Mutta) who should've stepped on the moon before me is not here" then on chapter 211 Mutta said this "It's unfortunate that my younger brother, who went to the moon first is not present at the moment".
  • Meaningful Name:
    • Apo is named as that because of the Apollo missions.
    • The name of the series in fact has a lot of meaning besides mainly focusing on Mutta and Hibito. It's not only the Nanba brothers, but the Jay siblings also made a promise for going to space although Brian didn't survive and it could also apply to Reiji Nitta and his hikikomori brother, Kazuya; and as well of Pico, Vincent and Rick (despite not being blood related, but shared the same space passion).
    • Director Nasuda's last name is this, 'Nasuda' is the proper Japanese pronunciation of NASDA (National Space Development Agency, one of JAXA's predecessors).
  • Memetic Mutation: In universe. Hibito's first words on the moon ("Yay!") is repeated world-wide and accepted as his Catchphrase in Japan. His anime counterpart, Mr. Hibbit, says it every other sentence.
  • Mistaken for Gay: Mutta when he tries to confess his love for Serika by drawing her a heart in the sky, but Butler sees it instead and takes it the wrong way.
  • Moon Base: A scientific research facility primarily made by NASA, covered in lunar regolith to protect it from radiation.
  • My Sensors Indicate You Want to Tap That: JAXA staff notice that Mutta's heartrate increases while interacting with Serika. Hoshika, knowing what's causing it, tells them to ignore it.
  • Mysterious Waif/Oracular Urchin: Amanti. Up until what has been shown in the anime, we know she is a Hindi woman who is training to be an astronaut, but she also knows vague personal info about the present or future of her partners. When Mutta asks her about his future, she does see something unfortunate that will happen to him. For starters, later, he thought it was the fever he got in the middle of the first phase of the survival training, but it wasn't. Amanti then, tells him that he will become so sad and lonely because of something that is going to happen to a close and dear person for him. It is Sharon, who is diagnosed by a degenerative disease. Serika reveals that it's ALS, the same disease that claimed her father's life.
  • The Napoleon: Basically, Furuya's complex. He was really disappointed when he was a teenager when he found out that he was much shorter than the height limit to become an astronaut, and after a change in this rule, he started being so proud after being even selected in the Exams.
  • Near-Death Experience: Happens to Hibito on the moon. He even develops a panic disorder (PTSD) after the incident.
  • Oblivious to Love:
    • Serika, Serika, Serika. Everyone knows that Mutta has a thing for Serika, except Serika. Until chapter 267 when she realizes that Mutta's aerobatic smoke trail wasn't Baltan, thanks to some zero-gravity mayonnaise.
    • Hibito. Olga has a crush on him, but he either doesn't realize it or is just ignoring the situation because of the age difference.
  • Occidental Otaku: Lowry is this for Japanese culture. Olga might be this and an Otaku Surrogate, depending on how deep her enjoyment of anime runs.
  • OOC Is Serious Business: If Chief Butler offers you a cup of coffee in his office it means he migth have some bad news to tell you.
  • Out of Focus: Often one of the Namba brothers is subject to this, usually to support the other's plotline or a minor character's backstory.
    • Straight following up when the preliminary JAXA selection exams happened. The focus changed mostly towards team A and B when they become isolated, until 9 of those people were selected to become the final candidates.
    • It also happens again to the people who weren't chosen in that next phase, who had a chapter dedicated to each of them that served as background to keep following their dreams to go and/or help that part of the industry like Furuya in the former, and Fukuda in the later).
    • It happens when several parts of the formal training of the international candidates when they are divided into groups. You just know that the author will focus in the main characters' team several times, especially when they are being held into selected who is going into what mission.
  • Posthumous Character:
    • Brian Jay gets quite a bit of development namely as a bit of a mentor to Hibito, and other important developments, such as in Pico.
    • Rick counts as well, being the main influence for Vince and Pico to keep following their dreams.
    • We meet Serika's dad, mostly because he is her inspiration on going into space, and he was long dead when she decides to go into space.
  • Punny Name:
    • Ozzy, the old neighbor of Hibito in Houston, is pronounced 'ojii' in Japanese, which means "old man".
    • Freddie Saturn, one of Hibito's comrades is probably called like that thanks to Freddie Mercury.
    • His brother, Johnny, is a reference to John Lydon, known in the punk world as Johnny Rotten. Even his kids look like punks!
  • Pursue the Dream Job: Mutta as well as pretty much every other character in this series.
    • The same could be applied to almost everyone: Serika wanted to pursue space because she wanted to develop new cures for diseases, for example.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure:Dr. Nasuda, the director of JAXA and Chief Jason Butler at NASA.
  • Running Gag:
    • The recurring theme of luck (bad or good) in Mutta's thoughts about his own doing in his way to become an astronaut.
    • Nanba-papa and his awesome shirts reflecting in words not only some obvious stuff (as Pop or Pajama) but some of his own thoughts.
    • Morning Radio Q&A time!YEAH! and the questions from Carl, age 6 to 9, in Los Angeles.
  • Scenery Censor: Especially on Mutta, like in episode 2 (when he was taking a bath and imagining with space) and 3 (when he took the medical exam).
  • Screw the Rules, I'm Doing What's Right!: Serika on chapter 257: "I'll give you my decision regarding the ALS experiments, I'm going to continue them, no matter what anyone says, or even if no one says anything, I'm going to continue them".
  • Secret Test of Character: It's frequently applied to the characters when they are focused to know how add pressure, tension and how they would work in teams rather than alone or in some cases, more as like competition with each other.
    • It's less secret and more test when Mutta and cia. were going to be preselected. Three tests were administered to access the capabilities of the candidates, the last one one focused on the candidates' characters and ways of handling situations. All of this to determine how they would work in team.
    • In the case of pulling everyone into competition, around chapter 150 (episode 81 of the anime), it's more applied to the teams of astronauts that would be training and performing tasks in a simulator underwater for going to the moon... but with the defining situation that only one of each one of those groups being selected to go to the Moon... and it would affect Mutta and Kenji's friendship in the process... since they are in the same team.
  • Shipper on Deck: Ena towards Mutta and Serika.
  • Shout-Out: Numerous references to space movies, especially those based on real life.
    • In particular, the lung capacity test scene is a shot-for-shot recreation of a scene from The Right Stuff, even down to the nurse administering the test. The clock used to time them even says "Right Stuff" on it, just to hammer it in.
      • Another shout-out to the film comes in a later episode when Mutta holds an imaginary dialogue between himself and Mission Control while lying back in the Orion capsule he and Vincent will be training in, which ends with the words "...Light this candle!"
    • Apollo 13 is referenced heavily too. Particularly the scene when Jim Lovell, laying in the backyard with his wife, uses his thumb to cover the moon. Both Mutta, and much later Hibito do this as they wonder about their prospects of getting to the moon. Even Hibito's backyard is basically a copy of the Lovell's!
    • Episode 18 has Mutta receiving a green card with instructions to scream twice every day until the test ends. The first time he screams like Michael Jackson, the next like Bruce Lee.
    • Mutta was born in the day that happened the Agony of Doha, in 1993. When Hibito was born, the first single of Puffy was already released, in 1996.
    • In episode 23's preview, the final line of Mutta, 'I will become Santa Claus!' sounds in a pretty... pretty familiar tone of excitement.
    • The fourth opening of the series is a huge homage to Le Voyans dans la Lune by George Méliès, the first known science fiction film, and based in that idea of 'how it would be when the man reach the moon'. The melody from that opening's song, meanwhile, takes a number of cues from "Telstar", which was composed to commemorate the launch of the world's first telecommunications satellite.
    • A more particular example of space movies' and actual life reference is how much influenced is the past of Pico and Vincent (and more importantly, Rick) on October Sky and Homer Hickam Jr.'s autobiography, Rocket Boys. Heck, the boys make a shout out to him directly since he also was 'born on a little (and miner) town' too.
    • Deneil Young appearance is referenced and lampshaded as a certain pig pilot of Porco Rosso.
    • One of the astronauts in the ocean-moon simulator is named George Love... with rather feminine eyes, he maybe a shout out to both musicians and singers George Michael and Courtney Love.
    • The engineering team that are developing a new rover are direct, DIRECT physical dopplegangers of the Ghostbusters cast.
      • Hell, pretty much all the very minor characters introduced in America seem to be dopplegangers.
    • The radio messages during Mutta's launch are pretty much a word for word repeat of the messages spoken during Alan Shepard's Freedom 7 launch.
  • Shown Their Work: Besides the obvious influences of other space-related media shown in movies, Chuuya Koyama DID actually go to Houston to do research for his work. The locations in the series are portrayed accurately, and the astronaut testing and training presented in the show is actually what current astronauts go through.
    • The 2020s Moon missions that NASA undertakes are based on the cancelled Constellation program.
    • Case in point: NASA Desert RATS and NEEMO are real training programs note . Mission control scenes are replicated as closely to the real life as possible, even including all the mission logos and the NASA flag
  • Show Within a Show: There is an anime (yes, an anime) focusing in the adventures of Hibbit as an astronaut. Of course, it's based on Hibito being mostly the new 'hero' of Japan's media and his arrival to the moon... much to his concern (Hibito was made into a rabbit because he jumped a lot in his first steps). It's also animated as shorts in the anime adaptation of the series. In-universe, it's explained that the anime series surpassed in ratings at first against Sazae-san... the most long-running anime series in Japan and the entire world.
  • Sibling Yin-Yang: Mutta is a cautious, pessimistic (before Character Development) and studious person. Meanwhile, Hibito is carefree, positive and quite happy with not going by-the-book (or even studying it, for that matter). However both are very smart and capable people.
  • Space Is Noisy: The anime shows footsteps, fuel burns, etc. making noise in space. Though it's likely for the benefit of the viewer rather than an indication that you can hear in space, considering that there are key moments that show just how silent space is.
  • Sure, Let's Go with That: Mutta is celebrated and even given wide news coverage for supposedly taking down a robber, but in reality Mutta was just chasing after Apo and the saving part happened by chance. He doesn't correct the newscasters because he wants to impress a few American ladies in the audience.
    • Again in chapter 248 it was the soccer ball that turned on the stitch,then again, Mutta DID went down to the cockpit as soon he noticed.
  • Tears of Joy: Mutta wonders if when Hibito lands on the moon he is gonna laugh or cry, the answer is both.
    • Sharon when Mutta finally made it to space.
  • The Stoic:
    • Nanba-papa. He rarely smiles or show affection and he's snarky even to his wife. But, as it also happens, he loves his sons so much... he is way too dubious about how is Hibito going to arrive at the moon, and after he lands, it's one of the first times you see him proud about the fact.
    • Azuma doesn't display so much feelings about his comrades... however, he has a reason to do it: It's about his own understatement of his own being.
    • Vincent as well having the same cool and calculated expression on his face at all times. Pico asks him, if he forgot how to use his facial muscles.
  • Trauma Button: After Hibito's near-death experience on the moon, being in a pressure suit is a serious trigger for Hibito. He has a severe panic attack anytime he's in one.
  • Trying Not to Cry: Happens to many characters over the course of the series.
    • Mutta when he finds out that Hibito is OK, as well as the conversation he had with him afterwards.
    • Hibito when he thanks Mutta for helping save his life on the moon.
    • Serika when she finds out Mutta is holding a signature drive to save the ISS rather than demolish it.
    • Chief Butler in chapter 363 whenHibito goes back to visit NASA and calls him chief even if he is no longer his boss, specially as he feels that not being able to give Hibito another mission was his greatest failure.
  • True Companions: Every team Mutta and Hibito are part of.
    • Vincent,Pico and Rick.
  • 20 Minutes into the Future: The story happens in the 2020s.
  • Use Your Head: Mutta headbutts his boss, which subsequently gets him fired from his job at a car company.
    • This isn't the first time he has used this, though. Back when Mutta and Hibito were kids, he tried to use this to defend his little brother from a bully, even though Hibito was physically stronger than him.
  • Viewers Are Goldfish: The executives decided to devote three entire episodes in a row to recapping the recent events... much to the chagrin of everyone who was already following the show. The recap episodes airing coincided with a change in timeslots in Japan, so theoretically they were targeted to get new viewers at that timeslot.
  • We All Die Someday: It's true that when someone becomes an astronaut has to think that someday the person in question would die in the middle of the space if something goes wrong. It's natural that the space agencies ask their astronauts to do a will before going to space. Everyone in the Exams arc are dubious to sign the agreement to confirm that if they get selected they are acknowledging this.
    • Especially Mutta, after reading the Hibito's will.
      • In fact, after being selected to the Exam phase in the States, Azuma asks Mutta if he did have the resolve to die. To which he first lies, and then he confesses that he really wants to keep living. Not only HE responded like that, but Hibito also did and also did Azuma to Brian Jay in the past.
  • Younger Than They Look: Olga Tolstoy. It's lampshaded by her family, giving she is 15 years old, that her make up makes her look older.

Alternative Title(s): Uchuu Kyoudai