Initial Impressions: Space Brothers, Folktales from Japan, and Zetman

Uchuu Kyoudai

Spring has really started out strong, first with Ozuma, and now with Space Brothers.  The show has a distinctly mature setting, as the characters are fully grown men with careers under their belts.  What makes them doubly interesting is that the two brothers differ not only in age, but also in success.  I often hear older sisters lament about younger sisters marrying first, but this is the first instance I’ve come across where the younger brother exceeds the older in both fulfilling his childhood dream as well as in the professional sense.

I find the siblings’ love for space all the more intriguing due to the fact that I, like many other children, also dreamed of becoming an astronaut and going into space.  As an only child, however, I never had that sibling rivalry to push me.  Even from this single episode, I was amazed with how real the characters felt and how relatable the situations.

The perfect combination of Mutta’s despair in losing his job with the irony of his designed car created a sad humor that you couldn’t help but laugh and wince at at the same time.  The defeat of having to move back in with his elderly parents and suffer job black listing and public ridicule was horrifyingly familiar.

With that in mind, it’s difficult to watch this without remembering your own childhood dreams; mine was to become a concert pianist, then later, an orchestral percussionist.  Those dreams have slipped past my fingertips, but Mutta’s chance to start over reminded me that it’s never too late to try again.

*Note: if you’ve seen Tiger and Bunny, you might recognize the VA for Namba Hibito.


Folktales from Japan

Geared towards children, Folktales consists of 3-segment episodes.  This week’s began with “The Old Man Who Made the Dead Trees Blossom,” “The Man Who Bought Dreams,” and “The Rat Sutra.”  Despite the intended demographic, any lover of folktales will appreciate these stories.  Though the colors are soft and the narrator voice over ever present, there is some darkness to be found, similar to the original Grimm’s Fairy Tales.

The first folktale, “The Old Man Who Made the Dead Trees Blossom,” teaches lessons of hospitality and gratitude.  In it, the main couple rescues a puppy from the river and raise it as family.  One day, he brings them fortune by leading them to buried gold.  The family’s nosy and greedy neighbors find out about their blessings and ask to borrow Shiro.  Not only does the art reflect these neighbors’ thankless view on life, but so does their treatment of others’ belongings.  When Shiro leads them to the hole of insects and reptiles they rightfully deserve, they bury him in that same hole out of anger, despite him not being their dog.  A similar series of events follow as the original family reaps further benefits while their neighbors get their just deserts.

I can imagine how horrified a child would be at cute Shiro’s offscreen murder, and there isn’t even a clear resurrection of the little guy to create that perfect Disney ending.  Children have to be content with his rebirth in the form of the cherry blossoms, a romanticized view on death, I suppose.  As seemingly shallow as the stories are, it would be extremely ignorant to dismiss them as “simple.”  I look forward to analyzing the upcoming tales for cultural differences and commonalities between East and West, as well as universal lessons applicable to all ages.



 There is a lot of hate for this show (with a few hopefuls out there), which I have to admit isn’t altogether unwarranted.  But, I thought there were some definite points of interest in the setting and plot–if only the characters could work hard to get up to that level.

The huge amount of cramming in the first episode to get all the backstory out of the way resulted in a noticeable rush to the overall atmosphere.  The viewers are thrown into a dark sci-fi setting right from the start, with richies splurging their money on bloody sport and bio-engineered arena monsters with near human, if not super human, intelligence providing the entertainment.  I would have enjoyed a bit more build up between the screened matches and the mass break out, since the two flashed across my screen almost too quickly for me to really absorb everything.  It wasn’t until later when those same escaped Players were shown in human form that I reflected back to the beginning and re-designated who exactly were the performers and who the audience.  The switch around may not have been the most subtle approach, but I appreciated the reversal all the same.

It’s our characters who need the most work, as our young, 10-years-old-ish protagonist exhibits an alarmingly unbelievable amount of ignorance about death and human emotions.  Again, the show felt the need to hit us over the head with the obviousness of his identity, first with an anonymous baby hand photo, then later with Jin’s openness with his friends.  He is plainly the same child from the beginning break out who was smuggled out of the facility and is the proclaimed “devil” amongst Players.  Enter the wisest Fool as his “Gramps” and the motherly Hostess as “Akemi,” and we have a strange combination of parenthood, elderly guide, and fan service.

The closest comparison to this anime that I can make at the moment is Deadman Wonderland (young Jin shares the same VA as Ganta), which started out in a gore-tastic rush of events, only to bombard us with disconnected plot arcs, non-sensical side characters, and pointless violence.  Maybe fans learned their lesson from DW and are applying those suspicions to Zetman.  I, however, am hopeful that the pacing and character development will improve post childhood phase.

21 thoughts on “Initial Impressions: Space Brothers, Folktales from Japan, and Zetman

  1. I really like how Space Brothers turned out. Good thing I decided to watch it. At some point I can relate to Mutta in terms of his brother overtaking him in success but somehow I don’t really feel entirely bad about it. Anyway, I’m definitely watching this series as well. and by any chance, do you know how long will this series go? ’cause some people are saying that this’ll go for around 40 episodes or so.

    as for ZETMAN, despite the fast pacing, I did enjoyed it. Jin’s ignorance on human emotions and death actually gave additional drama (on my opinion). Oh and thanks for reminding about DW. Hopefully it won’t turned out the same. It’s Manglobe’s fault DW turned out bad. lol. They greatly changed the story from the manga. Well, I’ve never read ZETMAN so hopefully I won’t be disappointed in this one.


    • Edited “Hibito” for “Mutta” since I’m such a derp and didn’t pay attention to pulling the right name for the elder brother. >.<
      I have absolutely no idea how long the series will run; I heard the rumor about 40-some episodes, but I think that that was also debunked. Regardless, I will try and hang in there to the end unless the show suddenly takes a nosedive for the terrible, which I highly doubt will happen.

      Yay for another person who didn't think Zetman was terrible! I haven't read the manga for either Zetman or DW, so I'm kind of glad that I can't make comparisons between the two.


      • Just to add to the confusion, I think Space Bros. will have 105 episodes. I’m sure I’ve seen that number floating around somewhere. (It might not have been associated with this show, or had anything to do with anime, but I’m sure I’ve seen that number before).


        • I hope it isn’t really over 100 episodes, since I have a really tough time making myself watch that many strung together like that. I wouldn’t mind if there were multiple seasons with breaks in between since then I’d get a breather.


          • I hear ya! I seem to have a limit of about 50, myself. I gave up on Bleach, One Piece, Prince of Tennis, and even Legend of the Galactic Heroes when I got to about episode 50. I think the one show that held my interest past that point was Hikaru no Go.


  2. You’re one of the few (maybe only) that I’ve seen to watch, enjoy, and keep Folktales from Japan. I enjoyed the first episode but don’t plan on keeping it, so I’ve been looking around to see if anyone else was watching it. Glad to see there’s someone willing to continue with it. It seems like a pleasant series but I’m already dealing with time issues this season and the presentation style (certainly a children’s show) kinda turned me off of the material. Doesn’t sound like either of those affected you at all, though, which is great to hear!

    I’m also curious to see what you think about Space Bros for two reasons now. For one, I’ve seen plenty of posts from males talking about their relationships with their brothers and family for this anime, so I’m actually quite interested to see if there is any difference between a female impression of it compared to a male one. And I didn’t know you were an only child, too, so that makes it even more appealing to me. Are you planning to write about the show frequently or maybe just a few posts dotted throughout the season on it? Either way, I’m looking forward to whatever you think about both shows!


    • It surprises me that no one else I read seems to be interested in Folktales from Japan. It seems like a given that people who watch and write about anime would be more curious about Japanese folktales, but I guess that goes to show how unpredictable we all are 🙂 I discovered that I hate writing episodic posts, but if I find something of particular interset in each episode of Folktales, I may just write about each one.

      I look forward to reading everyone’s thoughts on Space Brothers, and even more so now because of the reasons you give for male bloggers’ thoughts on siblings and middle life crises (even though Mutta’s what, only in his 30s?). I still found his situation all too understandable with the desperate job hunt and shame of mooching off of the parents. Like usual, I would love to write about this show as much as possible, as long as I have a considerable amount of discussion to blog about. I try to steer away from simple summaries and reactions for any posts other than my season preview and initial reaction posts.


      • Whatever you do for either series, I’m excited to see.

        One of the reasons I think people are turned off by Folktales are because they’re not really that interested in them and it is a kiddie anime and that kinda puts some people off (like me). And on the other end of the spectrum, people who really wanna learn about folktales and stuff will probably look them up on their own or read the originals. I think there’s a small demographic of people who will end up watching the anime, so I’m curious to see how you like it.


  3. Of these even I’m surprised that Folktales From Japan seems most interesting. The art will take some getting used too, but for some reason I wanna watch this. I’ll guess it’s just the cultural curiousity about the folklore. I need to keep this one in mind. Thanks.


    • If I’ve succeeded in pulling in another audience member for Folktales, then I’m glad! I hope that if you do watch it, that you enjoy it as much as me 🙂


  4. Oh I plan one watching it. In fact I already checked to see if I could find a way to watch it on my phone to no avail. I really am drawn to checking this one out.

    Speaking of you getting me interested in an anime I was disappointed to read that Fractal was your biggest dissapointment considering I only got a few episodes into it before things went south. I started it after you watched the first episode and blogged about it. At least my expectations are thoroughly lowed now. I was thinking Spirited Away good tbh.


  5. Finally, someone else that is watching Folktales from Japan. I thought I was the only blogger that was given this a chance. Well, that and Shirokuma Cafe, but have not seen anyone that talking about that title either.


    • I’m not too surprised about the lack of hype about Folktales, but I have seen tons of bloggers raving on and on about Shirokuma Cafe. I think Shirokuma’s popularity came from word of mouth. I didn’t even have it on my radar until a couple of other bloggers commented on me not including it in my spring line up.


  6. I don’t know if I will have the time to keep up with folktales weekly, but I’m really glad I watched the first episode. That story about the farmer who made the trees blossom was referenced in .Hack//Legend of the Twilight. I had no idea there was a dog in it, all I knew was that the farmer sprinkled ash on the cherry trees to make them blossom.

    I’m sure I will recognize more folktales that are referenced in anime — or possibly will learn some that will be referenced in anime I watch in the future, so I am interested in watching more of this series.


    • This is exactly why I am so interested in Folktales–not only for cultural appreciation, but to also discover connections to other mediums. I haven’t seen .Hack, but love that you immediately recognized the inspiration in it.


  7. Uuchu Kyodai/Space Brothers is the anime to watch in a quality season of anime. I’ve watched a lot of anime and am genuinely impressed with this. I talked about it with a couple of friends on skype and a few things stuck with all of us:

    1. The characters are extremely easy to relate to.
    2. The anime reminds us of Planetes
    3. It was extremely good

    By the end of this season, I think a lot more people will know this series greatness.

    Shirukoma Cafe would have to be my second best though, I dig those sorts of series, though I dont think it will be overly popular other than with those who really appreciate anime.

    I watch every first episode and am going to watch a few more of Zetman. If it turns out like Deadman Wonderland, which is what I fear it will do, then I will drop it.


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