Twin Spica

February 26, 2011

Space, the final frontier that still fascinates men. Perhaps travelling to another universe or making contact with other extra terrestrial life forms may be far fetched for some so even getting the chance to go up to space and stare down at our little blue Earth would suffice and seem like a lifetime dream to many. Not to say that watching Twin Spica gave me any motivation to head to space nor is it a show about living or travelling in space, it showcases the trials and tribulations of a group of young students trying to attain that dream of going to space that so few have achieved.

Episode 1
As introduced, Japan was launching its first manned spaceflight mission. However during the blastoff, something went terribly wrong, sending the rocket named Shishigou crashing down on the town nearby, Yuigahama. The disaster plunges the town into fiery chaos of hell and many lives were lost and affected due to that tragedy. Among them is a girl named Asumi Kamogawa. She was just a toddler in her mom’s arms when the rocket crashed. Though Asumi grew up unscathed physically, her mom Kyouko has been lying in coma for the pass 5 years, leaving dad Tomorou to singlehandedly bring up Asumi all by himself. Tragedy strikes again when Kyouko passes away 5 years later without gaining consciousness. Perhaps Asumi was young and didn’t know the implications of bringing her mother’s ashes around. But she meets a mysterious man wearing a lion mask. He calls himself Lion and they get acquainted. Viewers can tell Lion is a ghost because only Asumi can see him (I hope this isn’t meant to creep anybody out). Nobody else (hope no one thinks of her as a weirdo). Not even her elementary school teacher, Yuko Suzunari. Viewers can also guess from Suzunari’s flashback that Lion is Takano and was Suzunari’s fiancee before that tragedy took away everything. So that little lion trinket she holds dearly must be the reason why he wears that lion mask in his ghost form. Soon Tomorou gets upset and slaps Asumi for bringing Kyouko’s ashes everywhere but all she wanted was to bury her mom at the prettiest scene because she always felt she was lonely. Suzunari gets a call from Asumi. She relays a message from Lion to open the trinket. Suzunari finds an engagement ring inside as she catches a glimpse of Lion unmasking himself as Takano before disappearing. The next day as Asumi calling out to Lion but he is nowhere in sight, she is determined to be a rocket pilot when she grows up.

Episode 2
Many years have passed and Asumi is now a young teenager trying to take the entrance exam of the astronaut training course. Lion is still around as she continues to talk to him and he offers her advice. However Asumi couldn’t tell dad about her dream of enrolling in the course due to financial constraints. Furthermore, Tomorou has been working late and taking up more shifts lately so Asumi feels she has to do the chores. She remembers how she read out her dream of becoming a rocket pilot during parent’s day at school. Her dad was supportive so Asumi promised to give free seats to him and Lion on her rocket when she becomes one. One day Tomorou found Asumi’s application for the course and he is upset. Asumi assures him that she won’t enrol in it nor leave him alone since they don’t have the money but Tomorou slaps her and says that isn’t what he is asking. He is upset because she hid it from him and stopped talking about her dreams. One snowy night Asumi goes to see her dad during his shift and he hands her a lump sum of money and also his life savings for her school fees. He has been working overtime to make her dream come true because her happiness is his happiness. Tomorou still holds that free ticket she gave him close to his heart. With that, Asumi successfully enrols in the training course. One small step for Asumi to take her closer to her dream.

Episode 3
Asumi finds her childhood friend, the grumpy bespectacled Shinnosuke Fuchuuya also enrolled in the same course. You can read this guy like a book. Though he may say he’s not doing it for her, he actually cares about her and probably the reason why he followed her taking this course. Since there were too many successful applicants, they are being taken in bus loads to the space academy whereby they will undergo another test to trim down the number of students. They meet a laidback and easy going guy with no eyebrows, Shuu Suzuki. After changing, all candidates have to enter their designated rooms with random numbers on their door so it’s vital they do not forget it. The test seems to be of a closed environment adaptation test as Asumi is being put into the same room with Kei Oumi, a cheerful and nice girl and Marika Ukita, a total opposite, cold, unfriendly and distant that some viewers may want to classify her as b*tch. Asumi remains positive and tries to make friends with Marika but the latter refuses. Kei is upset by her f*cked up attitude though Asumi doesn’t mind. Fuchuuya and Shuu are put together with another guy (can’t remember his name because he isn’t that important). In this closed environment, candidates will be locked in for a week and the necessary supplies. Within a week, they are to complete a project stored inside a safe that can only be opened if they key in their room number. So yeah, many already failed because they don’t remember or keyed in the wrong number. But for Asumi, she breezes through because she remembers her room number (0350) to be the distance of her favourite star: Spica. Fuchuuya’s team is also successful (can’t stand that other pessimistic guy) with their room number 2960 (I can understand Fuchuuya remembering it as owl (fukurou) but a Sagittarius for Shuu?). Seems inside the safe, there are lots of little domino blocks.

Episode 4
Surviving candidates need to stack up all the domino blocks within a week in anyway they can. Seems like a daunting task but you have a whole week to complete it. The girls start placing the dominoes and even if Marika is uncooperative and doing it her way, at least they’re making a start. Several days pass and everyone seems to be making some progress when the room suddenly decompresses, causing all blocks to scatter and throwing some candidates off their feet and experiencing some kind of sickness. Because of that, some gave up and call it quits. I guess that’s another way of narrowing the field. However the shock of the ‘tremor’ causes Asumi to relive those painful memories.

Episode 5
Flashback sees young Asumi being assigned to draw a family member at school and it has been several weeks since her mom passed on. Asumi drew her mom but her classmates laughed at her because she drew a mummy (no pun intended). But to Asumi, that is how her mom looked like because all she ever saw was her wrapped in bandage. Kids can be real cruel sometimes. One day as Asumi is sketching by the river, she accidentally falls in. She could’ve drowned if Fuchuuya (he’s still a grumpy kid then. Has he always been like this since birth?) wasn’t passing by to call for help from Tomorou, who in turn called the ambulance. During that, Asumi had an out-of-body experience as she was on her way passing the River Styx (Sanzu River in this case as the Japanese believe). She met Takano but couldn’t recognize him since he isn’t wearing the lion mask as he advises her never to say her name aloud or else she’ll be part of this world. On her way, Asumi met a blind women (Kyouko) and safely guided her to the river so that she could cross to the next world. Before Kyouko heads off, she realizes the child is Asumi and tells her to carry on living. Asumi soon wakes up in hospital.

Episode 6
Back to the test, Asumi is still in shock. Marika remains the heartless b*tch so Kei got so upset that she slaps her and is ready to pull out to end Asumi’s suffering. But she soon picks herself up and they continue and finish the job. But for the boys, that loser guy threatens to call it quits and fail the whole team because he can’t stand it anymore so Shuu gives him a warning, or else. Better suck it up, man. You’re in for the ride. They spot a camera watching them and realize they’ve gotten themselves too focused on the dominoes since this is an adaptation test. Even how, Asumi and Fuchuuya’s team pull an all-nighter, taking turns to finish lining up the dominoes. In the end, their hard work pays off as they manage to stack all the dominoes and pass the test. Phew. Must be a tiresome job. Asumi shows her success to her mom’s grave, where she also meets Suzunari who tells her to believe in her dreams and not to get discouraged. As the teaching staff go over the new students for the inaugural course, one of the teachers, Takahito Sano seems to have that suspicious look on his face when he sees Asumi’s resume.

Episode 7
Asumi leaves for her space academy in Tokyo as she bids farewell to Lion (he’s not tagging along?). Seems she’s having a little tough time. Getting her skirt stuck in the train’s door, getting a little lost before finally finding her way to the dorm she is staying in. She meets the nice dorm lady, Ringo Sakashita who shows her Asumi’s room. Kei is glad to meet Asumi at the school and it seems Marika is also there. I don’t know a bunch of boys are trying to hit on her but she just ignores and warns them. I think those guys should go look for other better ones. During the entrance ceremony, Shuu seems to be a top student for the test as he gives his speech. Short, sweet and to the point. After school, Marika still despises Asumi’s friendliness, making Kei angry. When Asumi comes back, she sees her dad waiting for her at the dorm and takes her out to eat since he couldn’t make it for her entrance ceremony. Asumi comes back late to the dorm but finds Kei and Marika (reluctantly) waiting there as they were worried and went looking for her (including the guys). Asumi gets emotional as she cries tears of joy that she isn’t alone.

Episode 8
Exercising is always important for an astronaut so it’s no surprise that the demon instructor Nishida has them run several laps till they’re tired. Except Asumi who kept running like a Duracell Rabbit. Yeah, thanks to all that running with Lion she did when she was young. Meanwhile Marika seems to be coughing from an illness that she doesn’t want anybody to know. After school, Asumi goes to see Sano for a lesson he doesn’t understand but he feints being busy. After Asumi leaves, we see his upset face. Looks like he has some grudge against her and Tomorou. Next day, Asumi and her friends visit the space resource centre located within the school grounds. They are astounded by some of the exhibits like the rocket model and spacesuit. In the evening, they see Marika running by herself so Asumi joins her and tries to be friends with her. Not that she accepts her yet but I guess telling her to do as she wish would also mean that she’s at least opening up her heart a little to her, right?

Episode 9
Another flashback. We see young Takano and Marika playing together in her room as he even wore that lion mask. Seems Marika has always been confined in her room. Meanwhile Suzunari is losing her motivation of being a teacher and thinks of quitting (but her resignation was rejected) while her parents want to see her get married and settle down (she’s still holding Takano dear in her heart after all these years). Then the school organizes a hiking trip up the mountains. The kids are divided into groups and are supposed to find 10 markings along the way to earn some medal. So far only 1 has been able to do so. Asumi hears the sound of Lion’s harmonica and rushes off by herself. Suzunari who was in charge of her, goes on a search. Asumi finds an abandoned rocket fort in the woods after following the tracks. Suzunari and Fuchuuya continue to search and she’s turning hysterical by the moment. The kid is even more composed than her. She calms herself down and remembers Takano’s words about the secret rocket fort he built by the discontinued tracks. She manages to find Asumi sitting inside the rocket and crying all alone because she followed the harmonica sound but couldn’t meet Lion. Fuchuuya sees the elusive medal (meaning Takano must’ve been the only kid to find all the marks) and Suzunari reads a note by Takano of his dream to become an astronaut. Because of that, Suzunari gets her motivation back to continue being a teacher. Asumi finds that final elusive mark and we see young Marika writing her name and Lion’s on the rocket fort.

Episode 10
The gang gets into the spacesuit for a fitting test but it seems Asumi is so petite that it’s like the suit is wearing her! Then they undergo another training that they need to swim wearing their spacesuit. As usual, Marika chides Kei for complaining and warns Asumi for being too nice as it will cost her life. Marika doesn’t intend to go to space together with them. Marika observes how Asumi is doing her best whether working part time in a cafe or facing her fears to go swim (as pointed out by Fuchuuya, she has fear of water because she nearly drowned). Because Asumi couldn’t swim well, she nearly drowned again so Marika dives in to save her. Elsewhere the teaching staffs are having a meeting over their slashed budget allocation. Due to the new custom made spacesuit they ordered for Asumi, the cost has been increased and this would mean their salaries will be cut. Sano takes this opportunity to suggest that Asumi leave the school on her own accord to cut expenses. He tries to convince them that she won’t make it and thus unnecessary to order the suit. However Toshiko Shiomi is against Sano’s idea because he doesn’t think body size and grades are that important for going up to space and believes the school’s financial position must not be a reason for a student to leave. The head agrees with Shiomi’s idea and wants everyone to hold it in while doing their best. Later Sano confronts Shiomi and wonders why he has high hopes of Asumi. Shiomi replies she has the eyes that Sano once had but lost. Meanwhile the head approaches Sano and hints to him about making Asumi leaving on her own accord.

Episode 11
The students learn that they will be split into groups for a marathon practice tomorrow. Sano calls Asumi and tries to make her loose confidence that she won’t pass because she is Tomorou’s daughter. What does that mean? Tomorou was the one responsible who caused Shishigou to crash! Asumi sinks into depression and even skips class! Her attitude is bothering Kei but what upsets her most is that she’s keeping her troubles to herself. For the first time, Kei blows her top to Asumi. The next day, Asumi is missing for the marathon so Kei feels guilty she may have been to harsh. Asumi is at the train station, thinking of going back to Yuigahama and giving up her dream. Kei, Marika, Fuchuuya and Shuu are reprimanded by Nishida for skipping the marathon. However the quartet gets suspicious about Sano because he seems to know Asumi is missing. Asumi returns to her home and finds a letter addressed to her. It is Suzunari’s wedding and it is today. Outside the chapel, Asumi sees Lion and she feels guilty that her dad caused that accident because he could’ve been the one standing next to Suzunari. Lion comforts her and says that not 1 person is only responsible but everyone who was part of it. But she still feels sad for him so Lion thinks of going to Tokyo.

Episode 12
Another flashback. This time we go back to the aftermath of the Shishigou crash and Kyouko’s death. Tomorou has been designated to head the Accident Research Committee’s bereaved family section and has to go round apologizing and compensating those affected. It’s a tough job because one of the wives of the deceased scorns him that it won’t bring her husband back. Furthermore, she blames him and the organization for causing a horrendous scar on her daughter’s arm, Kasane Shibata (she is the same age with Asumi). Mommy even forced her to show her arm against her will to prove her point. Not only Kyouko’s grave has been vandalized with graffiti, Kasane has become a subject of ridicule by the other cruel kids who tease her monster arm. One day Asumi meets Kasane and they both became friends. She learns about Kasane’s tragedy but Asumi remains positive and continues to play with her. But Kasane soon finds out that Asumi’s dad is Tomorou so she avoids seeing her. Though this doesn’t stop Asumi from coming to Kasane’s door, each time to be given an excuse by her mom that she can’t see her. Then the cruel boys tormented Kasane by trying to reveal her arm. I don’t know how horrible it was but it was enough for them to change their interest while leaving poor Kasane in shock. Asumi tries to comfort her but Kasane doesn’t want to be friends with her anymore. Soon Kasane’s family will be moving to another town. Asumi rushes to see her off at the train station and gives her a maple leaf. Kasane didn’t say anything though she realized what she wanted wasn’t a kind father nor a beautiful body, but a friend. It was too late to apologize as the train leaves. Tomorou finds the grave cleaned while grown up Kasane still holds that leaf dear to her and uses it as a bookmark.

Episode 13
After another round of talk with Lion and a short visit back to her home (Tomorou wasn’t in at that time so Asumi had to climb in via toilet window), Asumi gets her confidence back and returns to class tomorrow. Sano seems happy that Asumi hasn’t turn up but to his dismay that little girl shows up late in his class. The head learns of Sano’s ‘failure’ but he is okay with it since he didn’t expect that much. He mentions Sano was part of the ‘big mistake’. Sano remembers the time when he designed Shishigou perfectly but was rejected as the chief favoured Tomorou’s. Later the quintet has been given punishment laps for missing the marathon. Kei wants Asumi to promise that she won’t leave the school till their graduation ceremony and they will always be here for here. Then they all make a promise pact to not give up till they graduate as Asumi also pulls Marika into the pact. But when Kei asks Asumi about the thing bugging her and Sano may have been the culprit, Asumi dismisses it so Kei feels she’s still hiding something. That night Asumi happily talks to Lion and thanks him but Ringo sees her talking to herself. As for Sano, he’s still not looking very happy about Asumi.

Episode 14
Kei confronts Sano about Asumi as she thinks Asumi isn’t the kind who tells on people. However Sano tells her off that she should worry about herself because the places for going to space are limited. Thing is, their confrontation was right in front of the other students. Because of that, a teacher tells off Sano not to say anymore things to demotivate the students and there are students boycotting his class. Sano has had enough and plans to resign. Shiomi goes talk to him as Sano reveals how his design of 10 years was scrapped as the chief favoured Tomorou’s for its safety. Though Sano was dropped subsequently before the Shishigou accident, he was always been associated as part of the death team since he and Tomorou worked on the same project at the same time. He is still upset over that after all these years. Shiomi reveals Tomorou was also dropped shortly after Sano. More shockingly the budget for the development was drastically cut and the parts of Shishigou that were proudly thought to be all-Japanese were actually from foreign countries. Anything more remained a state secret. Shiomi takes over Sano’s classes as Asumi notices a book with a picture of planet Earth Sano was always looking at with a smile. She goes after him and shows him the book and believes he was also looking at the same thing like them all. He admits there was a time like that for him but couldn’t see it anymore. He tells Asumi not to lose sight of it. Asumi wonders why adults put on sad expression and sheds a tear for him because she still believes everyone will be able to see it.

Episode 15
Marika remains the same unfriendly b*tch no matter how Asumi tries to be sociable with the loner. Asumi meets Shuu on his part time job one night as he invites her out on a ‘date’ with him to the rooftop of his dad’s building and watch the stars. Marika continues to be rebellious to her dad and it seems her coughing has become more intense (see lah, don’t want to eat your pills. Can’t blame her. She’s sick of it). As the friends discuss the meaning of their names, once again Marika gets upset upon their pestering. Now it’s Fuchuuya’s turn to go talk to her as he hints she would understand better after revealing he and Asumi were born in Yuigahama. Marika looks up the internet of the incident and learns about Kyouko’s case. During another running exercise, Marika collapses for real. She dreams when she was young, she was never let out of her house. She was given a chance to do so by a kind personnel. But when it’s time to go back, she ran away and to a top of the building. She saw the beautiful stars. She wakes up in hospital and with no serious injuries, she is discharges as Kei and Asumi pick her up back to their dorm. Marika enters the storeroom and feels nostalgic upon entering it before falling sleeping there so Asumi lets her be. Lion takes a good look at her. Next morning as the girls head to school, Marika doesn’t seem hostile but though she still keeps her distance. Fuchuuya notices Shuu observing Asumi as the latter even wonders what kind of guy she likes. However Fuchuuya says that Asumi liked someone during junior high. But he died of an illness thus Shuu is no match for someone who is dead.

Episode 16
The final episode for another full flashback. Asumi continues her jogging stint with Lion when she is in her junior high years. Unknown to her, a dying boy, Takashi Shimazu has been watching her jog pass by for quite some time. Because he is sick, he rarely shows up in school and when he does, he meets Asumi and both became good friends because they share the same interest in space. Since Asumi is blushing, I guess it’s safe to say she likes him. I’m not sure if Shimazu can see Lion to or just acting like he could. However even if they remained as good friends, the other nasty students start spreading nasty rumours that they’re dating so Asumi felt she was like a bother to him. She avoids seeing him. One day as Asumi goes to school, she learns that Shimazu has passed away. She left him a book but to her surprise, sees a sketch of her and Lion jogging. Finally Lion passes to her his sketchbook and it is revealed that he has always sketched her when she jogged by. She felt a deep pain in her heart and hopes to meet him in space one day.

Episode 17
Marika’s dad wants her to quit what she’s doing because it’ll be bad for her but Marika becomes a rebel child refuses to listen even after all that threatening. Asumi found a picture of Marika smiling in the storeroom (it dropped out from a book) and her friends proceed to have a look at it. This upsets Marika (looks like she’s back being the tundra queen) though Kei asserts it wasn’t Asumi’s fault as they were the ones who saw without asking. Marika rips the picture. The students are to undergo survival training in which after being briefed on what to do, they are put in a round orange capsule each. After some time, the capsule starts moving so the candidates sure know they are being moved to a different location. After the rolling stops and the signal for them to exit from it, they find themselves in the woods. Now this is where the survival training begins. With the limited amount of supplies, they have to make use of what they have and get themselves to the indicated goal. Asumi is doing a fine job camping and making provisions by herself but Marika is having a hard time because her illness is taking a toll. She’s coughing out blood! Meanwhile Lion arrives at the old rocket fort he once built by the tracks to find out more clues about Marika and himself then. So it really was him then who met young Marika? This is getting confusing.

Episode 18
Everyone struggles to find their way to the goal especially Asumi who is going around in circles (she doesn’t have a compass). She improvises to mark her direction and find her way. Marika’s body is at her limits and soon collapses. Asumi passes by a capsule with bloodstains (Marika’s) but doesn’t find anybody there before leaving. Meanwhile Lion is reminiscing the past as he sees the space rocket drawing of his name and Marika carved on it. He enters the house and remembers the time he played with her. However he dismisses the fact that the Marika he knew and Asumi’s friend are different people and just coincidence due to their age difference. Plus, he heard rumours that young Marika was sent overseas to undergo treatment but died. Then he picks up the music box and underneath it he is surprised to read Marika’s full name. The instructors who have noticed Marika’s non-movement has sent a rescue team. Marika remembers a flashback how she overheard her dad talking that she didn’t want this Marika. It was heartbreaking for a kid and probably the reason why she grew up so cold. Marika wakes up in hospital and it seems Kasane is by her side. She is here visiting her mom in hospital but so happen to pass by and heard Marika calling a friend’s name (Asumi) that they both know.

Episode 19
As Marika tells Shibata about her past with Asumi, Asumi continues to trek and find her way to the goal while keeping herself headstrong. Kasane still considers Asumi her friend all this while and wanted to apologize but couldn’t make up with her because of the circumstances that they part. Marika also wishes to the same and now feels she can’t go to space alone. She also reveals herself as an unwanted child. She had someone who was her sister as well as her mom and had the same name (?!) but she died and though she is here now, nobody looks at her. Kasane gives her words of encouragement and to do her best. Soon Nishida arrives to pick Marika back. Asumi manages to find her way to the goal and reunite with her friends. However when she learns that everyone except 1 has arrived and that missing person is Marika (because she asked if there were any injured person and that capsule she found with bloodstains on it and they answered negative), she quickly rushes back to go find her. Shuu restrains her and assures her that injured person should’ve been rescued since the tag they are wearing are transmitters. But Asumi’s heart still isn’t at ease so while the trio aren’t looking, she turns back and heads off back into the woods.

Episode 20
As Shuu, Fuchuuya and Kei turn back to search for Asumi, Marika also slips away (I guess Nishida closed and eye and allowed her to do so) to return to her capsule in hopes Asumi will be there. However she isn’t so Marika walks along to search for her. The trio lost Asumi since she’s a pretty fast runner as Shuu realizes Asumi is a great person because she managed to find her way without using a compass and even did markings on her path. However they didn’t find her even if they followed them. Meanwhile Asumi has been washed ashore the river bank as she sees Lion by her side. He starts playing his harmonica and the kids follow it there. Marika reaches first and becomes worried to see Asumi lying there. At least now she knows the importance of her being a friend but the weird part is that the girls suddenly turn into their young selves as they reconcile and make up. Soon the trio turn up (also in their young forms) as they narrate their dreams of going to space. Finally they see Lion playing his harmonica as he unmasks himself and says he has nothing further to teach Asumi and disappears. Asumi thanks her mom for giving birth to her. In the end, the quintet sit together by the river side while Asumi plays a horrible rendition of Twinkle Twinkle Little Star on the harmonica, much to everyone’s laughter.

To Infinity And Beyond
Is this how the anime series ended? Then I can’t say that I am very satisfied. I guess 20 episodes weren’t enough to do justice to the series as some viewers have claimed. Otherwise this series would have been quite a heart warming slice of life and touching show. I felt it could have ended better. Maybe a short glimpse of how the characters continue their lives together at the school and perhaps other minor supporting characters on how they’re doing as well like Tomorou, Suzunari and even Sano. But I don’t think that’s possible since their roles have already being ended like Tomorou continuing to do his late multiple shift construction job, Suzunari’s wedding and Sano’s departure after his resignation. I know it’s a good thing that the 5 friends are finally together in the end but I have to wonder why Lion finally chose this time to move on to the next world. Maybe he has seen Asumi’s resolve so I guess he has nothing more to teach her. But why hang around even after his death or does he know about his destiny about putting Asumi’s dream into motion? Does he have some kind of regret to linger in this world?

I find the pace of the series rather calm. There weren’t any intense scenes besides the horror crash of the Shishigou, which is toned down. The intensity of the drama and tension isn’t the kind that would make you hold your breath either. Nothing that nerve wrecking that would make you chew your own nails. The scenes of getting slapped or coughing out blood doesn’t constitute to be intense if you ask me. So if you’re not into this kind of drama, you may find this series hard to sit through. The main focus of the series is of course revolving around the characters though I feel that it is mainly on Asumi and Marika. It isn’t about them fighting for a place to go to space but rather the bond and interaction they made that makes them stick together.

Throughout the series Asumi has become a strong girl. She may not be perfect showing signs of vulnerability during her time of weakness but overall I guess she is a very nice girl to begin with. She cares for her friends, puts others before herself, resourceful and positive little one. If only many others would pursue their dream in such a respectable way. On the other hand, Marika has learned to accept friends around her (maybe after that consistent bugging/pestering). Like they say, no (wo)man is an island and no matter how hard she tried to isolate herself, all that loneliness builds up and explodes. Her past is the most intriguing one because I was scratching my head when her other self was being explained. I’m not sure if she had a twin because if so, they couldn’t be of the same age as Lion did meet her when he was young and alive. So I thought it was her mom with the same name. Then I read someone’s comment that Marika may have been a clone of the original. However she inherited the illness as well and thus the reason her controlling father wasn’t too happy about it and always kept talking about the other Marika. Well, that makes sense but hey, woah! Some science fiction in this show? A little odd I think. Marika and Sano may be seen as villains of the series because of their personality but they can’t be blamed entirely since the Shishigou accident did affect everyone. Sano’s villainy was probably mainly due to his misguided resentment.

The other characters are pretty okay themselves. Fuchuuya remains the grumpy kid who is always on the lookout for Asumi even if he isn’t honest with his feelings and calls that girl and idiot whenever she gets into trouble or goes off by herself. I really think he was born like that. Shuu may be laidback but among the gang, he is the one who is most mature with his rational thinking, cool and has keen observation about the others. Kei is always complaining about the harsh training but as they say, no pain no gain. Other than that I think she’s quite a cheerful girl and something Asumi and the rest can depend on. I still find it weird that Lion being a ghost sometimes experiences certain sensation that only humans would. For example, being tired. There was a point whereby Asumi even outlasted him during their usual jogging stint! He was like so out of breath. I mean, we see him floating and gliding around randomly so why the heck does he need to actually run? Maybe to show Asumi he can do it? And since he can appear at places randomly, does he really need to walk or climb over to get there? Otherwise, he provides Asumi with lots of advice and training in her quest to be a rocket pilot. I thought Kasane making her appearance at the end would mean that she would finally get to meet Asumi and make up but I guess it was just a prelude to get Marika to realize that she’s not alone. That’s why I felt the series ended rather prematurely. So some other characters like Ringo were pretty forgettable and didn’t make any long lasting impact (in my opinion, of course). I find that some of the kids here are realy nasty children. I know it the age of innocence but don’t they have a conscience when they bully others? I hope they don’t grow up to be bad people.

There wasn’t any real chemistry between the characters. Fuchuuya’s concern over Asumi is just that even if most of us would love to assume this guy really loves that petite girl deep down. Maybe he can be called tsundere. Otherwise there aren’t any other indication to show us that this kid really does like her. I’m not so sure about Shuu’s case because in my opinion that guy is rather fascinated with Asumi as compared to the feelings of love. Even that flashback of Asumi and Shimazu indicated that they were just mere friends. Perhaps closer than ordinary friends but fall short of anything that would constitute a couple. Suzunari’s love may still be lingering over Takano-cum-Lion after all these years but eventually she too had to move on. So I guess everyone’s first love in this series is space.

One trivial thing I found annoying about the flow of the series is the tendency to switch to flashback modes in between. About 1/4 of the series has episodes dedicated on flashbacks of the past. Though it is a little irritating, I realize they are necessary in order to give us a better understanding of how a certain event came to be. If it was shown in a chronological order, it wouldn’t make much sense to be shown first because by the time it reaches that point, many viewers (like yours truly) would have forgotten how it turned out like that. Another odd thing I find about the series is the number of students attending the space academy. Even after the initial tests to downsize, it still feels that there are quite a number of them that made it. And the fees for attending such courses are exorbitant, you know. So reality check, you can’t just rely on your dreams to go to space. Thus it’s a little mind boggling to think that Asumi’s dad’s job was enough to cover her school expenses even with all those overtime shifts (perhaps he was an ex-engineer so his life savings helped). Not to mention the government’s budget allocation on this. Now we know why the economy is in deficit. The opening theme, Venus Say by BUZY is a lively and funky piece but I just find some of the diction for the lyrics to be a little Engrish… The ending theme, Miageta Goran Yoru No Hoshi Wo by BEGIN sounds a little odd. Imagine a guy singing a slow ballad. I think the harmonica version Lion plays sounds better. Some of the background music are easy to the ear as they are calm and tranquil. There was a 7 episode live action adaptation of the series back in 2009 but I didn’t see it. I read it to have some changes from the manga, just like how the anime deviated slightly at the end.

Sometimes when disaster strikes, even if the amount of sadness and loss are overwhelming, perhaps it is a blessing in disguise. In this case, without the Shishigou disaster, Japan would probably have never gone into doing lots more of careful research and development. Asumi may never have found her dream of becoming a rocket pilot or meet other people whose lives are affected and changed by that encounter. We should all learn from the past mistakes so that we could move forward. This doesn’t just apply to space-related stuff but to just about anything else. I’m just thinking that if Asumi meets and gets acquainted with lots of people, she has got lots of free tickets to give out for her rocket ride. She’s going to have to pilot a huge rocket. Wouldn’t that look funny? A little astronaut piloting a large rocket. How about giving the whole world free passes then? I’d love to see the Earth from space too because I’m tired of looking at it from Google Earth.