First Reactions: Space Brothers Episode 50

Space Brothers has a fairly impressive, but not top-tier soundtrack. Like, the songs are good, but not on the level of something like Wish or Dance of Curse in terms of show compatibility. The reason why the audio performance in this show *is* top-tier is something that left its prints all over this week’s episode: Katsuyoshi Kobayashi’s sound direction.

Some directors think that because you have a good soundtrack, it should always be used during scenes of importance. Sort of the aural equivalent of the Kyoto Animation visual-animation philosophy of always have motion in a scene if the budget allows it. That’s a mistake (unfortunately one a lot of people make) as there are scenes where silence speaks louder than any combination of notes. For scenes like the one where Nitta’s mom was making Kazuya lunch, where one of the most important takeaways were how quiet and tense that household was, silence is golden. For scenes like the one soon after, where Nitta and Mutta’s conversation stalling while they’re walking in the desert, what better way to convey the sense of emptiness of a desert at night? Just the faintest of buzzing noises. For scenes like the lead-in to the credits, where Nitta had just suffered the latest in a series of crushing disappointments? White noise, and immediately fade to the credits. Pointing out each individual case of music used well is a longer exercise; suffice to say that killed this week as well.

SB-50-1

The pain in that scene was oozing out of the screen

Now that I’ve sufficiently bored you by raving about an intangible you don’t care that much about, the episode itself had some of the most spectacular Mutta moments in a while. When faced with the totally unexpected situation with Nitta’s cell phone, he handled it with a cool head and a firm stance. Even if it was mitigated later by their going back for the phone with a better logistical strategy, I’m not going to be able to get that image of Mutta powerwalking as Nitta begs him to go back out of my head for a while. Nor his wishing he had sent Kenji immediately after setting out with Nitta.

SB-50-2

Stone-faced and definitely in charge

On a final note, Nitta’s special cell-phone exception was granted by Vincent Bold, who becomes less and less of a jerk every episode. It’s a change that’s perfectly appropriate, given how he started out.

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