This week’s episode of Space Brothers started out as a revisitation of the awkward/adorable humor that characterized the show early on. Mutta showed up early while fumbling a sizable, unwieldy package. Apo, always the adorable mascot, got his licks in in an adorable perspective-swapping moment with the hot dog. But the comedic star of this episode was Hibito, who ended up having to poker-face up and deal with a fad of his own creation after considerable grumbling.
There is plenty to say about the rabbit-hat comedy of this episode, really. While watching Hibito’s initial reactions was fun by itself, the entire cast from random crowd girls to the top JAXA staff. Seeing Nasuda embrace the hats while Hoshika refused to wear one (subtly having pawned his hat off onto one of the guys behind him before meeting Hibito) was a very amusing experience. And a very in-character moment for the men in question. As a bonus, it’s a fun callback to 30 episodes ago that rewards people who remember stuff that far back.
Of course, the best joke of the episode tied into the biggest bit of drama. Sharon wasn’t able to play piano, and thus both Hibito and Mutta decided to give her an easy-to-play keyboard. Only they did it separately, so what could have been a great dramatic moment where Hibito unboxed the keyboard and Mutta read the thank-you note 6500 miles away turned into a punchline that was at once riotous and intellectual. It’s encouraging to see Space Brothers get into self-parody of the consistent barrage of touching moments it’s been producing over the past two years; a little variation goes a long way.