It is quite rare for an anime to speak to me as if directly, as a person. So much of what I like are outright flights of fantasy: fighting wars in space, in giant suits of armor; fleets of spaceships commanded by legendary admirals; making space whales listen to my song, etc. Even rarer for me to find not one, but two ongoing shows that genuinely speak to me. The message may not be loud, nor necessarily profound, but I have conversations with both Space Brothers, and Kids on The Slope. It involved trumpets.
Space Brothers is this loud thing, a rocket launch level of noise. I identify with Mutta, being an eldest brother myself growing up close and remaining close with my younger brothers. I’ve gone through career peaks and valleys just as he has, and even now I feel like I’m just climbing back up from a recent deep trough.
I know how it is to be an older employee surrounded by younger, fitter, equally hungry and perhaps even more ambitious peers. While pursuing my dreams through work, half the time the game I play is that of survival. Mutta goes through this throughout his tests.
It is a shame that much of what makes Space Brothers great isn’t something that speaks to much younger viewers. It’s a story about SPACE, dammit. The yearning for the stars seems to have dissipated in the generations that followed, perhaps explaining the failure of a show like Mobile Suit Gundam AGE to capture the imagination of children. Space is nostalgia now, like so many of my childhood aspirations.
Kids on The Slope isn’t something that’s very relatable. I’ve transferred quite a few times in grade school, but never during the middle of the school year. I was never the kind of outsider Kaoru feels like, and I was never ever bullied. I wasn’t a thug like Sentarou was either. But what does this show say to me?
It reminded me of how love happens.
It’s silly, nostalgic and sentimental, but it happens like this too. Rarely at first sight, but often you feel and know it when you stare at that beloved person. Having been married for over five years and my wife and I both working so hard at our multiple accountabilities in our lives and careers, it’s easy to lose that romantic feeling.
This show reminded me of such feelings. Sentarou “seeing” Yurika for the first time… and Kaoru providing commentary. The last great moment like this in anime was during the first episode of Honey and Clover, when Mayama saw how Takemoto “saw” Hagu for the first time. The second episode of Kids on The Slope gave me a moment like this, and perhaps even more powerful.
I definitely started paying attention to my wife more, in that way I observe her small gestures, burning in my memory anew, how exactly a smile bursts from her face. I look at my 2 year old daughter and try to memorize her facial expressions, knowing full well that her face doesn’t stay the same after a few months. She grows so fast.
Kids on The Slope spoke to me in whispers, but while Space Brothers invites me to feel these things I identify with Mutta loudly, it’s the feelings I get from Slope Brothers that give me actions to take, that made an immediate and powerful difference in my life.
What has anime done for you lately?