Hello, folks! OWLS is now on our 5th blog tour. Yay yay! Wohoo! As always, thank you very much for the support. We all appreciate it. For this month, our Chief Creative Officer LynLyn assigned us the topic “Strength”. Please don’t forget to read Rai’s tour post titled “Strength By Overcoming Anxiety in Amanchu”. She did an great job.
“STRENGTH” Blog Tour
“Your greatest weakness can become your greatest strength.”
In anime, characters struggle with inner demons or physical weaknesses that make them feel insecure and prevent them from achieving goals. Yet when these characters overcome their adversity, they can finally be able to express who they are or in other words, “Free to be Me.”
For this tour, we will be exploring anime characters that have overcome adversity due to a personal insecurity or physical weakness. It is these type of characters that many anime fans may identify as role models because fans are able to feel empathetic towards these characters’ struggles and insecurities.
For this blog tour, I’ll discuss the character of Nanba Mutta, the main protagonist of one of the most inspiring series I’ve ever seen. Space Brothers (宇宙兄弟 / Uchuu Kyoudai) is a Japanese manga series by Koyama Chuuya (小山宙哉). It also has an anime adaptation. It has reawakened my interest in outer space, space science, technology and exploration. I highly recommend this series.
Giving Up on One’s Dream
Nanba Mutta first dreamed of becoming an astronaut with his younger brother Hibito after witnessing what looked like a UFO when they were children. The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA)—an actual thing, just so you know—became their second school as they eagerly learned about outer space.
However, their friends and teachers consider becoming an astronaut to be an impossible dream. They became targets for ridicule whenever they share their dream of becoming astronauts. Hibito didn’t let these faze him. He remained focused and significantly improved his school grades. On the other hand, Mutta caved in to the pressure and embarrassment. He stopped reaffirming his dream, even to the point of slacking off in his studies. Eventually, he gave up on becoming an astronaut, even forgetting about it years later.
Some of us would rather give up on our dreams than go against what’s expected of us.
Many of us can relate to Mutta on giving up on one’s dream. Be it due to our parents’ oppositions, our peers’ ridicule, or simply our lack of confidence in our own abilities, or even due to unforeseen family tragedies or financial hardships. Some of us would rather give up on our dreams than go against what’s expected of us. We don’t want to be seen as rebels, or worse, as hopeless dream chasers. Most importantly, we don’t want to be called failures.
Chains Preventing Us From Reaching For the Stars
Despite his intelligence and ingenuity, not to mention his natural talents for concentration and multitasking, Mutta feels insecure and inferior to his younger brother Hibito. Hibito achieved his dream and became an astronaut. He is set to become the first Japanese to land on the moon. Hibito is literally a history maker while Mutta, the older brother, is a regular automobile engineer unable to even convince his boss to invest in his plan for a flying car.
He is envious of his brother for achieving his dream, and resents him for staying focused and hardworking. Despite the envy and resentment, Mutta is proud of his brother’s success and has great respect for him. This is demonstrated when he headbutts his boss for making fun of Hibito. He is fired as a result and is blacklisted from working at other automobile companies.
This, however, proved to be a blessing in disguise. His career as a regular automobile engineer may be over, but the path towards his old dream of becoming an astronaut has opened. Thanks to Hibito who urged their mother to submit an application to JAXA, Mutta is accepted to participate in the astronaut selection program. He is reminded of his old dream and, in the process, rediscovers his love for outer space. However, his fellow astronaut applicants and even the examiners refer to him as “Hibito’s older brother”. He is forced to stand under his younger brother’s shadow which hurts his pride, and on occasion, threatens to completely discourage him.
We may end up giving up our dreams because our personal demons such as our insecurities and inferiority complex chain us down.
Inferiority complex is more common than you might think. From when we were small kids, our parents begin comparing us to other children. Most of the time, these are harmless encouragements to draw the best in us but if done excessively, they can permanently damage our self-esteem and confidence. This is especially problematic when the person we’re comparing ourselves with is someone who has achieved so much and is recognized by many. We feel as if we’re nothing compared to them. We may end up giving up our dreams because our personal demons such as our insecurities and inferiority complex chain us down.
Finally Reaching for the Stars Again
Mutta’s journey of becoming an astronaut is filled with ups and downs. That’s why he’s so relatable. Yes, he is intelligent and creative, but so are the other astronaut applicants. You can’t become an astronaut if you’re just average, after all. But he perseveres and doesn’t give up even if he feels like he’s had enough.
Yes, he’s still insecure and envious of his brother. But as he remembers their childhood dream, he eventually develops a new dream: for the two of them to stand on the moon together as brothers. And it is for this reason that he awakens his competitive spirit and chases after Hibito—not to stand under Hibito’s shadow, not even desiring to surpass him—but simply to stand on equal footing with his brother as fellow astronauts.
…he adapts a “last chance” mindset that allows him to go beyond his limitations…
Mutta’s new hope in reaching for his old dream is such an inspiration for us. Although hard, he is able to turn his insecurities and envy of his brother’s success into motivation to chase his dream of becoming an astronaut. His personal demons prevented him from aiming once before, so he adapts a “last chance” mindset that allows him to go beyond his limitations and open his own great potential which he didn’t know he had.
There have been many times in my life that I felt discouraged to the point of giving up, as I know many of you experienced or are experiencing as well. But I find that watching and reading series like Space Brothers really do inspire and motivate me to persevere and not lose hope.
The character of Nanba Mutta represents all of us—the imperfect people who have failed but for some reason, still manage to hold on and fight for our dreams despite the discouragements. In the anime, Mutta successfully becomes a certified astronaut. In the manga, he becomes the fourth Japanese to land on the moon, following the steps of his brother Hibito as the first Japanese on the moon. Both brothers have achieved their dreams, but they are still working on achieving their new dream of standing on the moon together as brothers.
Nature of “Strength”
Mutta’s “strength” does not come entirely from his own abilities. His insecurities has proven that he is prone to discouragement. Instead, his “strength” comes from many factors including his love for outer space, his bond with his brother Hibito, their parents’ support, the inspiration from his admired astronauts, motivation from his friends and colleagues, and most importantly, his strong desire to achieve his dream no matter what.
For me, “strength” does not come from our ourselves alone but from a culmination of our dreams, experiences—both positive and negative—and our relationships with our family, friends, idols, and rivals. It is our own choice whether to let our insecurities chain us down or use them to make wings and fly.
And that’s it for my tour post. Thank you very much for reading. Please make sure to look forward to Lita’s tour post this coming Wednesday. Click here to view our full “Strength” Blog Tour Schedule this May.
If you are interested in our group Otaku Warriors for Liberty & Self-Respect (OWLS), feel free to check our official blog here. We welcome new, committed members! Thank you very much. Have a lovely day. Cheers!
Free to be ME,
Arria (OWLS Secretary)
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