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Phase 7: Extraterrestrial Girl

 

Review by Scott Richardson

May 17, 2006

 

Summary

 

Still in the hospital with a broken leg, Hachi receives a visit from Tanabe, Fee, Cheng-Shin and Lucie. Hachi explains that since the ninjas were released, he's been forced to switch rooms quite a bit. Tanabe suggests that he go back to Earth to recuperate--an idea which Hachi quickly shoots down. At this, the old man in the next bed congratulates him on his attitude before chastising him for not having gotten enough physical training to get him through such a simple injury. Before he can continue his angry old man routine, the man is paged over the intercom and stalks out. Overhearing, Fee recognizes his name--Harry Roland, a famous astronaut who was among the first to explore the asteroid belt. Later that day, Hachi spies a cute young girl taking pictures of Earth through a skylight. He offers her his electronic copy of Cosmonaut magazine, which he had already read. They begin talking and Hachi finds out that her name is Nono and she's been on the Moon for twelve years. A surprised Hachi wonders what kind of disease she could possibly have to keep her on the Moon for that long, but decides it would be rude to ask. She then asks Hachi to tell her about the oceans. Hachi tells her that he's from a costal town, and saw the oceans so often that he never really gave it much thought. Since he made it to space, however, he has found them to be incredibly beautiful. The next day, Tanabe brings Hachi an extremely large and bumpy apple, which she explains was grown in lunar soil. Hachi wonders if it actually safe to eat, causing Roland to scoff at him. Roland explains that, without an atmosphere, the Moon gets a hundred times the amount of radiation Earth does and goes off on a rant about how astronauts have made space vital for humanity. He ends by saying that there's no better place for an astronaut to die. Later that night, Hachi finds Nono looking up at Earth again. Hachi asks why she didn't bring her camera this time and she explains that it was a birthday gift, but the Earth never seemed real when she took pictures of it. She asks Hachi to tell her about his ocean again. He obliges, explaining that when he was in high school, he used to ride his motorcycle along the sea roads, despite the fact that the sea air was bad for his bike. In retrospect, Hachi realizes he must have really loved being able to see the sea. Time passes, and Tanabe comes to the hospital to drop off Hachi's company ID. She finds Hachi and Nono playing cards and is obviously a little disconcerted over Hachi's friendship with Nono--perhaps even jealous. Meanwhile, Roland becomes more morose with each passing day. 

 

His leg healed, Hachi is being released from the hospital. At the same time, the hospital staff is undertaking a pitched search for Roland, who has disappeared. As Hachi and Fee drive along a lunar highway towards the spaceport, Hachi talks about Nono and regrets not being able to ask her what she had. Suddenly, Fee catches sight of a person slumped over in a spacesuit on the lunar surface and slams on the breaks. Hachi and Fee suit up and go to check on him, only to find that it's Roland--dying of oxygen poisoning. He regains consciousness only to tell them to leave him where he is. He was told he has leukemia, caused by prolonged exposure to radiation throughout his 20-year career as an astronaut. Unwilling to accept the idea of being forced to leave space for retirement and treatment on Earth, he has come out to the surface to die. Deliriously, he asks space how it could do this to him when nobody loves space more than him. Hachi and Fee are too late to save him--he dies declaring that this way he'll be one with space forever. Fee and Hachi take Roland's body back to the hospital and commiserate in a smoking room. A shaken Hachi morosely suggests that, if there is a God, he must really hate humans. Humans have polluted the Earth and the Moon, and their trash is strewn about Earth's orbits. The fact that space is so uninhabitable for humans is God's way of telling humanity to just go home. Fee responds by punching him right upside his head and yells at him to shape up--space is humanity's world now and Hachi is an astronaut--someone tasked with keeping space safe for humanity. Running away won't solve anything. Her pep talk over, Fee calls Hachi a moron and leaves. Nono happened to be eavesdropping at the door, and after Fee is safely gone, she asks Hachi if he thinks he can find another oxygen tank. As they walk towards the upper levels, Nono explains that she was planning on sneaking to the lunar surface and going for a walk. She asks Hachi not to tell anybody--as the adults never let her go outside. Hachi thinks that's an odd thing for a grown woman to say, and Nono explains that she's only twelve years old. She further explains to an utterly flabbergasted Hachi that she's a Lunarian--a human born on the Moon--one of only four in existence. Her parents were engineers working on the Moon and by the time they found out her mother was pregnant it was too late to send her back down to Earth. With only 1/6th normal gravity to contend with, their bodies grow very quickly--to the point that their cardiovascular system cannot support them very well. For Nono, going down to Earth would be a death sentence--her body would not be able to support her. But none of that bothers Nono--she's rather proud to be from the Moon. Hachi asks her if it ever bothers her that she can't live on Earth, but Nono explains that she'd like to visit if for no other reason than to swim in the ocean, but she doesn't want to leave the Moon until the doctors are done studying her for insight into how prolonged low gravity exposure affects humans. She also doesn't want to live on Earth, she just wants to visit. Nono opens the airlock to the surface and begins to happily frolic in the lunar dust. This is her ocean, she explains. As Hachi looks on in wonder, he reflects on this. It's just a vast wasteland to him, but for Nono, it's home. 

 

Commentary

 

This episode makes the whole Moon story arc worth it. The ending sequence on the lunar surface is beautifully done--the animation and music combining for one of the most memorable moments of the series. On one side you've got the old astronaut who would rather die than be forced back to Earth, and on the other you've got the young girl who would die if she were to go to Earth. Nono winds up being something of a testament to humanity's tenacity. Despite all the factors in space working against life, humanity still manages, not only to cling to life, but to spread it. And when Nono shows Hachi her ocean, all his previous doubts about space are washed away with the non-existent tide.

 

Overall Rating

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4 out of 5 stars
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