The Long Voyage Home

Do you remember first Hayabusa?  It was an unmanned space craft launched by JAXA in 2003 to gather samples from asteroid  25143 Itokawa. The journey was not without a drama.

Despite it’s adversities the mission was a great success. Hayabusa accomplished it’s primary mission, to bring tiny grains of asteroidal material to earth. It’s a mind-boggling achievement. I don’t know what kind of funding JAXA has but I doubt it’s even tenth of NASA or ESA.

Now that Hayabusa 2 is just launched, I thought it’s nice to finally check out the 2012 film. It’s by the way, now in

The movie is a nice dramatization of the space craft’s seven years voyage. The old computers and CRTs and makes this movie feel delightfully analog and nostalgic. There’s mood of the early 2000, which strangely feels like another era.

The film conveys the spirit of the Hayabusa mission, tangibly. Japan’s film industry might have seen better days but it’s really nice to find a film with a spirit like this. Watanabe Ken’s performance is amazing as usual. He can convey so much, while doing so little in screen.  Legendary Tsutomu Yamasaki is also in the movie among other great actors such as Hidetaka Yoshioka (Always Sanchome no Yuhi) and Yui Natsukawa (Still Walking). Fantastic cast, really.

Although the movie suffers from being slightly a bit too long and has some editing problems (and VFX could use some polish) it tells a beautiful and inspiring human story. The pieces come together a very nice way in the end, especially the last snapshot of the earth sent by Hayabusa (is that real by the way?) .

JAXA logo is well present in the movie but I don’t remember seeing a single flag of the country in the movie. This movie does not fall into Hollywood-like boasting “we are king of the world”, despite of the remarkable achievement.  The heroes of this movie are the people who worked hard to make Hayabusa’s journey reality, and of course Hayabusa itself.

Japan needs inspiring stories like this now more than ever. Check out Hayabusa: The Long Voyage Home in IMDB.

ps. I would guess Hayabusa 2’s reaction wheels are not the ones made in USA.