Captain Earth – 03

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This show is seriously fun, and it’s even starting to make sense.

I’ve been just a bit hesitant to commit to Captain Earth, and the reason is the strong Star Driver ties in the command center.  I know this isn’t really fair – as I’ve said myself there’s a lot of stuff in the resumes of the writer and director besides that series, shows like Utena and FLCL and Soul Eater (the original good one, not the crap moemoe spinoff).  But that worry has been hanging over me anyway, as Star Driver is a show I did not like even a little bit.

After three episodes, I think I’m about ready to get past it.  It’s not as though there are no Star Driver elements here, but they’re more in the sense of general BONES archetypes that Star Driver happens to also represent.  If anything the show this reminds me of so far is Eureka Seven, and that’s a helluva lot better prospect – but even there it’s still only slightly more than a general BONES commonality, as there are also elements of Rahxephon and X’amd plainly apparent.  In a sense it’s almost as if Captain Earth is a composite of various earlier BONES mecha elements in the same way that Valvrave was for Sunrise, but instead of subverting them and going completely batshit, CE is playing them as a straight-up collage of BONES influences.

Bottom line – so far, CE is a highly entertaining series with gorgeous visuals that’s a BONES mecha show through and through.  Indeed, the only thing that doesn’t feel classic BONES-y is actually starting to explain things in a coherent manner this early in the run.  Many pieces slotted into place both on the personal and global side of the story this week, starting with the fact that Papillon is actually Tsutomu’s daughter – which would make her Daichi’s cousin, assuming Tsutomu is Daichi’s biological uncle.  And her mother – who’s been separated from Tsutomu for years – is actually the ship captain we’ve seen briefly, Governor Yomatsuri Tsubaki (the prominent veteran Soumi Youko).

What a tangled web we have here.  The power struggle over the Designer Children (and Daichi) between Tsutomu and Salty Dog leader Manatsu Toshiaki (Yasumura Makoto) continues, and Tsutomu ends up taking all three of them to live with him – and his daughter, too, who Nishimura Westvillage has finally unveiled as his hacker protege.  This is as classic a BONES dynamic as you could imagine – the teenagers in a makeshift foster family, and on an island no less – and it promises to provide an interesting secondary source of drama and perhaps primary source of comedy for the series.  We even get some requisite hijinks as the socially illiterate Hana flashes full frontal to the guys (“My restraint!”) and Akari, and Akari pronounces herself trumped in an important area (is she hinting at a Daichi sweepstakes already?).  The two girls at least have the magic squirrel in common, and his (its?) name turns out to be Pitz (Yiddish speakers, please restrain yourselves here).

On the political side, it can’t be a surprise to anyone that Manatsu turns out to be secretly in league with the Ark Faction.  The reveal here is great for one simple reason – I found the use of a coffee cup as the secret communication device to be an utterly hilarious gag.  As to weightier matters it seems as if Hana is the key to their plans, and they see Daichi as the greatest threat.  So when Amara attacks and it’s revealed that it was his Kill-T-Gang (the actual spelling) that took out Diachi’s father, Manatsu sees it as the perfect opportunity to goad Daichi into fighting and get him killed (critical as Tsutomu has forbidden Daichi from taking part in missions).  But Hana puts a fly in his ointment by using her “Blume” to help Teppei launch his own Kill-T-Gang (are they West Coast or East Coast?), the “Albion“, which Amara is delighted to see but dismayed when it turns against him.  Alien factions in opposition to each other?

So far I’m pretty impressed with the pacing decisions with Captain Earth.  It went full-bore last week, going for an overpowering sensory experience for its own sake, then stepped back and provided some humor and a lot of exposition this week.  This is BONES and a two-cour show, so it can be assumed that there are any wrinkles and much head-scratching confusion still to come, but the pieces for an all-around successful and entertaining series seem to be falling into place very nicely.

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27 comments

  1. R

    Those names though.

    I know the Japanese can get rather……odd when it comes to making up (what I presume they think are cool) engrish faction names but….

  2. Well, BONES loves that naming convention. Often they do make sense, like Pied Piper. Sometimes, like Gekkostate, it's completely ???. GLOBE obviously makes sense, as does Ark Faction (is that their official name?). What about Salty Dog? If there's foreshadowing in the traditional meaning of the slang – an old, experienced sailor – I can't grasp it yet.

  3. I

    He! Did you watch gate? One princess is called Pina Ko Lada. *Facepalm*

  4. t

    I….don't know.

    yes, it feels like star driver and all. but let's leave them aside (it's for CE favor).
    this show sure is entertaining. but I don't see far more than that in the horizon.
    yes, extremely marvelous visuals, OST and animation in every frame. that's really is amazing. the action scene and the whole mecha…it's really like they could engineer something in real-life instead of anime (but hey I am not complaining here!). but apart from that?this show still has some grey and dark clouds around it, even after 3 eps.

    starting with MCs, last week drive me nuts with the swinging between seriousness and childishness. this week it was somehow more subtle. but I can't say I am really into it. the MC isn't really an appealing protagonist (actually in 1st episode he was much more..until those 5 minutes where he was like "let's save earth yeah" when moments ago he was like the most "astronaut" type on earth…). we also had a new addition to our group of heroes – mahou shojo,or more like mahou hacker girl. she is amusing I have to say, and brought some balance. I like what they are doing with Teppi and probably Hana too.but I still doesn't feel what I want from the characters, not just Daichi. and there is this "salty dog" that serves as the bad-guy (remind me the bad guy from SAO. and it's a bad thing).

    other than characters, the story is coherent only to a certain extent. there are still too many side characters and organizations that spread here and there (those who "watch" the space, the salty dog and his..whatever, the bunch of guys from HQ and the Globe which is where our heroes) and although the main line of plot is clear enough, this series gets entangled within itself. it reminds me LN terminology that making things way too complicated with organizations and stuff (like in this case – livlaster).
    so..even though the general premise is understandably, it doesn't feel like things are clear enough.

    it does entertaining but only to a certain extent since there isn't really..I don't know..point for the things. and this is where CE reminds star driver where characters are just flat and story-wise it's just seems sophisticated but it just…emptiness. in addition, I hope it won't be like star driver, bringing "robot of the week".
    I am still giving it a chance to prove wrong because this isn't star driver despite using kinda same structure and elements. but with animation alone…you can't hold a 2cour series if the plot isn't dynamic and appealing enough. I hope CE won't fall into that trap…but so far it's just a hope (and it doesn't bode well)

  5. M

    I share some of the same feelings. I'm not getting a clear picture of what this show is going for. I guess it's only three episodes in, so it still has time (is this 1 or 2 cours?). So far I'm mostly getting that the characters like the feel of the wind on the island. Ok? The plot is really hazy to me at the moment. All these different organizations and whatnot. I'm sure it will become clearer over time, but will I still be watching? Also, there are too many damn words that mean very little to me. I had hoped they were done after the first couple episodes, but they still had new stuff this episode like "princess of blume." So far I'm just having a hard time caring, even though I kind of want to with the visuals being as great as they are.

  6. R

    Wait, how the hell is akari tsutomu's and tsubaki's daughter? she's a redhead… and.. and…

    oh heck, never mind that. definitely a fun episode for me (way better than last week's) with all that humor and action. that scene with Tsutomu warning the kids not to do "you know what" is just plain hilarious. and hey, we now get our innocent fanservice girl in Hana (hope they don't turn this into a running gag, though, cause it would be annoying).

    I do echo thedarltpwer's concerns that there are still too many plot points to be sorted out and/or done away with soon and the characters still need to be build up more for me to really get involved (Daichi is still a bit generic and has yet to come into his own as a character for me). but I will gladly give this a few more eps to see how it goes (FYI, I haven't watched Star Drivers yet, so i can't comprehend the comparison).

    BTW, Enzo, I think you got the name of that Salty Dog guy wrong. or is his surname indeed Manatsu? Definitely loved his "paper cup phone" conversation though. very clever. That had me grinning.

  7. H

    Also, when Akari was talking about being "beaten" I think she meant it in a general sense, not that she's also trying to compete for Daichi's affection (and since it looks like they really are cousins, phew!). Given that she's pretty interested in Teppei (in the show, opening, and ending themes) I think the show has already established it's ships pretty early.

  8. m

    Everytime Daichi gets into the Earth Engine, and when I hear the music that accompanies that scene, I think of Star Driver. The music was the only decent part of that show (not the op/ed but bgm).
    I can see why you compare it to Euerka 7, but I like the MC's a lot more so far. Renten was a great realistic for his age character, but so endlessly annoying (prob due to how annoying 14yr olds are), and Eureka was a portrayed well, but also I found her annoying. I have a weird love/hate relationship with E7. Obviously its done so well in every aspect from the acting to the visuals and the writing. But it was written so well that these realistic character flaws would make the MCs so annoying at times.

  9. m

    But (and I know it's only been 3 eps) these characters don't seem to be so whiney and neurotic so far, and the sense of humor is a bit better I think. My Restraint! is one of the funnier anime lines I've heard.

  10. I feel the same way about E7 – I love it way more than the many flaws it has should allow me to.

    Must be said, though – Ao is the best MC in that franchise, hands down.

  11. R

    Never liked how AO (the series) turned out, but i got to agree that the son was better than the dad in terms of character.

    @maverick
    I like it when MCs' flaws annoy me (the right way, mind you), cause it is a good sign that i am being being drawn more to care for this characters. that I have yet to see in CE. Daichi's character has yet to give me that love/hate relationship you mentioned.

  12. m

    @roger
    I get that. When a MC is perfect it feels unnatural. It's hard to get fully behind someone who doesn't struggle or show any real emotion. Having a flawed MC grow like Renten did is always endearing.

  13. s

    I too upon watching Eureka seven multiple times (there was a time where re-watched the entire series in 2 and a half days; surprised i had all that spare time), wonder why i like the series more than i should with all its glaring flaws such as pacing, plot progression, and some of the story elements sometimes bordering on being esoteric without a solid reason for being so. But then i remember that E7 is one of the greatest coming of age stories i have ever seen in Anime and i let all those flaws vanish from my mind (although not completely enough to not dock points off). It was a great character exploration tale from beginning to end, allowing for Renton to grow up into the man he never thought he was but always aspired to be. And while some think this anime was only a coming of age story for renton, the same applied to Eureka and Holland (yes, holland because even though he was adult by stature, he was still a child for a good half of the series, slowing learning for to fit into the boots of his adult role and the part he had to play in the story). I see E7 has a character exploration piece being viewed through the lens of a sci-fi rather than the other way around and because of that, i am drawn to E7's successes more than its failures.

    As for captain earth, we are three eps in but i dont know where this series wants to go with its direction as of yet, which explains my so-so attitude towards it (but hey, that's the fun of tuning into a series; to find out). While i am enjoying myself watching it, im not wowed or impressed or even immersed with it. At least with E7, i knew what the series wanted to be in the long run with its first 3 eps and knew that id be in for a powerful ride then and there; But again, time will tell with captain earth.

  14. I agree with your assessment, though I have major issues with Holland as a character and they're one of the main reasons I struggle with E7 on the whole. And I would say that for all the flaws, the Ray-Charles arc was pretty much flawless – a short run of episodes as good as any BONES has ever done.

  15. s

    I looooveeeeddd the ray-charles arc; That was my favorite arc of the series that took everything that series embodied to the next level in my opinion. I wasnt fond of holland myself throughout the first half of the series; but then i realized he was suppose to be this childish bastard that didnt know any better than venting out his anger and insecurities on the easiest target he could find and that he would eventually learn to grow out of it; that growing part was very important otherwise i would have wrote him off really early in the series.

  16. G

    I think that's Holland's charm…lol..I find him to be a fascinating character if not a likeable one. After all, one of the biggest themes of E7 is growing up.
    I think it's so hard to put into words what makes E7 so beautiful despite many of its glaring flaws. It's such a vibrant show, both visually and thematically, and it's unlikely you will find many shows that achieves the level of emotional height E7 has.

  17. I'm all for stories of childish adults finally maturing, but Holland stepped way across the line of what can be ascribed to simple immaturity. I don't disagree he's interesting, but he was so unlikable he was a net drag on the show for me.

  18. J

    This being a BONES mecha show, Pitz must surely be named for the Photo Injector Test Facility at the German Electron Synchrotron, right?

  19. O

    I'm pretty sure Daichi said his dad would hang out with his really good friend, Tsutomu, when he was young, and he spent a lot of time there as a kid. I took it as them actually NOT being biologically related.

  20. O

    Just watched the scene and he said "my dad and uncle nishikubo were good friends." Hmm, I took it as friends, and he called him uncle. I don't know.

  21. That exchange is why I'm not sure.

  22. w

    I suppose this is where I admit I've never watched a BONES sci-fi original before, so all these similarities fly right over my head. It actually reminds me of Robotics;Notes, but I think that's Tanegashima more than anything else. Otherwise, it's all very fresh to me!

    I am enjoying the hell out of this so far, it feels like there's an underlying sense of fun and idealism that permeates every scene. I've already got Akari for best girl, but when you say sweepstakes, surely you aren't suggesting a love triangle? Clearly gunning for Teppei here. To whom Daichi'll probably need to give back that amulet again, and just after he'd won it too.

  23. Z

    Akari is similar to Frau Koujiro. Except more genki and more annoying.

  24. G

    She still reminds me of Ed from Cowboy Bebop but less erratic.

  25. G

    So far, it's been a well balanced show all around. Not enough to knock my socks off, but definitely enough to keep me on board for the rest of the ride. Of course, it's still very early in the game and things could go either way from here, but I am expecting some nice character drama from how things are setup. I'm also one of those masochistic fans who enjoy Bones mindscrewing, so bring on the head-scratching, eye-clawing twists.

  26. m

    When the episode first played out, and I got a close-up of the extremely cute squirrel, i thought i was watching Pokemon for a while there.

  27. s

    how i wish i can like this anime to watch enough for it to get interesting, i mean how did they screw this up so badly just after making star driver which i greatly enjoyed.

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