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.