One of the most frustrating yet enticing things about BONES projects like Captain Earth is the constant struggle to try and make sense of all the myriad twists and turns and the avalanche of anachronistic and invented terminology. All of their sci-fi originals have had it to varying degrees (I’d put the two Eureka Seven series on roughly opposite ends of the scale) and it’s definitely a fine line they walk – it can veer into strictly annoying at times (as it quickly did with Star Driver). But somehow for me that feeling of always being slightly disoriented is a hallmark of the anime science-fiction experience, and BONES uses it to greater effect than any other studio.
Last week’s Captain Earth was one of the more coherent and digestible episodes in any of these series, but this time we’re squarely back in the firing line. It’s always dangerous to try and categorize these scattershot references into meaningful order (they may just be random, used because the writers liked they way they sound) but the Shakespeare/Britain motif is getting harder to ignore. We have the A.I. unit Puck (A Midsummer Night’s Dream) – who was also known as “Goodfellow”, which is the name given to the Kill-T Gang’s mecha-control module (the “machine goodfellows”). We have Uncle Tsutomu talking of a “Macbeth plan”. The name of his organization no longer seems just to be a vaguely spacey title, but a reference to the Globe Theatre, where Shakespeare’s plays were staged. And Teppei’s “true” name seems to be Albion, which is the oldest known name for Great Britain.
Again, it’s too early to start looking for foreshadowing here – the Shakespeare connection is nowhere near as solid yet as it was in BONES’ Zetsuen no Tempest. And we continue to have loads of other sampler-platter terms like “Neoteny” (the phenomenon where adults in a species retain evolutionary features there were previously present only in juveniles), as well as all the Reich-inspired hack psychology vocab. That at least we can say for sure is directly tied into the plot, as it seems the the “Planetary Gear” species has finally found a way to directly tap the horniness of teenaged boys as an endless food/power source (and human libidos are on the menu). The interesting part of that exchange for me was when Amara (avatar name Amarok – in case you’re wondering, an Inuit name for a wolf spirit) defended this by saying “That’s what the people of this world want”.
All in all, I find that Captain Earth is pretty consistent – none of the episodes have been a revelation, but each has been solidly entertaining and this one was no exception. We continue to have a successful mix of humor (like Akari’s “belly button forte” and Daichi’s reaction) with action and political intrigue. I find BONES sci-fi originals can be like competing theories of universal expansion – sometimes they expand for a while after their big bang, then start to contract down to the finish, and sometimes (like the original E7) they just keep expanding forever. It’s too early to say which way Captain Earth is going, of course, but this being a two-cour show and this only the fourth episode, that plot is already mighty big so I rather hope it’s the first option.
We can see a few clarifying (or at least relevant and useful) bits of information trickle across the transom even in an ep like this one. Pitz is certainly extraterrestrial, having the ability to sniff out Amara and Moco’s alien-ness even on their crepes. Teppei is definitely one of them, though he seems to have lost at least a part of his memory (but perhaps not all, as when Amarok-Amara refers to him as “Alaya” he replies “I don’t go by that name.”). Amara and Moco clearly have the ability to come and go to Earth as they please, even if their Kill-T Gangs do not – and everyone in the know seems adamant that once those arrive, it’s curtains.
Next week it seems the story is going to take a deeper dive both into Teppei’s backstory and the mysterious Ark Faction (who were effectively absent from this week’s episode). I’m assuming that the ship containing “the person who gave Teppei his genes” is one of the aforementioned ark ships – though it’s also hinted that the forces attacking that ship to try and abduct the gene-donor might be Arkists (?), so one of those two presumptions is likely wrong.