It hasn’t exactly come back from the dead like a blowed-up and drowned yakuza, but Captain Earth has certainly shown a new vigour over the last few weeks. After a span of episodes that found the series mostly drifting, the bar has been raised quite substantially since Episode 10. As always when a new season begins I’ll assess my schedule and make my decisions based on how the new series play out, but I’m feeling much better about Captain Earth than I was not so long ago.
The turnaround has come from a few factors, not least of which that the writing on the whole has seemed sharper. The plot twists have a newfound sense of intrigue to them, and while it’s been more about raising new questions than answering old ones, these new developments are interesting ones. The last couple of Designer Child stories have been the best of the lot by far, too, and that’s a major factor. In fact, I’d go so far as to say Baku’s arc may be the most interesting we’ve seen in Captain Earth so far.
The MacGuffin of the episode is definitely “singularities” – the odd abilities than manifest themselves in the Designer Children. Teppei seems to think Daichi has one, while Daichi disagrees, but everyone agrees that the true DCs (if indeed Daichi isn’t one himself is in my view a valid question) have these powers. Baku has seemed different from the other DCs right from the beginning – because he was more connected to his previous life, he was less changed by his encounter with Moco and Amara than the prior examples.
If anything, I’m kind of sad to see that Baku’s backstory seems disconnected from the larger conspiracies at work in the plot, because it’s a compelling one. Apparently Haruhiko’s recovery and all those bad dreams have nothing to do with Puck or Planetary Gears, but arose strictly from Bugbear’s power – and his desire not to see Kumiko (Asami Seto) die in the “Magus Incident”. She was the one who blew up the boat – blew it up because she wanted to stop her father (turns out it was Nakata Jouji after all) from continuing the child-trafficking ring that had ensnared Baku. She was the Ace of Spades in his magic trick of course – the trick she knew all along wasn’t a trick. “I don’t have that kind of control.” When Kumiko takes three bullets from the jealous Haruhiko for Baku, the truth is revealed beyond a doubt – and when Kumiko tells Baku that she wants to be released from the nightmare she’s been living, she and the other Magus “survivors” finally meet their deferred fate. Even here, Baku can’t say no to the girl he loves.
All of that was very elegantly spun – quite probably the most well-written arc in Captain Earth so far in my view. It had pathos, irony, subtlety and even a little bit of poetry to it. I’m very curious to see what happens with Baku from here, because as I said, I didn’t get the sense he changed all that much even after Moco frenched him. And neither did Daichi when they fought – it was the same young man he’d seen be so ferocious in his fight club matches, but there was no strength behind the blows. Baku has lost his reason to fight, and indeed his reason to live – but I don’t see him being a willing pawn in the Planetary Gears’ conquest of Earth. I hope we see a lot more of him.
And so ends the first cour of Captain Earth – not with a game-changer or a cliffhanger, just a rock-solid arc. We now have Baku and Setsuna out there as interesting wild cards in the larger story, but not a lot of answers as to the true nature of the threat and what and who might be behind it. I’m still on the fence about whether this show can pull its far-flung strands of plot together in convincing fashion in the second cour, but that it was able to pull off storytelling as good as we’ve seen in the last three episodes is a good sign.