Captain Earth – 18

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More than ever, I’m glad I stuck around.

I know the complaints about Captain Earth are never going to stop, and Lord knows it’s not a perfect series (though I would question why someone would want to stay with a series for 18 weeks just so they can repetitively bitch about it every week).  But on some level with every “bubble” series it comes down to one question – do I care about what’s happening?  And with Captain Earth, the answer is undoubtedly yes.  For all its flaws, I am invested in the story and characters, and I do want to see how the series concludes.

There are many probable reasons for that, but for me a lot of it comes down to this: even when their shows are flawed, BONES sci-fi series always have a great humanity to them.  That’s what sets them apart from Sunrise and other studios – there’s a certain earnest genki attitude and idealism to every BONES mecha show, and they’re always primarily driven by the characters.  They may not always be great characters, but making shows about people is, as a general rule, a good thing in my view.  Captain Earth has had plenty of peaks and valleys, but the characters are distinctive and generally likeable.  And that goes a long way towards keeping me invested even when the valleys are a little deeper than I’d like.

Happily, of late we’ve had more peaks than valleys – and the valleys have been more like foothills.  In its second cour CE has been quite a good series, and this was one of the strongest episodes yet – nicely and logically plotted, briskly paced and featuring some very strong character moments.  In fact narratively speaking it might have been the smoothest ep of the entire series, touching a lot of bases and delivering lots of action and exposition without being rushed.

Things start out on the Tenkaidou, where Daichi and Teppei are undergoing tests to determine their readiness for the Intercept Faction’s “Phase II” and about to escort Hana back to Tanageshima.  Hana is bonding with Tsubaki, Teppei is calmly ignoring the cluster of wannabe girlfriends scoping him out, and Daichi has a “chance” meeting with Canis, one of the scientists on-board and apparently the inventor of the Kivotos project.  He shakes Daichi’s hand on the grounds that Daichi is a hero, but somehow in doing so he manages to sabotage the Flugel, the re-entry shuttle the trio will use, and re-direct it to crash-land in Australia.  It’s all part of a plan to “pluck the flower” – as far as the Kivotos Faction is concerned Daichi and Teppei are wholly expendable annoyances.

We’re starting to see the chess pieces all over the board sliding into place for the endgame.  Puck is revealing an essential weakness, his Achilles Heel – a lack of critical understanding of human nature that even the Planetary Gears have.  He’s baffled that his relentless rutting with every female in the building is going to have repercussions for “Kube”.  For the first time we hear the Livelasters referred to (by Puck) as “extra-dimensional beings” who are incompatible with the P.G.’s.  Both Kivotos and Intercept are pushing towards their final solution, each incompatible with the others and each relying on (differing) members of the Midsummer’s Knights.  And doubt and dissension are growing inside the ranks of the Planetary Gears.  It’s a good setup, and gives CE a chance to execute a very compelling final act.

The conclusion of the episode itself takes place in the deserts of Australia, as Daichi, Teppei and Hana fight off a range of unmanned Kivitos tanks and planes and the Aurora Engine is badly damaged in the process, and raises the question of who the real enemy is.  It’s excellent and engaging stuff, and strongly foreshadows the moment when Daichi is going to have to face the choice of killing humans or losing something precious to him.  It also gives Daichi his most GAR moment since the start of the series, as he chooses to stand and fight rather than leave Teppei behind and flee with Hana – in the process displaying the firepower that will be needed for Phase II, and has eluded him in testing.  The only option is to escape to Australian Globe HQ – which will, of course, have those loyal to both factions manning it.  Managing to safely return to Tangeshima is going to be quite a challenge, and it should be interesting to see it play out.

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  1. K

    It's a fun anime. I enjoy it.

  2. m

    Transforming time wasted aside this series has been entertaining. There's definitely flaws in a lot of areas, but certainly not as much as Star Driver. For me at least, this episode is an example of CE at it's best. The characters interacting with each other, no wasted moments in repetitive sequences, solid fight sequence with an excellent character climax, and none of that random lazy villainy. As you mentioned, seeing Puck's lack of awareness of the consequences of his actions in regards to human emotions was perfect. It not only sets up his downfall nicely, but really helps define his character a bit more. My problem has mostly been with the PG's: the stretch where it was random PG battle of the week (with 2 exceptions), the lack of explanation of how they even have human bodies or why humans would build them bodies so they could then destroy all humans, and the lack of consistency of their mindset in annihilating the human race for food. They have had some solid moments, and I don't mind that attitude from the original 2 seeing as they've (seemingly) spent no time as humans, but the others have been obnoxious to extreme degrees. Bugbear is an exception, but I don't buy into him being able to kill the entire human race, and the same goes for other Siren. I'd like to see that justified a lot better, or even respectably so. That being said, when CE focuses on the character interaction it's really hard not to get sucked in. The good guys side are all very likable and easy to root for. Daichi has the perfect mix of Takuto and Renten, neither too miserable and whiney or too genki and seemingly perfect. He simultaneously doubts himself and has, as you put it, awesome GAR moments. I like the whole MK/good globe guys group, but Daichi is really the one that pulls me into this show.

  3. s

    "(though I would question why someone would want to stay with a series for 18 weeks just so they can repetitively bitch about it every week)"

    It's a psychological thing really. Some people are just too afraid to admit that they enjoy something despite its many flaws because they think it demerits their credibility and as a result, their intelligence; especially those who deem themselves "smart, intelligent, and upstanding people". There are those who think their taste are superior to others so if they ever catch themselves enjoying something that may have fundamental flaws, a sort of cognitive dissonance occurs where the need to correct that dissonance results in the person constantly berating the exact thing they seem to be following so religiously. If you want a good example, just look at the people who bash the live-action transformers films (not that im comparing captain earth to transformers; no way Jose) despite going to the movie theaters on opening day…ON OPENING DAY, to pay to watch each iteration of those films. The human condition is quite interesting. The lesson here: like whatever you want to like.

  4. R

    Hurray for us psychological masochists then!

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