I suppose one would be entitled to a certain amount of surprise that Captain Earth ended up having as much structural integrity as it did, given the inconsistencies in the first half and the writers involved. But I always felt it had this in it, somehow – as much as the show meandered at times during the “Planetary Gear of the Week” phase, it never seemed to me as if it wasn’t at least headed somewhere with a purpose. And we’re starting to see that really emerging now, as the various plot threads are being woven together in a fashion that’s nearly elegant. They could certainly still screw this up, but right now things look pretty good.
What I like about this series really boils down to two things – the interesting interplay of competing interest groups, and the fact that the cast is quite engaging and likeable (of course I also love seeing so much hand-drawn action, a rarity in anime these days, but that’s a constant with BONES). And it really seems as if no one has the upper-hand at the moment – every major faction has weaknesses, and even if the Intercept Faction seems to be coming out on top of most of their direct skirmishes, they’ve been playing defense for the entire series. But that looks like it’s about to change.
Starting with Puck, he’s learning hard lessons about the consequences of human behavior when it comes to other humans. I still feel as if this is going to be Puck’s ultimate downfall, but it was interesting seeing him have a conversation with himself in Kube’s body. The implication here seems to be that he’s basically split his consciousness in two, but I can’t help but wonder if Kube is still inside there waiting for a chance to bust out – or if the Puck inside Kube’s body will be changed by the experience of living and end up at odds with the “true” Puck. That Puck seems to have come to the conclusion that it’s the Livelasters that are its real enemy, because their intentions are to take over the solar system. Interesting.
Also interesting is the reveal that Peter Westvillage was for “a short time” the science advisor at Macbeth Enterprises, and that he’s e-mailed Kube asking a question: “If you had eternal life, how would it change the way you thought?” Does this reflect conflicted loyalties for Westvillage, or merely concern and curiosity prompting him to query an old colleague with some reason to have thoughts on the matter? Obviously Westvillage is a crucial figure, having been the first to make contact with Hana, and ultimately more knowledgeable than any human about the Blume.
Ultimately, though, it seems Hana is the crucial figure – at least as far as both Kivotos and Intercept and their final solutions are concerned. She and the boys are redirected to the Carpenteria Base by Tanegashima, based on Salty Dog’s strength at Australia Central Command, and Akari hacks into their systems to allow the trio to steal the transport ship Bravnik in the chaos. But Salty Dog sounds out their big dog after them – the Sarama Engine (fittingly, Sarama in Hindu myth is “the mother of all dogs”), a giant unmanned attack vessel (unmanned is clearly Kivotos’ preferred strategic choice). It catches up to the Bravnik as it enters Japanese airspace, and S.D. uses their influence to keep the JSDF on the ground and allow the Sarama – which transforms into a giant dog-like mecha – to shoot down Hana and severely damage the Bravnik.
S.D. clearly did not anticipate what happens next, but it seems Tanegashima did – Hana enters the Blume, rises from the water and bitch-slaps the Arama Engine from the sky as if it were a gnat. There are consequences here – apparently once Hana has entered the Blume, only Daichi can get her out (if there’s a reason beyond young love, it’s yet unexplained). But Hana piloting the Blume is part of Operation Summer and she’s at peace with it, reasoning that if Daichi isn’t around to free her there’s not much point in leaving the Blume anyway. This crisis may have accelerated the timetable, but this was something she was fated to do sooner or later.
It’s a bit of a clusterfuck here, but one that’s been nicely built up to. Kivotos, Intercept, Puck, Kube-Puck, the Planetary Gears, maybe the Livelasters too – there are a lot of players at the table, especially considering that there’s disunion in at least some of these circles. There are surely going to be alliances formed among some of these opposing forces, and soon. But I like the way the Salty Dog observer summed up the Intercept Faction – “Organizations of the old (like Kivotos, seemingly) tend to be experienced, knowledgeable and careful – but too cautious to make bold moves. Those run by young people (like the Planetary Gears, ironically) are energetic and bold, but tend to be reckless and destroy themselves.” It’s an interesting observation (well, that is her job) in its own right, and it sums up why this group has been the most successful faction so far – both elements are working together. That’s what seems to give them the edge over the other groups, and why they’re likely to come out on top in the end.