Welcome to the “Eureka Seven episode” of Captain Earth. It’s tempting to label the director and writer of CE as the “Star Driver guys” but there’s a hell of a lot more in their resumes, both at BONES and outside. I think both Enokido and Igarashi are very much a product of the system, mecha anime guys through and through who learned the ropes at Gainax and BONES and more than being captured with a specific series like Star Driver (which frankly isn’t all that good in my opinion), they’re part and parcel of the non-Sunrise orthodoxy of how to tell a mecha story. And it really shines through in an episode like this one.
I suspect there’s going to be an element of preaching to the choir with “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”, as this episode is aptly titled. If you’ve bought what Captain Earth is selling I suspect this ep will work for you as well as it did for me, but if you’re a hater (which seems to be most of you) it will play like so much piffle. It’s going to be dismissed as time-wasting filler, but it’s not – I think this was an essential part of the story Enokido is telling with this series, and I was very fond of the way it was executed, too.
Structurally this was a classic BONES Acperience-style surreality trip, the events of the first episode more or less replayed except with the various Planetary Gears popping up in key roles. No, I don’t know exactly why Daichi was thrown into this vision when he slammed into the Garm – but it doesn’t really seem fair to hold Captain Earth to a higher standard than every other Gainax or BONES sci-fi that uses this device and doesn’t explain it. Rather, I think the point is that this is Daichi questioning his own choices – which is a vital part of the main character experience in this kind of show. And of course the P.G.’s are there to represent his self-doubts, though to an intriguing degree they maintain elements of their true nature.
I very much like the way the whole thing was staged, from the nice touches like the arm reaching in from off-camera to turn off the bank of TVs when they were pushing Daichi too close to the truth to the (that’s a seven-word alliteration with the letter T, by the way – eight if you count “that’s”) subtly dreamlike nature of the backgrounds and crowds. “Real people don’t die” seems to be an expression of the Planetary Gears core philosophy, and especially interesting was Setsuna’s appearance. It definitely reflects the uncertainty that grips her and the potential for a shared understanding with Daichi, but “I’m not ready to go your way – yet” seems to speak for itself. There’s also a glimpse of the mysterious blue-haired recorder-to-randoseru child, who gives Daichi a little push back to reality (and it never occurred to me before, but Pitz’ tail is the same color. Hmmm…).
Standard BONES nonsense or clever use of symbolism? I guess it depends on the perspective. It’s hard for me to see “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” as anything but an archetypal development, because from the beginning I’ve felt that Captain Earth was something of an amalgam of the BONES sci-fi that have come before it. I’m a card-carrying member of this club, so don’t look to me for a ringing condemnation of this episode for fluffiness or irrelevance because you’re not going to get it. If this sort of thing doesn’t work for you, you were probably never going to buy into Captain Earth to begin with – and again, that seems to be most of you, so I’ll be surprised if this ep is well-received. For me it was one of the most interesting and well-crafted of the series, and a continuation of the strong conclusion that the show has been building for quite some time.