Well, for a series that was more BONES than BONES in ways both good and bad, it seems only fitting that it would give us an ending that’s almost totally open to interpretation. This show was something of an amalgam of its studio’s prior mecha shows in the same way Kakumeiki Valvrave was for Sunrise, but while that was a kind of deconstruction this was more of a homage – a patchwork quilt of BONES sci-fi elements lovingly sewn together into a sometimes mismatched final product.
Structurally speaking, I would say things went more or less as expected. The Ark Faction was nothing but a memory, Puck was fully ensconced as the big bad, and the Planetary Gears and Midsummers Knights were more or less thrown together in a marriage of convenience. This has been in the cards for a while, with the major question what steps would lead us to this point. The show has been the better for it, honestly – even if the ending has been telegraphed, things have moved along with a much greater sense of purpose since the P.G. of the Week episodes came to an end.
There is a bit of a tendency with BONES sci-fi for endings to get bogged down in a lot of technobabble and mysticism (well, not just BONES sci-fi) and the mechanics of what’s happening outside the Oberon do exhibit it. Puck has made his intentions pretty clear – undisputed God-king of the galaxy. Faced with that the Planetary Gears have no choice but to resist, but unsurprisingly it’s Baku and Setsuna who frame it in the most altruistic terms (though Moko continues her development in that direction). Their efforts aren’t enough to take out Puck’s monstrous and ugly ego block, but they do force him to expend enough energy quelling them that he needs to go back to Earth to suck up some libido juice. We also see Amara sacrifice his own ego block for Moko – if he’s unwilling to act selflessly on behalf of Earth, he does at least betray his very human affection for Moko.
Puck’s long game involves taking over Hana and the Blume in order to subsume the Livelasters, which are the only real threat he sees remaining. The result is a sort of a “Dark Hana” that’s a photo-negative of the usual trope in that she’s blonde and the original is black-haired (sort of like blue squirrels that are girls and pink squirrels that are boys). But this fails because the Livelasters can tell the difference between real Hana and possessed-Hana, so that leaves Puck with one option – destroy everything that’s come into contact with Livelasters. There’s also talk of how he needs Hana’s body to return to Earth because if he returns as himself there’ll be a “libido explosion” (think high-school mixer), though – like the nature of the Livelasters themselves – that’s never really explained.
Since only Daichi can Entangle Link it ends up with him facing off against Puck and his new monstrous Blumecha to save Earth, with Teppei and Akari left behind – but again, that’s really the ending we’ve been headed for all along. Setting aside the minutiae of the moment this works pretty well for me in the broad sense, because it fits Puck’s M.O. – he’s always had a blind spot for the subtle effects of emotions on reality, and this is no different. Daichi turning Hana back into herself with a telepathic kiss? Yeah, no way Puck would predict that – and it pretty much fits the BONES romantic (in the philosophical sense) approach to mecha storylines.
As to what actually happened at the end, that’s pretty vague – which is also classic BONES. Are Daichi and Hana dead, enjoying the view of the galaxy in the Buddhist sense? Did they survive, presumably saved by Livelaster Pitz (the presence of Pitz in human form at the end seems to favor this hypothesis)? And what of Puck himself? Given that all of the Planetary Gears survived to live out their days as their human avatars, I don’t see any reason why the same wouldn’t be true of Puck, so I would assume he’s alive but stuck inside poor old Kube-san – certainly not the threat he was, but still quite capable of causing trouble (with the female staff of MacBeth, if nothing else).
I’m never going to be the one that calls Captain Earth a great series, but I think it was a hell of a lot better than its detractors give it credit for. I won’t rehash all the arguments I’ve been making about why the series has improved substantially, but it does have the misfortune of being a two-cour show where the second was better than the first – I think too many people had too much invested in trashing it to really give that second cour a chance. Once the P.G. episodes were over (and Baku’s two-episodes were actually excellent) CE had a pretty consistent run all the way to the end. And I had enough invested in the characters from its likeable start that this was more than enough for an enjoyable run for me.
BONES has a certain way of doing science-fiction, which some people obviously like better than others. I’m a fan, though certainly not a fanatic – I’m no admirer of Star Driver, for example (and think this show was much better). Given that this was perhaps the most self-referential series BONES has done it’s not surprising that those who aren’t fans of the style didn’t buy what Captain Earth was selling. It’s earnest, it’s romantic, it’s often dubiously mystical – in short, it’s a BONES mecha. They’ve certainly done it better, but for me this was a profoundly enjoyable series. And I’ll certainly never tire of big sci-fi action scenes depicted in gloriously hand-drawn animation (and I hope I get the chance to put that pledge to the test). Great visuals, excellent soundtrack, a generally strong cast with a plot that came together nicely even as it sprung a few leaks – that’s a pretty decent formula for me. I liked Captain Earth, and it’s that which I’ll remember rather than the relentless drumbeat of negativity from those who didn’t, and weren’t about to let anyone forget it.
ED: “Yoake no Hitorigoto (夜明けのひとりごと)” by HANA