This is review number three hundred and five. This anime is part of the Spring 2014 lineup. It’s Captain Earth. It’s a twenty five episode anime about aliens fighting giant robots piloted by angsty teenagers. It’s a pretty long review so let’s just read on.
An alien race is trying to destroy Earth and Daichi Manatsu is tasked to stop them. With his Earth engine, he plans to stop the Kill T Gang from their plans of draining Earth of its life energy. Along with his fellow mecha pilots, they go into space and kick some alien ass. Politics gets in the way though. A group of individuals is actually in favor of letting the aliens wipe Earth out so they can have their chosen elites repopulate it. It’s a crazy notion but this is not just a fight between humans and aliens. Humans and humans are also bickering despite the potential threat in front of them.
Taking the Pants Off
Original Screenplays are always a risky thing to do. These are anime that didn’t come from any other source. No manga or light novel was adapted to make this show. Everything is created by the people working on the show specifically for this one anime. It’s risky business doing one because, for some reason, animating a show and creating an enriched story for it is pretty damn hard to execute. For manga adapted shows, the mangaka has already laid out the story so it’s easy to just animate what he had envisioned. The same goes for light novels and visual novels and stuff like that. I think the anime industry has embraced adaptations for so long that it seems lost when it doesn’t adapt a show. Original Screenplays are often the shows that fall flat the hardest and usually give us a very miserable experience. I recently reviewed this show called M3 and it was awful. It appeared like veterans of the anime industry had no idea how to create an anime with the garbage they unleashed with that show. O. Screenplays seem to aim for something very ambitious that looks really amazing when done right though. However, the higher you try to reach the sun then the painful your fall is when your wings melt. If you do succeed though then the feats you accomplished will be legendary. O. Screenplays that succeed often become massive legends. Code Geass, Cowboy Bebop, Neon Genesis Evangelion and Madoka Magica are shows that weren’t adapted from anything and their success resounds throughout the industry. Original Screenplays can make you a legend because their ambitious content is hard to pull off. The hurdle these shows overcome is intense and that’s why majority of O. Screenplays sucks. Galilei Donna, Nagi no Asukara, Fantasista Doll, K, Natsuiro Kiseki, Fractale and the aforementioned M3 tried to reach the sun as well but wasn’t able to do such feat. It’s very rare to see an O Screenplay succeed especially in this day and age. You can argue Kill la Kill is a success but only because TTGL did a good job that Trigger copy and pasted it. No, O. Screenplays is something you either do extremely well or do extremely horrible so risking doing one takes some balls. You have to applaud Bones for trying to create an original screenplay with an ambitious story of politics, with some subtle symbolism, and mixing it with the standard mecha story. Captain Earth had something very especial to present that I personally loved. It even did a good job presenting the story and developing the characters. Unfortunately, the over ambitiousness of the political mecha element of this show proved detrimental as the audience is asked to watch 90% of heavy exposition with 10% awesome mecha action scenes. The show is all talk with little action. It’s frustrating to watch a show you liked for its simple rooted mecha being overtaken by a story of conspiracy that ultimately did not mean sh*t in the long run since matters are still settled in space with giant robots. In this reviewer’s opinion, I believe Captain Earth failed miserably in its attempts to deliver its overly ambitious content.
The show is a massive clusterf*ck when you first watch it. It already had an established status quo so the audience is asked to catch up. While the standard mecha story of an angsty boy serves as its base, the story is already moving in its own pace long before our hero rode his mecha for the first time. There are already off hand remarks about stuff important to the story the show never explains. Figuring out the Kill T gang, Salty Dogs, and Globe will be the first hurdle but that’s only after you are able to block out the sciency stuff important to the show like orgone energy, planetary signs and neoteny. Eventually the show will become clear but that’s after you feel completely lost and alienated by this anime. Through various dialogues and conversations, the initial plot is eventually presented. I think that won’t be until you reach episode seven and that means paying extra close attention to all the grownups of the show talking to each other. Nothing is just easily presented. Information important to the show will be mentioned off hand in a certain conversation while the anime keeps setting up scenarios for episodes to come. You won’t be put off by the show though because of the familiar mecha elements present. The coming of age journey of our main character is often a big focus of the show while it’s busy establishing its initial premise so you’re drawn to the familiar stuff he is experiencing. This confusing story is also evened out by the intriguing characters that keep the show bright and fun to watch. From a childhood friend Daichi plays this cute game with to this eccentric hacker that considers herself a magical girl, the overwhelming story doesn’t look all that bad when there are still some good things you can look out for in the show. After you reach episode seven, pay extra close attention to the meeting the officials of Globe had at the later parts of the show because it basically summarized the initial premise. It’s a big risk doing such an overly ambitious story with so many layers and components to it but I think the nostalgic mecha elements and wonderful characters really make the experience worthwhile. If you are still unable to catch up to the story past episode seven then I believe you’ll have a hard time understanding the show moving forward because the progression is all the more overwhelming once the initial premise is established.
Anyways, let’s talk about the initial premise of this show that was messily told in the first seven episodes. First of all, alien beings known as Planetary Gears are trying to attack Earth and drain it of its libido energy or Orgone energy. A band of planetary gear aliens known as the Kill T Gang is personally trying to accomplish this feat. Nine years ago, they made their first attempts that were thwarted by Daichi’s father when he did a head on collision in a spaceship with the invading Kill T Gang. They went silent ever since but Earth did not. Eventually, this organization called Globe decided to make countermeasures in case the aliens strike again. Globe is basically like the UN with each country having their own armed satellite to fight off the aliens. If one “Approaching Earth Object” appears then Globe will have weapons ready to shoot it down. The idea that giant ass aliens are set to drain Earth of its life doesn’t sit well with some people. Fighting them with armed safelights might not be enough. The Macbeth Enterprises came up with the Kivotos Plan that will send chosen individuals into space in deep sleep once Earth is annihilated by the aliens. These chosen individuals will then repopulate the Earth. It’s such an extreme last resort that most people are divided over it. There are “Ark Faction” groups completely in favor of abandoning Earth and starting anew while there are “Interceptor Factions” that would choose to fight and find ways to kill the aliens instead. There has been growing tension between the two groups and members of Globe are also split in their opinions over such life changing matters. Unfortunately for everyone, the Kill T Gang has finally re-emerged and they seem to now attack relentlessly. Enter Daichi Manatsu, the hero of this story. Daichi is given a “Livlaster” by a girl named Hana. A livlaster is a gun that produces infinite energy. With this gun, Daichi can power up this “Earth Engine” that Globe has been developing. It’s basically a giant mecha and he is now the final line of defense against the aliens and Earth’s survival. If just one Kill T Gang is able to enter Earth then they will drain the planet and kill it. Daichi needs to act fast and protect everyone.
Things become a bit more complicated when Macbeth Enterprises is actually supporting the aliens secretly. They really wanted this world to burn and let only the elites repopulate it so it aligns with the aliens desire to eat the world. The Macbeth Enterprises is supposedly aiding the aliens by giving them “Machine Goodfellows” that acts as a cockpit for the aliens so they can become Planetary Gears and attack Earth. The Kill T Gang is actually already on Earth in human form. They consider their bodies as avatars and their mecha counterpart is actually their real selves. They need their real selves to attack Earth so they can drain its energy. For a machine goodfellow to operate though, they need Orgone energy contained in canisters fed through the machine. Orgone energy is in short supply so the two main Kill T Gang members are snail pacing their attacks which is good for the main characters. This won’t last though and one awesome mecha can’t really fight two aliens at the same time. This is where the Midsummer Knights is founded. A group of four individuals are tasked to beat up the aliens. For the Ark Factions, they pose as a threat to their plans so some political string pulling is necessary. They have this group called the Salty Dogs, which is like their FBI, that oversees Globe but are also heavy Ark Faction members. Using their authority, they try to screw up the Interceptors plan while the Kill T Gang is trying to find ways to deal with the Midsummer Knights. It’s a political melee between humans while the faith of the world is given to the hands of a group of teens battling aliens acting on limited resources. As you can clearly see, the show is one massive clusterf*ck with its terms and various things going on at the same time. I must admit I love putting the puzzle pieces together but I do believe it can be a bit overwhelming and I often re-watch certain episodes to understand what the hell they are talking about. In this anime, it’s more like connecting dots where you try to figure out what dot is missing to fully understand the situation. It’s very hard to follow but I think the cool mecha scenes will really pull you in and encourage you to watch more. Once you understand the initial premise though then the erratic pace of the show will be a bit more tolerable to follow.
For this show, there are three chapters. The first one is about the founding of the Midsummer Knights. That’s basically the first seven episodes. Aside from the overly ambitious story with the messy presentation, the first chapter also covers the character introductions and making sure everyone has an important role to play. From the Macbeth personnel to the Globe members up to the Kill T Gang and the Midsummer Knights, every character has a very vital role to play regarding the overly ambitious story. It is worth noting that if it was executed properly then every cast member would have some majorly critical thing to contribute to the anime. This is also where you can spot the problem with the anime though. It was balancing character introduction with this complex political mecha story and it was having a difficult time pulling it off. It keeps focusing on fleshing out characters while it just mention important parts of the story in one sentence blurted out in one random scene. There are other ways to establish your characters and story but I think the approach Bones took was to ensure the later parts of the show would be amazing. Since it was simmering early on then you kinda had this feeling that the boiling point would be really well done. While the story is severely mishandled and overwhelmingly confusing, the show did do a good job with handling the characters. Daichi’s hung up being a hero, Teppei’s dilemma accepting himself, Hana having self-doubt about her existence and the estranged relationship of Akari to her parents, they were all pretty entertaining to watch. It’s a familiar style of storytelling you’d expect in mecha where troubled teens are given keys to protect the world. This was really the only thing that I truly enjoyed in the first chapter. Slowly piecing the initial premise is hard but it had easy to understand characters that somehow balanced out the show despite the story looking horribly unbalanced by itself.
The second chapter is about the Kill T Gang. At the end of the first chapter, the two main Kill T Gang members had their Machine Goodfellows destroyed after the thing was corrupted by overflowing Orgone energy or something like that. They proceeded to go to plan B which includes contacting fellow Kill T Gang members and wreck some havoc of their own. You see, a machine goodfellow is only suitable for one person so they need to find the pilots to the empty operational machines they have. This means travelling all over Japan and hunting down some people they think are also Kill T Gang members. These people don’t know they are aliens though. They lost their memories as aliens and grew up as ordinary people. It turns out that the Macbeth Enterprises didn’t just dabble on weapons, they also experimented on people. Their darkest project involved the “Designer Children” which are genetically altered kids that was planted an ego block or something. The details are murky but basically, the immortal aliens are inserted into “avatars” that grew up as ordinary children. These children’s sole purpose is to pilot the machine goodfellows and have Macbeth Enterprise raise some hell. Unfortunately, this project was leaked and Macbeth has distanced themselves from such dark things ever since. The kids were all split up and they grew up not knowing they are actually aliens. The two Kill T Gangs that know they are aliens will now travel all over and find fellow aliens. The only ways to get those people their memories back is to make contact lips to lips. Anyways, the second chapter is about the rest of the Kill T Gang regaining their memories and the Midsummer Knights trying to make sure no hell will be raised. Once a Kill T Gang enters his designated cockpit, Daichi and the others only have three minutes or so to disable the machines. Daichi is on Earth tracking down the hidden Kill T Gangs as well and if he doesn’t stop them after 3 minutes expired then they will turn into their true forms as big ass mecha aliens heading into Earth. It’s already established that just one Planetary Gears could drain this planet so if they transform and Daichi is on Earth unable to turn into a mecha then the humans will lose. The second chapter has an exciting idea to it but, as you can see from my long winded explanation, the story is still horribly executed. It also presented a few plot holes here and there.
The second chapter is really where you sense that the anime isn’t doing things right. First of all, the whole Planetary Gears also known as Kill T Gangs also known as Designer Children is stupid. Why can’t you stick to one term? It’s frustrating because you don’t really understand what makes another different. So you’ll be spending time figuring it out while you try to catch up to the story that has, once again, gone out of control. Secondly, the show wasted time by giving each Kill T Gang member a background story. It felt like the anime was stalling because the Kill T Gang episodes are all standalone with their own individual story. There is a story of an idol with low self esteem, a casino dealer that feels like an under achiever, and a two part episode of an underground fighter being pissed off with the world. The point of this stalling is to remind us that the Designer Children are also humans despite being aliens. Their sudden change in personality is crucial because their human aspect plays a big role in the overall story. By presenting these background stories this late in the anime though, the main story has suddenly stopped and this feels like an insult after the effort you put to piece the story together in the first chapter. It doesn’t feel fair that you spent seven episodes understanding the political mecha angle only to have it stalled for a more simplistic story of good guys chasing bad guys to replace it. This is a massive waste of time. If the anime had already introduced the Kill T Gang as a whole and just present the standalone episodes as flashbacks then they could’ve used more time to properly develop the story. It would make more sense and further explore the Kill T Gang as a group of aliens in human bodies. They could spend more time playing with the contrasting egotistical personality of the aliens as oppose to their more meek human counterparts. I understand the angle of the individual stories but it just adds to the clusterf*ck the show is already brewing.
My main gripe with the second chapter would have to be the idiotic back and forth between the Kill T Gang and the Midsummer Knights. I understand that the Kill T Gang has limited supply of Orgone canisters to power up their machines but after gathering two members, they should’ve just activated both and finally destroy Earth. In fact, they had a lot of chances to overwhelm the enemy but they played to the show stalling the story so they just had to walk up to every f*cking member and let them attempt to become an alien by themselves. It was never explained that Midsummer Knights destroyed the operating machine goodfellows. I think that the members just didn’t feel like attacking at that time. They never repaired the machines like the two disabled ones so really, it’s just because they weren’t in the mood. It’s really annoying because the show had this aura of being overly intelligent and yet the Kill T Gang can’t seem to just end it all in twelve episodes. The Kill T Gang themselves are conniving little bastards. Yet the best they can do is to have a simplistic plan of sending just one guy while a team of four defeats it? It feels a bit retarded. I think they only decided to attack full force once all the members are awakened and I just thought that it was pretty stupid. It’s not as stupid as Midsummer Knights though in regards to the fight. All they f*cking do is defend Earth. They never launched an attack themselves. It’s not hard to track down vehicles with large cargo that could contain the machine goodfellows. They had a hacker with them and they could’ve just disabled the machine goodfellows altogether. Instead, they actually waited for the enemy to grow in numbers and just hopefully stop them. They had no sense of urgency and it was frustrating. They had time to go to a public pool but never once did a dialogue involved “hey, why don’t we actually f*cking attack the aliens while they’re on Earth?” All the Midsummer Knights ever did is just take the blunt of whatever the enemy might hit them with. They’re the good guys though so it’s OK, they’ll still f*cking wins. Deus Ex Machina (convenient storytelling tilting in their favor) is still on their side. It’s really dumb and I didn’t quite expect it knowing how much political bullsh*t this anime is trying to establish. After all that over ambitiousness, the story still had plot holes and lazily told elements. It’s annoying.
The third chapter is about the eventual boiling point. The Midsummer Knights versus the fully formed Kill T Gang and the Ark Faction up against the Interceptor Faction. These two opposing groups will finally clash and bring the political mecha element to life. After defending for so long, Globe has finally found a way to strike back and finally stop the Kill T Gang for good. They had equipped Daichi’s mecha with a plasma gun that can destroy an ego block. With this, they’ll be going through hyper space and jump to Uranus where the mothership of the Planetary Gears are stationed in. They’ll enter guns blazing and then destroy the ship and the ego blocks finally ending this alien invasion. The Kill T Gang has caught wind of this and they plan to screw this up. The Ark Faction has also heard of it and they plan to stop this as well. One will attack with all the alien mecha in their group while another is planning to blow up the plan using a terrorist attack. The odds are stacked against Globe and the Midsummer Knights as they fend off two plans trying to destroy their only hope of ending this battle. Worry not though because all this doesn’t mean a single sh*t because the anime devolved into a wonderful clusterf*ck towards the later parts and the end basically carries nothing of what the show has been trying to setup for twenty five gawd damn episodes. This ambitious political mecha story turned garbage with all of its build up leading up to nothing and all it promised is met with utter disappointment. Basically, all the political stuff the anime is trying to establish didn’t mean anything when the show somehow ended with a half-baked love story between two characters. How stupid is that?
I’ll give points to how the two political factions started getting hostile with all the red tape and the executive decisions. I love how they all out maneuvered each other in order to screw up each other’s plan. The clunker here would be how this political story didn’t really connect with the mecha angle. Once the characters journeyed into space, the political bickering is stopped in its tracks. This is then replaced by the already-lukewarm-at-this-point mecha standoff between the Kill T Gang and the Midsummer Knights. The anime has been trying to marry the politics and the mecha story so it feels redundant that the ultimate face off didn’t have any of that. Even the human aspects established in the second chapter didn’t mean anything towards the end. All it had is one stupid battle that is really lackluster. It was the ultimate clusterf*ck of events worthy of an anime full of its own high grade cluterf*cks. I personally felt like I wasted twenty five episodes desperately figuring out the story because the payoff is really really really really really really f*cking disappointing.
The characters made this anime pretty especial though. Even when the plot is slowly turning garbage in front of you, the characters are still entertaining enough to carry the entire show. I think it’s because they are all nicely layered and decently fleshed out. The main character is Daichi Manatsu. He’s your typical teenager piloting a mecha and he had this nice sort of coming of age deal with him. It wasn’t properly done but he had a decent growth after being appointed captain of the Midsummer Knights. He went from an angsty kid into a reliable person ready to shoulder the survival of mankind. Every scene where he loses confidence is pretty great and this play well in contrast to his friendly side that looks out for his friends. The show did screw up this one part though where he was forced to make a decision saving Earth at all costs and this include breaking a few eggs. By eggs, I mean innocent lives. There was this whole angle about how heroes don’t hesitate pushing the nuclear button when needed. It was interesting because his friends are also pushing him to become a person like that but it conflicts with his very being. Unfortunately, the payoff for that “hero” idealism was mixed in with the clusterf*ck of the third chapter that didn’t amount to much. He is still a tolerable lead though and someone you can grow to like. Speaking of people ready to push nuclear buttons, let’s talk about my favorite character in the anime. Akari Yomatsuri is an incredible hacker who also goofs around calling herself a magical girl. She has a very childish demeanor that turns serious once she starts pounding on a keyboard. The girl is beyond smart as she can hack any security and track down anyone using only a computer. She also serves as the most unique thing in this anime because most mechas don’t have hackers in their team. I personally like her because she brings out the “electronic warfare” that was supposed to make Moretsu Pirates great wherein there is an added layer to mecha battles by trying to disable the opponent’s mecha instead of just attacking them with brute force. I think the show wasn’t able to fully utilize her though and she also serves as the show’s biggest plot hole. She can do anything yet the story calls for a team that is both inept and reliable at the same time. Having Akari in that group doesn’t achieve the ideal team needed for the story. The anime also didn’t properly utilize her because she was supposed to be this outsider looking in considering she is the only character that doesn’t ride a robot. She was supposed to be an emotional anchor for her teammates and you can see this when she consoles everyone in the show but I think she could’ve done more. This is evident because she has a broken family and she puts up a front acting like a strong magical girl. I have a feeling her magical girl shtick also serves as this mask she is hiding in but the show never really explored that far.
Another member of Midsummer Knights is Teppei Arashi. He is a good guy that has a close relationship with the bad guys. He is also someone Daichi respects deeply. I love this little game where they pass around this blue necklace. It’s fun and it often captures the awesomeness of a moment. Teppei is pretty nicely presented in the show. He has his personal dilemma about his past and it often conflicts with his duty as protector of the planet. I love the little romantic thing he has with Akari. Their moments together are personal and intimate which I find really well done. I think the show wasn’t able to properly establish a relationship between him and the bad guys though. There is this untapped potential between the characters that the show should’ve utilized. It could’ve helped deepen Teppei’s cause for saving the world and the bad guys’ mission to destroy it. The anime took great lengths to establish how the human side of the designer children makes them weak so it should’ve been a great thing knowing Teppei has the same weakness and he embraces them fully. It was a dot the show didn’t connect or maybe they tried but the clusterf*ck of the third chapter ruined it. I remember how most of the Kill T Gang would be amazed and concerned about Teppei and his decisions so I think they were trying to make the dot connect but it didn’t go smoothly. The one character I had a hard time figuring out would have to be Hana Mutou. She was this mysterious girl who is like an alien but actually isn’t. She is something else but looks like an alien or something like that. She is the one that gave Daichi his Livlaster gun that produces infinite energy. She is also the one that powered Teppei’s robot and it’s because she also has close ties with the alien. I think it all goes back to the Kanda Incident or maybe another kind of conspiracy. The show was pretty loose with the details so I didn’t really understand it that well. She has an important role though because she is like the key that unlocks the group’s awesome fighting ability. The anime went overboard though by giving her an annoying squirrel and making her act like a child. I think she works best as a mysterious enigma you spend hours figuring out. Considering she has a murky past, it would’ve worked well for Daichi to slowly chip her defensive walls. Years being a lab rat should’ve done that but the show needed her for fluff moments like being Akari’s gullible friend and it does conflict with the story a bit. The characters are pretty flawed but their interaction still carried the show and the personal dialogue between them is a small payoff for this convoluted anime.
There are also a lot of important side characters. As I said, if the show was executed perfectly then every character would be compelling by themselves. Let’s start with the Globe staffs. There is Tsutomu Nishikubo who heads the Tanegashima Globe base and has close relations with Daichi’s father. Ever since the dude died, Tsutomu has promised to do his best to continue his friend’s life work. I like this guy best when the play along with the politics of the show. Some people are trying to tie his hands by enforcing strict rules and having agents spy on him but Tsutomu is insightful. He uses Midsummer Knights as a pawn for his political counterplans and he often succeeds in dodging any political bullet coming his way. Globe has always supported both the Ark and Interceptor Factions but Tsutomu does a more impressive balancing act by finding loop holes to avoid any problem. He is able to juggle the Salty Dogs, his higher ups and any other person hounding him about his plans. He could’ve played a bigger part in the anime if the story wasn’t so f*cking convoluted. He gives his best moments when he is with his long time buddy, Peter Westvillage. He is a man that was horribly squandered by the show. He has close ties with Macbeth Enterprises and he knows a lot of the dark conspiracies of the world but he didn’t really amount to much. He even has a few secrets of his own being part of the political web for so long but he is merely a side character that talks to Tsutomu. He could’ve easily represented the morality that lacks with the shady dealings of Macbeth including the Designer Childrens and the Machine Goodfellows. Since he played a part in it, a fact the show only revealed in the third chapter, he could’ve given us a good look at the dirtiness of the politics and the nastiness between the Ark and Interceptor Factions. The same goes for Tsubaki Yomatsuri, the Globe leader of the space station called Tenkaido. She is pro Ark Faction even having her daughter be part of the Kivotos plan. I think some heated exchanges between her and the other characters would’ve helped give us a better idea regarding the two opposing factors. It makes so much sense because her ex-husband, Tsutomu, is pro Interceptor despite the both of them being in the same group, Globe. There was something here the anime didn’t properly present. The sh*t pancake is all the more annoying when you are introduced to the Salty Dogs who are massive Ark Faction members. I love how they would bicker with others about saving Earth. Their freaking lives are on the line but they would still choose to oppose saving it. It’s so dumb and completely counterintuitive but it represents those real world leaders opting for more wars. While the Salty Dogs are in it for elites ruling the world and not money, I think their participation in the story is horribly mangled. I’m not really sure if they are saved by the Kivotos plan as well but the show didn’t properly give us good reasons for Salty Dogs to be so out of their mind concerning saving the Earth. While they have political agendas, this wasn’t properly justified in the anime and I think the show should’ve given us a more substantial reason concerning their lack of common sense.
The confusing political elements of the show also ruined the Kill T Gang. They were under the services of Macbeth Enterprises in order to advance the development of the Machine Goodfellows. The leader of Macbeth didn’t know the Kill T Gang is using the machines for their own personal use. Macbeth is using the aliens while the aliens are playing the humans. Blinded by the Ark Faction stupidity, most humans are being manipulated by the aliens but that’s as far as they go in terms of the political story. I think the Kill T Gang could’ve done more. They should’ve made deals with more Ark Factions members to really turn the political element upside down. If they’re in a position of political power then it could’ve served for a more intense story for the show. The Midsummer Knights would then be entangled in web of political red tape which could’ve made other characters more useful. The personal growth of the characters would mean more if they are given cold hard truths about the political process of Earth which then blurs the line between their good natured goal of saving Earth and the justification of the aliens to destroy it. It is a really ambitious story the show is trying to achieve but you can also see why it failed miserably. The political elements and the mecha just didn’t go well together. One involves a lot of people and some stupid process of politics of the world while another is a simple, really simple as in almost childish, story of a bunch of teens saving the world. You can’t fault the anime much though because it really tried to give us a meaningful story but there were too many things to consider regarding the story and it turns into your usual clusterf*ck.
The one big mistake the show did though, in its desperate attempts to give its ambitious story success, is introducing us to Puck. This guy is like Hal9000 from 2001: A Space Odyssey. I recently saw this movie and I felt like I was stoned for two hours. Stanley Kubrick is a genius. Anyways, Puck is like Hal. He is an egotistical computer who manipulates humans and wants to bring harm to them. He is neither a strong part of the political nor the mecha aspect of the show. He is like a distant third plot point with his little story of ruling over Macbeth Enterprises. Puck does not lie. This reminds me of Hal’s ego trip that lead to his downfall. It was a beautiful narrative of how machines cannot be trusted but also a reminder that pride leads to your own downfall. Puck is the ultimate sh*t stain in an otherwise enjoyable anime. While his presence is a delight at times, especially with the later parts where he obtains a body, he was an element that does not belong in the story. This proved all the more when he was somehow shoved into the later parts of the show. A computer that did nothing but screw around basically became a big part of the ending which really sucked. Everything the show builds is ruined by Puck and any payoff you’d expect from anything the show was trying to achieve is also ruined by Puck. He is like the uninvited guest in the party that tries to hit on your female friends who then presses you to kick him out after he got black out drunk and showed his pen*s to the world. Horrible.
This is a show that really tried its best but ultimately failed at trying to deliver whatever the hell it was trying to achieve. I heard that it also had some Shakespeare element to it which makes this all the more convoluted. Much like M3 though, Captain Earth failed because it lacks editing. It didn’t need certain things like Puck or a seven member Kill T Gang when only two of them really do all the leg work. It was drowning in terms like Planetary Gears and Designer Children and Livlasters, Blume and other sh*t like that which only complicates the story. It also tried to be overly ambitious without really risking anything and it just made one interesting anime into a storm of utter cluterf*ck. You can’t blame Bones for trying though. Mecha is a genre that really needs a lot of improvements but Captain Earth also reminded me how simply fun the genre is with how it makes giant robots look cool. It wanted to deliver an interesting angle with robots and rockets that I really liked. They should’ve started with that simple idea and just added more layers to it that still made sense. I think Bones was trying to recreate the success of Star Driver with this anime. I have not seen it which makes me a bit unqualified to judge the show. I’m not really a Bones fan but I do respect their work. Both the director and the script writer also worked on Star Driver and I think they wanted the same elements to shine. Sadly, they did not. This anime didn’t shine at all. I’m still brightly hopeful though for original screenplays. I love how a lot of studios are trying to give us O. Screenplays and I think one of them would eventually deliver us a Code Geass caliber anime. I don’t care how long it takes. I’ll happily review as many crappy O. Screenplays as long as a really good one will show up. For now, let’s all give the people who tried an A for effort and then completely forget their attempt ever existed.
Sight and Sound
Fumi Minato is a hentai mangaka and oddly enough, this guy also did the character design for Captain Earth. Her works are mostly one shot though. It’s weird looking up her works but I must say that I love her style. She uses the compatibility of her characters to make the Ecchi extremely good. This is then made more awesome by her detailed works when it comes to the bodies. I just read a one shot today without planning it and it’s mostly because I am admiring her works. Anyways, Fumi knows how to make great characters. Using simple structures for the faces and the bodies, she is able to add great detail to accentuate the design. The right amount of curves, ampleness of the breasts and the roundness of the legs works amazingly well with the simple design that often comes off as innocent. Especially with the faces she does that draws you in while you suddenly notice how great the bodies of the characters are. This is noticeable with how the fan service is presented in the show. Nothing overly distinct but seeing Akari or Hana in a swimsuit is often the highlight of an episode. Her designs also work well for the male characters. Using simple structures, she is able to make Teppei look like one sexy hunk. I mean gawd damn, look at his face! He is the kind of character you often can’t stand because of how feminine he comes off but the design reminds you just how handsome he is. With his posture and his slender body, you can tell all the time Fumi works on making two characters rub each other translates well into more mainstream works. I think the other Kill T Gang members have the same dreamy design like that dealer and that wrestler guy. I forgot their names. For this anime though, the design is given more appeal because of the bright color palette the show utilizes. This is a great way of translating her works which is usually inked well giving the details a lot more emphasis. Seriously, I’ll read more of her works after I finish this review.
The animation is outstanding. This is probably the best thing in the show next to the characters. There are a lot of impressive scenes that’ll really draw you in and the high quality animation is consistent all throughout making the experience pretty great. The story might overwhelm but I think the animation gives you ample reasons to keep on watching. The best example of the great animation would have to be the launch sequence and the mecha transformation. When Daichi fights alien robots, he first rides a rocket carrying the Earth engine that enters through three stations carrying the bodies of his mecha. The animation is awe inspiring as you really feel this nostalgic sense of what makes mecha anime so good to watch. The fight scenes are also pretty awesome. The nice use of camera angles in the space battles coupled by the nice individual animations of the various things like the robots and their missiles makes the fight scenes outstanding. The use of smart effects and those wide shots that gives us this background of Earth is so poetic that I just can’t help but admire how smart the director is. He is able to give us a really captivating mecha battle that captures the essence of what makes mecha anime so good. The clashing of the robots and the way they react when damaged is also nicely animated to give us a well-rounded experience. The fights are too short though which is a bit disappointing. I think the ending will piss some people off because of how the animation took a dive in the story’s questionable progression. The simple scenes are also nicely animated too. The characters energy, their facial reactions and every other bit are also nicely animated. I don’t watch a lot of Bones anime but I think they have great quality that can match A-1 Pictures. They mostly excel in mecha anime so I am interested in seeing their other works if they’re as great as the ones in Captain Earth.
The anime have two OP. The first one is “Believers High” by flumpool. It’s a pretty decent OP. It gets you pumped up into watching the anime. The singer has a pretty great voice that goes great with the song’s decent pacing. I also love the lyrics about never giving up hope and a few romantic lines. It goes pretty well with the show. The OP sequence features the awesome animation with Daichi throwing his boomerang and the camera following it while it spins. It’s amazing. I also notice the clusterf*ck of the story nicely represented here once the supporting characters are introduced. It gives you a nice idea of the show while also pumping you up leading to the show. The second OP is “TOKYO Dreamer” by NICO Touches the Walls. This is a pretty lackluster song for Nico. The instrumentals are still sound but the pacing of the song is a bit boring. I still love the singer’s voice but he sounds bored singing the song. It’s not the same pumped up song as the first OP. The OP sequence features all the characters and a few important events concerning the second half. I think the boring OP is a great sign of the cluterf*ck of the anime though so I think it’s quaint.
The anime have two ED. The first one is “Amethyst” by HANA starring Ai Kayano. I love Ai’s voice. It’s really calm while she sings the lyrics in a lovely pace. Her voice gives the song an amazing personality. It’s calm yet chilling and I just love how complex it is. I think the song is about love or something but it also has this theme of hope in it. The ED sequence once again features the great animation as we see Hana floating in space and the other members consoling her. It ends with her and Daichi dancing in space. It’s really cool and notice that this love is actually a vital piece of the anime. The second ED is “The Glory Days” by Tia. It’s a decent song as well and I love the piano instrumentals of the song. It feels really relaxing accompanied by Tia’s calm voice. This leads to really wonderful chorus that speeds up the pacing a bit while capturing the buildup of the verse still with Tia’s voice sounding so amazing. The ED sequence features this trippy neon colored version of the robots in space which then transitions into a scene of the Midsummer Knights washing a mecha and then soaking each other with water. I think this is about the whole summer experience tag line about the show. It’s a weird ED but it still looks pretty fun to watch especially that scene of Daichi taking his shirt off. It’s so funny.
6/10 “I’ll give high points for the animation but the convoluted story alone deserves a three for it’s over ambitiousness that just made the experience a really sour one.”
This anime had an interesting story to tell but the delivery of it is really bad. The show spent a lot of time establishing the story but then threw it all away for something more simple and lazy. You’ll spend twenty five episodes figuring out the plot only to be met by an unsatisfying pay off. The characters are pretty interesting though and the animation is outstanding but I think this show deserved a more decent story. If you enjoy the simple appeal of mecha then you’ll like the mecha aspects of this anime. If you enjoyed Star Driver then you should check this one out as well. If you enjoy watching convoluted stories that are hard to understand because you’re a masochist then enjoy, you sick bastard. This show is pretty disappointing though despite its few high moments. Try to pace yourself when watching the anime because the story goes by fast and it’ll overwhelm you but I think seeing the Earth engine launch in space is still pretty damn awesome.