‘When I opened the door called truth, my childhood ended. It was a summer I could never forget.’
High school student Daichi returns to Tanegashima Island (where his father died working for the Globe Space Centre) after he sees a circle of rainbow light in the sky above the island on the TV, reawakening memories from his past. Suddenly plunged into a desperate struggle to save life on Earth from aliens from the Uranus region of the galaxy, Kill-T-Gang, he is soon in the pilot’s seat of a mecha called Earth Engine, wielding an unusual gun/weapon called a Livlaster. Adding to the complications are other organizations with distinctly questionable motives – and a chattily intelligent computer. Awarded the title Captain Earth, Daichi teams up with his mysterious childhood friend Teppei, beautiful Hana, the mystical girl he and Teppei once rescued, and teenaged hacker genius Akari. These four young people are sent out to try to find the ‘Designer’s Children’ before the Kill-T-Gang two can awaken their powers.
The creative team at BONES have obviously cherry-picked elements from many other successful sci-fi series and merrily mixed them all up: Hana, the mystical girl who sings (mystically) and has a cute, intelligent white-and-blue furry companion (Pitz the squirrel); Daichi, the likable boy hero who finds – in extremis – that he has the ability to pilot a Gundam – sorry, Earth Engine; Teppei, his childhood (blue-haired) friend with alien super-abilities. Akari, the orange-haired genius hacker, constantly refers to herself as a Magical Girl. She’s even got all the right cute gestures and poses! The problem is that, from the viewer’s point of view, what she’s doing might as well be magic; she just taps furiously away at a keyboard and, hey presto, hacks her way into just about anything. The same goes for the technical jargon (which from time to time borrows – meaningfully? – from Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, giving us Puck, Goodfellows, Robin, Midsummer’s Knights…) But we’re only halfway through, so let’s hope that the relevance of all this will be revealed in Episodes 14-25.
It’s a little difficult to guess the age group this show is aimed at; character designer Satoshi Ishino (Excel Saga) gives us a central quartet of young-looking teens with Pokémon-style colour schemes. Yet the UK release seems to have been awarded a 15 certificate, possibly because of some grim and violent back stories given to the Designer’s Children.
Some blatantly shameless info-dumping sessions between the characters are hilarious as we hear of Orgone Energy, Abreaction, Ego Block and Libido Burst (it’s all quite Freudian at times). And then there’s the main two alien villains, KILL-T-GANG, Moco and Amara, colour-coded (pink for the girl, blue for the boy) who seem to be standing in for Team Rocket’s Jessie and James (without Meowth, natch). But there’s no point wasting time analyzing all this. The bright colours, the detailed power-up sequences of the mecha, the dastardly plots (on Earth and beyond) – it’s not intended to be anything other than Saturday-morning entertainment: action-packed but, frankly, soon forgotten. And I guess there’s no harm in that!
The show comes decently subbed in English (all that jargon!) and the Japanese cast give lively performances, especially Rina Hidaka as bubbly ‘Magical Girl’ Akari and Miyu Irino (Astral in Yu-Gi-Oh! Zexal) who is suitably young and dashing in the lead role.
The score comes from monaca/Satoru Kousaki (Nisekoi, The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya) and delivers the right sci-fi action adventure vibe. The stirring Opening Theme is “Believer’s High” by flumpool and the more dreamy, reflective Ending Theme “Amethyst” (the visuals feature Hana) is sensitively sung by her VA, Ai Kayano.
The only extras are textless Opening and Closing animations and trailers.
Captain Earth delivers brightly-coloured animation, action-packed, heavy with symbolic-sounding names for all the sci-fi gizmos and widgets. It’s enjoyable but doesn’t stand out from many other mecha series.