“They are a magnetic levitation high mobility Impactor set to chaotic mode.”
The indestructible Kill-T-Gang and the Designer Children, under the command of Setsuna/Lady Siren, are getting ready to destroy the Earth. Young Daichi ‘Captain Earth’ and his friends Teppei (once one of the enemy), mystical girl Hana, and self-styled Magical Girl Akari must face interference from rival Earth factions Salty Dog and Macbeth before they can get out into deep space and travel to Uranus to thwart their enemies. Except that there seems to be something distinctly sinister about the super-computer Puck (‘Puck never lies’) developed by Macbeth. Who is the true enemy – and can Daichi defend the Earth against the alien threat in his giant robot, Earth Engine?
I’ve tried. Heaven knows I’ve tried to make sense of Captain Earth and its Livlasters, Orgone Energy, Neoteny, Entangle Links, Ego Blocks and other impenetrable jargon. And I’ve come to the sad conclusion that it’s not worth the effort; the Shakespeare-borrowed names, the scientific blah-blah, is all there for dazzle and show. Underneath, it’s just a very basic story about how a bunch of kids have adventures in space in mobile suits and save the earth. People keep exclaiming, “You really are children.” After a while, I was expecting to hear the villains growl, “And we would’ve gotten away with it, if it weren’t for you darned kids!” The constant emphasis on the youth of the protagonists and the bright colours of their space suits only serves to make one think how much more convincing this would have been as a children’s show. Though then they’d have had to lose the sexy overtones of the Kill-T-Gang members passing on knowledge through kissing or all-powerful AI Puck (or Pac?) enjoying women and wine (though not song) when it takes control of its human master. Even the recreational scenes where the teenaged protagonists are hanging out together become repetitive: how many times have they eaten watermelon since this show began or lounged about in swimsuits? Did the writers run out of inspiration – or had they forgotten what it’s really like to be a teenager? There are scenes when the writers suddenly remember about character development and try to build in some human warmth in exploring mother-daughter relationships, but it’s not consistently woven in. The only fun part is when Pitz, the heroine’s blue squirrel-ish pet, goes bananas as danger looms and runs round and round the control centre in space at top speed, emitting squeaks of distress. So, basically, any hopes that this series might deliver in the final episodes are soon dashed.
Captain Earth is stuffed full of borrowings from other sci-fi series: mechas in space; a déjà-vu/Groundhog Day episode (or Was It All A Dream?); a beautiful, mysterious heroine who is also a machine/AI/all-powerful widget which means she has to get her kit off at the climax of the show and project beams of something-or-other from inside a translucent globe; even an ambiguous ending… If you’d never followed an anime sci-fi saga before, you might find this an interesting watch but the ghosts of far superior titles will haunt viewers more familiar with the genre. And this is all the more disappointing, as the director is Takuya Igarashi, who also directed the excellent Ouran High School Host Club and Soul Eater, although it’s worth noting that both these series are based on existing and successful manga. Is that the reason Captain Earth fails? It’s evident that quite a lot of time, expertise and resource was put into making this series, but creating a story and convincing characters from scratch without an existing manga or light novel as source material is always risky.
The new Opening Theme is “TOKYO Dreamer” by Nico Touches the Walls, a decent enough song and the new Ending Theme is “The Glory Days” by Tia, which has the advantage of being set to some rather more snazzily designed images than the Opening visuals. (The original Opening and Ending songs reappear in the final episode.)
The only extras on this English-subbed Japanese release are the textless Opening and Endings and three trailers.
Captain Earth may look like a mecha series but Bones doesn’t know if it’s meant to be a kid’s show or not, and conceals a really basic plot about love conquering all underneath a weight of incomprehensible and meaningless technobabble. And huge explosions in space. Um. That’s about it.