One night, right before summer vacation, Manatsu Daichi, a second-year in high school, sees a weird round rainbow floating in the sky above Tanegashima and ventures there alone. He has seen this rainbow before. With the memories of his father's mysterious death and an encounter of a strange boy and girl, Daiji arrives on the island while the alarm of a building labeled Earth Engine is going off. Someone asks him if he is a captain, just as robotic intruders from Uranus called Kill-T-Gang arrive. The battle around the shining stars is about to begin.
#1: "Believers High (ビリーバーズ・ハイ)" by flumpool (ep 1) #2: "Amethyst (アメジスト)" by HANA star. Ai Kayano (eps 2-13) #3: "The Glory Days" by Tia (eps 14-24) #4: "Yoake no Hitorigoto (夜明けのひとりごと)" by HANA star. Ai Kayano (ep 25)
You can have all the budget and production value that you want, but NOTHING makes up for incoherent and nonsensical story-telling. This well-understood fact has never been more evident in the anime industry then in this season's harrowing mecha series known as Captain Earth. Studio Bones sure as hell knows how to animate, but they are developing a reputation for writing convoluted and nonsensical plots that make no sense what so ever, and this anime is no exception. When 90% of your show consists of characters spewing exposition and you still fail to convey what the hell is going on, then your show
is a failure. Period. End of story. Captain Earth completely failed to set up a foundation for its plot, making everything that happened afterwards a lost cause.
The show opens with our protagonist, Daichi Manatsu, discovering that he is the only one who can pilot a mecha called "Earth Engine". Why is he the only one who can pilot it? Don't know. Never explained. Anyway, he then proceeds to instantly hop into the mecha and begin fighting the evil "Kiltgang", who are seeking to destroy the Earth. Why do they want to destroy the Earth? Don't know. Never explained. How does Daichi instantly know how to pilot Earth Engine? Don't know. Never explained. So after ignoring those TOTALLY unimportant details, we see Daichi taken back to the headquarters where he is reunited with our two other major characters: Hana and Teppei. Daichi hasn't seen Teppei in a decade and he met Hana literally once, but apparently, they are already close friends! So close, that Daichi magically discovers his ability to summon a gun called the Deus ex Machi-... er, I mean the Livlaster, and proceeds to destroy an entire section of the building in order to bust his two "friends" out. Why? So they can throw a boomerang on the beach together and then return to the organization willingly! Because that makes sense! So you may be asking yourself: What is the Livlaster? Well, I don't know. Never Explained. Why can Daichi do this but nobody else can? I don't know. Never explained.
I could go on, but I think you get the point. Captain Earth's storyline is all over the place, unfathomably shallow, paced sporadically, and most of all: incompetent. The writers for this show are just completely, 100% incompetent, and that is by far the biggest problem with the show. The fact that they managed to turn such a simple premise into a complete and total MESS laced with plotholes and ambiguity is so laughable that it is almost an accomplishment. You would need more than just your fingers and toes to count how many plot points are introduced that never connect to anything. The characters ramble and ramble on and on about "Orgone energy" and "Libido" and other such meaningless bullshit, but they tried so hard to give depth to the scientific aspect of the plot that they forgot to make an actual plot in the first place! And, y'know, that's kind of important!
The characters, unfortunately, provide no saving grace from the plot's onslaught of stupidity. They have nothing that even resembles development and have no depth what so ever. Daichi is an oblivious moron and the other characters either have annoying personalities or none at all. Worst of all, they have no chemistry with each other! We are very clearly supposed to get the impression that the characters are close friends, but NEVER, not even once, do we see them engaging in any form of comradery what so ever. The romance between Daichi and Hana, for example, is one of the worst I've ever seen for a variety of reasons. One: It's CREEPY. This is NOT how people in love with each other behave. It's literally Twilight levels of bad. Two: Hana has no personality what so ever. The only development she is given is nonsensical, comes completely out of nowhere for no apparent reason, and then fades just as suddenly as it began. Three: Daichi and Hana have no chemistry with each other and there is no gradual build-up. The extent of their meaningful interactions can be summed up with that creepy scene in episode 12, cause, y'know, that's totally normal.
Another thing that makes me a lot more angry then it probably should is the downright idiotic slogan that the show flashes in our face whenever it possibly can; I'm talking during the OP, when it goes to commercial, when it comes back from commercial, and during the ED. They REALLY want you to remember the following slogan for some reason:
"When I opened the door called Truth, my childhood ended. It was a summer I could never forget."
Based on this quotation, it is strongly implied that Captain Earth is some sort of coming-of-age parable. That is annoying because this anime is NOTHING of the sort. There is not a single solitary element in any of the episodes that would even slightly suggest that this is a story about becoming an adult. In fact, Daichi is arguably the most kiddish and immature character in the show even in the face of this world-scale threat he is supposed to be facing! I mean my god! Could this show's plot get any more stupid?
Captain Earth isn't totally unredeemable though; the animation, for example is absolutely stellar. The first episode blinded me with stunning, movie-quality art. Unfortunately, even went downhill. The animation seemed to get slightly worse as the show went on, but it was still great. The sound is also well-executed; I love first OP and ED, but the 2nd ones were shockingly bad in comparison. The OST isn't half bad though. Despite these things, as I've mentioned earlier, production value does not make up for awful writing and it never will. With that fact in mind, Captain Earth is an undisputed and unbridled disaster that I do not recommend watching at all to anyone.
"When I opened the door called Captain Earth, my ride on the hype train ended. It was an anime I could forget."
From Studio Bones and the same creative team that made Star Driver, comes a mecha anime that promises amazing action backed up by Shakespearean lore but instead, delivers a train wreck that is only worthy for the scrap yard.
The story starts off well enough, having a 17 year old high schooler named Daichi, through a set of extraordinary circumstances, coming to be the sole pilot of the Earth Engine, which was built to defend humanity from the invading Planetary Gears. However, it
quickly becomes very apparent that Captain Earth has no intention of delivering a coherent plot and soon meanders off into slice of life territory with visits to the dessert cafe, idol concerts and chilling off by the poolside topped off with copious amounts of fanservice. There is even an episode where an idol gets to be a commander for a day onboard a space station, right before a major military operation is about to go underway. When it does get back to moving the story forward, it does so in the most convoluted manner possible and is nothing short of glacial in terms of progress. Among the worst offenders of this crime is the Planetary Gear's recruitment arc in which the bad guys are awakened and gathered for several episodes like some demented version of Pokémon.
Events happen or things are done in a certain way that has no bearing to proper protocol in a similar situation in reality. For example, when it comes to identifying and apprehending potential Earth-ending individuals, Captain Earth has teenagers taking the place of what should have been the jurisdiction of entire government agencies or armed special forces. I could understand having a bunch of high schoolers be the pilots of giant robots and saviors of humanity but not when it comes to scouring an entire urban center with only four people that get sidetracked by dessert cafe. Plot points are even worst, often appearing from a random direction and resolved in an equally hazard manner. In one instance, there was a scientist lady who was in charge of observing special children connected to the planetary gears. Said scientist kisses one of them and transfers her desire to obtain immorality using the child which results in a falling out between the two. Very quickly, the assistant to said scientist shoots her in the head with a pistol and the last time we see of her, she is riding in a back of a truck, wrapped up in a body bag. I swear to God, I'm not making this shit up. Explanations frequently comes down because the writers say so and that is nothing short of an insult to the audience struggle to understand the bigger picture because of inept writing.
When it comes to the four main characters of Daichi, Hana, Akari, and Teppei, their attributes make them seem anti-Evangelion to a fault. Daichi Manats is the overly confident and energetic teenage boy to distant Shinji Ikari, who only pilots only for the sake of his father. Hana Mutou is the curious and very voluptuous alien girl to the emotionless doll of Rei Ayanami. Akari Yomatsuri is the hacking/self-proclaimed magical girl to the emotionally broken tsundere of Asuka Langley Soryu. Finally, Teppei Arashi is the uncertain and withdrawn extraterrestrial to the transcendent angelic being of Kaworu Nagisa. The trouble doesn't lie in how the characters start off as but it's that they remain stagnant for the majority of their development. Yes, they have their own trials and personal issues to overcome but it's so ham-fisted and forcefully written that it almost becomes a parody unto itself. The obvious pairings happen but everything about their relationships are so bland and uninspired that it just bored me seeing Captain Earth clumsily go through the motions. There is simply nowhere else to go when all the characters become happy-go-lucky teammates that believe in the power of friendship and love to win the day. Unless Captain Earth had the balls to go a darker route from there, which it doesn't, it makes for a boring watch as our young heroes simply brute force their way onto victory, complete with sparkles and rainbows.
Outside other main four leads, which get plenty of screen time to dally about, there are just too many characters and factions in Captain Earth. Ranging from those who work at GLOBE, Tenkaido Space Station, Intercept and Ark faction, Salty Dog, Kill-T-Gang, Puck, and the Macbeth Enterprises, none of them are explored in any meaningful depth. Sure, members of the Planetary Gears get their own episode to shine but as quickly as they are introduced, they are soon forgotten in favor of the next shiny plot point.
One aspect that initially drew my attention to Captain Earth was the high production values in its animation. Having a wide assortment of bright vivid colors and highly detailed backgrounds, it is clear that a substantial amount of money was invested in the visual department. While other series like Knights of Sidonia and Aldnoah.Zero have embraced CGI robots into their animation, Captain Earth steadfastly sticks to the dying art of drawing 2D mecha. The 3D elements are subtly incorporated into the background of display screens and popup HUDs which demonstrates how CGI should be used to enhance the viewing experience. In particular, the Earth Engine's transformation scene was quite a novelty when it was first shown by featuring no less than three space station lined up together while the Daichi's machine speeds through the center as it becomes fully formed.
Also matching the high standards set by the visual department, is the music composition by Satoru Kosaki. His previous works is nothing to sneeze which include the entire Monogatari franchise, The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya, and OreImo. In Captain Earth's case, he choose to go with a more traditional orchestral sound with booming trumpets and soaring string instruments doing much of the heavy lifting. It really is a shame that the stellar soundtrack is just another sad reminder how great this show could have been if it even had a half-competent writing team backing it up.
The mechs themselves are quite creative in their design and functionality. Earth's own engines look like a updated white version of the Gainax's Gunbuster with its massive shoulder pylons and fairly conventional weaponry. On the opposing side, Planetary Gears in their true mecha forms have more of an aesthetic that resembles doll figurines with umbrella dresses for the ladies and tailcoats for the men. As such, their respective fighting styles are more akin to dancing around their opponents before slicing or blasting them to pieces.
Being a huge fan of the mecha genre, much of Captain Earth's tremendous shortcomings could be forgiven if the giant robots fights were exciting, loud and filled with awesomeness, but sadly, this is not the case. Mech battles in Captain Earth often dissolve in shounon-like brawls that involve little to no tactics and obscene amount of deus ex machina bullshit in favor of the protagonists. The plot armor that every major character, both alien and human, is as thick as the front of a main battle tank and saps much of the tension from said battles. Indeed, the show even incorporates immorality into the invading Planetary Gears with their Ego Blocks, and has them blasting off like Team Rocket every time they get their asses kicked.
With names like Midsummer Knights, Puck, and Oberon, I would have expected a mixture of Shakespearean elements from his various plays like humor from A Comedy of Errors with a dash of the tragedy from Macbeth and the mystical atmosphere of The Tempest. Instead, Captain Earth simply reaches for the lowest common denominator of dumping a metric ton of fanservicey ingredients into its concepts and calls it a day. I suppose it could have be related to the sexuality that is prominent in Shakespeare's work in some sort twisted way, but I can't really be bothered to dig that deep when cleavage takes up half the screen and everyone is trying to kiss each other.
The first opening, titled "Runner's High" by flumpool, is a lot like my anticipation and first impression of Captain Earth. It was epic, energetic and pointed to something far more ambitious than your typical anime show. By the time, the second opening " TOKYO Dreamer ", by Nico Touches the Walls, rolls around, I had long stop caring about Captain Earth and abandoned any hope of the show redeeming itself. The show had wasted too much time on pointless exposition, fetch quests and scandalous shots of female anatomy. Studio Bones held a promising concept in its hands before weighing down with mediocrity and Otaku philandering that plagues the anime industry today.
When you have an interesting setting and characters, great designs and good action, the obvious option would be using them to their fullest potential and crafting a great story involving these factors. But you could also do it like Studio Bones did with Captain Earth and do absolutely NOTHING with them. Seriously, I've rarely seen a series devolve from one with lots of potential into something that was a chore to watch episode by episode.
The story centers around Daichi Manatsu, a high school student who, through some coincidences and connections, ends up in a secret organization fighting extraterrestrial beings with mecha robots. Now, the whole
"high school student fights unknown creature" setup might be one of the overused cliches in anime ever, but there are still series that manage to put it off well. That's what I also hoped for Captain Earth, but it was all in vain.
From the beginning on, the viewer is bombarded with one unknown term after another, expecting us to understand what the hell they are supposed to mean. All this while the plot starts off with a tiring episodic monster-of-the-week scheme. Those types of episodes are not always bad, but it is pointless if the plot still has not made any crucial progress, making it a chore to watch the same thing over and over.
About midway through, the series is finally back to the actual plot - not that it got much better though. To sum it up, you could fast-forward to the last few episodes (bar a few selected ones) and you would not have missed out on anything. And instead of good storytelling we get pointless fanservice here and there. And some more unexplained terms, because we obviously have not had enough already! And if plot points are resolved, then it's in a cliche and predictable way. Or there is no resolution at all - I mean, what happened to Teppei's father? The creators probably forgot about his existence, who knows. What about the little girl who was supposed to be something like a manifestation of Daichi's Livlaster? We never found out what was up with her.
Well to make it short, while the setup was already lame, what the producers made of it made it even duller. And this also brings down the characterization.
This brings me to the characters of Captain Earth. The four main characters are like the only ones who get some character development, so I'll just get to them. First we have Daichi, our protagonist - a character I found pretty intriguing in the beginning. With a connection to some other characters related in the battle against the aliens and a somewhat rebellious attitude he could have been a good character. Could have, if the story were any good. Instead, he turns into the stereotypical good guy character who can face any hurdle through the power of friendship.
The second male main character Teppei, suffers a similar fate of character change - from a character related to the Kill-T-Gangs his role in the story turns quite irrelevant. He ends up as just another mecha driver without much development.
Akari, the self-proclaimed "mahou shoujo", is a super-hacker who supports the team in the background by, well, hacking. There isn't really much else to her, aside that she is a poor love interest for Teppei. Seriously, would it have been so hard to develop the romance between those two a little?
Hana is the last of the main group, and also the love interest of Daichi. Well, their romance was a little more interesting than Teppei and Akari's, but Hana as character herself was - nothing special. Just like with Teppei, her supernatural powers are not explored well enough - she is more often used as a fanservice character.
Last I want to mention the enemies in this scenario, the Kill-T-Gangs - just as the main heroes, very underexplored. Most of them have a one-episode appeareance and then disappear or are used as more fanservice devices. The main pair - Moco and Amara - only differentiate from the group in that they get more screentime, act more evil and get more fanservice scenes (Moco, at least).
One thing that had Captain Earth going for it is the visuals - nothing special, really, but compared to the other aspects of the series a pleasure. The character designs are nice, the mechs look good and the action is on point.
The sounds of the series are nothing special, the openings and endings are alright and the soundtrack was alright too. Hana's song is probably the most outstanding aspect in the sounds section.
Sadly, the strongest points of the series (Art & Sound) do not carry a show alone.
Thus, Captain Earth overall does not really convince me and thus I give it a score of 3/10.
Okay. First of all, I had just finished Captain Earth a minute ago when I started writing this review. Plus to that, I pulled an all-nighter to finished 25 episodes in one go and I must say, I was about 33/67 satisfied. And well, I am going to give my best in order for this review to be spoiler-free.
The feeling of watching Captain Earth is like watching a show that at one scene will make your heart flutter and the next two scenes, will completely crush the enthusiasm.
It's quite fair to give a 6 for the story. Why? First of all, Captain Earth didn't promise
the watchers a plot that will attract the majority. It's like BONES tried to please at least 2 people out of a 10.
The idea of the story was simple however, the execution was lost after the first 5 episodes. The direction started to get messy and it even felt like the director doesn't even want to direct in the first place. In one case, why waste at least 2 minutes on the same docking sequence? I mean, yeah, it's cool but should he at least make a good use of that 2 minutes?
Art and sound, is feasible. The art was within the 2014 standard. BONES never fail to give a title the appropriate art however, in this case, it's obvious that the art was really a minor factor. The sound is nowhere great but at the very least, I like both of the opening themes.
If Captain Earth had one point they should rue, it is their characters. For a battle-robot series running at 25 episodes, it is understandable that the scale should be vast. However, Captain Earth limited theirs by focusing on little number of characters and mainly giving the limelight to the main protagonists and antagonists.
Their was never a good background involving the characters. It spells like they were never given a chance to appeal or make the audience empathize with them. They were hero just because they were meant to be heroes. They were villains, that's because they were meant to be villains. The feeling of this kind of simple character development is something unforgivable given the budget for 25 episodes. Some characters had to the potential to spark a good run though, the expectations or should I say, my expectations were never been granted given a soft and weak building of characters.
BONES particularly relied on short flashbacks in order to explain the fundamentals surrounding the characters. While it is never enough, they at least gave out a vague idea to intrigue the watcher to watch the next episode in order to enlighten the piling query. In any case, for the character factor, there was something like a roulette in which BONES struggled to decide who's going to be the final boss and when the end was nigh, they just decided, "Oh, okay. This one will be the final boss..." and then it's all over leaving myself wondering "That's it?". That is the case for myself and in the end, I am not really happy yet it was understandable and slightly palatable in my opinion.
The enjoyment was certainly small. I sure had moments when I felt Captain Earth was good. The romance addition was something not up to my flavor however, it is still something cute at the border of innocently cute.
Finalizing, for a normal space-robot genre, Captain Earth magnificently fulfill it's position. However, as one of the blandest title. The potential was scrambled and was forever lost due to the fact that Captain Earth never knew the direction it should take. This should explain as to why there's never a solid consistency on who's really going to be the main adversary. Another unfitting factor was also the addition of supernatural and magical events. It felt too much misplaced for a title such as Captain Earth. The pacing was also horrible however I felt like the story has never been cut at every episode. While the plot-threading seemed terrible, it still ended with a pretty decent closure however, even with the decent tag, Captain Earth left a wholesome of hanging queries unanswered and that what makes it justified mediocre. Should they at least have another episode to explain some questions, I think Captain Earth would've placed itself a meter higher than the bottom they're in right now.
For my last comment, Captain Earth certainly started like a title capable of reaching a 9/10 grade. But instead, it slipped and never managed to catch up the lost potential.
We know Madhouse for Death Note and One Punch Man, Kyoto Animation for Haruhi Suzumiya and Clannad, and Studio Ghibli for basically everything they make. But what about their flops? Their biggest disappointments? Who remembers these clangers?