Posted on 23 May 2014 with categories: Captain Earth

Captain Earth had a really good first episode, so I was psyched to coninue with it, purely based on storytelling reasons: it knew how to deliver its plot in an interesting way by throwing in many flash-forwards, flashbacks, hints and whatnot. Now that I’ve seen about four and a half episodes of the series I’ve got a bit of a better image of what the actual storyline is about, and I’m dropping it. There are many reasons for this, and I did feel compelled to write about them.

First of all, the self-referencing? The hints? Well, they’re gone. Like, completely. Episode four was very straightforward and didn’t really leave anything to your imagination: the aliens want their kin back, purple-haired kid is part of their kin, and the main kid has this really powerful robot that can kick their asses. Where the presentation was so interesting in episode 1, I felt myself getting really bored here.

What was the straw though, was the underlying story which became clear to me about halway through episode four. When you ignore the mood, then Captain Earth is really a cross between Eureka Seven Ao and Star Driver, and its underlying themes are a combination between the two: on one hand we have the focus on childish innocence: children should be protected, and on the other we have the themes of adolescence and sexuality in the way it talks about libido and all.

When I started to think about them, they just didn’t mesh. One one hand this series wants to be like Eureka Seven Ao, in its themes that no children should be forced in adult situations, and when you do you had better take responsibility. The thing here though, that the themes of parenthood are much better explored because of how good the characters of Ao’s parents are. What do we know about the main guy’s parents at this point? Heck, has the existance of mothers actually been alluded yet? If it did then I totally forgotten about it, which is a bad sign for both my memory and the series itself.

Also adding to the themes are the villains here, who feed off the libido of humans. Okay, so this could mean that this show is a social commentary on how children are way too often sexualized and the main characters are trying to fight that idea. I actually really like that because they do have a very big point… only the show completely screws that up with the lame bellybutton joke and sexualizes their children anyway.

So with that my only conclusion is that the villains represent adolescence: the characters are young and they are about to change majorly and experience sexuality and stuff. So yeah, it’s a coming of age series. It’s a theme that’s been done many times before, and by series that had much more interesting first four episodes. Take Utena for example, Enokido there actually wrote a setting that’s interesting, imaginative and full of symbolism that wasn’t overdone. I know that we’re fifteen years later, but even by those standards Utena’s opening episodes stand out as unique while Captain Earth combines many things that have been done to death now.

I’m a fan of the mecha genre because it offers intelligent series, if doesn’t matter how old the characters are:
– Bokura no is a fascinating story about putting huge weapons in the hands of children.
– Patlabor is a hilarious and personal look at the police in a day in which mechas are standardly used.
– Fafner in the Azure actually asks the question of who you should fight for
– RahXephon explores coming of age with actual human characters who talk at least a bit normally.
– When you really want an over the top series, go for Giant Robo, the New Mazinger or Star Driver which are made to be flashy and over the top and enjoyable to watch.
– The good Gundam and Votoms series are good for a realistic look at war (War in the Pocket, Turn A, the Votoms TV-series)

You can do a lot with the genre, and you chose the most boring one. That’s a problem I have with a lot of anime nowadays. You can do better than this, I know that of everyone involved in this project.

Posted on 25 April 2014 with categories: Captain Earth

Bones is a studio that does many different types of series,but their one niche they keep coming back to is the mecha shows. It’s a good thing that they manage to do mecha series really well and keep doing enough things to make it interesting, otherwise I would have called lazy. Of course, I can still do that, because even though Captain Earth is a good series, anime still needs to branch out. It’s one of the many things holding this medium back.

But yeah, you know what this series really reminds me of? A more laid-back Eureka Seven Ao. The themes are basically the same: DO NOT LET CHILDREN PILOT MECHAS. The big difference is that the cast of Eureka Seven consisted out of a bunch of hotheads, while the cast of Captain Earth…. there really are many introverts among them. Heck, the only real extraverts are some extras, the bad guys, plus that one hacker girl Daichi is a bit inbetween, but apart from that this was surprisingly composed. That lead to some awkward moments especially in episode two, but still these episodes were quite good at making us read inbetween the lines: saying things with other things than just words.

In terms of pacing episodes 2 and 3 are very different from episode 1: this show changed from really fast pacing, to a relatively slow pacing in order to let the characters play themselves out. Okay, that works for me, as long as they don’t make this last for too long. We now actually have a good feeling for the characters. A lot of fast-paced series fail to do that.

My favorite character so far is the uncle. A lot has to do with his charisma, but he’s also the main guy in charge and he does what he can to both protect the earth, and allow the main cast to be children as much as possible in this constrained environment in which only they are able to actually do something against the aliens.

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