The Nihon Review - Anime Reviews & Editorials

Captain Earth

Title: Captain Earth
Genre: Action/Drama
Company: Bones
Format: 25 episodes
Dates: 6 Apr 2014 – 21 Sep 2014

Synopsis: Humanity has been fighting against a group of aliens known as “Kill-T-Gang” that plans to drain all the life force from mankind. The organization responsible for protecting humanity from these invaders, Globe, uses giant robots known as Earth Engine Impacters. High school student Manatsu Daichi has a chance encounter with these events and summons a mysterious laser gun which qualifies him to pilot one of these Earth Engine Impacters. Like his father before him, Daichi takes on the name “Captain Earth” to protect the planet.

The Highlights

Story: Unnecessarily convoluted for such tepid payoffs.
Characters: Competent but boring.
Visuals: Studio Bones with a healthy budget.
Music: A collection of strong pieces that captures a sense of grandeur the show never achieves.

Captain Earth is a high budget television series that joins the ranks of RahXephon, Eureka Seven and Star Driver in Studio Bones’ growing repertoire of giant robot shows. Much like Star Driver, this show has a group of antagonists that are basically a group of flamboyant high schoolers, and the show leaves it up to the protagonist to stop their nefarious plans by piloting a giant robot. Though a tad cliche, Captain Earth is — on a technical level — a solid anime, but it lacks any kind of real punch to drive its ideas home.

Star Driver is an almost farcical series with all its exuberance and excesses, but with the ever talented Miyano Mamoru playing up the lead role as the “Galactic Bishounen,” the show never stops being fun. Captain Earth lacks that kind of energy and sheer pizzazz to spruce up what is a dull script with uninteresting ideas. It’s a real shame since there are embers of excellence in almost everything except the core concepts. From the subtlety of character interaction, the intricate directing and Bones’ top grade visuals, the show feels so close to striking a nerve. Captain Earth is a show that I feel that I should love, but it only manages to be mildly amusing.

The main problem with the series is that nothing really feels all that meaningful or important in the series. In RahXephon, the protagonist feels both conflicted and lost in a world that really doesn’t want him. In Eureka Seven the rather brutal war between Gekko State and the government built a sense of gravity to the narrative. In Captain Earth, it feels like Pokemon’s Ash Ketchum fighting a new member of Team Rocket every week. Though the antagonists are supposed to be evil aliens bent on humanity’s destruction, they all look like J-Pop artists rocking outfits from CLAMP. Even worse are the protagonists who have personalities so bland that they make no appreciable impression with exception of the girls… and their fanservice.

The show actually works out to be a decent Saturday morning cartoon style series that explores the the past and motives of the show’s antagonists before they summon a robot and fight the protagonist. These backstories could have saved the show if they were emotionally impactful, but they are predominantly forgettable. As for the aesthetics, the visuals are well realized; the music is exceptional, and it complements the already well crafted fight scenes with moments that could send chills down a mecha fan’s spine if the plot context held any weight. The anime even has one of the most ridiculously awesome giant robot transformation sequences in recent memory.

I find it a real shame that so many exceptional elements are collected in such a lukewarm anime. Captain Earth serves as proof positive that a good story with compelling characters are the ultimate meat of a series whereas everything else is just the condiments. By lacking these two elements, the show eventually becomes a boring grind that by the end of the series, all I want is the OST and a compilation of the fight scenes since I just don’t care about anything else.

The Rating: 5

Reviewed by: Shadowmage

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