Captain Earth is an anime series produced by Bones and is directed by Takuya Igarashi. The series aired on Japanese television from April 5-September 20, 2014. As of this writing, Sentai Filmworks holds the North American distribution license for Captain Earth.

Captain Earth focuses on Daichi Manatsu, a high school boy who seems to be disinterested in what he’s being made to study at school. Instead, he focuses on studying the things he wants to learn on his own during his free time.

The day before summer vacation starts, he visits one of his friends and sees a news report on the television about a strange rainbow circle that appeared in the sky over the town of Minamitane in Tanegashima for about five minutes. This is where Daichi grew up until his father died, and he has some memories that suddenly come flooding back to him. Daichi decides to go to Tanegashima.

When Daichi arrives at Tanegashima, he stumbles into a secret organization. When Daichi had lived there previously, he had made friends with a boy named Teppei, but he had no idea that Teppei was part of this organization. It turns out that Daichi’s father also had ties to this organization. Near the end of the first episode, he makes it into the organization’s headquarters, and is given a gun by a scientist named Peter Westvillage, which allows him to pilot a mecha known as the Earth Engine.

Daichi reunites with Teppei, as well as with a girl named Hana that Daichi and Teppei had both discovered when they were kids. Daichi also meets Tsutomu, a friend of his father’s and a commander of the secret organization. From talking with Tsutomu, Daichi learns that Globe, the secret organization, is known on the outside as an international organization devoted to space development for peaceful purposes. However, it’s actually a defensive organization to fight alien invaders. He learns the gun he used is called a Livlaster, and that it is the second one to appear.

Later, Tsutomu’s daughter, a hacker named Akari, appears and works alongside Daichi, Teppei, and Hana. The four of them become a unit of Globe that’s known as the Midsummer’s Knights.

There are a couple of antagonists that appear in Captain Earth. First is Salty Dog, a group of the Ark Faction that has been assigned to oversee Globe, along with Teppei and Hana. It turns out Teppei and Hana have ties with the other group of antagonists that give them powers that the Ark Faction want.

The other antagonists are known as the Kiltgang or the Planetary Gears, which is an alien force that intends to drain all of the life force of mankind so they can empower their immortal existence. The Planetary Gears are designer children who have human avatar bodies and Ego Blocks. Teppei is one of these designer children, but he destroys his own Ego Block and fights alongside Daichi and the others. The main two Kiltgang who are focused on early in the series are Amarok and Malkin. During the first half of the series, they work at awakening their comrades: Siren, Zimbalt, Aiatar, Lieban, and Bugbear.

After watching the first episode of Captain Earth, I found myself thinking that the series had potential. Admittedly, that first episode was a little hard to follow and understand at times, but my hope was that once the major exposition was done to establish Daichi and the world that he inhabited, that the series would become easier to follow. At the end of Episode Two, I was still a little confused, but there were enough interesting ideas being presented that made me want to see more of the series. At the end of Episode Three, I was genuinely interested in the characters and what was going on, especially since some of the questions I still had at the end of Episode Two were answered during Episode Three.

At the end of Episode Five, though, I found myself feeling a little frustrated at just how slowly the storyline was progressing, as well as the fact as I thought I was starting to understand the story, new concepts were slowly being thrown out that I had to try to fit into my understanding of the series. It also didn’t help that at that point in the series, the antagonists still weren’t very clear.

It turned out that the first seven episodes were there to establish the premise and the series’ elements, and that Episode Eight truly started to move the story forward. The next six episodes focused on Amarok and Malkin working at awakening the other designer children and getting them to join their cause.

Ultimately, the first half of the series had a rather slow start. And I do think the amount of designer children that were introduced helped to bog this section down. Now that I’ve seen the whole series, I can say with certainty that Liban and Bugbear really didn’t need to be there. Liban did nothing during the series after being introduced, and Bugbear only did a couple of things in the long run. The things that Bugbear did could have been done by another one of the Planetary Gears. I liked Bugbear’s backstory, and perhaps Zimbalt could have been given that backstory. Between Zimbalt’s backstory and Bugbear’s backstory, I thought that Bugbear’s was stronger.

The second half of the series felt as if a lot of concepts were being thrown out to the audience and that the story was being hurried along in order to reach the series’ final destination. In the end, Captain Earth had an interesting premise that it was presenting, but the overall execution just wasn’t quite as strong as it could have been. While Captain Earth was an overall stronger mecha show than Aldnoah.Zero was, Captain Earth did still have some issues.

And I have one question: Who is the girl with the recorder that appears about three times in the series around Daichi? She’s the one who ultimately leads him to the Livlaster in the first place, and then she shows up a couple more times near the end of the series. Her existence was never explained, so this aspect of the series was one that I was dissatisfied with. She does some important things in the series, but we never get her name or know anything about her. All I can refer to her as is “the Recorder Girl.”

Captain Earth isn’t necessarily a bad series, but it’s not one I’m going to rush out and watch again anytime soon or add to my anime home video collection.

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