For anyone outside of the anime loop and looking in, giant fighting robots are what it’s all about. There is some truth to that, with the mech subgenre effectively serving as the backbone, and every new season usually packs one mech effort. Captain Earth is a tepid entry, with enough interesting ideas to keep it ticking over.
Second year lickspittle Manatsu Daichi is questioning his place in the world and his lot in life, staring down the inevitability of adulthood. His dad died in mysterious circumstances, and the only comfort is the knowledge that it was an act of heroism.
When a strange circular rainbow appears over the island Tanegashima, speculation and rumour grip the country. But for Daichi, it brings him back to childhood where he first crossed paths with Teppei Arashi, an odd boy from the other side of a security fence. Recognising the rainbow as the same singularity that Teppei himself produced, Daichi makes his way back to the military island complex. After an alarm sounds the impending arrival of invading aliens Kill-T-Gang, he chances his way to Captain status and seems to have a fundamental understanding control of the mech, Earth Engine Impactor.
Globe, the enigmatic defence organisation, teams Daichi with likeminded and similarly willed individuals to form the Midsummer Knights to combat the aliens. Teppei, Daichi discovers, is a former Kill-T-Gang member whose memories were wiped and whose consciousness was stowed away in the body of a teenage boy. The daughter of the base commander, Akari Yomatsuri is a quirky hacker and self-proclaimed ‘Magic Girl’. Peculiar Hana Mutou and her side kick critter Pitz, is inexplicably connected to the ship Blume.
Writer Yōji Enokido doesn’t plumb the same depth as the scripts he penned for Neon Genesis Evangelion, and that’s symptomatic of the entire series. The animation is good but not great, the characters are fun but unmemorable. There’s some cunning ideas, but it hasn’t got anything on the intelligence of Gargantia on the Verdurous Planet. The brash mech combat isn’t as good as Knights of Sidonia, and not nearly as much fun as Full Metal Panic. There’s plenty of brazen sequences, especially the elaborate transformations where the central part of the mech flies through space gates and combines with its limbs. The end result looks like it just zipped out of any of the myriad Gundam series.
Episode 5 makes a change of pace and setting with some slow burn espionage aboard Globe’s space station Tenkaido. It’s an all too brief detour from the bulk of the series, but a reminder of its potential. Part 1 might not inspire you to fork out for the next instalment, but there’s enough here to enjoy.
Special Features: Clean opening and closing / Trailers
CAPTAIN EARTH PART 1 / CERT: 15 / DIRECTOR: TAKUYA IGARASHI / SCREENPLAY: YOJI ENOKIDO / STARRING: MIYU IRINO, HIROSHI KAMIYA, AI KAYANO, KOTORI KOIWAI, RINA HIDAKA / RELEASE DATE: AUGUST 10TH