Captain Earth Ep. 9: Lonely children

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Famous last words. But although this episode is titled “Magical Girl Akari-chan,” it’s not exactly a character study like “Starry Sky’s Picture Book” was for Teppei. Hell, Akari goes missing for a good chunk of the episode as she gets kidnapped by the bad guys. You guys don’t have to look so glum, though. Akari manages to save herself. Daichi still gets to look cool as he stops Aiatar, the latest Kiltgang member to join the cast, in just the nick of time, but rest assured, Akari’s no helpless damsel-in-distress. In fact, she pulls off the biggest gambit of all: if the bad guys don’t let her go, she will use the entire world’s supply of nuclear missiles to lay waste to the planet. If that happens, there won’t be any of that juicy Orgone energy left for our sex-crazed villains, huh? So despite her cheesy ending line, Akari proves herself capable of more than just stuffing herself silly with desserts.

But like I’ve said, even though the episode has been named after the self-proclaimed mahou shoujo, we learn relatively nothing about the titular character other than that she has some balls — figuratively speaking, of course. This thus feels like a wasted opportunity. In my honest opinion, the female members of the show are not as well-developed as they could be. We know what Daichi’s deal is. And as I’ve already mentioned, we know what sort of angst plagues Teppei. Unfortunately, Akari and Hana are supporting characters, and they continue to be nothing more than supporting characters. They have their respective roles in the story, that’s for certain. Nevertheless, their motivations and feelings are relatively unclear compared to their male counterparts. After all, Daichi is taking up his father’s legacy, and as such, his goals are obvious enough. What’s in it for Akari? What drives her to risk her life and fight alongside her friends?

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This week, we are introduced to Ai, a wannabe idol who eventually joins the Kiltgang, and perhaps Ai is meant to offer us a glimpse into Akari’s mind. You could even say an idol is somewhat analogous to a mahou shoujo both in their aesthetics and their demeanor. Well, what’s important about Ai is that she’s afraid of loneliness: “What if everyone hates me? Would I be all alone again?” Can the same be said about Akari, a child caught between two divorcees? Did she join Globe because she’s lonely? Is she a self-proclaimed mahou shoujo because, like an idol, she desires to be loved since her both her parents have always been too occupied with their responsibilities — and to be fair, both Tsutomu and Tsubaki have huge responsibilities to fulfill — to spend time with her? I ask a lot of questions, because I don’t believe Captain Earth has given us a lot of answers. Certainly, the true extent to Akari’s story has been alluded to at times, but we have yet to peel the layers back and really get to know the girl. After spending so much time on both Daichi and Teppei, however, what are we still waiting for?

Ai: “I’ll take away your cheer like a vampire.”

Well, someone’s a vampire, and it’s not Ai. Every time a new member of the Kiltgang is awakened, they seem to lose all of their individual personality. In a brief amount of time — less than half of the episode — we learn that Ai is a girl deathly afraid of what others might think of her. It thus seems silly that she almost became an idol, huh? Since she grew up as an orphan, however, Ai naturally has abandonment issues. When a tabloid prints a negative story about her, she starts to fret. What if her fans can see through her cheerful facade? What if everyone leaves her as a result? What if she has to be all alone again? She thus suffers a crisis of confidence. In fact, if there’s a pattern to discern here, it’s that these designer children are initially rife with flaws and mental anguish. Well, all of this goes out the window as soon as Moco plants a big one on our blonde designer child. In fact, Ai now acts like the rest of them. You could even say the Kiltgang are personality vampires.

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Perhaps there’s some sort of thematic significance to this. Perhaps it’s meaningful that our killer robots from outer space have no discernible personalities of their own. Maybe our designer children are trading in their melancholia for uniformity. Maybe being individual is what hurts, and although giving yourself up to the Kiltgang might destroy any shred of individuality within you, you will at least no longer feel any mental pain. Teppei is spared, however, since he has the proper support system around him. He has not just his immediate friends, but adults like Tsutomu who genuinely care about him as well. And that might be the biggest difference between Teppei and the other designer children. The rest of them have had to deal with adults who want to do nothing but exploit them. After all, Salty Dog’s CEO doesn’t give a rat’s ass about Amara and Moco. As far as he knows, the designer children are only there to help him achieve his Macbeth Revolution. Zin, too, had to deal with a man who wanted to use the kid’s talents to stuff the casino’s coffers. By comparison, Ai’s agent may not seem as exploitative as the rest of them, but she seems rather dismissive of the girl’s feelings: “Get a hold of yourself!” Becoming a Kiltgang may very well be an escape.

Well then, you can already guess my natural follow-up question: can this trauma be solved? Can anyone — perhaps Teppei — reach out to any of these designer children, and convince them that being a human is, well, not all that bad? Can the good guys help any of the designer children regain their individuality without having to feel the requisite existential pains? Or are our heroes destined to crush the designer children in the fields of combat? We’ve got plenty of time to answer these questions though. And apparently, we have two more designer children to awaken as well. At some point, however, someone will have to do the sensible thing and just try to talk. It’s hard to believe that the bad guys are just one-dimensionally bad — “They just want our Orgone energy and they will stop at nothing to get it!” — and as such, they cannot be reasoned with.

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Having said that, there’s something dissatisfying about having to watch a group of villains all exhibit the same speech, the same mannerisms, the same attitude, etc. In fact, Ai pretty much disappears after the first half of the episode. Aiatar taunts Daichi no differently than how the other members of the Kiltgang might taunt the kid. All that’s really different amongst them is that the girls are allowed to be sexual. When’s the last time you’ve seen Amara do anything sexy? Speaking of sexual, you’ll also notice that the task falls to Moco once again to unlock another designer child’s memories. Yes, this is the case even though our latest Kiltgang candidate is a girl. Well, this pretty much says everything you need to know about the show, doesn’t it? For a show supposedly about Orgone energy and humanity’s libido, it’s really only the libido of the show’s primary audience that the anime is concerned with. No, I’m not saying that this is surprising. It’s just kind of pathetic.

Stray observations:

— Still too much infodumping at the start of the series. What makes it even worse is that it’s stuff we already know, too. The show has merely been kind enough to repeat itself for our sake. After all, we’ve already kind of guessed how a Machine Goodfellow operates. Last week’s episode also told us that the heroes are under the pressure of time to defeat the enemy. So y’know, I feel as though Captain Earth might not have a terribly high opinion of its audience’s ability to recall information from previous episodes.

— It’s rather silly how a couple of guys can chase a girl down and subdue her in broad daylight without incurring any negative attention from the people around them. They do this in out in the open streets of Shinjuku too and not some shady back alley. The only reaction they get is, as you can see, pretty messed up.

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— I’m pretty tired of Daichi continually whining about people addressing him as their captain. I bet the show thinks of this as nothing more than a recurring joke, but it really makes him insufferable in my eyes. Jesus Christ, dude, you’re the captain. Get on with it already.

— Rita thinks Akari is being careless, but Hana takes up her friend’s defense: “Akari isn’t like that. When there’s a job for her, she always does it.” Alright, then, she isn’t like that. So how come no one has jumped to the obvious conclusion that our mahou shoujo might’ve been kidnapped? If she isn’t like that, then what else could be keeping the girl occupied? The conclusion seems so obvious, yet none of the good guys are capable of jumping to it. Daichi just smiles and walks off. There’s no sense of urgency.

— Perhaps our heroes could streamline the launch sequence. This way, they might not have to waste nearly a minute of the woefully short 359 seconds they’ve been allotted.

— Akari threatens, “…how long will you have to wait before another sentient source of Orgone energy evolves in this Solar System? A few hundred million years? A few billion years?” Don’t be silly, girl. Our killer robots from outer space know they can’t wait that long. Increased luminosity from the sun will wipe out all of the planets’ large mammals in less than three billion years.

— Apparently, Moco’s kiss is also a kiss of truth. She uses it to determine whether or not Akari is bluffing. Well, isn’t that convenient.

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5 thoughts on “Captain Earth Ep. 9: Lonely children”

  1. This is becoming a fatal flaw for the antagonists as they are all acting the exact same way (which isn’t bad for secondary characters, but not the central antagonists), and although outreach would be a good solution, their destruction might be a final possibility in the show since they just want libidos… and the new grunts are really one-dimensional here. Also doesn’t help when Ai looks and sorta acts like another troubled mecha girl from about 6 years ago.

    If you want to explore their alternate lives, you can, but don’t waste 8-10 minutes when you know that Mega Boobs is gonna undo everything and they become raving lunatics.

    I do like this show still, but it’s starting to wear thin, as it may go from “breakout series” to just another “guilty pleasure”.

    1. Maybe the story is also poorly-paced. Why are we jumping from one designer child to the next like it’s some sort of “Awakening of the Week” scenario? Isn’t that a little silly and contrived? Can’t the story fit in episodes of character development in-between these episodes?

      1. That’s what is particularly annoying with this arc (though i actually liked a lot in this ep). They are doing it it in a highly episodic manner, which takes away the urgency of the whole “we got to get to the other designer children before the enemies do).

        and yeah, the girls (especially Hana) is still lagging behind in character development, which is starting to bug me.

  2. I’m not surprised at only the girls being presented as sexual after seeing the numerous promotional images of them in various states of undress. It does seem very desperate in how blatant it is(and of course pathetic). It’s strange with this show since it isn’t that rife with fanservice.

    1. For its subject matter, you think the show would have more fanservice and not just one type of fanservice. It should really be a free for all, but eh…

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