This week’s designer children of the week says, “I’m sure [the fish] can only be happy because they don’t know they’re going to die.” It’s obvious she’s referring to humanity, or rather, the “false humans.” After all, the Planetary Gears believe themselves to be the real humans, but we’ll get to that in a second. The motif this week is all about dreams and who is actually doing the dreaming. In a previous scene, Lin was undergoing some sort of experimental treatment designed by Marimura Mao, a researcher being funded by a mysterious “Robin.” If you really care, Puck in A Midsummer Night’s Dream is also known as Robin Goodfellow, but I digress. Mao’s research allows her to control her patients’ dreams, which allows Lin to see “a world where [her] soul is free.” Lin realizes, however, that her real body is elsewhere. We must now wonder if she is actually dreaming, or has Mao simply awaken the girl albeit briefly. After all, Lin is truly a Planetary Gear; she is merely inhabiting the body of a designer child. As a result, you could say that Lin’s entire life as a designer child is nothing more than a dream.
It is like that famous butterfly passage from Zhuang Zhou. Is Lin, a designer child, dreaming herself as a Planetary Gear, or is the Planetary Gear dreaming the life of a designer child? Then like the prince from Sleeping Beauty, Amara crashes the party and plants a kiss on Lin’s lips (at least Moco doesn’t do it this time), thereby allowing her to “awaken” to her true self. Now fully awake, Lin gives us the Planetary Gears’ modus operandi: “We reveal the dream of the world.” Let’s now return to the very beginning. When Lin talks about the fish at the aquarium, she is really referring to humanity and its “false humans.” Normal people like you or me live a very finite existence. Our lives are impermanent. Our impact on the universe is transient. An immortal being will presumably live to see the universe end. As such, we’re talking on the scale of billions of years. Most of us will only live to experience around 70 measly years at most. Our lives are thus insignificant in the grander scheme of things. We are like dreams, mere blips on the vast timeline of the universe. Likewise, the designer children are the dreams of these immortal Planetary Gears. This is why the antagonists value their immortality so much.
You’ll notice that before every single designer child awakens, they are plagued by petty human concerns. Zin had been betrayed by a high school friend. Ai was afraid of abandonment. Lin felt trapped by her mortal limitations. When they are fully awaken, however, those concerns suddenly go flying out the door. They do not matter anymore. When you’re an immortal being, who gives a shit about high school drama? Who worries about abandonment when those same people who have abandoned you will soon die anyway? Human concerns are no longer important because human concerns are insignificant in the grander scheme of things. To believe otherwise is folly: “Ignorance is bliss, after all.” To the Planetary Gears, this is the dream of the world. We think our lives matter because we only live to be 70 years old. Because our lives are so finite, we worry. We have a checklist of things we have to accomplish. The Planetary Gears will presumably live forever unless their Ego Blocks are destroyed. So they have no reason to worry about any of those same human concerns. They are free. And in that sense, they believe themselves to be the real humans: ” A perfect being doesn’t die.”
Humans stare at fish and think, “Wow, fishes are so simple-minded. They live such short lives, and they just swim around and around in their tiny, little tanks.” To immortal beings, we must seem simple-minded as well. We live such short lives, and we just wander around and around on our tiny, little planet. Meanwhile, the Planetary Gears can supposedly cross the entire galaxy in search of Orgone energy. Anyway, the point is that a fish cannot hope to comprehend what it’s like to be a human. At the same time, however, we supposedly “false humans” cannot comprehend what it’s like to be an immortal. The even bigger picture is on a scale far beyond what our limited minds can hope to imagine. Unfortunately, the problem here, however, is that the Planetary Gears do not actually seem any wiser or smarter than the mortal beings that they look down upon. We are obviously superior to fish, that’s for sure. Can the same be said about us by the antagonists? The Planetary Gears would have a point if they were to us the same way we are to the fish in the aquarium. But they’re not. If anything, the Planetary Gears seem even more simplistic. They are after our libido to sate their appetite, and they seem almost single-minded about it.
But enough about all of that. Let’s talk about whether or not the storytelling in this week’s episode is actually, well, effective. Once again, our heroes must contend with the designer child of the week. Once again, Pitz only knows that a designer child will awaken sometime tonight and somewhere around this particular location. Once again, the girls play a supporting role and pretty much disappear into the background. Once again, the antagonists hope to summon their Kiltgang self from, uh, Uranus in order to attack the planet and drain us of our precious libido. Once again, Daichi has about six minutes to stop this from happening. There are a few minor twists this time, but they’re not actually earth-shattering or anything. This time, Daichi’s battle takes place underwater. This time, Daichi doesn’t stop the enemies from summoning Liebal. As a result, Teppei, who is already conveniently in place to launch into space, will have to pilot the Nebula Engine Impacter in order to save the day. With so little changes, the show feels like its a rerun of itself.
To be honest, Teppei stepping in to play the hero this week has been a long time coming anyway. Teppei had spent the last two episodes whining about how he can’t seem to do anything to help the team. As a result, he gets to battle Liebal and put the evil Kiltgang robot back in its place. Yippee! Even though he has acquired the fancy, new mecha, however, not much has changed. Teppei started out as a lost child trying to find his place in the world. Now he’s a lost team member trying to find his place within The Midsummer Knights. Stay tuned for when Teppei is a lost something trying to find his place in something. His character feels static and unchanging. After ten episodes, I don’t feel as though he has made marked progress whatsoever. The same can be said about the rest of the cast. We don’t even know a damn thing about Hana. I’m not referring to her past or boring expository information like that. Rather, we don’t explore her thoughts, concerns, motivations, etc. She’s just this magical girl who can point our heroes toward the direction that they need to go. Great.
I’m sure someone has already made this connection elsewhere, but I guess I’ll do it for the first time on this blog. Rita and the kids are traveling around in the truck like a troupe of actors. Everywhere they go, they reenact the same damn play with only minor variations. As a result, everything feels so familiar. Everything seems so similar. So there’s your tie-in to the whole Shakespeare angle. But you know what? Even if this is what the writers of the show have intended for Captain Earth‘s narrative structure, it still doesn’t make for a good anime. After all, you’re still watching the same story unfold over and over — Endless Eight sucked, by the way — with only a few small changes. It’s fine for a troupe of actors to do the same play over and over, because they presumably draw a difference audience each time. That obviously doesn’t apply here. Furthermore, one might be impressed if the allusions to Shakespeare have been designed in a way to help us understand the characters or the story in an illuminating way, but that’s not really what we get, is it? At best, Captain Earth‘s symbolism amounts to “Oh, that’s cool… I guess” and “Hay guyz, did you know dat Puck is from A Midsummer Night’s Dream and he’s a trickster, wow!” And that’s it.
— How on earth does this manage to happen from just a bump? Anyway, Hana seems disappointed that Daichi didn’t make a move. It’s hard to root for them as a couple, however, because Hana’s character isn’t very well fleshed out.
— At one point, three of the designer children are directly trailing Daichi. Amara wants to just kill our hero there and then, and that would honestly seem like the smartest thing to do. But of course, Lin wants to toy with the kid, and Amara just goes, “Do as you like.” C’mon, man, that’s just too cliché.
— By the way, where the hell is Zin? Or Ai? Where have they disappeared to? What makes these episodes feel even more like the designer child of the week is how the previous designer children of the week are conveniently out of the picture as we focus on the latest one! You’re killing me here, Bones!
— Characters seem to just pop in and out of nowhere. When Daichi briefly escapes Lin, she wonders where Daichi might have gone. She turns for a second, then all of a sudden, Daichi is right behind her with his Livlaster to her head. When Lin kicks Daichi to the ground, Lin has completely disappeared except for her voice. It didn’t even look as though Daichi had taken his eyes off of her. It’s so stupid. Maybe they can all teleport or some shit.
— Tsutomu’s role feels like a cruel joke these days. Every single time a new threat appears in space, he doesn’t want any of the kids to go up there and do what they need to do. But the kids ignore him anyway. Tsutomu then goes, “What are you thinking?!” He thinks that perhaps Akari had undermined him by telling Teppei all about the fancy, new mecha, but this time, Peter Westvillage is the culprit. And of course, Teppei saves the day, and it makes you wonder if there’s even a point to Tsutomu’s character other than to look like a fool.
— The Nebula Engine takes off at 17:13. The ending credits begin at 22:44. As you can see, we don’t exactly have a lot of time remaining. Nevertheless, the Nebula Engine has to go through the same exact expansion sequence as the Earth Engine. As a result, Teppei and Liebal don’t begin fighting until 19:14. I’m not amused, man. I’m really not.
— And then there’s the dialogue:
Liebal: “You’re too slow to keep up with me.”
Teppei: “She’s too fast.”
What do you even say to that?
— Afterwards, Lin says that the energy from Teppei’s Livlaster felt like a wonderful wind. I wonder of this is a hint that any of the designer children can be redeemed. Maybe not.
— Right before the episode ends, we get a glimpse of Setsuna, yet another designer child. She even has her own Pitz-like creature too, but this one is pink!