Captain Earth Ep. 12: Hopefully, this is the last designer child of the week…

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Well, my bad. Since Setsuna had failed to awaken and join the bad guys in last week’s episode, I totally thought we’d dispense with the whole “designer child of the week” narrative structure. I should’ve known Bones wouldn’t let me down, though! After all, this week’s episode is all about Baku! For now, I guess both sides have just given up on looking for Setsuna…

Speaking of Baku, the episode begins with a very brief look at human trafficking. Later in the episode, we see that Baku will become an underground arena fighter that people can bet upon, thus helping to make buckets of money for the family he was sold to. What happens to the rest of the children in those jail cells, though? I doubt they were all raised to be fighters. After all, this episode is titled “Boys’ Battlefield,” which tells me that the anime doesn’t think girls are likely to become underground arena fighters themselves. Nevertheless, the creepy lady initially asks the man if his daughter is for sale at the start of the scene. If girls aren’t meant to be underground arena fighters, what do you suppose they end up becoming? Oh, of course, I have my suspicions. At the same time, however, I feel like this direction of inquiry is ultimately pointless because I doubt Captain Earth will actually continue to explore this seedy underbelly of Japan’s society. The story has used it to introduce Baku, so I’d be surprised if we ever see the creepy lady again.

When we see Baku again, he is all grown up. Not only that, he has become the undisputed champion of the underground arena. This is a hard pill to swallow, though. Once again, we have an issue where anime’s obsession with being clean and beautiful all the time can take the audience out of the moment. As previously stated, Baku is the undisputed champion of an illegal fighting ring, right? Then why does he look like any other smooth-faced bishounen that you might find above ground as an idol? Why doesn’t he have any scratches or scars on either his face or his body? Sure, he’s can’t be defeated, but are you trying to tell me that he’s never suffered a hit in all these years? Plus, if he’s so goddamn good at fighting, why would people even bother to watch his matches? Why would anyone even bother to make any bets? Why do people even want to watch matches that last literally less than ten seconds? Yes, Baku is so good, his opponents go down in a single punch. Illegal or not, nobody would actually cheer for that. That sounds boring as hell.

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In any case, Baku’s story is what you have probably expected it to be. Sold into a yakuza family with a young, kind-hearted daughter, Baku naturally ends up becoming close to her. Even though he’s the undisputed champion, the young lady nevertheless wishes that he could stop fighting. He won’t stop, though. ‘Cause he can handle it. ‘Cause he’s a tough guy. By fighting, he makes her family richer, and this is thus his way of protecting her. Plus, she’s got a fiance anyway, and he’s honorable enough to respect that boundary. Baku will express his love to the young lady the only way he knows how: fighting! It’s a forbidden love all around! The young lady realizes she can’t stop him. She’s been having nightmares too. She then gives him a cute, little keepsake that he’ll treasure with his life. Hopefully, the keepsake will also ward off those nightmares, uguu. Good lord, Bones, give it a rest with the tropes, will ya?

Eventually, the Midsummer’s Knights receive some information that suggests they might want to investigate the underground arena. Yes, a bunch of kids will investigate an illegal fighting ring organized by the yakuza… Y’know, it needs not be said that the yakuza are dangerous, and not only that, they will protect their interests at all costs. As a result, you probably can’t stick your nose in places where it doesn’t belong, especially an underground fighting ring that brings the yakuza tons of money. So even though our heroes have Livlasters, they’re still kids. Their bodies are still physically underdeveloped. If grown men could ever get within melee distance of any of them, our heroes would be overpowered easily. Nevertheless, the Midsummer’s Knights, especially Akari, insists that they take on this assignment.

Akari argues, “We should handle our responsibilities ourselves?” This is stupid on especially two levels. First, isn’t this everyone’s responsibilities? Doesn’t every single Globe team out there have a vested interest in protecting the planet? C’mon… Second, why does it matter if someone else does the job? Likewise, why does it matter if someone else helps them? Is she too proud to have the job done by anyone by her own team? And by that, you know it’s really just Daichi and Teppei getting the job done while the girls lounge around and eat ice cream. This is just stupid. When the fate of the human race is at stake, it seems silly to get so territorial about an assignment. It is even sillier when the person getting up in arms about it is a girl who barely does anything aside from providing ground support. To top it all off, we don’t even see if Rita tries to convince the kids otherwise. I guess it’s just presumed that a bunch of kids can handle dangerous, armed yakuza gang members.

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We then see the kids dress up in the same fancy outfits they had used for the time they had investigated the casino. Yes, they intend to just waltz themselves into the underground arena… The best part is when Daichi hands the bouncer a flyer — yes, the invitation to an underground arena organized by the yakuza looks like a flyer for a fucking dance club — and expects that the guy will let them in, no questions asked! Luckily for our Midsummer’s Knights, Akari comes prepared with a wad of cash. I’m going to assume Globe provided her with all that money… Giant wads of cash or not, however, I still can’t imagine the yakuza would ever allow four kids to enter the underground arena. But whatever, this is anime, and Captain Earth is more interested in a callback to a previous episode where the kids had been harangued for their young age than maintaining any semblance of believability.

Deep underground, our heroes finally get to see Baku in action, but they don’t suspect that he’s the designer child they’ve been looking for just yet. Hell, Akari’s too busy making a bet to actually do her job. I’m surprised the yakuza can even make money with Baku when none of the matches seem fixed. After all, who wants to bet against a guy who never loses? But I digress…. On the other hand, the bad guys have no trouble recognizing an old ally. All of a sudden, Amara jumps into the ring, and I guess no one seems to mind that some stranger has decided to crash the party. As a result, the two designer children get to brawl like they used to in their younger days, but Baku understandably hasn’t quite realized this. Having said that, the fight alone seems to be enough to stir up some of Baku’s lost memories, but only some. Baku sees enough to know he doesn’t like what he sees. Somehow, his confusion is enough to cut the power to the entire arena. When the lights come back on, Amara has disappeared. Since Baku is a guy, you just know Amara won’t be the one to awaken him.

Instead, we see Moco standing on a bridge as she awaits Baku’s arrival. The difference with Baku, however, is that he isn’t entirely dissatisfied with his life. Hell, the same can be said for Setsuna as well. More so, in fact. After all, until Mao had tried to steal her body, Setsuna was living a rather carefree and happy life. Baku isn’t quite as lucky. I’m sure no one’s happy to be used by the yakuza, especially when the gangsters are forcing you to endanger your own life in an illegal fighting ring. Even so, he nevertheless has an attachment to his human life thanks to the young lady. With the other designer children, they were ready to give up as soon as we met them. This allowed them to buy wholesale into the idea that the Kiltgang are the true humans, and the rest of us are nothing but flesh containers full of orgone energy waiting to be consumed. Baku, however, resists Moco’s temptation: “Get lost. Don’t destroy who I am now.” He likely feels the need to stay as close as he can to the young lady and protect her. He thus escapes from Moco and avoids being awakened.

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For now, Baku’s story comes to a close. As a result, the anime looks elsewhere before wrapping the episode up. For once, we actually see a designer child spill blood when Zin stabs Kariya Haruhiko, his old boss at the casino, through the shoulder with a large pipe. Afterwards, paramedics tell us that Haruhiko’s heart has stopped, but the man suddenly bolts upright and proclaims that he is immortal. Okay then… But of course, the first time a designer child might actually take a life onscreen, it turns out the guy cannot die. So far, the only casualties you can directly pin onto the Kiltgang are the lives taken from the moon base incident. Elsewhere, Akari suddenly discovers that the Asanoda Yakuza is tied to the sinking of some ship. We then see that the young lady’s nightmares are about the sinking of said ship. The episode thus ends on that mysterious note. In any case, we’ve introduced all of the remaining designer children, so I hope we can finally put that stupid “designer child of the week” narrative structure to rest. I really hope Bones has something big planned for the second half of Captain Earth, but judging by their recent works as of late, I just know I’m due for a disappointment.

Stray observations:

— Early in the episode, Daichi’s asleep while everyone else stays up to talk about the current situation. Realizing that Daichi isn’t awake, Hana goes to give him a kiss. Sure enough, if our hero had been awake, that kiss probably wouldn’t have happened. Of course, it’s just a kiss, so I can’t help but think, “So what?” Hana then goes to sleep even though the rest of them had been talking just earlier. It’s like, “I got my kiss, so screw you guys.” The scene just doesn’t make any sense. I’m sure fans of the show are, however, too busy squeeing over the actual kiss to notice otherwise. Watching this unfold, Rita thinks, “Do we really have to make these kids fight for us?” Then don’t. Other than having Livlasters, these kids aren’t doing anything special. Nevertheless, it doesn’t look as though Globe is even interested in training anyone else — anyone older and less innocent — to do the job. As someone who has watched anime, however, I’ve come to just accept the fact that kids will always save the day in these mecha anime.

— Even though Baku is covered with sweat shortly after a match, the daughter, who is now a young lady, remarks that he smells like the sun. I only wish I knew what the sun smelled like. What do you suppose plasma smells like? Death. It probably smells like death.

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— At one point, Teppei remarks that the girls are always eating something. Yeah, do something, girls. Can you girls actually be heroines for once? But even though they’re racing against the bad guys to find the last two designer children (don’t forget that Setsuna’s whereabouts are still at large), Akari suggests that she and Hana hit up the pool again. You know you’ve jumped the shark when Daichi has to remind you to stop goofing around. Daichi isn’t one to talk, however, as a nearby wedding ceremony distracts and enthralls him. As a result, he swears that the Kiltgang will never be allowed to destroy the planet. Never! We have to protect these happy people and their weddings! I mean, there’s nothing wrong with weddings nor is there anything wrong with married couples. I just find it silly that this scene is being used to steel the kids’ resolve. It’s like, “Oh man, I wanted to goof around a bit, but married couples could die, guys! We gotta protect them!”

— Near the end of the episode, our heroes go, “If Amarok was there, then there must’ve been a designer child there too. Let’s go back tomorrow.” Um, did they not see Amara and Baku exchange words? Did they not see Baku react bizarrely to his new opponent? Did they not perhaps think that the undisputed champion who can seemingly never lose might be that very same designer child that they’ve been looking for? Oy…

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8 thoughts on “Captain Earth Ep. 12: Hopefully, this is the last designer child of the week…

  1. Anonymous

    I’m calling it this is going to be another Valvrave the penetrator… I mean the liberator, just wait and see we already have space vampires and now people are being turned into immortals and two guesses as to who Daichi and Teppei are alike.

    Reply
    1. John Barnes

      The irony is that we already had a Valvrave doppelganger this year, but they were another Sunrise production (Buddy Complex).

      This is a series that stumbles into Valvrave lunacy.

      Reply
    2. IreneSharda

      I WISH this was like Valvrave. I’m a Sunrise mecha fan, but even if I wasn’t, Valvrave would still be wayyyy better than this. I was excited every week to see the next episode of VVV, but I can barely scrap together enough interest to see Captain Earth every week. The characters on both sides are so underdeveloped and this “Designer Child of the Week” formula is killing the pacing of this show. Cap. Earth started out promising, but as each week followed, it’s just been getting slower, and it’s lost many viewers along the way. I’m just hoping that the end result is worth it.

      Reply
    3. E Minor Post author

      Valvrave was much more wild than this. Captain Earth is relatively restrained despite all the libido shit it throws around.

      Reply
  2. John Barnes

    Oy, this series gets dumber and dumber with each every episode, and I had such high hopes at the beginning. Now I’m just about ready to throw in the towel and shut myself off until Reconguista in G & the return of Build Fighters come out.

    One of the main problems with this is that, in trying to be presented as “smart”, which they did all the way back even with the Shakespearan references, they wind up creating a bunch of elements that are forsaken for a general story that’s been done countless times. For example, the lives of the Designer Children that gave up were crappy, but they weren’t hopeless considering that their problems was that they wanted to escape, but they were situations that you needed to face head-on if you wanted to overcome them and be free of doubt. Of course, once they “gave in”, those problems were forgotten and it seems that the show wants them to be viewed as lost causes that need to be obliterated. Meanwhile, by trying to tell the story of another child, you present an even bigger problem by showcasing human trafficking. But, it don’t matter if most of them children are to be utilized for unsafe labor or perverted deeds; they aren’t Baku, so they don’t matter.

    Also, the writers and producers seem to be taking a page from the Mobile Suit Gundam Book of Misogyny in which if a female isn’t batshit crazy or utilized as a living weapon, they are meant to be utilized as useless as possible (of course, this isn’t exactly true, as there were a few insane girls in Gundam canon that meant very little to the grand scheme of their shows other than to push forward the plots of other characters, like Merrybell Gadget, Nena Trinity, or Girard Spriggan, but you know what I mean). That’s why Daichi and Teppei seem to be doing all the work while Akari and Hana just sit around at a pool or eating snacks. Having them mention this in the actual story isn’t a “clever” idea, either. Then, you have to consider that the first person to actually die in the story, and not be shown in a flashback, was Doctor Mao… a woman. Casino Boss gets nailed by Bishounen Member, yet he lives. Of course, this is purely subjective, as well, considering how many countless movies and shows feature a black guy being the first fatality, but it’s another thing to point out that the show is another mecha that doesn’t seem to understand how to utilize a gender.

    Then, there’s ignoring common logic in Japanese culture, the ways of the yakuza (or “Cosby Boys” as Chris Jericho called them), an illegal street fighter who has never had any injuries, and the fact that people don’t want “sure things” when they gamble because the payoff sucks and those who bet otherwise look like they bet on the Washington Generals.

    Reply
  3. eternia

    The odds! The odds is 1.2 to 1, man! Should it be: 0.001 to 1? How are the yakuza going to make money the majority of people obviously voted for the champion? Isn’t this one of the situation where the yakuza staged a fixed match where their fighter loses purposely on their whistle? Doesn’t seem so. He’s winning on all matches we have seen.

    NB: his clean unhurt body is probably because of his immortality, so I can forgive that one

    Reply

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