I actually think the first two-thirds of this week’s episode is pretty neat. There’s a surreal, dream-like quality to most of the episode. Daichi basically relives the first couple of days of the series, but at every turn, the Designer Children try to distract him in a multitude of ways. Ai tries to seduce him, Lin runs her bike into a bus just to prevent Daichi from reaching the festival, Zin appeals to Daichi’s vanity, and Baku suggests that there other ways to become a captain. Naturally, the good guys are there too. I’m pretty sure Peter Westvillage, Tsutomu, and Akari are in Daichi’s dream, but we just don’t get to see their faces. And oh yeah, that little girl from the very first episode makes her reappearance, but she doesn’t do much of anything but play a recorder.
The most interesting scene, however, occurs midway through the episode when Daichi finds himself having a one-on-one conversation with Setsuna. The girl mourns the death of her caretaker. She acknowledges that the caretaker had taken advantage of her, but at the same time, she too is taking advantage of the people around her: “In the end, I’m living in a way I hate. And that makes my heart heavy.” If any of the Designer Children can be redeemed, Setsuna has to top that list of candidates. It’s especially telling when Daichi suggests that she change the way she lives: “No, I don’t think I’m going the same way as you yet.” The word ‘yet’ is what gives me pause. She obviously has her doubts about the way the Kiltgang goes about their business. And it isn’t impossible for them to change their ways; just look at Teppei.
I like the episode’s soundtrack. I felt it added to the tension of the scenes. I like the way scenes would just instantly go dark when they come to an end, lending to that dream-like quality. The streetlights flowing by as Daichi rides the bus also adds a hypnotic feel to his conversation with Setsuna. As Daichi talks to Baku, every time the camera would cut back to the latter, more Designer Children would unnaturally appear behind him. The feeling of deja vu can also feel like a nightmare, and to some extent, this episode of Captain Earth feels like one. If anything, Bones should have taken advantage of this even more, i.e. play with our perceptions to a greater extent. Maybe Daichi could’ve repeated the same few days over and over until he made a significant decision (either keep his promise to Hana or leave for that villa with Amara).
But of course, Daichi must inevitably wake up and return to his friends. In fact, this occurs earlier than I expected it to. All it took was for our hero to visit a shrine and see Pitz. Then bam, he knows what he has to do. At that point, the somewhat nightmarish dream comes to an end, and we just watch as Daichi say inspiring words about life, choices, and how humans continue to live on in the memories of their loved ones even after they’ve long died. By affirming this beliefs, Daichi wakes up in the real world, fires his Livlaster at the giant space garic, and that is that. So what did this episode really accomplish? Even though I rather liked it — or to be more specific, I rather liked its tone — what was the point of this episode? Honestly, I’m hard-pressed to say the story isn’t still stalling for time.
I think it’s pretty apparent Daichi was stuck in a dream. Not only that, I suspect the dream was self-imposed. The kids are moments away from fulfilling their final mission, i.e. destroying the Oberon and ending the Kiltgang threat once and for all. And for some reason, Daichi suddenly has a short bout of existential crisis. What if he could go back in time? What if he could go back to before it all happened and make different choices? Should he have stayed on the track team? Should he have tried to be normal and gone with his friends to that villa? This existential reflection might seem a bit odd because there doesn’t seem to be much of a reason at the present for Daichi to even doubt his current path in life. After all, he’s always been an upbeat, happy-go-lucky guy, so why all of a sudden worry about what he could have done differently?
Well, when Daichi recovers and wakes up, we see that barely any time has past. He’s still in the Earth Engine Impacter, and the Kivotos-Blume hybrid is still moments away from colliding into the space garlic. As a result, that one moment of existential doubt probably didn’t last more a second of real time, if you get my drift. But that’s the thing. Daichi either gets the job done or he and his friends fail spectacularly. There’s no in-between. If he doesn’t fire off a good enough shot, it wouldn’t destroy the space garlic. If the space garlic isn’t destroyed, then his friends would have rammed themselves headfirst into it, thereby derailing humanity’s best laid plans. So even though Daichi’s moment of self-doubt very likely took up no significant amount of real time at all, the gravity of the situation made it feel as though Daichi could live through a couple days and revisit his old choices in life.
Was Captain Earth stalling for time again? Yeah… but it was somewhat of an interesting episode. In any case, I’m still ready for this series to end. And I wonder if the show will ever shed light on the little girl with the teal-colored hair, or how the Livlasters are really extradimensional lifeforms.