Sunday, April 6, 2014

First Impression: Captain Earth

CAPTAIN EARTH: Studio BONES, what happened?

It’s the start of the new anime season (spring 2014), and I’m back to write my first impressions on titles that got my attention. This season has a lot of sci-fi titles, and I’ll check them out because their synopses seem interesting.

The first one I watched is Captain Earth, a mecha anime by BONES. It follows Daichi Manatsu, a high school student who encounters the Earth Engine, a robot used against mechanical life forms from outer space that are invading Earth.

The first thing that got my attention is the design. As usual, BONES does a good job, particularly in the sceneries, backgrounds, and effects. The only thing I don’t like in the art is the character design. The character design seems to be too generic for me. It lacks its own style to separate it from other titles. The design of the main character too, Daichi Manatsu, reminds me of Kouichi Sakakibara of Another. Of course, this is not intentional. It’s just a result of how generic the character design is.

Speaking of the characters, the pilot episode fails to give me good exposition regarding them. They’re just there, doing stuff I don’t understand. There is not enough explanation for me to relate to them. There is no factor that will make me feel connected to the characters.

I think Daichi Manatsu, the main protagonist, is a pretty boring character. He lacks a solid personality that could make him well-moulded, so he appears to be your generic Shounen lead. But Captain Earth does have its attempts of making him better. Daichi Manatsu and his childhood have some interesting plot elements that could be expanded, and they also serve as exposition for certain plot points.

Daichi Manatsu

Even though that is an interesting attempt, those flashbacks and whatnots make the storytelling a little jumbled. It renders the direction of the story too cluttered for a pilot episode. Another thing I don’t like is the overly long transformation sequence. I appreciate transformation sequences in Mahou Shoujo, Mecha, and other genres, but Captain Earth seems to be taking too much time in doing them. I guess it is an attempt to hype the mecha feel of the anime.

But the storytelling isn’t all-bad. I like the idea that the anime has some sort of mystery, particularly in certain plot points that could be significant to the overall story. There are a lot of questions imposed, and these questions could spark the interest of some viewers and keep them hooked.

As for the music, it’s somewhat inconsistent. I particularly like the tracks in the first half, the exposition half. They have this positive feeling of adventure, and this sense of solemnity, especially in the tracks with the female voice. But the second half, the action half, is just forgettable. The tracks sound very generic.

Overall, I think Captain Earth is a little disappointing. The synopsis seems to hold a lot of promise, but it just goes down the drain because of poor execution -- generic characters, mediocre storytelling, and inconsistent music. The only redeeming factor is the animation. I’ll have to pass on this one, as I look for better spring 2014 anime titles.


  1. I am glad to see you posting again!

    Other than Space Dandy, which has been inconsistent but a lot of fun, I have not watched a series as it aired, but I think I want to try something this season. I am not sure what I want to watch yet, but been keeping up with what is coming and none of them seem like a "must-see" from the description, so I will be keeping up with your reaction posts to see if I can find something good.

    BONES can make some real top notch animation when they want to, too bad this is not one of their best. I really wish they would make something in the art style of FMA: Brotherhood. While not perfect, the animation is better than a lot anime today, and easily the best animation for a shounen I have seen (and probably the best shounen in general). The character designs were very unique, much like the manga. But I do hope they will never make anything like the horrible FMA: Sacred Star of Milos movie again. Anyway, sorry I went off on a tangent there.

    Since the premise did not grab me as incredibly interesting and you were not too impressed, I will be skipping Captain Earth. Great reaction/review of it by the way.


    1. I think the only must-see titles this season for long-time anime watchers are Jojo's Bizarre Adventure and Mushishi. But I have to pass on both because I haven't seen their respective preceding series. So I'll be writing first impressions only on those who are receiving moderately high expectations, except those two.

      I agree. FMA Brotherhood is definitely at the top tier of Shounen anime out there. And its animation is also really well-done, as you said.

      I had high expectations with Captain Earth, but seeing the first episode, I just lost interest. I think I'll check out the other sci-fi titles like Knights of Sedonia.