What They Say:
Things are looking grim for Earth’s defenders. Although Daichi and Teppai have managed to slow or stop most of the Planetary Gear’s direct attacks so far using their Impacters and Livlasters, there’s no denying that the numbers are slowly turning against them. Not only have their opponents managed to recruit a half dozen of the Designer Children, but now new cracks are forming in the Midsummer’s Knights’ own alliance.
During a brief break at the seaside, Hana’s confusion over her own nature and her relationship with Daichi comes to a head, leading to an unexpected revelation. But as stunned as Daichi might be, it’s nothing compared to the shock that Kube is about to receive at the hands of his own allies. Twists, betrayals, and amazing new powers are about to be unleashed, a new Livlaster joins the Knights, and Setsuna finally comes out of seclusion to let loose her own brand of mayhem as the war for Earth’s Orgone energy builds to the inevitable climax.
Contains episodes 14-25.
The audio presentation for this release brings us the original Japanese language track only, done in stereo using the DTS-HD MA lossless codec. The show is one that works the dialogue and action sides rather well with what it wants to do, as there’s some good change-ups with the dialogue throughout coming from different areas due to characters being in different situations and “containers”. The action side hits well too throughout as it moves quickly across the screen in battles and has a good bit of impact in a lot of it, making for some strong sequences in this area. Both aspects blend together well and is easily supported by a clean and warm music score that helps add its own richness to the project, particularly with the opening and closing sequences.
Originally airing in 2014, the transfer for this TV series is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 in 1080p using the AVC codec. The twelve episodes of this set are kept to just one disc with all of them on it. Animated by studio Bones, the show has a slick, polished and detailed look about it that leaps off the screen. Colors are rich and vibrant throughout and with a lot of detail to be had, it’s a very engaging world that’s been put together visually here. The transfer captures it all beautifully with a solid bit rate that peaks high regularly with the big action sequences, and the mid range bit rate manages the rest of the show in a great way. The transfer is largely free of problems throughout with no problems such as line noise or cross coloration. There may be a touch of gradient visible in a background or two, but colors are very solid throughout and the end result is a very appealing looking series from start to finish.
The packaging for this release brings us a standard sized Blu-ray case to hold the single disc. The front cover gives us a look at the main cast in their regular outfits rather than their uniforms and that works well to give it a bit more pop and variety to it, especially with the main mecha behind them all. The background is done up in white itself as well, so there’s a whole lot of white space here that really dominates, but it works fairly well to draw the eye into it with some of the other pops of color throughout it. The back cover is a lot more varied in color, though it works with some darker tones for a science fiction kind of template being used, and there’s a lot of variety brought in from the shots from the show itself. The premise is done in an oval that’s tilting on its side, so it’s an interesting reading overall, though it does cover things well enough. The discs features are clearly listed as are the episode and disc count. The bottom quarter rounds out with the usual aspects such as the production credits and technical grid, both of which are clean and easy to read and accurate in regards to the technical grid.
The menu design for this release goes for a very simple approach but one that, in some ways, works well. The main image uses the cover artwork, though poor Daichi gets plastered over with the navigation strip itself so we get the rest of them. They have a lot more pop and vibrancy here than the cover and it’s definitely appealing. The logo is kept to its simple design in black against the white, which means it doesn’t make much of an impact overall. The navigation itself works fairly nicely along the right as we get the breakdown of the episodes by number and title with a thin font for the numbers and a small one for the episode titles. This part of the navigation, which also doubles as the pop-up menu, offers some fun little in-mecha visual design elements with the radar style imagery done in blue, which balances out all the white well. Being a monolingual release and with just a couple of extras on the second, there’s not a lot to do here besides episode selection, but it works well and smoothly during regular playback and as a top level menu.
The only extras included in this release are the clean versions of the opening and closing sequences.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
The first half of Captain Earth proved to be a challenge for me in a lot of ways, part of which was just the title itself. Anime has plenty of goofy names to be sure, but this one just felt extra goofy and it didn’t help with all the Captain Planet jokes in the back of my head about it. While it’s lusciously animated with some really beautiful sequences throughout, I struggled to really connect with the characters themselves since it was filled with the usual cliches and not much to really separate it and give it a life of its own. Part of that simply comes from the removal of any familial relationships making an impact on their lives and the kids being completely on their own, even while surrounded by so many adults as part of the Globe agency working to save the world.
In a lot of ways, the second half does come together better than the first half, but it doesn’t remove the main problems I had with it. The first half had all the usual episodes that it has to run through in introducing the characters, relationships and then on an almost episode by episode basis, bringing in new opponents that were brought to Planetary Gear level to fight alongside Moco and Amara. And those two got to spend a fair amount of time on Earth interacting with the locals, or the food as they view them, which helped to make them empathize a bit with them. More so for Moco than Amara, but still. With the second half, it moves more into dealing with the big picture issues while still finding time to provide for some small character pieces along the way. These certainly have their moments throughout the first half of this set, but depending on how much you connected with the characters before will influence how well you like it here.
This thankfully avoids heavy amount of time doing some of the usual kinds of getting comfortable with each other elements such as the beach or hot springs. While we do get some of this silly material to some degree, it’s kept brief and not the main focus of a whole lot of fanservice. Instead, it works through some of the actual character connection material in big and small ways. A lot of the focus is actually on Daichi and Hana where she really, really wants to get closer to him but keeps holding back because of her otherworldly nature and some of what that really means. Since kissing means a telepathic connection of a sort here and with her mind being far greater than his, she refrains from going too far with him and really admitting things. But it’s the usual routine where he steps up and admits things, makes her realize it’ll be okay for her to admit it, and then kisses her outright so she gets it. Daichi’s always been a bit different so his ability to handle the kiss obviously wasn’t going to be a question. Even if it’d be interesting to spend an episode or two focusing on his mind cracking under the strain of what he could learn.
While this populates a lot of what’s going on here, there is that final push towards the finale. Some of that with the Midsummer Knights involves some less than interesting material about the loosely defined factions that are divided between fighting and fleeing, which cause their trouble, and the slow but steady and expected growth that both Teppei and Daichi go through in order to take their battle skills up another notch, notable with the Plasmagnum attack they come up with. The intriguing subplot that develops into something more is that of PAC, the AI supercomputer that has been working faithfully for Kube all this time. His sudden turn towards taking a strong hand in things is comical as he hypnotizes Kube into being a real seducer of women in the office, which distracts him heavily as he works through a whole lot of them in short order. This is all geared towards PAC making his play to achieve what Amara and Moco have set him to do, but is in reality his own secret play that stands out strongly in the finale.
Events naturally push towards a final confrontation, which is what the last few episodes turn into. It actually starts off with a kind of dream episode where Daichi is struggling with thinking the world is normal and none of what’s happened has happened, so we get the usual dreamlike aspects as those he’s fought are now friends while his friends are largely nonexistent. But when it turns to the actual fight, it works pretty well as the team has figured out how to get to Uranus in order to try and take out the cocoon there and end things once and for all. This makes for a familiar confrontation to be sure, but one that’s executed well in terms of animation and style as it’s an utterly visual delight, even if the connection with the characters for me is minimal at best. What does manage to kind of salvage the basic fight we get here with Lady Siren and her Planetary Gear there though is the sudden arrival of PAC in the midst of it, as he attempts to load himself into everything in order to expand out into the galaxy and conquer everything. It wasn’t something I expected from the earlier use of the character so I liked the sudden aspect of it, and the way it worked familiar ideas when it came to taking over Hana and forcing some difficult choices on Daichi.
Much like the first half, I came away from Captain Earth in real appreciation of the technical aspects of it but not feeling it when it comes to the characters or the scale of what’s going on. A lot of the cast didn’t feel like they were cemented enough in things, with Akari and Teppei falling off to the background a lot of the time outside of their key moments of usefulness. Even their relationship that gets propped up along the way was expected but didn’t feel authentic. The story itself is one that’s familiar and told many times over many series over the years, but Captain Earth doesn’t manage to infuse anything new into it. It is beautifully animated though and it’s put together very well, but it didn’t engage me with its cast or the actual scope of what it wanted to do, mostly because of the execution of it early on and building on top of that weak foundation. Fans of the show will definitely love this release overall as it’s a beautifully presented version of the series to own.
Japanese DTS-HD MA 2.0 Language, English Subtitles, Clean Opening Animation, Clean Closing Animation
Content Grade: C
Audio Grade: B
Video Grade: A-
Packaging Grade: B
Menu Grade: B
Extras Grade: B-
Released By: Sentai Filmworks
Release Date: August 11th, 2015
Running Time: 300 Minutes
Video Encoding: 1080p AVC
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Widescreen
Sony KDL70R550A 70″ LED 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.