What They Say:
When Daichi Manatsu sees a mysterious rainbow appearing near the Tanegashima Space Center, he immediately recognizes it as being similar to an apparition that formed when his father was killed in a mysterious accident years earlier. Traveling to Tanegashima, Daichi quickly finds himself involved with the machinations of Globe, a secret agency created to defend mankind from extraterrestrial forces.
While it might seem like a big job for a mere teenager, it turns out that the skills Daichi has honed on video games combined with a special weapon called the Livlaster make Daichi ideally suited for operating the Earth Engine Impacter. A giant robot, the Earth Engine may be mankind’s best hope against aliens whose goal is to completely drain our world’s lifeforce energy. Fortunately, Daichi won’t be on his own. He’s quickly joined by a group of equally dedicated young people who all have their own skills and abilities to contribute to the battle.
The only audio track for this release is the Japanese language dub, which is offered in 2.0. The mix is good, with some directionality on the sound effects and no dropout on any of the channels. With all of the action, a 5.1 mix might have been nice, as would a dub, but I understand why there isn’t either.
The visuals for this title are nice, with bright colors and good designs. There are some really nice special effects during the battle scenes, and I like the character designs. I wouldn’t go so far as to say they are really unique in appearance, but there’s some nice variation among the whole cast. The only minor note is that there are moments of graininess, particularly in the darker scenes, though I think that’s an aspect of DVD through an HD connection than any real flaws.
The packaging for this set is nice, though fairly basic. The three discs come in a single Amaray case that has a center insert which holds two of the discs. The front has a picture of Daichi standing in front of the Earth Engine with the title in simple letters along the top. The back has the series summary contained in an oval placed over a picture of the Earth, with screenshots and the technical details spread around it.
As with most DVD menus, the menu for this release is plain, but functional. The main menu has a shot of one of the main characters with the episode list to the side. Like all Sentai releases, there is no “Play All” button, but finishing one episode automatically sends you to the next, so selecting the first episode does essentially the same thing.
The only extras on this set are clean versions of the OP/ED.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
As a child, Daichi Manatsu met a couple strange children on a military base: a boy named Teppei and a girl named Hana. He is drawn to them because Teppei has the ability to create a rainbow, and he discovers Hana living in a bubble. When his father dies in a space accident, Daichi moves away to live with his uncle, though he never forgets the friendship he forged with Teppei and Hana.
Years later, Daichi observes a phenomenon that resembles the rainbow that Teppei could produce, and he returns to the scene of his father’s death to find Teppei and Hana still living there, now obviously part of some larger military project. When the Earth is attacked while visiting, Daichi learns the truth about his father—that he had been known as Captain Earth, the master of the Earth Engine. Daichi’s father was battling against the forces of a mysterious race known as the Kill-T-Gang who are bent upon the complete destruction of the Earth and that he had died those years before saving humanity. With this truth known, Daichi realizes that it is his destiny to follow in his father’s footsteps and become the new Captain Earth, piloting the Earth Engine to once again repel the forces of the Kill-T-Gang.
Half-way through Captain Earth, I’m not entirely sure how to feel about it. The characters are fun, but there’s nothing particularly original about them, either. Daichi is a good leader for the crew, caring about all of them, always making the right decisions, and just generally being a decent person. Hana has a lot of fun moments as she tends to be fairly naïve about the way life works, and she often takes sarcasm literally, which puts the others in embarrassing situations. Teppei is really interesting as the Kill-T who refuses to follow what is said to be his destiny and fight on the side of humanity. And even Akari—who I was sure I was going to be annoyed by when she was first introduced—turns in a fun performance as the know-it-all hacker who just wants to be a magical girl. None of these characters break new ground; we’ve seen it all before. But they work really well together and keep the series moving well.
The plot too is nothing that we haven’t seen before. A mysterious group of beings wants to destroy humanity for reasons, and the heroes have to employ a series of giant robots with which to fight them off. As Captain Earth, Daichi pilots the Earth Engine and is the front line of defense, mostly traveling around and trying to prevent the Kill-T from finding other members of their race on Earth and awakening them. He meets with mixed success at this but does manage to keep the Earth safe even when the Kill-T numbers rise.
The really interesting part—as somewhat hinted above—is Teppei’s role in all of this, as it is assumed that he is also an unawakened Kill-T, but he understands this and wants nothing to do with joining his former comrades, going so far as to allow the destruction of his Ego Cubes, the devices that make him immortal. However, he is also very insecure as to his role in the team, because he is typically Daichi’s backup and is rarely needed to be called into the fight. The others view him as an important part of the team, but he doesn’t always see it, and I think his acceptance (or not) will play a big role in their ultimate success.
And then there’s Hana: where does she fit in all of this? Like Teppei, she has odd powers, but rather than abilities that make her strong in combat, she is instead (with the assistance of her pet squirrel) able to predict future energy spikes that indicate the appearance of the Kill-T, allowing the team to be in place when they do appear. Her powers are just as mysterious, and don’t seem to have an obvious origin as Teppei’s do, so it has done a good job so far in building interest in her situation.
But while there has been some intrigue built, it doesn’t change the fact that there’s nothing about this series so far that we haven’t already seen a number of times. And because of this, it sometimes becomes a bit of a chore to watch. I found myself actually enjoying the small moments between encounters more than when it was trying to actually advance the plot, and I’m not sure that’s particularly great in the long term, but I’m willing to wait until the second half is over before I make that decision.
In a lot of ways, Captain Earth is a very paint-by-numbers series. There’s nothing about the plot or characters that is particularly original, and that makes it drag in some places. But at the same time, it can be pretty fun at times too. While the characters aren’t necessarily original, there’s a charm to Hana’s naivety, Akari’s occasional childishness, and the camaraderie Daichi has with the entire team. At the very least, it’s a competent series. I won’t go so far as to say that I’m really looking forward to checking out the second half of the series, but I’m certainly not dreading it either. Very mildly recommended.
Japanese 2.0 Language, English Subtitles, Clean Opening Animation, Clean Closing Animation.
Content Grade: B-
Audio Grade: B
Video Grade: A-
Packaging Grade: B
Menu Grade: B
Extras Grade: N/A
Released By: Sentai Filmworks
Release Date: June 16th, 2015
Running Time: 325 minutes
Video Encoding: 480i/p
Aspect Ratio: 16:9 anamorphic widescreen
Magnavox 37MF337B 37” LCD HDTV, Sony PS3 w/HDMI Connection, Durabrand HT3916 5.1 Surround Sound System