In Context of Giant Robots: Captain Earth, Aldnoah.Zero

[There are some spoilers for Aldnoah.Zero and Captain Earth.]


I see Captain Earth like a play. It’s kind of like Enokido’s thing by now, but there are clearly “acts” in this show and, well, things move differently in each act. The Shakespearean thing gives it away, too, right? Actually it’s more like the middle act–which I lovingly call “Darker than Black” arc–stands out from the first piece and the current portion of the story.

That being said, I’ve buckled my belts to see if this turns out tragic. Shakespeare and a Captain-America-like character? I don’t know. It’s novel in that I think at the end, Captain Earth explores the idea of a Captain America character contextualized as a shounen protagonist plucked out of the mecha genre, the Rentons and Amuros of the world.  It’s interesting in several ways, not the least because it seems we’re actually kind of retro. I mean isn’t that the cool thing about Amuro? I guess evoking a Shakespearean aesthetics is also a form of “retro” but watching Captain Earth makes me think that having a normal, well-adjusted kid with typical teenage issues (in the Hollywood-approved sense) is actually refreshing to see.

But put these things in other words, Captain Earth is a story of heroes battling each other. You might liken it like a simmered-down version of an American comic setting where mutants (for example) fight each other for whatever the causes, that these aliens from outer space lived as humans, and is influenced by various human emotional hooks. This is just a distilled, cleaned-up version of what you might find in a Spiderman or Captain America film.

That makes our protagonist all the more curious, in that he embodies a lot of different things, versus, say, Ms. Idol or Mrs. Sakamoto or Mr. Yakuza Love Story. Equally intriguing is the way Hana, Akari and Teppei fit into the big picture. And in that light, their parents.

In contrast, there’s Aldnoah.Zero, which I blurb about a bit here. Or maybe they are not so different. The fact that a stoic but excitable boy pilots commodity robots and defeat one-of-a-kind, alien Mars high-tech artifacts should not be beyond any of you. This is antithetical to the central conceit to Gundam (and the majority of anime mecha narratives). The fact that they get on a super-neat flying ship shouldn’t either (hello White Base). The various positing about episode 8’s turning point should, in light of all that, take into account these parallels. I mean, I don’t want to spoil it for you but, at least, I want more slapping.

I think, more importantly, what does Aldnoah have to say? Thematically it makes sense if the message was a little more populist. After all right now the bad guys are a bunch of nobles, and true to genre norms, the royalty is actually on the good side, at least that one kid princess/prince. It would’ve been a little more fun to watch if the protagonists were also landed gentry but I guess that is why I think the message is going to bent more populist, AND both Slain and Count Goodie Two Shoes are a big part of what makes up the Martian side of the story so far. On that note, since Butch is involved, I probably shouldn’t expect it any other way.

As for spoilers go, consider this: the split cour structure for Aldnoah.Zero and how each episode has been whipping around dramatically, means it will end on a nasty one come October. Consider the one between episodes 8 and episode 9. What could be worse? How about the Princess actually dying? I mean it’s rumor but Amamiya said somewhere about the last episode this season being something or some such probably plays heavily to how I lean.

To these ends, the giant robots in both shows serve as a mean to frame the way we examine its genre parallels. In Aldnoah it’s a nice blinking arrow to not-Gundam. In Captain Earth, it is the signifier of one’s humanity of sorts. Does it surprise anyone that Hana’s thing was the biggest of them all (OK this joke can go [at least] two ways)? Or why Teppei blew up his ego block? When he suits up, Captain Earth puts himself in danger and forces himself into situations where he has to do some inhumane things. It’s that duality which makes Captain America attractive, I think.

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