All the Earth’s a Stage, Captain

akari yomatsuri, akari onstage in captain earth, captain earth, globe

With the entrance of Akari Yomatsuri in episode three of Captain Earth, the series solidifies its theatrical trappings – in addition to random Shakespeare references – through use of visuals and blocking.

akari yomatsuri, captain earth, code papillon, akari assists the earth driver

Akari has been waiting patiently in the wings for her stage debut, and Captain Earth gives her a fantastic entrance. In previous episodes, she was known only as “Code Papillon,” the only flight director talented enough to assist the Earth Engine. Her face is obscured by glasses that reflect the cool light of multiple monitors, the only light source in an otherwise dark room. It’s an easy visual shortcut – used by many series – that allows us as the audience to quickly identify her as a computer tech.

salty dog, tsutomu nishikubo, globe, captain earth

sander, trias, captain earth bridge guys, captain earth, globe

akari yomatsuri, salty dog exit, peter westvillage, captain earth

When the time comes for Akari to make her first onstage appearance, she is given a very clear-cut entrance onto the Globe stage, cued by the recent moral victory of Globe’s Tanegashima Base leader, Tsutomu Nishikubo, over the menacing representative of the self-described Globe observer and internal police force: Salty Dog. Their tug of war over control and dominion of Globe – additionally Hana, Teppei, and most recently Daichi – helps to shape Nishikubo’s character while also setting him up for a pratfall. Captain Earth uses this to frame Akari’s entrance, while using the bridge itself as a miniature stage. The first act is Nishikubo forbidding the use of “leads” – headsets that afflict the user with painful screeching sound when they do something that Salty Dog disapproves of. Defeated, Salty Dog exits stage left, ushered out by the mutterings of operators Sanders and Trias that their opinion of Nishikubo has greatly improved.

akari yomatsuri, akari, captain earth, peter westvillage, sanders, trias, globe

akari yomatsuri, akari, captain earth, akari onstage, globe

akari yomatsuri, akari, sanders, trias, globe, captain earth

Nishikubo is spared no time to bask in what little glory he would have, as compatriot Peter Westvillage enters with Globe’s newest recruit: Akari Yomatsuri, the technician from the shadows, who just so happens to be Nishikubo’s daughter. Akari purposefully cuts the lights, further constructing her own entrance as she launches into a melodramatic monologue of how her father Nishikubo has not seen her in years, her mother is the governor of the Tenkaido satellite, and she was left to her own lonely devices. Akari’s hammy performance plays off of her audience’s reaction, specifically the peanut gallery of Sanders and Trias, who remark that their previously high opinion of Nishikubo has now dropped to an all-time low.

tanegashima, tsutomu nishikubo, captain earth, hana, teppei

Not only does Akari’s arrival help set up the four teenagers’ new, unsurprisingly convenient living situation, but it also helps to flesh out Nishikubo. He is the series’ punching bag, with a majority of jokes and jabs at his expense. Even with assertions that he is in charge, or in control, he is often overridden by his peers, Westvillage in particular. Every attempt that Nishikubo makes to regain his authority is quickly undermined by circumstance: Akari’s sudden appearance, Hana’s naked interruption of his lecture at dinner. However, this is contrasted with his genuine apology to Teppei and Hana, with the admission that he should have asserted himself and forbidden the use of leads far more quickly than he did. His apology does not erase his previous inaction, but allows for him to transition into his new role of guardian over Teppei, Hana, Daichi, and Akari.

salty dog coffee cup phone, captain earth

salty dog coffee cup, salty dog, captain earth

salty dog coffee cup, salty dog, captain earth

Captain Earth also playfully uses props in its third episode to wonderfully humorous effect. The defeated Salty Dog representative, who quietly took his coffee cup and left the Globe stage, is shown communicating with his superiors using the very same cup in a technologically-advanced version of a five year-old’s homemade telephone with plastic cups and string. The subject matter of their conversation, filled with presumably important terminology that we have yet to understand and ending with the assurance that Salty Dog will destroy Daichi before he becomes a greater problem, is contrasted with the imagery of an older gentleman in a business suit holding a coffee cup up to his ear. For emphasis, he crushes the coffee cup at the end of the exchange, comically demonstrating his desire to crush Daichi.

globe, teppei, captain earth

Additionally, there are the series’ continued references to Shakespeare which at this point still remain as overly obvious naming schemes and nothing more. The Globe Organization’s ubiquitous presence through their logo is interesting as the Globe Theatre was infamously built by Shakespeare’s acting company and housed their performances, and is possibly a signifier of their hand in creating the stages that we see within the series.

These name-drops aren’t particularly impressive or weighty, as they don’t mean anything to the viewer yet. One of the things I enjoyed in this production teams’ previous offering, Star Driver, was how that series managed to both reference in name and theme, Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s “The Little Prince.” My hope for Captain Earth lies in its visual execution, which continues to stand out, as it purposefully moves its various players from setpiece to setpiece.

9 comments

  1. “the Globe Theatre was infamously built by Shakespeare’s acting company” Goddammit you’re right, I had totally missed that.

    BUT I did notice something else relating to the whole “all the world’s a stage” thing you were talking about here, everyone’s reactions to Akari’s introduction. When she assumes the high ground she’s in front of five people, Hana, Teppei, commander-guy, Daichi, and vice-commander lady, and throughout the entire thing one half of the group (Daichi and the commanders) have the most comical looks on their faces while Hana and Teppei look almost stoic, confused but not sure how to really process it all. This happens again later when Hana, erm loses her restraint, with Teppei only turning to look away while the rest of the group comically reacts. If it had been in only one shot I wouldn’t have noticed it but, coupling that with the fact that Teppei for sure isn’t human and Hana likely isn’t, I thought it was interesting that they remain the most low key in all of these situations, it’s as if they don’t know how to react (and over-react) the way the humans do here.

    Well that was a bit rambly but I think I made my point! ^^;

    1. And it’s a good one. ^ ^ Another example of how this series is paying attention to detail. In addition, I love how the facial reactions to Akari’s ridiculousness are just as hammy as her acting (Teppei and Hana aside, as you mentioned). It’s as if Daichi and Nishikubo know how to play along – additionally, the peanut gallery of Sanders and Trias – where Hana and Teppei do not.

      Thanks for the comment. ^ ^

      1. Funny you should comment now since just this morning I saw someone point out that in Midsummer Night’s dream Puck is also called Robin Goodfellow and the machines the Kiltgang use are called “machine goodfellows”, this is looking sounder by the minute!

        1. If you want to stretch stuff a bit further, a kiltgang is a secret evening rendezvous, similar to Hermia/Lysander’s attempt a eloping in A Midsummer Night’s dream. That’s only if you want to dig very deep though. ^ ^

          1. Not as deep as the person who found a blog post saying that Shakespeare wasn’t Shakespeare but rather it was a pen name by someone who was formerly a sailor, a “salty dog” if you will😄

  2. I truly appreciate the way you were able to frame your experience watching Star Driver with The Little Prince as a narrative lens, and I hope that you manage to find something similar in Captain Earth. In my experience, having not read the story myself, I still ended up enjoying the production of Star Driver as a whole.

    While your “extra mileage” from Captain Earth potentially rests on whether or not it dives into Shakespearean parallels, I am more than fine with mere superficial associations than narrative ones. For instance, I would not have enjoyed playing Eternal Sonata if it weren’t for the loads and loads of Chopin references. While Chopin himself is actually a playable character in the game (don’t ask), it doesn’t really do anything further in terms of making me appreciate the game’s narrative. Regardless, it did more to further my appreciation of Chopin’s body of work in itself, and I greatly thank the game for giving such a wonderful (and rather underrated in mainstream circles) musical figure his due; as interesting as the gameplay is, it certainly would have merely been another good game for me, but instead it was an unforgettable experience.

    Using Shakespeare is an interesting way of spicing up an already fantastic production, I feel that the series could give Billy the Eternal Sonata treatment and I would end up loving both the show and the historical figure even more, even if the show didn’t end up doing anything *extra* for me from a narrative perspective. Unlike Eternal Sonata, however, there are elements in place that I *do* like, so I’m glad that Captain Earth doesn’t skimp in that regard.

    This is one of my favourite series this season, and I’m really glad that you’re covering it from a visual perspective. I hope that Captain Earth keeps it up just so you can write more about it. Your posts tend to stir my thoughts more than the show itself, so I really must thank you for that ^ ^

    1. It’s true that I’m heavily biased in favor of Star Driver. “The Little Prince” is a book that I hold dear, and I loved how that series took Antoine de Saint-Exupery’s narrative and applied it to Sugata’s character. Unfortunately, I can’t help but make the comparison between the two series (especially with both of them having such similar production staffers) and what worries me is that the framework of Shakespeare is very broad, where the message of “The Little Prince” is far more narrowly-focused.

      As you say, even with the Shakespeare references being random and (thus far) not adding anything additional to the narrative, I do love what this series is doing in its visual direction. That Salty Dog telephone scene was the best sight gag I’ve seen from an anime in a long time.

      Thank you for commenting, and continuing to support me.

      P.S. It took me a moment to realize that “Billy” was William Shakespeare. ^ ^;

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