“Starry Sky Picture Book”
A pretty episode title for a beautiful episode. Unlike the last four weeks, Captain Earth has decided to slow it down a little for this episode with a steady yet mellow tempo, which was just what was needed for us to get a little insight into two of our main characters, Akari and Teppei.
The two are sent on a mission to the space station Tenkaido, which is operated by Akari’s mother, Captain Yomatsuri Tsubaki, the tough, no-nonsense captain we saw in the first and second episode. Teppei is given a top secret mission to retrieve one of the sleeper criminals on board the Tenkaido, Arashi Eiji, who is meant to undergo sentencing for assault and attempted murder. He’s being targeted by the Kivostos Plan, because of his genes and we find out that it was Eiji who lent his genes in order to create Teppei, who is, essentially, his son and so Tsutomu charges Teppei with the duty of protecting him and bringing him back to Earth – or at least, that’s what it seems like on the surface. But this was very much a family-focused episode, spotlighting on this new and awkward relationship between Teppei and Eiji, who looks too young to be his father and is an alleged criminal. When we finally meet him, however, and he’s awakened from cold sleep, his character was almost completely different to what I’d initially imagined and I fell in love with him just like that. He’s lovely and charming and so sweet in a subtly cheeky kind of way and there really is something inherently cusp-of-manhood about him that makes him seem too young to be a father – regardless of his looks – yet it is so evident that he loves Teppei despite not having known him at all for his entire life. He’s a really lush and rich character that I’d love for the show to explore a lot more.
Their relationship was so interesting to watch because as soon as Eiji awoke and saw Teppei, he just knew it was his son, and began referring to himself as otou-san, which I thought was really sweet. Unfortunately, Teppei’s been going through some issues of his own and the angst was strong this episode, with him being bitter, resentful and afraid of what he really was inside and which side he’d end up defecting to. This is all entirely understandable, all things considered, and I think it really speaks for his character that he doesn’t trust himself to be good, let along around the people he’s grown to love. This is completely counterbalanced by the very obvious unconditional affection and protectiveness that Eiji feels for Teppei, even going so far as to take a bullet for him when they’re attacked by the kidnappers of Kivostos Plan. That was a heartstopper if ever I saw one and it was made doubly emotional because of the lack of contact that Eiji has had with Teppei, and yet there’s this fierce instinct to protect him that’s juxtaposed against his calm and playful exterior. Father and son couldn’t be any more different from each other except, it seems, when it comes to looks and protecting the people they care about. Anyone else feeling the love, yet?
It all comes to a head, though, because of Eiji‘s injury and the fact that the kidnappers are in the way of their escape vessel, which leads to a really heartbreaking scene where Teppei lashes out at Eiji, telling him that he’s not what he seems and that he has never thought of Eiji as his father, not having known what it means to have one in the first place. And Eiji just takes it, before pulling Teppei in for a hug he’s probably never been able to give his son and it’s just so tragically sad when he apologises and says, “I never even got to read you a single picture book.” Teppei clearly doesn’t quite get it, but doesn’t get the chance to figure it out as Eiji hits him with a stun gun, explaining to a shocked Akari in a very cavalier tone of voice, that there’s no way they’re going to be getting off the station safely unless he turns himself in, and that if it’s his genes they want, they’re probably going to want Teppei more. We do find out later, though, that Eiji managed to escape as soon as their shuttle landed, and that the group behind the kidnapping was Salty Dog, which confuses me for obvious reasons because what exactly is Kivostos Plan? Apparently we’ll get an answer next episode, which is titled “Kivostos Plan,” but until then I’ll keep deluding myself into hoping that Eiji will turn up in one of the future episodes because this relationship could have been so much more and I’d really like it to be explored some more. He’s too lovely a character to waste on just a single episode.
As you can already tell, I adored this episode, and while the fact that a slow-paced, emotional episode after a run of hardcore action might seem like a downer to some people, it was my cup of tea and I’m always a fan of family-focused episodes. Not to mention the music was absolutely stunning this episode and really melded well with the entire tone and atmosphere. No fancy fight scenes or bright lashings of colour, as this show is coming to be renowned for, but there was a beautiful creation of a potential relationship between Eiji and Teppei and that was more than enough for me! I sincerely hope we haven’t seen the last of Arashi Eiji because any show could do with such genuinely lovely characters such as him.