With the final preparations complete – in the form of an episode of down-time – Eureka Seven is finally ready to begin its ultimate confrontations. Renton is going beyond the Great Wall to find out some kind of truth, Stoner and Holland are preparing their expose of the Coralians and Eureka, and Dewey is planning his own operations to bring an end to the Coralian “threat.” The shift in focus is established with a new opening theme tune, probably the best of the series’ four themes. The theme tunes and credits sequences have throughout the series tonally reflected what is happening – the third, the punk-esque To the Centre of the Sun, played through the series’ impetuousness and kicking out – and now Sakura, the fourth theme, comes with its very heroic and spiritual sound for the show’s climax – established as something that must be religious.
While the A-plot of Eureka Seven episode 38 continues the story of Dewey’s coup d’etat and how it has put Stoner and Holland on the back foot, the more interesting story is the B-plot of Renton and Eureka trying to reconcile after an argument. In a recent article about Captain Earth I discussed how a real high point of the series was its treatment of the alien child Teppei’s relationship with his biological father, who he had never seen in his life. Teppei was presented as so alien he could not comprehend why it mattered that he met his father, and why this man was so attached to him. It was a strong episode, approaching a stock mecha plotline (of the alien prince, or the half-alien half-human such as Eiji from Layzner – with whom Teppei’s father shared a name) from an interesting, more human perspective. Eureka Seven 38 approaches the same plot with the benefit of almost 40 previous episodes to build up its concept of a relationship between the human and the alien; it is by now the most important theme of the story, and that finally it comes to the foreground in plain terms continues to drive on a steadily-building sense of tension.
The William Baxter episode of Eureka Seven offered an, at the time, different take on religion within a setting which had hitherto presented it in skewed terms. It presented personal faith – a desire to do right – as something linked to self-reliance and isolation, as opposed to a view of organised religion that was intractable, morally apart from society (in the episode in which Renton encounters a conflict surrounding medical treatment going against religious views) and most of all viewed with suspicion. Even as Holland works to help the Voderak and save Norb from Dewey, it is out of a sense of humanitarian duty and the need for information and allies – he is standing up, where it is profitable, for people. Yet episode 37, the first half of which is an extended debate between Norb and the eccentric scientist Greg Egan, sees Holland apparently embracing the Voderak viewpoint.
The first episode of the 2014 animé Captain Earth promises, in its title card, that “everything will be obvious soon” – indeed, compared to its natural comparison-points in studio Bones’ other mecha animé Eureka Seven and Rahxephon it is forthright and straightforward in its worldbuilding and conflict. Enemies – Approaching Earth Objects – have attacked Earth in the past and are doing so now, and this time humanity has created a machine to fight them on an equal footing. From this introduction to the concept there are hints of a more in-depth plot – factions exist within the human governments who seek a solution to the alien problem other than using fighting-machines (the “Ark Faction”), and the motivations of the enemies are still fairly uncertain – but as an introduction to a new world – and indeed a new take on a very established concept – it takes an approach that proceeds at a rapid pace to build up its revelations.
Episode 36 of Eureka Seven is arguably archetypal in its structure – a slow-paced chapter of the ongoing story that clarifies, in a fashion, both past and current mysteries. It follows the formula of many episodes in this way – presenting a series of character portraits that modify the viewer’s preconceptions and opinions both via dialogue and unspoken action. Its first half offers, in sequence, insights into Dewey, Norb, Eureka and Holland – all of which are focused on cutting through mystique or mystery to explore a unified theme for the episode of identity and honesty. In some ways Eureka Seven uses character development as its “enemy of the week” – a series like Rahxephon uses each physical enemy, in the form of the alien rock-monster Dolems – to explore a character flaw or interaction. Eureka Seven, by contrast, presents the characters’ crises and failings as its conflict points, eschewing the actual robot conflict that might be used by other mecha animé to hash out disagreements for physical, in-person, confrontation or action.
There is more action in the first half of episode 35 of Eureka Seven than there has been in much of the series previously; it is an episode about acting, about taking responsibility for what must be done and doing it. Holland claims the Gekkostate’s mantra is “do it yourself or you won’t get anything,” while Dewey claims that “the only thing I ever wanted was to win, using my own words as a human being.” So much of the series has been about people trying to avoid action, or refusing to accept what must be done – on all sides – but now there has been a sea-change. Dewey’s actions have motivated all the characters to act, because there is now a quantifiable, known threat. If anything this vindicates Renton; all along his resistance to acting has been whenever he has felt he does not know why he should act, and his impetuous actions have come from what he perceives as a proper understanding of a situation. Dewey’s wanton slaughter, and his realisation of his feelings for Eureka, have given him the reason he needs.
Throughout Eureka Seven, the emphasis of the story has been on characters reliving past events – both secrets and past vendettas being played out, as with Ray and Charles or Renton’s father and grandfather, and recapitulation of story themes in new settings. Episode 34 begins with this clearly laid out; Renton is now the trusted confidant of Holland, and Moondoggie, previously the mentor figure, is now doing the menial jobs and being troubled by the children aboard ship. In this way, life on the Gekko is clearly seen to move on; although the growing sense of community and the obstacles to it have often been explicity laid out and used as major plot points and arcs prior to the major plot reveal, now the focus is almost entirely on Dewey’s plan, the emphasis of the story moves away from the petty matters and childishness.
Eureka Seven continually marries action to personal stories, both in straightforward ways with cause-and-effect conflicts (showing how careless actions can have unexpected consequences) and with longer, satisfying plot arcs such as that of Axel Thurston brought to a climax in episode 32. It also works in cycles, using more relaxed episodes to provide a relief of tension after its infrequent action peaks. What this structure does is mask, to an extent, the traditional point-to-point journey narrative that the series it draws inspiration from (perhaps most notably Mobile Suit Gundam) rely on. In those stories, action sequences come as punctuation to an always-forward progression – as part of their roots in the more episodic super-robot tradition, the emphasis is on a steady stream of enemies and problems interrupting a journey. It is a subtle difference, for it is quite possible to argue that Eureka Seven punctuates its forward progress with a series of problems that need resolving in a similar fashion, but consider an arc such as the mine where the Gekko is repaired; there, the protagonists spend significant time without the urgency of combat, recovering from a battle. The emphasis of such sequences is on showing the consequences of action on the primary characters without needing to tie this always back to an ongoing conflict.
Dominic’s response to the attack of the Coralians in Eureka Seven introduced again the tension between authority and expertise – and the power of authority and rank – in the military drama plot which the series circles around. Yet the core story is often far from the military – even if the tension emerges when morality clashes with utilitarianism (as with Holland’s “kidnapping” of the Voderak woman early in the series, or Renton’s disobedience of Ray and Charles to do what he believes is right). The Gekko’s response – powerless as they were to really stop Dewey’s atrocities – provides this human focus.
Note: This article is also available at Super Fanicom HERE
Episode 31 of Eureka Seven marked the moment of first contact and with it the beginning of the alien-centric plotline that appears to define the remainder of the series. The true nature of the human antagonists is shown as Dewey orders a preliminary attack on the Coralians knowing it will fail, in order to make his armies look better when they bail out the beleaguered defenders of the town that is targeted. What these revelations serve to do is undermine what has so far been assumed to be the case, and change Eureka’s position within the story. As the apparent emissary of the Coralians, she has remained distant from humanity’s main interaction with them; her relationship with Renton and Holland has emphasised, in its own way, the importance of family and love. Meanwhile, the apparent diametric opposite of the protagonists (in the form of the Federation, Dewey and Anemone) makes its first move against the Coralians with force.