Note: This article is also available at Super Fanicom HERE
The defining image of this episode, established right at the start, is Eureka trying to fill in for Renton; wearing the clothes he wore in the memorable episode where he underwent his initiation on the Gekko, doing the duties around the ship that he was forced to do. This seems to support the conversations back in episode 22 about how he was seen as a “useful” figure; that the crew are finding it inconvenient to have to cover his duties yet still not used to seeing someone else doing them once again firmly places the Gekko as a warship with a crew, not a community or family.
Thus, the sight of Eureka pining for Renton – wearing his clothes, going through the motions of his daily life down to camping in the hangar underneath the Nirvash – marks the point where what has gone hits home to all of the crew. However, while the lower-ranking crew are finally beginning to appreciate what they have lost in driving Renton off and alienating Eureka, it is explained in expository dialogue that Holland still does not get it – he is still lashing out immaturely and refusing to accept the criticism he has been willing to dish out for much of the series. Yet when the action moves back to Renton with Ray and Charles, picking up from the dramatic events of episode 23 (where, in an episode mimicking the events of episode 8 before, Renton misunderstands the situation on a mission and lets his emotions cause trouble in trying to save someone), he is once again isolated and showing the same exaggerated, ridiculous contrition that defines his failures. This cycle of Renton failing to grasp the bigger picture, causing problems and finally coming to realise his mistake in a display of dramatic apologising and self-flagellation is interrupted, however, as Ray and Charles forgive him. In episode 23 Charles admitted that he would have acted how Renton did were he a child, and episode 24 continues this clear new hierachy. Ray and Charles see Renton as an adoptive child – ultimately what the series spent much of the Gekko arc establishing him as. As a result, they are able to accept his mistakes and subsequent apologies without lashing out with unreasonable expectations of his maturity or immaturity of their own.
In a series so heavily built on misunderstandings and conflict, a scene like this one early in episode 24 with Ray reminding Renton that despite all his mistakes there will always be a home for him – and welcoming parental figures – is very alien. It is here that one of the main points of departure between Eureka Seven and its inspiration, the 1979 series Mobile Suit Gundam, becomes most apparent and properly reflects the different focuses of each series. Around the midpoint of Gundam, as with Eureka Seven, the protagonist, feeling underappreciated and rejected by the ship on which he serves, runs off and befriends a suspicious figure who turns out to be in league with the villains (as is established by the scene earlier in Eureka Seven where it is revealed Dewey has contracted Ray and Charles to attack Holland). In Gundam, this figure is Ramba Ral, a veteran soldier who bests the protagonist Amuro in a fight several times. He respects Amuro as a soldier with unrecognised potential, and after their meeting the pair fight again, with Ral ultimately losing and dying in a suicide attack on Amuro’s ship. Notably, this entire conflict is about Amuro’s value as a soldier; he feels that the ship’s captain, Bright, is lacking the tactical skill to make the most of his emerging talent and that being only a junior crewman he is not given due credit for his heroism. The conflict which causes them to part comes after Amuro disobeys orders and faces discipline from the immature Bright who himself has been inconsistent and at times wrong.
Yet Bright is no Holland; rather than being a seasoned soldier with a murky, violent past who refuses to act responsibly as the latter is, he is a nervous, inexperienced man who only gains his rank by virtue of being the most senior survivor of an ambush. That he conflicts with Amuro, who is an even more unwilling conscript in a war that their side is losing, over military matters makes it natural that the figure who would bring Amuro back in line would be a military man. Renton, on the other hand, leaves the Gekko because he resents Holland as a person; he sees him, as the audience have over the series’ course, as hypocritical, violent and misguided – and most personally to Renton malicious and uncaring, a poor role model. Thus by presenting Ray and Charles not as the expert pilots they are but as a welcoming family, Eureka Seven paints its own path keeping its inspiration in mind while emphasising what it as a series is about – friendships and personal relationships. Amuro and Ramba Ral see eye to eye as soldiers (and Ral’s status as the “enemy” is made clear much sooner), but Renton meets and stays with Ray and Charles because they seem to provide the family that many of the series’ past conflicts (and Renton’s flaws) have resulted from the lack of.
Back on the Gekko, Holland is finally presented with his own unpleasant truth, making him realise where he has gone wrong. While the lower-ranking crew simply see not having their errand-boy and sometimes friend there as an inconvenience and increased workload, Holland is told plainly that without Renton, the Nirvash will not work properly – the Amita Drive, its core component, requires both pilots operating it and getting along. Yet from this he coasts predictably into another row, this time with Talho – who has finally realised that the Gekkostate is breaking apart. Holland, still unwilling to accept what is becoming increasingly clear, tries to shift the blame but is faced with the remainder of the truth – that he drove Renton away because he was too possessive of Eureka and resentful of the newcomer who, despite shortcomings, proved to be vital to the Nirvash’s – and Eureka’s – wellbeing. Talho has consistently been an audience-like voice of reason in her conflicts with Holland, saying what is made clear implicitly by the action, and the scene concludes with her asking Holland to finally accept the truth and accept help – help from Renton.
That this scene is juxtaposed with Renton finally doing just that – opening up to Charles and admitting that he has never had the family life they offer – goes a long way towards reconciling the viewer to Renton as a character. He admits it is difficult to accept this new order, but Charles insists on a level of intimacy and familiarity that is quite surprising to both characters and audience. Intimacy in Eureka Seven, by virtue of its rarity in the Gekkostate, has come to be associated with sinister intent as the discomfiting actions of Dewey and Anemone have shown. And with this intimacy – and the familiarity with which Renton can finally talk with Charles – comes once again sinister intent. Renton admits his links with the Nirvash, and the Thurston family, not knowing that Charles is in fact working for the enemy. The exact results of this are to be seen, but as Charles keeps up the pretence of intimacy he is able to convince Renton to provide vast amounts of information – finally revealing his links to the Gekko. This is then followed by Charles’ own admission he is working for the Federation – and that Renton has been invaluable in filling in gaps in his intelligence about Eureka and the Nirvash.
Much as eventually Amuro realises Ramba Ral is the enemy who has bested him before and who he must eventually defeat to protect Bright despite their past conflicts, Renton is now given the freedom by Charles to go back and help Holland if he feels it the right thing to do. Episode 24 has thus marked the beginning of the end of this plot arc; all the pieces have been revealed, and as in episode 21, it ends with Renton leaving a ship to follow his heart. The final scene of the episode, however, marks the biggest development to date; Holland, seeing Eureka admitting how badly she needs Renton’s companionship, finally accepts what he has been told by so many people and goes to help Renton.