Note: This article is also available at Super Fanicom HERE
Episode 26 of Eureka Seven should have been the moment of catharsis that was needed after 13 episodes of mounting tension; the crew of the Gekko are reunited, Holland has realised his errors (if still reluctant to do anything about them) and the trap of Ray and Charles is escaped. But it is not; the episode does not end with the Seventh Swell resolving everything even though it wins the battle. With the Federation’s fleet incapacitated, all that remains are Holland and Charles, and their rivalry spills over into the opening of this next arc. It is worth noting how this is a parallel to the epilogue episode to the first major arc, where Renton and Dominic were forced into co-operation. It is a recurring theme in Eureka Seven – picking up on its influences from the Gundam franchise – that only the younger generation have the potential for circumspection and optimism to avoid repeating mistakes and so perhaps it is apt that when children from each faction meet they meet as peers, while when adults meet it is as enemies.
Particularly interesting also is how the third credits sequence is essentially a recapitulation of Renton’s mid-air catching Eureka from episode 26, with certain changes; it makes more of the threat of attack and how it was a moment of love in the middle of a battlefield. A scene of them embracing as missiles explode around them – and then The END making its reappearence for the first time in many episodes – foreshadows future events but makes clear the significance of episode 26.
Renton’s introspective voice has returned in this post-conflict peace although finally he is no longer so selfish or self-absorbed. That the episode begins with him coming to terms with his relationship with Eureka – and those terms being far more mature and reasoned than they perhaps have been before – emphasises how far the story has come. While there are still many mysteries to be resolved in the war story side of Eureka Seven, the arguably more important plotline – Renton’s journey to maturity – is becoming increasingly clear. Unsurprisingly this is set alongside Holland’s continued inability to grow up or cope with leadership; while imprisoning Renton and Eureka is strictly the right thing to do if he were still a military officer, the previous arc has shown how his lack of compassion and vindictiveness harms morale. While much has changed, more has stayed the same. Yet there is a reason for this and the viewer is reminded of it – Charles is still alive, and likely to attack again despite the failure of his trap. When Renton is provided with a gun, and body armour for him, Eureka and the children, the reason for their isolation seems suddenly more sensible; if the Gekko is boarded, they will be out of the line of fire. Again it is Holland’s lack of compassion that is the problem and indeed, when the scene changes back to the bridge, with the Gekko on a war footing, morale is still low. What follows is a return to the diegetic exposition from earlier in the series as Matthew, one of the LFO pilots, reads a newspaper; things that have been hinted at (especially in the episode where Renton met William) are made clear. Natural disasters are increasingly frequent, the government is corrupt and oppressive and dissent is growing. It is claimed Holland, as a countercultural figurehead, should be the strong leader who will overthrow them but the truth is that this has been shown to be highly unlikely. Indeed, of the characters who have been presented as alternatives to the norm, it is Dewey – the exemplar of the system who nevertheless scares them – who seems more capable of leadership.
However, there is apparently no time for lengthy introspection or exposition; Holland is preparing to lay the past to rest, revisiting his military past this time as an enemy of the state, while Charles and Ray are planning their attack. As this happens, though, the viewer learns yet more about the world; again the mysteries of the setting are made clear. The religious sect of the Voderak, who have been at the centre of so many of the conflicts throughout the episodes so far, are scapegoats used to deflect attention from the failings of the Federation. The Coralians, unknown entities as they are, are established as the subjects of superstition again to keep the public occupied and not looking too closely at their leaders. If the first half of the series has been building up to personal revelations and changes, this second half begins with a more grounded and bleak still look at the setting. Episode 1 had Renton believing the world was OK but boring – his troubles coming from a tough time at school and strict relatives. Come episode 27, it is clear that those problems are simply symptoms of the failing world.
Again, though, the exposition is set against the immediate threat; Ray and Charles are en-route to attack the Gekko, intending to kill Holland and lay the past to rest themselves. Holland’s shutting everyone out has simply provided an empty stage for his duel to the death with past friends – the outside world is set to one side as two individuals seek to settle a score. Holland’s internal monologue – rarely heard – confirms this; his life revolves around finishing this unfinished business and the others he is supposed to protect and help do not matter. By alternating major revelations about the changing setting with a personal battle between Holland and Charles, episode 27 both serves as the true ending to the second plot arc but also a foreshadowing of future revelations that will define the series’ second half; the Gekko’s trappings of traditional counterculture including their magazine Ray=Out are no longer enough to provide a reasonable resistance to the government and so the nature of their opposition must change.
However, while the conversations of the Gekko’s crew are useful worldbuilding it is seeing Ray and Charles’ own conversations about their impending suicide mission that define this episode; their motives seem a mixture of the inexplicable and the petty. Charles simply wants some kind of revenge or closure, a duel with his enemy – but Ray, who as was revealed in the previous episode is pregnant, and who apparently has less quarrel with Holland, is prepared to take her own life to “save” Renton from the Gekkostate. It falls to the computer officer Jobs on the Gekko to set the two conflicts in context in his “focus” segment; he claims everyone has a time when they have to “pay the tab they have run up” and can run no longer from “complicated” issues. This in effect redefines the exposition; it is as much showing how the characters themselves are coming to terms with issues they have previously avoided as anything else. This first half-episode has been dense with exposition and more importantly character development through the medium of worldbuilding – the sense of growing threat provided by the continued returning to the impending attack drives the episode forward with an tense immediacy. Yet when the attack on the Gekko begins in earnest, the focus shifts entirely to the personal.