Episode 44 of Eureka Seven – Dominic Under Scrutiny
Note: This article discusses a quite emotive and moving section of Eureka Seven whose impact mostly comes from the revelations within. It may be best not to read it unless you have already seen the series and know what happens.
Much happens in episode 44 of Eureka Seven to advance the main plot; Renton and Eureka continue to explore the new world they find themselves in as morale begins to drop, Holland learns that he will die should he continue fighting Dewey not because of the enemy, but because his machine is so outdated the drugs he need to pilot it will destroy him, and the scene ends up set for a confrontation between Dominic and Jurgens for the Federation and Holland for the Gekkostate. That the climax of the episode is Eureka beginning a similar metamorphosis to Sakuya – suggesting that Renton will fail as Norb did, unable to properly reach out to the Scub Coral and save the world – is setting up a massive, metaphysical conflict that cannot be easily resolved. Yet more interesting, and the more enduring image of the episode, is how it continues Dominic’s plot. Dominic was established in episode 43 as being, put as simply as possible, the Kamille to Anemone’s Four – a comparison subverted by Anemone’s agency and self-determination, her desire to not simply be “saved” like a damsel in distress but for someone to actually care for her. Episode 44 has him initially uncertain about how to do this, an outsider – and ends with him a man with conviction.
The visual incongruity of the white-uniformed Dominic on board Jurgens’ ship is a simple depiction of how much of an outsider he is now – he is stuck with Anemone’s pet, Gulliver, leaving him a stranger in his own quarters, and constantly humiliated on the bridge as he tries to give orders first to someone unable to comply owing to the bad weather, and then to the captain who plainly ignores him and runs his ship his way. Previously Dominic’s powerlessness was something sympathetic, a good-natured humanitarian in the macho, emotionless world of the military. Now it feels like just punishment for his arrogance and efforts to pull his weight in sycophancy to Dewey. He has apparently leapt straight into his commander’s plan to “replace” Anemone – even though it transpires this is out of some misguided belief that “replacing” her will help her be freed from exploitation, it is depicted at the start of the episode as him becoming a little tyrant on board Jurgens’ ship.
When they reach Warsaw, the sense of how badly Dominic has been emotionally shaken is given more perspective – he acts up, insulting Jurgens as he visits his former home where his family died, and arguing that this callousness is justified because “you’re not the only one suffering that kind of pain.” It is an emotional immaturity masked by an attempt at doing what adults do that very clearly mirrors Renton’s own past immaturity – pragmatism and utilitarianism seeming entirely logical if tough choices.
Eureka Seven is not set on Earth – indeed, the hunt for Earth is a defining part of the plot, and drives Renton’s journey – yet many of the places its characters visit either resemble, or are named after, real places. Thus it is Dominic ends up in Warsaw, a wartorn city home to the sinister Novak Foundation and known locally as the Joy Division. Events that transpire in the city – displaced people, a lack of rebuilding and the far worse events Dominic sees within the Foundation – almost certainly intentionally evokes the Holocaust and the Warsaw Ghetto. Any such analogue in a science-fiction series must be delicate, and Eureka Seven manages well to do this. The analogues are not used to make a historical point specifically, but instead repaint Dewey’s aims as unquestionably evil and perverted ones.
The Novak Foundation takes children – exactly how is coyly avoided when Jurgens asks – and carries out experiments (most of which remain unknown in nature except those which the Foundation’s representative are proud to show off) on them to create soldiers like Anemone. Dominic, and by extension the audience, is given a first-hand look into what he is condoning by looking for a replacement for Anemone – and by using her as he has in the past. He is complicit not just in the exploitation of one girl, but the systematic abduction and torture of many girls over a long period of time in a process which has a high failure rate. His plan to save one girl will just perpetuate this situation – the three “replacements” he is sent to inspect all die in pain during the final procedure, meaning more will have to suffer.
Yet on top of this there is a perhaps even more perverse coming-together of sexuality and ethnic pseudoscience in this episode on which Nazism sits in the contextual background. The Foundation are proud to announce that through extensive plastic surgery they can modify the girls they torture to look exactly like Anemone and Eureka – creating a super-soldier army who are all not only compliant and drug-reliant but identical-looking young women designed to order to please a predatory old man. Dewey is working on eugenics from the opposite direction, in effect; moulding those who do not fit his desires (hard to distinguish from his fetishes, when one considers how he treats Anemone) into the desired shape so every detail of his personal army is perfect. Rather than removing those who do not fit his ideal, he has ordered they be surgically altered to comply and it is this that takes the horror of the Joy Division beyond the scientific body-horror of mad scientists experimenting to create enhanced soldiers.
This is a cliché plotline for mecha anime; a super-soldier loses their memory and must be helped to relearn their humanity by the hero’s love. Yet Dewey is going beyond suppressing emotion and memory in changing appearance; he is not making a clone army by copying one original but instead removing peoples’ entire identities to bring them into line. Watching this scene – understanding it both through the light touch of its historical allusions and through the lens of the genre – is thus particularly tough. It is worth comparing this to the other notable examples of an identical-looking super-soldier army from mecha anime – the Purus from ZZ Gundam and Rei Ayanami from Evangelion. In both of those cases, the bodies are artificial, cloned from a master copy and then conditioned through upbringing. This does not make Gendo Ikari or Glemy Toto any less villainous, but it is – when reconsidered through the lens of this episode – on an entirely different scale to Dewey’s actions.
Thus this section of the episode’s plot ends; Dominic is unable to stop the exploitation, because he has to report to Dewey that no replacement for Anemone could be found. His entire plan – to simply find a new pilot for The END so Anemone does not have to pilot it – is shown up as the simplistic, unworkable thing it is. And in the end, he speaks, he pours out his heart about this whole newfound idealism, and Jurgens listens. It is through this – the older man listening parentally to the wayward son – that there might just be hope. Jurgens gives Dominic a copy of Ray=Out magazine, the Gekkostate’s underground publication, and asks how much of Egan’s theories (explained within) are true. How deep Dewey’s villainy goes. And so, as the episode ends with the Federation apparently lining up for another confrontation with Holland, there is doubt across all of those who went to Warsaw – and hope that there might be change.