There are, really, two approaches to discussing the comparatively unpopular Episode 39 of Eureka Seven. One can either focus on what actually happens and talk about it as a sports animé, or one can discuss what it “means” within the framework of the series. It is ultimately a very silly episode, filled with visual jokes and cartoonish visuals, and its characters even admit themselves it is entirely superficial to the plot – yet it at the same time is so blatant and explicit in its exposition of the series’ themes it can be seen as clever in its stupidity. The plot is entirely incidental, and pure super-robot fluff; Holland, on orders from Norb, decides the Gekko’s crew must play a game of football before continuing with their mission. It is reminiscent of the strange training regimes of Gen Fudo in the later series Genesis of Aquarion, a series which is only really memorable for those episodes (which variously entail cross-dressing, characters parodying each others’ mannerisms, running foot-races and, in one case, playing football) and has the same heavy-handed way of delivering a “message” (in Aquarion‘s case it is usually punctuated with a suitably-themed special move for the main robot.)
This article also includes discussion of the plot of the serial Nearer My God To Thee (Abnett, Harrison, Parkhouse), printed in 2000AD issues 1883-8.
I find the concept of comic books significantly more interesting than most of the best-known examples of them. The most popular and visible comics still, despite the significant increase in attention given to innovative and interesting niche-interest titles, are continuity-heavy and forebidding stock superhero ranges which could be argued to have long passed the point where they were fresh and interesting. What ultimately put me off was how seriously everything was taken yet how empty it seemed; there was little distinction being made in discussion between something being not for children in content terms and being mature in writing terms.
The question of whether new media and popular culture can be usefully studied, or is in some way relevant beyond the superficial, is an apparently endless debate and one which is often used as a stick with which to attack academia; universities are accused of devaluing their courses by expanding them to include new media, or studying works of fiction not sufficiently “serious”.