The overwhelming theme of episode 46 of Eureka Seven is family and the ability of familial ties to overcome grief and disagreement. It is not limited to traditional familial units, picking up on the series’ emphasis on nontraditional families and family-like entities and exploring how within close-knit social and professional groups like military units a certain kind of familial piety can exist. It would be easy to say that it is examining friendship more than family, but the constant theme throughout the series has been how, for people who lack biological parents, these social groups become a new family. What matters more than blood ties is that there are dependable – even if they are flawed – people to offer advice and support if needed.
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.
Episode 6 of Captain Earth was something of a disappointment compared to the others; it was a competently handled exposition episode marking a transition from one plot arc to the next (via the complication of a situation that was beginning to become clear), but at the same time it did not provide the forward impetus that the series needed. In many ways it is interesting because of what is learned from it – thus only to someone invested in the story – rather than how it tells this story. As has occurred previously in the series, it takes the conclusion of an event that seems cut and dried and extends it out – in the first instance it was a long, cathartic wind-down from a frantic robot fight, and in this case it is a more languid look at Teppei’s reaction to the events of the previous episode. This idea – of turning single-episode plots into two-part stories in order to focus on their repercussions – is one of Captain Earth‘s strengths, yet here it does not work as well, perhaps out of familiarity.
Episode 5 of Captain Earth was a good focus episode for Teppei, characterising him a little more than simply being the alien prince figure. At this stage in the story the question of Salty Dog trying to break up the surrogate family unit is more or less addressed, and the emphasis is far more on how the characters’ conflict against invading aliens proceeds. But ultimately, it remains a story about a surrogate family created out of military comradeship and authority, epitomised by Akari the daughter of the space station commander, and displaced children living together. Broken families predominate – Daichi is an orphan, Teppei and Hana have lived under observation as aliens fallen to earth and Akari’s parents are physically separated.
The second episode of Captain Earth was effectively formed of two parts – an action sequence which built up Daichi (literally, as his robot was constructed) and then tore him down as he was unable to fight when it mattered, and subsequently the fallout from this. Despite there being a significant number of observers to this – the audience joining a crowd of crewmen from GLOBE both on Earth and in space – the fight and its resolution were intensely personal affairs between Daichi and his companion – almost a co-pilot – Code Papillon. This isolation – the distance that being in space, in a one-man cockpit and indeed a one-on-one duel with an unknown enemy – is something that super-robot animé makes a focus across the genre. A robot needs a sizeable ground crew and infrastructure – as the Earth Engine’s combination sequence shows – but is ultimately powerless without the efforts of one person. That this person is rarely the ideal one for the job – and the conflicts that this results in – thus provides a core for the human tension that must counterbalance the action.
Episode 12 of Rahxephon concluded with Ayato failing to destroy the Dolem; it retreated, implying that it will return but also crucially showing its intelligence. Exactly how much TERRA and the human forces know about the Dolems is unclear; there is little shown in terms of knowledge about how to fight them for the most common strategy, be it one of complacency on Kunugi’s part or genuine ignorance, is “let the Rahxephon do it” – an interesting comparison to the clinical, scientific approach taken by NERV in Rahxephon‘s inspiration, Evangelion. NERV almost always know exactly how to destroy the enemy; the Angels have highly visible weak points or predictable attacks – but at the same time they have an unreliable robot and pilot, and frequently neither the manpower nor technology to properly exploit the weakness. TERRA is always one step behind in Rahxephon, yet this ineffectuality is counterbalanced by the extreme firepower advangate they have – the Rahxephon itself does not need to identify weaknesses in its enemies, it simply destroys them.
The first half of episode 5 of Rahxephon was heavily focused on establishing Ayato’s position within TERRA – the outsider, saying the wrong thing to some people and ignored by most. It built on episode 4’s cryptic introductory scenes and made clear through implication and passing interactions not only what the other characters think of Ayato but how their own behaviours might be fronts for if not secrets but insecureties. The only characters who really emerge as sympathetic are the doctor and his sister Quan; both may have secrets but they act in a way which does not exclude or apparently set out to deceive Ayato.