One question that has not been frequently raised in all of Eureka Seven‘s discussion of religion and godlike planetary intelligences is the matter of an afterlife; it is by now proven as fact that a planetary intelligence exists, and that its intention towards humanity is, in a way, peaceful. It has reached out with a messianic figure twice now and found a proper counterpart for Eureka in Renton. It is faced with humans led by Dewey who believe themselves superior to the divine, who would seek to enforce mastery over it. At the end of episode 47, Dewey claims that mankind will not bow down to, or live in fear of, an “unknown creature.” If God is supposed to be inscrutable, incomprehensible and omnipotent, then the line between faith and fear is – from this perspective – blurred.
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.
The short story I wrote yesterday depicting the preparations for some kind of religious festival inspired me to write more in this setting – depicting a small-town wedding ceremony from the perspective of perhaps the same laconic observer.
Fantasy theology, to me, often is too obsessed with creating a dynamic pantheon of Gods doing mighty things, of creating paladins and clerics and great Parthenon-esque temples without much consideration of everyday faith. As my writing on Eureka Seven has suggested, the difference – in a genre fiction setting where God is real – between practiced religion and philosophical, ethical religion is a very interesting one. What is more interesting to me when worldbuilding is imagining how people would live their lives, how some fictional theology would be turned into day-to-day traditions and rituals and even superstitions.
Thus turning once again to this imagined world’s practiced religion – of priests, and services, and holy observance – seemed natural.
Recently, I have returned to playing tabletop RPGs with great enthusiasm – the new edition of Dungeons and Dragons is a quite excellent game that improves upon the previous editions. In many ways, I enjoy running a game more than actually playing in one; being the DM/GM permits me to create societies and scenarios for other people to run up against, exercising greater planned creativity than improvised actions in response to someone else’s scenario within a ruleset (for this reason, collaborative games like Fiasco and Ribbon Drive are much more fun to play for me).
As part of my running games, I enjoy creating imagined worlds and traditions. Recently, I have been reading The Pillow Book of Sei Shonagon, and its first-hand view of a period of history – much like the Letters of Pliny – has proved invaluable in helping me make worlds that feel alive and credible, while my love of fantasy fiction (particularly those pseudo-historical works of Guy Gavriel Kay) is rich inspiration for the fantastical.
Thus, I wrote this, as some idea possibly for a game I may run in the future – an excerpt, perhaps, from a fantastical Pillow Book or diary in its tone. It describes someone reflecting on the last minutes of preparation for some religious festival – the details of the culture or festival did not seem important when I wrote it, those details could be filled in if I returned to the setting.
Episode 41 of Eureka Seven is the point where revelations about the true nature of Sakuya – the being at the Great Wall who the Gekkostate have been moving towards, and will fight to the end to protect, are laid out. Who she is – and why she is important – is told via a narrative that stands as a parallel to Renton and Eureka’s own story, turning the events of Eureka Seven‘s opening arc into a kind of replaying of an in-setting myth. Sakuya, being a Coralian much like Eureka, exists as a parallel Christlike figure (for as I have mentioned previously it is hard not consider the Corals’ ambassadors as children of the divine sent to observe – and even judge – the mortal world) but one who, as Norb suggests, failed to cross the Great Wall and could not complete whatever cycle needs completing.
With the final preparations complete – in the form of an episode of down-time – Eureka Seven is finally ready to begin its ultimate confrontations. Renton is going beyond the Great Wall to find out some kind of truth, Stoner and Holland are preparing their expose of the Coralians and Eureka, and Dewey is planning his own operations to bring an end to the Coralian “threat.” The shift in focus is established with a new opening theme tune, probably the best of the series’ four themes. The theme tunes and credits sequences have throughout the series tonally reflected what is happening – the third, the punk-esque To the Centre of the Sun, played through the series’ impetuousness and kicking out – and now Sakura, the fourth theme, comes with its very heroic and spiritual sound for the show’s climax – established as something that must be religious.
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.
The William Baxter episode of Eureka Seven offered an, at the time, different take on religion within a setting which had hitherto presented it in skewed terms. It presented personal faith – a desire to do right – as something linked to self-reliance and isolation, as opposed to a view of organised religion that was intractable, morally apart from society (in the episode in which Renton encounters a conflict surrounding medical treatment going against religious views) and most of all viewed with suspicion. Even as Holland works to help the Voderak and save Norb from Dewey, it is out of a sense of humanitarian duty and the need for information and allies – he is standing up, where it is profitable, for people. Yet episode 37, the first half of which is an extended debate between Norb and the eccentric scientist Greg Egan, sees Holland apparently embracing the Voderak viewpoint.
Note: This article is also available at Super Fanicom HERE
For the first time in several episodes, Eureka Seven devotes a scene to allowing Eureka to speak and receive narrative attention alone, rather than as an object pushed around by the others – and in so doing highlights how rare this has been. It provides a proper conclusion to what began in the previous episode with her apparent reconciliation with Holland, and sets in perspective how she has been used as a character beforehand.