Hello everyone, and welcome back to Wrong Every Time. Today we’ll be diving back into a property that we last touched five goddamn years ago, as we return to the long-dormant Eureka Seven. It’s been so long since we watched Eureka Seven that my last episode’s writing style feels almost unrecognizable, so yes, this is a pretty weird feeling for me. That said, I still have a pretty clear recollection of Renton’s journey so far, and can’t imagine we’ll have too much trouble getting reacquainted with the Gekkostate and its many strange inhabitants. Emerging from the earth to claw at the sky, let’s celebrate the reanimation of Eureka Seven!
Interested to see if my perspective here has shifted, given how much more familiarity I now have with Eureka Seven’s genre space. From hits like Made in Abyss to misses like Comet Lucifer, leading all the way to this season’s Sakugan
Also interesting to see just how little Eureka Seven’s director has done outside of this production. Their career at BONES seemed pretty steady in the early ‘00s, but they’ve really only done Eureka Seven-related projects since
Man, even just watching this OP is making me feel nostalgic for Eureka Seven’s era. The early ‘00s were stuffed with ambitious multi-cour shows like this, with BONES themselves animating Wolf’s Rain and Rahxephon in the years leading up to this one. Anime studios were hoping to score big with major originals, and thus a lot of truly unique stories were brought to life
These days, anime studios rarely have time for originals, and the idea of dedicating multiple cours to an untested property is almost unheard-of. For production committees, the important thing is firing off as many adaptations of as many currently-hot properties as possible; the important thing is not the quality of the adaptation, but its existence as an advertisement for the franchise. The individual works suffer greatly from this process, and because the source material is largely drawing from the semi-amateur light novel market, the material being adapted is often unsalvageable to begin with. Then you’ve got the encroaching interest of foreign producers, who are mostly just interested in coating their own intellectual properties in an “anime sheen” to capitalize on the medium’s cultural cachet. All in all, it’s a terrible time to try and create original, ambitious works within anime; the medium has become an advertising vehicle for much larger forces of capitalism, and it’s impossible for the old style of “let’s give an ambitious team an open canvas” to compete
Alright, enough doom and gloom about the industry’s death spiral, let’s enjoy some peak BONES
Oh right, traditionally animated robots! Man, we were spoiled back then, huh?
An ocean/surfing motif is such a neat conceit for a giant robot show, and this story really leans into it. The freedom and grace of surfing both elevate the visual spectacle and embody Renton’s dreams, while the Gekkostate crew embrace a novel beach bum aesthetic. Meanwhile, the show can draw distinct horror imagery from on-theme concepts like the encroaching coral
Renton has made the cover of ray=out! I forgot all of this world’s delightful robot-surfing details
Apparently, Moondoggie now considers him a rival. The fact that this whole team are basically adult children stretches the “robot-wielding freedom fighters” plausibility to lean more into the surfer community aesthetic, which is frankly the correct choice for a story about Renton’s journey through adolescence. It is more important that these characters are young adults he can relate to than believable freedom fighters
Eureka is not impressed by his cover, but invites him shopping nonetheless. Also nice to get reacquainted with this show’s exceedingly generous facial animation
While those two are out, Holland and the group discuss taking a job by “Vodarac,” which seems to be morally dicey in some way. Holland states that such a job would be “difficult to explain to Renton”
So much nice idle movement as they wander through this town. Eureka Seven has a dynamite aesthetic, and the staff necessary to actually bring it to life
“Jeez, kids…” “You’re a kid too.” “I’m an adult!” Perhaps the most central argument of this whole production. I’d initially wondered as to the purpose of Eureka’s kids, but they’re very good at mirroring the conflicts of Renton and his own quasi-adult superiors
Maeter has disappeared, prompting one of the other kids to cry about “that other time” that everyone disappeared. Interesting
And then his tears get the other one crying, too. They’re quite convincing kids; anime frequently provides children with pretty much equivalent personalities to adults, so I appreciate that in this show that’s so focused on the development out of childhood, the distinctions between stages of childhood is conveyed so clearly
Maeter reveals herself, in a window overhead. Gosh, even this brief cut of Eureka running is so generously animated. I really like this show’s realistic character acting
Eureka asks Renton how to scold Maeter, and he recommends a good slap. They’re all children attempting to raise each other
Eureka does indeed slap her, and she breaks down in tears
The show is baiting some kind of petty burglary being committed by the rest of the team, weaving their movements in with leading images like this focus on a set of golden goblets. You can quite easily mislead your audience just through the arrangement of shots like this, banking on the fact that we’ve all learned the cinematic language of drawing parallels between distinct but temporally adjacent shots. Then, when it turns out to all be a misdirection, you can play innocent, ignoring the fact that it was your own cinematic trickery that provoked the audience’s misunderstanding in the first place. A useful trick!
This lady performs some sort of prayer before their tea. Between that and her robes, I wonder if she’s some meaningful religious figure
Nope, turns out that the Gekkostate crew really are invading this old lady’s house. No misdirects here, just idiots
“This woman is a key person in the Vodarac, an anti-government group. She’ll fetch a pretty penny if we hand her off to the military.” Oh Holland. Strictly for pay, you’ll betray the people who are actually fighting for freedom, so others can enjoy the life you take for granted? What a sad poser you truly are
Fortunately, this woman is insanely competent and Gekkostate are, well, Gekkostate. She escapes effortlessly
This conflict also neatly shapes itself to Eureka Seven’s general interrogation of what childhood or adulthood truly mean. Does being an adult require the moral compromises Holland is making here, or is he just using that as a cover for his own lack of conviction? Is idealism itself a privilege of the young?
This is a delightfully awkward chase sequence. The robots really weren’t meant for driving through these city streets
Incredible gag here. Nice one-two punch of comedy, with Eureka’s initial “Renton, secure a field of vision” serving as an amusingly serious contrast to the mech being covered in laundry, and then the quiet visual joke of Renton just slowly getting embarrassed by a bra until the mech starts transforming
“Aren’t you happy?” Eureka is so distant from standard human self-expression. It’s frankly hard to know how much I should be analyzing that as a genuine psychological reality, versus accepting that this show is still rocking in the ripples of Rei Ayanami’s splash
The team successfully capture the old lady, after which she invites them back to her place for a delicious meal
“Why are you feeding us such a delicious feast?” “If I’m captured, all the food here will spoil, no?”
The Vodarac believe that “there are fates you must accept, and challenges you must fight”
“We really don’t mean to be fighting against the government. It’s just the military has decided we are.” So it seems the military is just hunting down any political dissidents, regardless of their actual activities
“You’ll understand more things when you grow up.” Even she frames this conflict as something only adults can comprehend
Holland asks the lady where “Norb” is, which seems to genuinely shock her. He further goes on to say the military claimed she was part of a particularly dangerous anti-government sect
And we jump straight to the handoff, where our heroes gallantly steal the cash and save the lady too
Man, this show has some nice mechanical animation. I was never a particular giant robot fan in the first place – the actual reality of giant robots doesn’t thrill me, and I’m mostly just interested in how they’re used to tell these generational conflicts. Nonetheless, in our current era of clumsy CG robot implementation, it is extremely nice to see these fluidly animated bots that fit so neatly within their show’s overall aesthetic. CG and shifting market trends have essentially killed the giant robot, but he lives on in the classics
And yes, I know many people would wince at me calling Eureka Seven a “classic” of giant robots. Don’t worry, I’m planning on getting through Gundam, Votoms, and Ideon soon enough
The Vodarac woman seeks to be brought to their “land of pilgrimage,” Cuidades del Cielo. Cities of the Sky, or perhaps something like “Palace of the Heavens” if you want to get fancy with it
The Gekkostate adults speak darkly of the military’s increased activity. It seems like we may soon be moving out of the getting-to-know-you episodic adventures
“The King of the Woods of Nemi.” Hurray for inexplicable proper nouns
Our leaders seem to have some history with the city
Well that was fun as hell! I’d remembered the general narrative thrust and character relationships of this show, but was surprised anew by how much fun it all is in action. Eureka Seven presents one of anime’s greatest studios at the height of their early powers, possessing a confidence of storytelling and richness of execution that make for an energetic, enthralling viewing experience. It was great getting reacquainted with the crew of the Gekkostate, and I hope to check back in far, far sooner than last time!
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