Fri. Jan 21st, 2022

Yeah, no, we’re not doing another five year break between episodes. Eureka Seven has been a delight to return to, and I’m eager to learn more about Holland’s mission and history. The conclusion of last episode seemed to promise we’ll be digging into Holland and Talho’s shared past, but whatever this episode brings, I’m content just to luxuriate in this show’s overwhelming bounty of character animation and background design. We just plain don’t get originals of this scale and quality anymore; the market has moved towards single-cour light novel adaptations as a rule, with only an occasional Deca-Dence or Sonny Boy slipping through the cracks. It’d be easy to lament this transition, but every era of anime production has its own pleasures and pitfalls, and I’d rather celebrate the good in each of them. Let’s explore the wild bounty of the ‘00s then, as we return to the skies of Eureka Seven!

Episode 9

Even this show’s OP paints it as a product of a specific and nostalgic era for me. This scratchy, palm-muted electric guitar and disco hi-hat beat are clear reflections of Japan’s ‘00s pop-punk revival, a style of music that pops up all across the OPs and EDs of that era. I noticed the same familiar style when trying out Big Windup!, whose OP reminded me of the style of Arakawa Under the Bridge’s ED. As a big fan of rock, pop-punk, and indie rock, the early ‘00s were the period when anime tie-in songs strayed the closest to my own musical tastes, so I’ll always have a soft spot for the era for purely musical reasons

Aw, these delightful non-CG battle sequences. The march of technology really did just kill an entire genre aesthetic – one of the clearer examples of the million ways technology guides artistry

We open on the Vodarac agent apologizing to Holland for “forcing him to make a very difficult decision,” to which he responds with his usual defensive bluster

Holland is an interesting character, in that he seems to intentionally be designed to be as much of a poser as humanly possible. Relative to Renton, he essentially embodies the feigned coolness of a tough-talking older brother, someone who’s still far too wrapped up in the self-consciousness of childhood to present an authentic, adult self. His character is frankly a little old to act this childishly, but it’s an intentional and effective choice for this narrative, which is so concerned with presenting theoretical role models for Renton as he moves through adolescence

Apparently Norb is a person that Holland is searching for

Rather than continuous fluidity, Eureka Seven’s characters benefit from a convincing economy of movement through clearly emotive, character-specific poses. There is so much personality in their every movement, as each of them carries their body differently, like Holland’s bored swagger here

Kenichi Yoshida did incredible work as character designer/animation director on this show, making me even more excited for his work on Mitsuo Iso’s upcoming films

Apparently this is also the first episode Dai Sato personally wrote since the first four, being storyboarded by Tomoki Kyoda, who boarded the first three. Clearly this is a significant episode!

To the Vodarac, this city is “the land of purification, from which we go to the Great Wall. However, at the same time, it can become Destiny’s Gate to anyone who goes there.” Whole buncha proper nouns

“Paper Moon Shine”

Talho claims that Holland is running away from something here. There’s a lovely, natural flow to the conversation of the ship crew, as they bounce concerns back and forth. Dai Sato is undoubtedly one of anime’s greatest writers; he has a mastery of genre structure, keen understanding of thematic weaving, and ear for naturalistic yet character-rich dialogue, all of which put him vastly ahead of most writers in the medium

The Vodarac lady thanks them with a bottle of mysterious glowing liquid. Everyone is impressed by this

Renton catches up with Moondoggie. So much of this crew is composed of genuine beach bums, who don’t really have any knowledge or curiosity regarding their anti-government agitation. It’s an interesting take on the common shonen ideal of “freedom” as a virtue; it feels like Eureka Seven is acknowledging that freedom without purpose is just self-gratification, in keeping with its general emphasis on the qualities that define true adulthood

The “great waves outside” serve as a handy point of conflict, as Holland’s alleged freedom bumps up against whatever he fears about this city

Holland clearly has some painful history here. It seems like a former city was destroyed or something, thus creating the venue for this day’s “perfect waves.” Thus, as Renton wonders why no one else is using this great spot, Holland erupts in anger and actually strikes him

Eureka also seems troubled by this place

As in the early episodes, Tomoki Kyoda clearly enjoys creating layers in the composition, using foreground objects to evoke a clear sense of space for situating the characters. It melds nicely with Sato’s unusually grounded dialogue, making it easier to sink into the world of the cast

Yeah, apparently this city was just recently bombed into rumble

Renton ultimately runs into the Vodarac woman again, at her trailer/monastery

Renton had been taught in school to fear the strange Vodarac

“This angry land doesn’t just belong to human beings you know.” Interesting use of ‘angry’ there. I wonder if the Coralians that were mentioned earlier are actually representatives of the land itself, and that the coral growth is a natural reaction to mankind’s overreaching?

“And yet we keep pounding overwhelming numbers of stakes into the shifting scubs, and pretend we have control over them.” Referring to how they use pile bunkers to try and mitigate tectonic disruption

“To follow the path that leads to the Great Wall, or to continue staying here in this land… everyone who comes to this city has to make a choice.” I can see why Sato scripted this one himself – it’s not a particularly “Sato-like” vignette, but it’s stuffed with worldbuilding details that will presumably pay off many episodes down the line, and thus it was crucial for the show’s overall writer to make sure they were all seeded correctly. You can hand off vignettes to guest writers, but this episode’s repercussions are too important for that

The military destroyed this city and its people several years ago, all because of their faith in Vodarac

Eureka arrives in her robot, which the people here frantically refer to as the “White Devil.” So did Gekkostate steal this mech from the military, who were previously using it for their genocidal operations? It seems like Eureka herself is likely some scientific project, an “artificial human,” or someone who was modified by the military for reasons unknown. Her status as the “mother” of her three children might be gesturing towards how she took care of the younger kidnapped children, back when they were all in the clutches of the military. That would also tie in with the fear expressed by those children last episode of “disappearing like before”

The locals throw stones at her, and she admits that “I really was a dog for the military once.” Yep

And apparently the military is still carrying out scheduled bombings of the city

“I can’t believe they’d do something like this to a girl!” Renton’s morality is simplistic and entirely localized – “don’t bully people,” and other immediately, instantly applicable rules for moral living. The idea of large-scale prejudice, or of being responsible for injustices outside of your control, is not yet within his capacity

Apparently the entire Gekkostate were once members of SOF, the military’s special operations force, and participated in the massacre of the Vodarac

“It was proof that I could exist as I was. Back then, I didn’t believe in anything except the Nirvash and Holland.” Both her words and her expressions in this flashback seem to indicate she was far more doll-like back then, without much emotion at all

Ah, so that’s the full story. She found her current “children” in a pile of corpses, having personally murdered their families

“You might not have realized this yet, but Renton, you’re a part of this too.” The war and its morality have mostly been a distant concept for Renton, just a game, like when he spray painted the military base. But Eureka has seen too much horror to flatter that perspective

It’s interesting watching this show from ‘05, which is so clearly attuned to the politics of its own era. The threat here is senseless global war against a misunderstood “Other,” as well as a lack of concern for the environment – fears that clearly evoke the global atrocities of the George W. Bush years. These days, our global concerns have shifted more towards the crushing oppression of modern capitalism, which is in turn reflected in the proliferation of isekai stories promising escape from capitalism’s chains

“We intend to atone for our atrocities in any way we can. But more importantly, we have to survive and complete our mission”

“Then you brought me with you in order to fight?” “That’s right. Because the Nirvash won’t work without you.” Dai Sato has acknowledged that Eureka Seven is in some ways a response to Evangelion, and it’s interesting reflecting on Eureka in light of that. She is closest to Rei in terms of her narrative nature, but she also frequently plays the role of Misato, imparting Renton with harsh lessons when necessary

Renton offers what Eureka cannot: a splash of unerring idealism, urging her to defend these innocents no matter the consequences

“The Nirvash is telling me I should do what you say, Renton.” I’ll be interested in finding more about this “consciousness of the Nirvash” we’re dealing with. Generally, giant robots tend to represent the parents of their pilots, offering them the tools to seek agency in the wider world. I kinda doubt that’s true here, but the Nirvash clearly does have some kind of independent agenda

The two fly together to destroy the enemy ship, culminating in a gorgeous shot as the Nirvash sails in front of both the city’s pillars and the full moon

“Ever since you came and joined us, I think maybe I have changed”

Holland is too Holland to outright apologize, but instead, he offers Renton his official membership into Gekkostate

And Done

Yep, that was certainly a turning point! Renton’s admission into Gekkostate ended up doubling as his introduction to the true nature of Gekkostate, as he learned his beloved surfing heroes were once dogs of the military. That fusion feels appropriate for Eureka Seven, as Renton’s journey towards glory is mirrored by his journey into adulthood. He still has to learn a great number of hard truths, but uncovering Gekkostate’s painful history serves as a fine introduction to the moral complexity of the larger world. All that and some truly gorgeous character and robot animation; Eureka Seven seems dedicated to keeping us extremely well fed!

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By admin