Hello everyone, and welcome back to Wrong Every Time. Today I am eager to get back to Eureka Seven, where we’re currently in the midst of a transition in the ongoing drama. After spending just short of ten episodes establishing the Gekkostate crew, the show has introduced the “Coralian,” an object that’s clearly tethered to both Eureka herself and the overall state of this world, as well as a genuine nemesis for Eureka in the form of Anemone.
Given we already know that Eureka and Holland were once soldiers, it seems safe to assume that Eureka’s unique nature is a result of government experiments. Presumably, both Eureka and Anemone were designed to be natural pilots, along with serving as guides or activation keys for this “Coralian” phenomenon. Eureka Seven is as post-Evangelion a show as they come (Dai Sato himself admitted as much when I saw him a few years back), and Eureka in particular is clearly a riff on Rei Ayanami, so I imagine that the truth of her nature ties in to the heart of this show’s world-threatening tectonic shifts. Is Eureka herself a Coralian, or a link between the Coralian and human worlds? We’re currently a bit short on relevant data, so let’s not waste any more time, as we take to the skies of Eureka Seven!
God, this show’s character designs are so good. Even just panning up this intro shot with Eureka and her kids, we see a specificity of expression work that absolutely blows most anime designs out of the water. From left to right, we see differently nuances in each of the kids’ expressions – all three are “expectant,” but the first’s slightly lowered eyes create a sense of presumption or confidence, the second’s upward-left tilt evokes a sense of distracted curiosity, and the third’s open mouth and dead-on stare create a slight impression of trepidation. Without a word, the detailed expressiveness of this one image can reveal to you the dynamics of this group: that the first one is the most confident, the second one a bit of a trickster, and the third the anxious little brother of the trio. Great character designs are more than just beautiful or iconic; they are better vehicles for visually expressing human experience (thus why character designers also tend to serve as animation directors, dictating how to best use their expressive designs). And Kenichi Yoshida is undoubtedly one of our best working character designers
The revealing nature of great character design is also effectively used in the other direction, with Eureka standing apart as someone who rarely expresses her feelings through her expressions. Only in a show where all of the other characters are constantly engaging in personality-rich character acting could you actually make a dramatic point of one character’s relative inexpressiveness
This show does a remarkable job of conveying the robots’ differing momentum as they swoop or bank on the clouds. I’m guessing they’re doing some careful work of frame modulation to achieve that effect – adding more drawings tends to create an impression of more frantic movement, and vice versa
Oh my god, this gorgeous Itano Circus as Eureka attempts to avoid Anemone’s tethers. Feels like I’m being spoiled by all this traditionally animated robot violence; who knew in the era of Star Driver, Code Geass, and Eureka Seven that they would be the last icons of giant robot anime?
The End revealing its eyes also seems too reminiscent of the corresponding Eva moment to be coincidence, implying these robots also might have organic cores
Renton is overwhelmed by Anemone’s attack, and enters a breakdown that only resolves with him yelling “help me, Sis!” At that point, the Nirvash seems to enter some kind of overdrive
Renton now seems manically preoccupied with their power core, causing Eureka to leap at him and shout “don’t leave me!” Clearly a lot of untended baggage is rising to the surface
“Acperience 1.” Unsurprisingly, we’ve hit the next episode written by Dai Sato himself
“Once again, the Nirvash was the only one to make it to the other side.” It seems the Coralian forms some kind of tunnel or gauntlet that generally destroys those who enter it
Wonderful flourish of movement for Talho as she swerves the ship to avoid approaching lasers. I appreciate that even Talho does that videogame thing where you move your own body in the direction you want your character to go
“The primary purpose of this mission is to measure the link between the Coralian and Anemone!” There’s our confirmation that Anemone and Eureka are connected to the Coralian in some way
Lots of fun character acting for Gidget, who seems thoroughly overwhelmed by battlefield command
It’s interesting how much more this episode is getting into the weeds of the various roles each character plays on the Nirvash crew, as well as the mechanics of ship-to-ship combat. I could see the other writers intentionally leaving this to Sato, who’d naturally have the most definitive understanding of how the crewmates are supposed to support each other
Renton wakes up into a horrifying dream, where he’s in a classroom surrounded by misshapen doll-people, as the teacher speaks on the sexual dynamics of butterflies
And now Renton finds himself on a vast empty plain, staring down into a tiny model of the classroom he was just inside. Like most of the Sato episodes, we’re getting a bunch of hints regarding the show’s overall trajectory, this time focusing on Renton’s process of emerging from the “cocoon” of adolescence into the blue sky of adulthood. I see now that those figures weren’t dolls, they were chrysalis
Suddenly back in the classroom, Renton is pursued by the background itself, as it compresses in on itself towards him. This seems somewhat reminiscent of the process that is currently destroying humanity’s surface settlements
Apparently Renton is dreaming, and Eureka is actually seeking him
I really enjoy how we’re getting a taste of classic ship-to-ship combat here, like from Space Battleship Yamato or whatnot. The Gekkostate is a wonderful vehicle with a fun crew, and it’s a treat to see the whole team working in tandem for once
Captain Jurgens and Holland have the same idea: come in as close as possible, and unload all weapons as they pass each other. Holland might play the revolutionary, but he thinks like a cold-blooded military man
Lots of imposing fisheye compositions for Renton’s nightmare. This director seems to be a big fan of them – might be worth checking his FMA episodes to see if they also stand out there
He finds himself in an infinite bathroom, with toilet stalls and urinals stretching into the distance. Interesting mixture of imagery here; lots of motifs (like the butterfly) that seem to gesture towards his burgeoning sexuality/adulthood, as well as images evoking bodily shame, and also entrapment in cycles
The butterfly’s shadow floats up past the last locked bathroom door, and Renton sees himself looking down from above. When opened, the door reveals a void with a toilet far below. All of this seems to imply a profound self-consciousness about his maturing body
He is pushed out from behind, by a figure whose dress we can recognize as Anemone’s
He falls into water, and sinks past a school of fish. Given Eureka Seven’s overarching ocean motifs, that can’t be a meaningless choice
In a vast darkness, Renton discovers a fridge with a naked Anemone inside, who calls him a pervert. Like Evangelion, exploration of young sexuality is here twisted by the dehumanizing machinations of the larger organizations controlling these kids. Like Rei, Eureka and Anemone present a uniquely disorienting portrait of sexuality to the uncertain Renton
Renton’s dreams now take him to his hometown, still framed as a tiny box, divorced from the larger world
A strange floating fragment tells Renton that “there’s infinite hatred in the world,” and that there’s no point in trying to understand it, right before Anemone finally catches him
Eureka saves him, and for a brief moment, he actually sees his beloved sister in the distance
Hoo boy, what an ambiguous stew of an episode that was! It’s clear that Renton’s dream inside the Coralian space was largely playing off his own adolescent insecurities, but the actual relationship between Eureka/Anemone and the Coralians is far more ambiguous. At the moment, I’m perhaps most interested in how Anemone works as a response/echo of Asuka from Evangelion. Introduced roughly nine episodes in as a rival pilot with a caustic attitude and long red hair, it’s clear that Anemone is the Asuka-evoking counterpoint to Eureka’s Rei parallel, but what does that mean, and how will her position among the enemies change her dynamic with the others? I’m eager to find out!
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