Once again, Eureka Seven: AO displays its maturity and strength by placing our main protagonist in his most uncomfortable position yet.
This week’s “Secret” is in the land of the brave, home of the free- but it seems that even America, which has usually been depicted as a strong country in anime, is struggling with this tough opponent. Not only is the Secret immensely large and is the first to pop up in the United States, but there’s been a new development: it now targets human beings. Whether this is brought on by Truth’s intrusion or whether it is a biological evolution (Secrets after all, are sentiment creatures) is yet to be known. However, it doesn’t help that Ao along with his mentor, Ivica, are stuck in a sticky situation when they are trapped alongside 30+ civilians who are being targeted by the Secrets themeselves. The entire situation is created by Truth himself, who gives only one piece of information before he disappears: the Secrets are not what they seem! (we know, Truth, we know.)
While this in one way seems like just another Secret episode that offers us only so much detail on plot development, underneath the tension lies a lot- and I mean a lot- of character development and reveals. First is Ivica. He’s from the war torn Unnamed country, which may have not been described in detail through from the information given. However, I’m pretty sure it’s no irregular coincidence. Either way, Ivica has seen the hard results of war- how it can destroy a nation just as easily benefit a nation, as seen with the U.S President, who I did have some qualms with (but more on that later). Ivica’s nature is unusually kind on the surface, but underneath that lies a very deep sense of guilt; guilt that Ivica can’t protect everyone he wants to. It’s almost as childlike as the name he gives his team: Pied Piper, which is finally explained in this episode. The Pied Piper whisks away children with his flute; for Ivica, that’s the same message as him and Generation Bleu whisking children away for their own purposes to pilot the mecha. Ivica seeks to atone for doing something he couldn’t have really changed in the first place, and it shows, both with his kindness to Ao and the others along with his firm idealism that to serve the people’s best interests is ultimately, the right thing to do.
This contrasts with Rebecca, who could have done something potentially, but didn’t. While Ao and Ivica are handling the Secret up front, Rebecca is tasked with the negotiations, which is a lot harder than it seems, considering that Rebecca and the President had some…history (in more ways than one, it seems) and the President is generally a douche with pretty ridiculous ‘evil’ vibes. I wasn’t happy about that- I mean, fine, we can portray Americans as snobby and condescending but at least give this guy some depth in comparison to the other antagonists you’ve been using in this show. President Douchebag tries to seduce Ivica to ~join his side~ which puts her in a tough spot because Generation Bleu sort of does need permission before going on foreign territory to deal with the Secrets (something I find amusing because they’re the only one who can deal with the Secrets in the first place so you’d expect some warm welcomes from other nations for once) and the President’s really in charge of here calling the shots. Or so he thinks, when Rebecca places a gun to his stomach and tells him to fuck off when it’s gotten too much. Good girl.
It gets more interesting when it turns out that Rebecca doesn’t seem to think much about the past, but does get uncomfortable when it is brought up, especially by not-so-classy Gazelle. What really sparks is when Ivica takes Rebecca’s side despite her being one of the major players who erased his people and his country. Ivica tells Gazelle not to bring up Rebecca’s past again in front of her, which really awes me because once again AO demonstrates that people, and situations, are not always black and white.
Who gets the most character development in this episode though, is none other than Ao himself. I’ve commented before that Ao has really set himself up to be a very likeable and well constructed protagonist for the series, but man, does it show! Ao finally gets in the middle of a battlefield and suffers from immense shock and trauma. He has every right to feel the way he does- he has always piloted from an IFO, so he’s never really been on the battleground to see people die around him. And they just don’t die- they get vaporized out of very existence. Caught in the middle of what could have potentially been yet another sort of erasure of people, Ao goes into shock and loses ability to act, think or even feel. As someone who’s gone through a personal case of shock, I can relate to Ao’s fear and horror of being unable to believe- or do- anything about the scene around him. It’s not his fault though, and Ao reacts pretty realistically for the scene. I think people often forget that Ao is a child- and while he was raised in a sort of brutal environment where he was outcasted because of his connection to Eureka, he still has the heart of a kid. Even Ivica’s words don’t seem to knock Ao back into his senses, and it’s only after seeing the marionettes does Ao really show his strength as a main protagonist and come up with a clever idea to rescue the citizens from being trapped in the store: huddling through tents. Despite losing his spirit, Ao manages to get it back up again- not just because of Ivica’s interesting parenting, but also because Ao understands that the situation is serious- and that he needs to find a way to get these people out of here. Successfully getting everyone out of the building safely, Ao and his team come to save the day and in a flashy style, let Ivica kill the Secret. Hooray!
Eureka Seven: AO obviously combines shounen elements but subverts them in a darker and more intelligent and mature way than what the main anime viewer is used to, which is why there might be so much criticism regarding its storytelling. The episodic nature of “Secret of the Week” may seem monotonous and dull, but on the contrary, it offers insight into our characters in many subtle ways and it also really sets in the tone of the show. We have hints of comedy but at the heart of it is a struggle of different mediums, along with the mounting pressure that there is something much larger than what Ao or the audience knows. It’s a mystery within a shounen show. That combined with the political matters being tackled and presented on a much more detailed scale than Eureka Seven, along with the layered character relationships which are founded for a variety of reasons (political motivation, young/old age gap, or just for friendship) makes Eureka Seven: AO a wonderful show to watch. The fact that this buildup is so slow, but steady and solid, is what can separate a viewer from being infuriated with the pacing from a viewer who appreciates that sort of development. I’m more of the latter, and thus I really love how Eureka Seven: AO is blending these elements to create an overall balanced, insightful show that is equally about the characters and the plot as it is about the social and political themes that construct them. The touch of an allusion to the Bosnia situation in this episode revealed more about Ivica and Rebecca than a usual ‘background history’ episode without sacrificing development on the main protagonist as well. So far, Fleur and these three have been handled in terms of character background- and now it’s Elena’s turn next week, which seems like a bit of a mind twist, when the episode is named “Mirror of the World.” I guess we’ll just have to wait and find out more about that and Elena’s mysterious past!
Also, I’m terribly sorry about the delay of my posts- the fever’s gone finally, so you can expect me to be fully caught up by Sunday, I promise! :(
Enjoyment Level: 8.5/10