Countdown; Eureka Seven: AO Episode 16

Well, were the two weeks worth it? It’s been a terribly long and hard wait, and now that the Olympics are over, we return to our weekly mindbending installment of Eureka Seven: AO.

illegenes: I’m not sure what to say about this week’s episode; it surely did a fantastic job of building up a solid climax, but it didn’t really answer any of our previous questions from the last 15 episodes. In fact, I’d have to say that it didn’t answer any of those questions, but only inserted itself into another Evangelion paradigm toward the end.  The episode gives us no time to catch up or review the previous ones, as it dives straight back into last episode’s conflict, where the Scub Coral are all reactivating despite their Quartz being taken out, and Generation Bleu is dispatched to destroy all the Secrets coming after them. That, combined with the fact that Secrets are defense mechanisms created by the Earth to wipe out any sort of invasive species, gave us a great start to this week’s episode, where Christophe of Generation Bleu initiates Operation Polaris: a plan to wipe out the Secrets. How? Simply plunging down the satellite holding all the Quartz will do.

I have to say that Christophe’s initiation of Project Polaris wasn’t something I expected; it’s bold and daring, but considering the extreme measures, also necessary. His ability to call out on such measures, but then jokingly remind Ivica to get coffee beans almost reminds me of Gendo’s qualities, though not as….harsh. For one thing, Christophe truly does care about his daughter, even telling her to save herself and throw the Quartz missile away from herself when it turns out that it can’t reach its original destination. Gendo on the other hand, sees Ikari as nothing but a tool to accelerate his ideal dream of being reunited with his dead wife. Still, both characters have the confidence and the determination to complete what they planned to accomplish. For Christophe here, Project Polaris’ completion is very important to his and Generation Bleu’s image; as shown, the entire world is depending on Generation Bleu to deal with these secrets, and while some nations support Polaris (such as the United States and Allied Forces), other nations are still very wary of Bleu’s hidden power (such as the Japanese army). It’s also here that we learn a bit of odd information: Generation Bleu is a Swiss company. I’m not if the origins of the company are important in any way, but I did think that was interesting considering that we never knew about Christophe’s ethnicity.

In contrast to Christophe’s confidence, Ao is still struggling to understand what Naru and Eureka told him – or rather, what they didn’t tell him. He’s as confused as the audience, left with bits of information to piece together but looking at a glaringly unfinished puzzle nonetheless.  Even sleep can’t help him. Ao’s dreams are twisted to fit the schemes of his own doubts, fears, and anxiousness. The so disturbing image of Eureka collapsing into Naru, who leans down to kiss him on the lips and tells him to ‘decide for himself’ also gives me that strange, disturbing sensation Evangelion had when Ikari was struggling to understand himself and why he was born.

Ao’s mindset is still firm on destroying the Secrets, but it’s only at the end of this episode where we understand the due consequences of that mindset as well as Eureka’s warning about how the Secrets were never our enemies. The question still stands: who is? Not even malignant Truth is a clear answer to this situation, as he wields his godly deus ex machina political powers to cyberhack a system and deploy missiles to stop the Quartz missile from reaching its destination. Naru is not an obvious answer either, as her purpose is made even more confusing when she tries to attack a Secret with Eureka’s Nirvash (I thought we established that Naru was working with Truth, who was working with the Secrets? What’s up with that?). If these two people cannot be held accountable for their actions just yet, we can only assume that the question is focused on the Secrets vs Scub Coral battle: yet another battle that’s confusing because the previous context of Eureka Seven held that the Scub Coral were friendly, and all evidence in this series directs to them being so (except for the fact that Scub Bursts will kill millions of people). If there’s one thing to be gained from this week’s episode, it’s that the battle between these two alien-like species is a battle of evils. On one hand, the Secrets destroy everything in their past in their mission to destroy the Quartz, but on the other hand, Scub Bursts come from Scub Coral, and kill people as well. We could say that both should be wiped out, but considering previous context once again, it wouldn’t make sense. AO has given us rather clear hints that its timeline is before Eureka Seven‘s. If that’s true, then the Scub Coral have to repopulate and take over the Earth, so that they can set up the setting and future conflict of Eureka Seven. But once again, these are theories held together by dangling information on loose string. My thoughts are as good as Ao’s, who is so concerned about what the future holds that he still can’t even sleep properly.

The mysteries don’t stop there, unfortunately. I’m not sure whether I should consider the ‘answer’ of the Quartz to Ao’s pleas a massive episode device or something more deliberate. I can say that the moral of this week’s episode is “be careful of what you wish for.” Ao’s cry of “If you’re a weapon, save the world!” is childish and naive, and we only understand the depth of this when the Goldilocks team is sacrificed for the Secrets’ destruction. I don’t know why of all people, the Goldilocks team would be the one to disappear. If anyone, it would have been Fleur, with her ties to Eureka and thus the reasoning behind the conflict itself. Is it the fact that only children can pilot IFO’s? My idea is that Ao has been transported to a parallel universe – Eureka’s universe, except in the past, if we are using the theory that Eureka comes from a parallel universe and not the future. My only reasoning for this is that much like 13 years ago, Ao carried a large amount of Quartz, and initiated a very large Scub Burst (the weapon’s light emission was like 12 Scub Bursts raining down at once and then collapsing into one Scub Burst; Scub Bursts are known to be teleports). George’s answer that Ao only had a 3% rate of survival makes things odder when there’s just a flash and Ao is seen to be okay, on the ship with Ivica and friends. But this could all be in Ao’s mind too. Is BONES pulling another Evangelion scheme on us?

Nothing is substantial at this point, and it’s frustrating, overwhelming, and exciting. But it’s also making me worry. We have no clear answers from AO yet, and only 8 episodes to go. That’s a little bit of a time crunch, and with the pile of subtle reveals AO has been building up, I’m beginning to wonder if plot holes will be left, and if endings will be rushed.Who knows? BONES is known to pull tricks from its sleeves; they’ve done so in the past and I still hold some faith that all of these questions can be resolved. I just don’t want another Bounen no Xamdou, where things could have been much, much more – but weren’t, and left a sad and bitter taste in my mouth. But let’s save this prospect of despair for after the series! Luckily, Wendeego has some more coherent theories than mine, so let’s see what he has to offer.

wendeego: I know it’s tempting to equate AO with Evangelion, and to be honest there are many, many connections between the two at the moment. The superficial details match up: a boy with distant parents made to pilot a giant robot, a gang of children forced to do the same, a vast corporation spearheading the effort with plans of their own, an unknowable alien force that might not be what they seem. There’s even a Kaworu figure in the (still mishandled) character of Truth. Both shows feature an “action arc” which include a fairly standard–if exciting–series of giant robot fights, and then a “descent arc” where the characters realize everything they knew was wrong. But if you look beyond the superficial details, I think you can see that the actual structure of the story is very different.

Evangelion was first and foremost a character study. Beyond being a sci-fi conspiracy series, it was also one where each fight was important not so much because of the amount of explosions involved, but because it represented a new stage in the development of the cast. The show’s apocalyptic events were ultimately centered around a single fourteen-year-old boy with serious emotional problems. The mystery was eventually shoved into the background due to budgetary restrictions in order to psychoanalyze the protagonists. And so on. Most importantly, it was a series where there were really no right answers, just varying shades of grey with a couple of damaged, reserved people trapped in the middle of everything.

But from what I’ve seen, I’d be willing to bet that Ao does have a right answer; the “truth,” if you will. The Secrets are important not because they are trials of fortitude to push the key players along their path of evolution, but but because they are an actual “alien” force with reasons behind their actions that range beyond playing McGuffin. While Ao is very much the story of its eponymous protagonist, the reality behind the struggles between Secret and Scub, the book of prophecies, Truth and Naru’s real agenda and the exact location of Ao’s father are all just as, if not more important. This episode in particular comes out and gives Ao two choices: side with his friends, save the world and defeat the Secrets once and for all, or listen to the words of his mother and the visions of his head and try to take matters into his own hands. He chooses the former, of course, because Ao is a Hero and this is a shonen anime.

But where Ao really subverts expectations, Evangelion-style, is that Ao chooses poorly. Of course he rushes into battle at the last minute, trusting to a deux ex machina to save the day. Of course the quartz transforms into a giant laser gun. But then the battle ends with almost no fanfare, jumping immediately to Ao sitting in the ship with the rest of the crew. Nobody celebrates. And then Ao realizes that somehow, Team Goldilocks has been erased from existence, and with that the world of Eureka Seven has become exponentially more dangerous. Ao didn’t just make a mistake; he was actively penalized for it.

Ao, clouded by doubt, loss and confusion.

It might have been clear to the viewer from last episode that the rules had changed; that the Scub could activate en masse, that the Secrets might be earthly forces while the Scub are the true invaders, that battles could no longer be solved by a blind charge towards the weak spot. But to give Ao some credit, he’s young, confused and surrounded by children, adults and ethereal forces that are all either blatantly lying to him or not quite giving him the whole story. The central mystery of Ao might be even foggier for him than it is for us, and in that sense, like in the original Eureka Seven, the central conflict of the series might ultimately come down to miscommunication. Which is, coincidentally, what Evangelion is all about.

To be honest, I’m about as worried as Natasha is. Bones has a habit of letting down excellent build-up with horribly rushed and unfulfilling endings, and while I thought the original Eureka Seven barely escaped that trap due to its strong character development, Ao runs a much greater risk of disappointment. But what the hell, I’ll take that risk. Eureka Seven Ao is many things, not all of them good, but there are two things it is not: lazy or boring. It remains an exciting, ambitious work, and while I have my doubts about where it’s all heading, it’s done just good enough of a job so far to win the benefit of the doubt. Here’s hoping the series finishes strong, and does justice to its predecessor.

Enjoyment Level: 9/10

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4 responses to “Countdown; Eureka Seven: AO Episode 16

  1. Well, were the two weeks worth it? No way I hated waiting and then BAMMMM were back into some off the wall stuff, but thankfully this was not the episode they left off on…

    @illegenes: OOooh yeah I can see lots of Gendo in Christophe’s character and Ao’s dreams? What the hell is going on there!? It could be a combination of sleep loss and those pills mixed in with fighting non stop battles for a long time! Whatever that quartz cannon did it certainly screwed up team goldilocks and why is that team so important anyway? From my point of view they are basically the “suffering” team because they always get into trouble! AND YES PLEASE I DO NOT WANT ANOTHER X’AMD! I loved that series but damn they messed it up T__T

    @wendeego: Yeah Eureka Seven Ao and EVA have a lot in common and a few differences as far as the main characters goes! Ao isn’t afraid to fight well at the start of the series anyway…I did enjoy the huge quartz cannon scene, but afterwards when no one knew about team Goldilocks I was like uhh what the hell did that cannon do?! Erase that team from that world or did it send them to another universe? I have so many questions! Ah well this is entertaining <3

    Great post you two! Now I have to get cracking on my own ahahah

    • What a confusing ending! And like Wendeego said, while Eureka Seven does heavily borrow from Evangelion’s elements, I still think it’s a great series (I just like to compare and contrast a lot). I love Xam’d a lot myself, but that ending was a mess and I just don’t want bad pacing to ruin what’s been an excellent sequel to Eureka Seven. As for the quartz cannon and all these questions piling up, I still have no idea – but I have quite a few theories, so hopefully some of them will come true? I don’t know, but next week’s episode looks like it’s going to deliver some answers for once, so I’m really happy about that.

  2. I am actually starting to wonder if this is series one and there will be a follow up series two. That way we can have a big reveal on ep25 followed by a gap to a series two with even more questions.

    Looking at the opening credits of the second half of the season we still haven’t had a reveal of the rocket with a nose like the Geko Go and I am wondering if this is going to tie in with Renton’s almost inevitable big reveal.

    Two 25 episode series makes far more sense and generates more interest for studio BONES as people throw their arms up at the end of ep25 with a “Too be continued…” I could even see Renton appearing and saying “Hello son…” just before the episode ends and you get the “Too be continued…”

    • It’s hard to say, because Eureka Seven AO has been scripted for 24 episodes as far as anyone knows right now. Of course, it’s possible that they could extend the episode count, or create a ‘second’ season for AO, but considering that this is a BONES original anime, it most likely won’t happen (as much as I would like a second season). But if they do pull a conclusion like that, you can definitely put me in the group that’s going to be surprised. I still think that it can all be done in eight episodes though. AO definitely shows the same sort of energy as its predecessor but a different sort of vibe to it, which I enjoy especially when it comes to sequels, because I personally believe sequels should have a sense of continuity in them, but also be able to stand out on their own; something AO has accomplished in the past 4 months.

      I really do hope, like many of the original Eureka Seven fans, that Renton’s return can be built up solidly here like it was done with Eureka’s return. With so many questions to answer, a large plot scaling up, and two questionable antagonists to look at, it’s going to be tough squeezing that in when we only have eight episodes left, but like I said before – if anyone can do it, BONES can. (Or maybe I’m just too much of a BONES fan to care!)

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