At last! Answers! Or so I hope? Well, yet another long post follows for theories and actual thoughts on the episode.
illegenes: There comes a time when our heroes must face the consequences of their actions….yes, we’ve all seen Spider Man (no, not the one with Andrew Garfield) and we’ve all heard that quote. Too bad – or rather, too good – that this week’s episode was all about consequences, as Ao comes face to face with the results of his actions last week while answers are revealed as AO slowly begins to tie up its loose ends. Unfortunately, there’s been so much going on at this point that it’s hard to write down everything I’ve been thinking of at this point at once. But luckily I have Photoshop installed. Behold! A timeline! Though not really perfect.
*Fleur = Elena; I always get names mixed up, my apologies.
**The start of the blue line for when the Scub Coral start appearing should be much sooner; this episode references that Scub Bursts appeared as early as 1908 in history.
***In terms of specific dates – Eureka arrives in the timeline in 2015; she leaves three years later, AO currently takes place in 2025 or 2028, the sources keep switching dates.
Pardon my drawing skills (I do have a tablet, it’s just at home so you will all have to bear with my quasi-Pixiv Pro level drawing skills for a bit)! The first thing I’d like to mention is that these two timelines are not strictly in line with one another. E7’s timeline is ‘ahead’ and time flows faster there; we can compare this effect to looking at the night sky. The sky we see isn’t the ‘present’ sky. It’s the night sky from 10 billion years ago, due to light and time traveling at a different speed. In the same way, E7’s timeline is connected to E7AO’s timeline, but not in the same ‘time’. AO’s is in the past, while E7 is in the future.
The second thing to note is that Ao split his timeline into two when he used the Quartz weapon. As Christophe and the others hypothesized, Ao could have also just changed a rather important point in the past – erasing the entire Norway Scub Coral from history at the cost of using the Quarts weapon – but in essence, this is still creating a parallel timeline. In that way, the timeline I’ve created is a bit off, as the green line should be sort of ‘separate’ since history went a bit differently.
Anyway. We did learn quite a few things here and there, but starting in order: Johansson. Johansson was able to see the “other” timeline, according to Gazelle and his crew, which leads me to believe that either Johansson came from Eureka’s timeline/the original E7 timeline, or like Naru, he simply gained the ability to ‘see’ these other timelines due to the effects of the Scub Coral. Either possibility could be true; the Scub Coral have been around as far as 1908 as said in this episode, so Johansson could easily have grown up being affected with Coral particles. Johansson could have also travelled to Ao’s timeline as a young child, though how or through what means we don’t know yet. Pinpointing the time when he wrote his book is a different matter. Looking at his timeline, we know that Johansson adopted Truth in April 2017 and then possibly experimented on him for years (while Ao was growing up) and released his book either after or before he adopted Truth. Either way, what the book claims is simple: that both the Secrets (who have been on Ao’s planet much longer than the Scub, interacting with humans since the 18th century) and the Scub Coral distort history and the future – basically time altogether – and thus are a threat to humanity. It’s a strange and large conspiracy, as Gazelle suggests, but it does sort of line up with what Astral/Holographic!Eureka says later on in the show: the Quartz do not recognize space and time. When Ao uses the weapon – a weapon made by Quartz (and thus by the Scub itself), he changes the past as well as the future.
The question is though, what is Johansson’s intent? The parallel of his ‘prophetic nature’ to Fleur and Elena’s program which is allegedly ‘propagandist’ in supporting Generation Bleu is rather amusing but interesting at the same time. Of course, Fleur and Elena’s anime is harmless and only used for fanservice and comedy, but Johansson seems to truly believe that both the Scub Coral and the Secrets are potential threats to the timeline(s). I would like to think that Johansson is more than just a plot device, used to give us the answers we desperately need in order to piece this story together, but with the amount of episodes left, I’m not sure how the writers will do that. Of course, we have Truth, who is Johansson’s ‘son’ and thus wants to carry his legacy, but we don’t even know what Truth’s motives are in the first place. He says he wants to change the world, but for who? And why?
As for Truth and Eureka: Truth arrived at the same time as Eureka, in 2015. He is adopted two years later by Johansson and then is experimented on. While there’s no explanation as to how he got to Ao’s timeline, or why he has such amazing powers, we do know that he came from Eureka’s timeline as well. It’s said that Truth, as a boy, is found in the Scub Coral after Eureka disappears, which leads me to believe that he came through the Scub Burst that Eureka initiated. Truth is then taken under Johansson’s wing where he is supposedly experimented on, using Secrets as subject matter. There’s also another theory that Truth is originally the Secret Eureka fought and was absorbed into the Coral to become a human being and thus became part Scub, part Secret like Eureka, and thus he was able to see flashes of Eureka’s timeline just like Naru was because he’s part Coral. Either way, Truth is still quite an enigma to the story. We still don’t know his (and thus, Johansson’s) motives. Eureka is also mysterious herself; we finally learn the consequence of moving Quartz to another timeline, as Eureka merges into the fabric of time and space and is only allowed to briefly intermingle with timelines, including Ao’s. She either returned back to her timeline when she took the Quartz, giving it to Renton to make his own Quartz Weapon, or she directly vanished into time and space. Her message is clear though; the weapon Ao is holding is one that could resolve the problem of the Scub Corals disappearing from Eureka’s timeline as well as the problem of Scubs and Secrets existing in Ao’s timeline. It’s no wonder then, why Truth wants it.
Of course, there’s always a dilemma to a seemingly perfect solution, and here, it’s the fact that the Quartz weapon isn’t complete. I’m assuming this is the setup for the last 7 episodes of AO, as Ao tries to find how to complete the Quartz weapon in time while overcoming his fear that the weapon will erase certain Scub Corals from history. But that’s the thing: the Quartz weapon uses a Quartz piece, alternates the timeline by either destroying, or sending back, a Scub Coral from where it came from (back to Eureka’s timeline) and thus aligns Ao’s timeline back into place. Since an incomplete version of the Quartz weapon managed to do that to one Scub, it’s safe to say that the complete version of the Quartz weapon will send all the Scub Corals back to their respective timeline and correct Ao’s timeline altogether. Also, with a complete weapon, we won’t have such adverse side effects, like the side effect of people’s white cell count rising (maybe my whole white cell = Secrets analogy was true?) but also Scub Coral particles growing inside the lungs.
It all depends on Ao. This show has primarily focused on his mental stability and so far the pressure has really gotten to him. Ao is caught in a web of political, emotional and mental turmoil, and the sad thing is that he’s the only thing who can set himself free from that net and regain the confidence that he had back in Episode 1. I don’t blame Ao for losing that confidence however; he’s been through enough stress. The fact that Chloe and the others, who are found to be living a life of ‘happiness’ outside being IFO pilots, is enough to weigh him down and prevent him from pulling the trigger against Truth. Combine this with all of the recent things that have happened to him, and you have a very unstable kid. It makes sense that the Allied Forces – specifically, the people from Okinawa who socially isolated Ao in the first place – are taking Ao under their wing. It’s not that political forces are now vying for Ao since he is the only one who can control the Quartz weapon; it’s more to do with the fact that no one can really understand or ‘control’ Ao. Even Generation Bleu, with all of their connections and power as a NGO can’t restrain him, as seen in this episode where Ao listens in on Christophe and the team’s report on how the Quartz weapon changed the world. The issue is – can Ao take a stand in a world where not only do we not know who is on which side, but we don’t even know what sides exist in the first place? It’s tricky. However, as I have said in the past 16 episodes, I still continue to have faith in BONES not to screw this up. But enough from me; I’ll stop here and hand the mic over to Wendeego.
wendeego: I’m not going to even try to one-up Natasha’s work in summing up this series, because a) she’s already done a fantastic job above and b) AO‘s plot is so complicated (maybe even convoluted?) that it is difficult for me to know where to begin. Having said that, there was one part of this episode–one that looks to be one of the most important elements of this series–that, as a fan of the original Eureka Seven, I thought was legitimately troubling. Keep in mind that so much in Ao is in flux at the moment that any of this speculative ranting could easily prove to be misguided or false. That said, let us begin:
Eureka Seven (hereby denoted as E7) was a fifty-episode epic bildungsroman about surfing robots and space aliens, but in reality it was a love story. Not just in the general sense of a boy and girl falling in love, but rather a story about love in all its forms: romantic, familial, bonds of friendship and parentage strong enough to even cross species lines. Nowhere was this more clear than in the show’s treatment of violence. Deaths in E7 were frequently brutal and unfair, and if the show revolved around mecha blowing each other up, it was a show that refused to shy away from the consequences of those acts. One of the show’s early turning points came when Renton, the show’s protagonist, after having slaughtered an entire enemy unit, comes across the ring of a dismembered pilot in the wreckage, and realizes that inside every mecha he defeated in the show thus far was a living, breathing human. In later fights, the Nirvash’s seemingly supernatural powers proved most useful not in obliterating entire enemy fleets, but in disarming them en masse. Ultimately, the most powerful weapon in E7 was nonviolent: to care for another person, to feel empathy with a being fundamentally different from you, to love somebody unconditionally.
So here’s my question: if E7 proved that love, not violence, was the true solution, than what the fuck is up with the Quartz gun?
It’s not just tonally inconsistent with its predecessor. I’d venture to say that in many ways, AO’s Quartz Gun is actually a step back from the lessons learned in E7‘s climax. Yes, E7‘s last episode featured Renton in a tricked-out Nirvash blowing up thousands of scub antibodies, but really what saved the world was his and Eureka’s love for each other, not all the finger lasers in the world. On the other hand, AO features as its catalyst not something grounded in shared commonality between human and scub, but instead an all-powerful alien weapon with terrifying consequences. Of course, what makes this even worse is that according to Eureka, Renton is looking for this thing. In the end, if Ao’s mother is correct, love was not strong enough. The only thing that can save Ao’s timeline (and possibly all timelines) is literally a giant gun, and in one stroke E7’s fundamental message of peace, understanding and nonviolence is horrifically undermined.
Here’s a couple of counter-arguments: it could be deliberate on the part of the writers. The Quartz Gun doesn’t come without sacrifice; the privilege of using it is a very heavy burden. The Quartz Gun might only be the lesser of evils, the alternatives being obliteration by Scub, Secret or something worse. The Quartz Gun is also horrifically dangerous because using it against any of the factions in play could fundamentally change the time stream, and such is AO’s mess of allegiances and confusions that there is no telling who is good and who is evil, especially for Ao himself. Or maybe: perhaps the Quartz Gun is not the answer. Perhaps Renton, lost in his desire to save what he loves from destruction, has forsaken love and turned to violence instead–and it’s up to Ao to set matters straight, and prove once and for all that empathy is stronger than ignorance, and love stronger than hate.
Or it could turn out to be something else entirely. While AO might be frustrating and sometimes even inconsistent, it remains one of the most legitimately surprising and unpredictable anime I’ve seen since Mawaru Penguindrum. That said, I’m beginning to question its worth as a sequel. Thoughts?
Enjoyment Level: 8/10