Eureka Seven: Astral Ocean – 14

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There’s a part of me that’s convinced BONES is just screwing with my head now because they can…

OP2: “BravBlue (ブレイブルー)” by FLOW

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Eureka Seven AO - 14 - Large 01Yes, my brain hurts – but it’s a good kind of pain.  I haven’t been this unsure of a story since…  Well, probably since Eureka Seven.  Or maybe it was Rahxephon?  There’s one very obvious commonality between those two shows and this one, of course, and it’s the glorious BONES mindscrew – which has been sadly missing from most of their work for the last few years.  While AO continues to surprise and confound me at every turn, I’d still argue that while the original E7 too often felt random and disjointed, AO has a more ordered and logical feel to it.  The progression of events holds up to scrutiny, and most of the revelations actually make sense in  hindsight, and that wasn’t always the case with E7 and to a lesser extent, Rahxephon.  Of course, Aikawa Shou and Kyouda-sensei still have the biggest challenge in front of them, crafting an ending that maintains this structural integrity.

In addition to the cornucopia of information we received in the episode, we also have an OP and ED to dissect this week.  Setting aside the artistic merits of each (OP: a homage to the original E7, ED: light and breezy with dark subtext) here are a couple of things that stood out:

  • OP: Most obviously, the presence of a character who should most likely be Renton.  His back is to us so it can’t be confirmed (his clothes look more like Dominic’s) but he’s framed with Eureka and Ao, so…  We also have a shot of what looks like a retrofitted Gekko-Go.
  • ED: We got a montage of scenes of Ao, Fleur and Elena on what appears to be the beach from the E7 ending (we know Elena has seen it in flashback already) and Eureka and Renton’s moon makes a cameo in the ep itself.

Eureka Seven AO - 14 - Large 02There’s really too much here to try and make sense of all of it and still leave time for impressions of the episode itself, so I’ll stick to the highlights for the most part.  To me the most obvious question is the one that sprang forth from Eureka’s smiling “My baby is a girl!”.  That shakes up the world (both for poor Ao and ourselves) pretty good.  I can see three theories springing to mind here – Eureka’s baby is Naru, Eureka’s baby is Elena, or this Eureka is from a different timeline altogether – and one where she had a girl instead of Ao.  My problems with the Naru theory are many, but the most immediate is age – as Naru and Ao are both 13, that would either imply a very quick turnaround or that the two of them are twins.  Possible, but we’ve seen no foreshadowing of that as far as I can tell.  It’s possible this could be a different Eureka altogether and not Ao’s mom, but if that’s so, we just don’t have the information at our disposal to say one way or the other.

Eureka Seven AO - 14 - Large 03That leaves us with “Elena is Ao’s older sister’ – and IMO this one passes the Occam’s Razor test of being the least unlikely option we know of.  It would explain Elena’s “otherness”, her hostility towards Eureka (abandonment issues – “Are you leaving again?  You’re not getting away this time!”), her memories of being with Eureka as a little girl, and there’s nothing in the existing timeline that precludes it.  Elena might reasonably be said to have shown a “sisterly” attitude towards Ao too, though that’s a bit soft and fuzzy to nail down and she probably wouldn’t have known the truth in any case.  If anything the possibility that this is a straightforward time-travel scenario seems more likely to me than it did after last week’s episode, and the Elena theory fits neatly with the time travel theory.

Eureka Seven AO - 14 - Large 04The information was thicker than trapar in the air this week, though some of it – like that spouted by war-hungry Nakamura – can’t be trusted on its face.  He suggests that the Coralians are mankind’s enemy, the true “aliens”, and that The Secrets are actually the equivalent of our reality’s white blood cells.  He uses this information to confuse the world powers long enough to make a power play on Iwato Island, capturing Ao and Naru and forcing the scuttling of the Gekko-Go by GenBleu.  Some information seems rock-solid – like Fukai-sensei telling Ao that Eureka said Renton was “fighting for her and her child”.  Equally solid is the data (supplied by a traitorous doctor) showing that Naru is indeed part scub coral, and the implication here is that all of the children who fly IFOs have Coralian in their system – and that’s what allows them to do so in the first place.

Eureka Seven AO - 14 - Large 05With each answer, more questions – and with each theory solidifying, another solid theory is put to the test.  After last week the general assumption was that Truthie was a humanoid secret (the subtitle of next week’s episode) but in fact, he’s very much allied with Naru – and it seems all but certain that she’s a human-coralian hybrid.  So either The Truth not a Secret at all despite the visual evidence of episode 13, or the Secrets and Coralians aren’t (necessarily) enemies. I vote the latter – and Naru’s role in the story has never seemed more in flux than it does right now.  It seems as if Truthie and Eureka are pulling her in different directions, and I found her comment to Ao – “I wanted to fly with you, not just be embraced by you” – an interesting one.  Some will likely see her as rejecting Ao but I don’t see that – rather, I think she sees herself as doing everything she does to try and help him, in her own way. Naru is trying to push Ao to see the truth of the world as she now sees it, but until he gets their on his own their paths will take them in different directions.  Likewise interesting was Truth’s “Why do you hate me so much?” to Eureka – again, the implication being that he’s frustrated at those he sees as logical allies not seeing the same reality he does.

Eureka Seven AO - 14 - Large 06For our main character, we’re left in what seems a fairly dark place. He sees Eureka return to her world in what appears to be the RA272 Nirvash that he himself pilots (the one presumably built by Renton).  Although he shows great maturity in helping her leave despite it breaking his heart (as pointed out by Pippo) Ao has effectively lost his mother for the second time.  And he seems to have lost Naru, too, as she chooses The Truth’s path for now – and though I think their paths will intersect in the end, he can’t possibly know that now.  For all his maturity and courage in and out of battle Ao is still (barely) 13, and he’s experiencing an awful lot of heartbreak for a boy so young.  Ao remains one of the best combinations of realistic childlike vulnerability and uncommon courage and integrity I’ve seen in a child character, and one of the best things about Astral Ocean – and it’s easy to empathize with Ivica when the reality of the lives his kids are forced to lead creates so much angst in him.

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ED2: “Iolite (アイオライト)” by joy

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  1. A

    Wow…..Now I remember that feeling watching E7 for the first time…slow start…great middle…..mind fuck epic end. Though I do think Elena might be his sister but the whole pink hair, normal eyes and dark skin tone leads me to think not….but heh crazier shit is going to happen am sure. Strap in kids this is going to be a great ride.

  2. J

    This latest episode was a great ending to this arc. The amount of stuff revealed, along with a whole new series of questions, leaves me waiting for these last episodes.

    I'm in the same camp as you on Elena. So far, the timeline has been linear as far as we can tell by Eureka's time travel. And comparing the pregnant Eureka to the ghost one, she seems a lot younger. It would make sense that Elena is Eureka's first child.

    Naru's role in all of this will be the catalyst that brings change to Ao, probably through her death or transformation. But it's hard to say at this point.

    I'm wondering when they are going to start talking about that book that was made by Truth's surrogate father.

  3. w

    This episode was incredibly frustrating, being that it purported to answer questions but actually just raised a whole lot of new ones while obfuscating the old ones. Then again, given that's Eureka Seven in a nutshell I guess I shouldn't be surprised.

    I'm a little torn about how to feel about the show as a whole. These past three episodes have been pretty great, and if they continue the streak for the next nine or so we could be in for something fantastic. But while I like many of the characters in AO (except for Truth, who still weighs down the whole enterprise) I think that the original Eureka Seven had a much better handle on its characters overall. That show grounded its convolutions in relationships, and for all the factions in play was really a simple rebels vs. empire conflict. AO basically puts all its focus on the plot, which is in many ways even more complicated than its parent with the sheer number of factions in play, at the very least.

    Then again, take the show on its own terms and I think it has the capability to go to some really cool places these next few weeks. If it has problems, it's certainly not through lack of trying, and I'd much prefer an ambitious but difficult side story/prequel/sequel/whatever to a fun but ultimately inessential direct sequel.

  4. I like Ao better than any single character in E7, personally. I still feel as if E7 was basically told from Renton's childish POV, where the perspective in AO is more detached. That makes E7 more elemental and raw on an emotional level in some respects.

  5. T

    You said something that I agree with whole heartedly. No matter how I feel about the details of this show, one thing is certain. this is not a retelling or ova or alternate story with the same characters.

    This is a true continuation of the story told from the stand point of the Children. It's what the sequel of E7 was supposed to be. Even if it's nothing like what we expected.

    So many anime create a sequel just to rehash the same material. Fullmetal brotherhood was wonderful but not really a sequel. The Eva movies are just a condensed version of what we've already seen. E7 is doing exactly what it should. Creating a new book in the Epic that will be Eureka Seven. Psalms of Plants by it's very name suggested something almost biblical in it's importance and Astral Oceans is showing us how the events of that story are being felt throughout time and space itself.

  6. A

    Brotherhood wasn't intended to be a sequel. The original Fullmetal was basically an original story while Brotherhood actually followed the manga. It was more of a re-boot than anything.

  7. A

    At least as far as I know.

  8. A

    Just one thing, wasn't Truth's "why do you hate me?" directed to the Nirvash that was acting on it's own and not Eureka? I also wonder why it ejected Eureka and went auto-pilot to fight Truth. It's also okay with Naru piloting it, too. Way too many questions have popped up, which I suppose makes the ride ahead much more interesting.

  9. A

    “I wanted to fly with you, not be embraced by you”

    I just wanted to point out this translation is inaccurate. It doesn't take the "dake" in Naru's line into account. A proper translation would be:

    “I wanted to fly with you, not just be embraced by you”

    With the correct translation is crystal clear Naru isn't rejecting Ao. She does want to with him but as his equal, not as a damsel that needs to be protected.

  10. Fortunately it came across with that meaning to me either way.

  11. N

    Renton clearly needs to keep it in his pants.

    Every time he doesn't, he just creates more problems 😛

  12. T

    But… why would Eureka's daughter have pink hair? Maybe Eureka got rid of her because Elenor is the love child of Renton and Anemone (joke)

  13. I

    Bones – Yes we can.

    Sorry had to take that dig. I'm really disliking Nakamura, but not because of his obvious portrayal as a war nut and antagonist but because he's not really a character but a plot device that appears just so that Truth can manipulate goverments through a single outlet. He serves no other purpose for what I assume should be an important role. And his manipulation of others feels very weak, making everyone that falls for it, look incredibly stupid. Reminds of Azazel from Gundam Seed, though in that case he just inflamed racism which makes people stupid by default so that at least makes sense.

    I think Elena or Truth or a as of yet unknown person is Ao's sister or Eureka was wrong about the girl thing. Ao might have undergone a sex change as well, with Bones we won't know till it's all over.

  14. A

    Why does Truth appears to use the Lazengann in the opening ?… Just kidding

    Next few weeks should be interesting.

    I have a small question Enzo : Wikipedia now lists 48 episodes for E7AO. Did I miss any important announcement, or is it a typical wikipedia mistake ?

  15. AFAIK that's just another boo-boo.

  16. K

    I find it curious how the two Nirvashs are different. Eureka's is the upgraded one from E7 (1 cockpit w/ 2 seats), whereas Naru's is the old Nirvash (2 separate cockpits). Perhaps there's more than 1 alternate timeline?

  17. T

    Truth crushed the Nirvash as it was plunging into the sea so it would have to have been repaired. Perhaps he only has knowledge of the spec-1 Nirvash. That would also kinda tie in with why he transformed into an earlier version of Eureka in episode 13 instead of what she looked like pregnant.

    Then again in the original series the 2 seats moving closer together was meant to be a statement of the relationship between the two pilots (Renton and Eureka) and how Nirvash saw them. The two separate seats could just mean that Nirvash doesn't want to encourage the two "siblings" having a relationship like there parents did.

  18. G

    Elena's darker skin, pink hair and purple eyes doesn't seem to fit with the theory of her being Ao's sister. If anything, I think Naru has more potential to be Eureka and Renton's offspring, as far as physical traits go. Though you are right, the lack of age difference needs to be justified if that's the case. But to be honest, I still have no idea what Naru's exact role is within the grand scheme, beside the revelation that she's part Scub Coral, I am as confused and I can possibly get. I haven't been this befuddled since Darker than Black. Oh Bones, you spoil us with your amazing ability to build a maze like world, yet we are often left in the world searching for answers to fill the gap ourselves. It's both wonderful and frustrating. But I'm totally loving these precious moments in Ao that are the direct resonance of Eureka Seven, I was hit with a wave of nostalgia during the falling from the sky scene. Thanks for the awesome review Enzo!

  19. BONES really does have the mindscrew magic, don't they? "Wonderful and frustrating" is a good way to describe it.

  20. S

    I think the one thing we're all going to really enjoy: Nirvash vs Nirvash later in the series. THAT will be enjoyable.

    As for what is going on, they're selling hard on this still being a straight time-travel story, but, in some ways, I'm getting less and less convinced. I was thinking of the sci-fi movie Dark City the other day and wonder if Renton is stuck in the Kiefer Sutherland role by a terrible clash of problems. (I doubt it's that directly, but it would be an interesting result) There's obviously time-travel, but that's about all we have locked down, at the moment.

    Elena may have a copy of Ao's older sister's memories imbedded in her. Or the process by which most of the children gain their IFO piloting ability can occasionally bring memories along with it. So many questions to be settled later.

    I do need to mention that Elena's rage moment gave us one of the single best "deer in headlights" moments I've ever seen. Elena hit-and-running on Truth was just freaking awesome. This is why IFF systems are so important in combat. 🙂

    I was hoping Naru was going to kill Nakamura outright. I guess he's going to be our "public" Dewey this series, with Truth being the real inheritor of the abilities. Though neither has the charm that Dewey had. Still, Nakamura was so swarmy, I really, really wanted to watch him die. Especially the way he was abusing Endo's death. (Nice little call back to E7 TV there, as well) Though I question his strategic abilities. GenBleu can put an entire Military anywhere in the world in 2 hours that could easily take out the convoy they had to take Ao & Naru. I would have brought a whole lot more with me if I was making a move like that. As it was, they probably lost several of those ships for their trouble.

    Random call back to earlier in the series: how much you want to bet that Fleur's organ transplants are why she can pilot the IFO? With how involved in Scub Coral that Christophe is, what is the likelihood his wife was as well? (Side possibility: due to the Organ transplant, she could take whatever "treatment" was needed to gain the ability without much trouble)

    It's nice to see that Renton has upped his badass quotient for this series, but we probably won't see him until ep 24 when he comes to collect Eureka, Ao, both or some combination of multiple people. But the interesting bit about the OP, to me, was the "upgraded and somewhat evil" version of the final Nirvash form. Actually, it was a bit of a mix between the ep 50 final form & the final Movie form. I hope that means we're getting funnel-based combat at some point. (Should be noted I loved the last fight scene in the movie)

    Last thing, since I mentioned Dewey, we have the issue of the Scub Coral and the Secrets. The Secrets "aren't the enemy" and the Scub Coral also aren't the enemy. So are the Secrets maybe the accidental result of some of Dewey's programming making it into the Scub Coral? I know this theory popped up pretty early, but it might come back into vogue for a while. But it leaves an even stranger question: what are the Quartz and why do they possess the power to open holes in space and/or time? (Though we do have a really good answer for why GenBleu keeps all of them and hides them in orbit)

    All in all, this is still a Eureka 7 series. After only 14 episodes, does anyone honestly believe we'd really have that much information about what is going on? Haha

  21. x

    I don't think that Naru's Age necessarily poses much of a problem to her being Ao's sister. This is a time travel story, after all. As a matter of fact, isn't that kind of required? It seems unlikely that they are twins, because I think the doctors Eureka spoke of would have picked that up, so there had to be two separate occasions of angst-filled, patently awkward Renton lovemaking with two seperate occasions of Eureka dropping her children off somewhere in the past (which seems to be her form of postnatal contraception). It's basically impossible to not muddle up the ages of their children in the process somewhere, though I really don't want to think too hard about it.

    That said, I personally still vote for Elena, mostly for her extremely obtrusive reaction to Eureka, and for the fact that Naru being Ao's sister would leave the protagonist without a main love interest.. which has to be against some kind of law in Anime.

  22. x

    Also, I think it was heavily implied in the last episode that Naru's condition was caused by her being blasted with Coralian fairy dust as a child, when Eureka did whatever she did to whatever it was. If she already was related to a Coralian, that would have been kind of redundant.

  23. T

    I get the impression that Naru and Ao would have known each other before Eureka left. I'm pretty sure that Eureka would have said something if her elder daughter was right there on the island with Ao. Maybe, take care of your younger brother or hey your my daughter I love you. None of that is even infered.

  24. T

    This episode shows the Scubs hitting a space ship in the future timeline and growing on earth there. We know that Scub Corals are being sent to earth from the future timeline.

    So question: Are all the Scub Corals in AO's world from the future? Or are some of them from the coral in the ocean from there timeline?

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