Eureka Seven: Astral Ocean – 20

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I’m not sure which was more epic, the episode or the preview.

I’m at peace with Astral Ocean – or rather, with the fan reaction it.  I’ve been a fan of the series since the premiere, and I admit I let the persistent negativity that pervades every discussion of the series get to me for a while.  In the end I look at it this way – if it were a choice of every series being this great with annoying whining and carping a part of the deal, or every series being mediocre with happy fans everywhere, I’d take the classic show and the annoying comments every time.  I’ve never been more of a BONES fan than I am with this show, because it took real guts for them to do something truly different with AO rather than take the path of least resistance and make a pale imitation of the beloved original, or a crappy knock-off that tries to cash in on every commercial trend in the industry (Gonzo, is that you?).

The only fly in the ointment is, of course, the annoying fact that we don’t know when or how episodes 23-24 are going to be delivered – and that’s a real concern, because this is shaping up as a pretty epic conclusion that’s going to need every minute of its remaining four episodes to roll out.  The first takeaway from this episode is that Christophe knew a lot more than he was letting on, and he took significant steps to leave as little to chance as possible after his death.  He was certainly right that Generation Bleu was finished – in its current location anyway – and it was just a question of exit strategies, really.  Get the civilians out (at least the allies had the decency not to fire on them, even surprisingly trigger-happy Maggie) and then worry about what to do about the combat troops.

Essentially, this comes down to everyone choosing what’s important to them.  Ao refuses to give up on the quartz gun, for obvious reasons.  Rebecka seems inclined to drag herself back to Big Blue World – for whom she’s been spying on GenBleu all along – before Ivica shames her back into helping Pied Piper escape (succeeding where wannabe paramour Gazelle failed).  And Chrisophe has made arrangements for (among other things) Fleur to take over his role at the head of what remains of GenBleu.  With a pilot version of Georg left unwiped on Ao’s communicator, it’s possible to reload it onto the Triton and for the team to escape – which they do, while Ao unleashes all his adolescent rage and blasts his way down to the basement to pick up the quartz gun and blast his way out directly from underground.

This is where all Hell breaks loose, and lots of things happen which shed some light on the mysteries of the plot, but not so much as to bring everything into line.  After a huge explosion of quartz pushes Nirvash up the surface (along with what can only be Nirvash type TheEND) the allies finally start firing – but HQ has entered a self-destruct mode.  Ao appears ready to use the quartz gun against the allies, when Mama Hannah and Team Harlequin appear, having escaped but lost 200 of their colleagues, and Mama talks Ao back off the ledge.  Truth appears, having merged with what the Allies call “Codename: Cannon”, and is in fact an LFO and an archetype, and it appears (though I’m not convinced) that type TheEND is destroyed along with HQ.  Then there’s Elena, who uses a hug pillow to sneak away from Pier Piper, and shows up offering to join forces with the Allies forces.

So the one who I was pretty sure was dead is indeed, dead (though still influencing things due to his careful planning), the ones I weren’t sure about are alive, and of course, so is Truthie.  There’s a lot of false fronts being erected here – indeed, it appears that the entire anti-Secret campaign by GenBleu was a known lie right from the beginning.  Harlequin has pretended to join the Allies to allow Pied Piper to escape.  It was interesting to hear the Secret/Georg tell Ao that the quarts are the “invaders” (not the coral), and indeed, part of Blanc’s last bargain was to team up with Japan to eliminate the remaining quartz, in exchange for the Secret (who’ve been using the Japanese as a convenient middleman all along) agreeing not to cause any more Scub Bursts.  If nothing else, it bought Pied Piper a safe haven it desperately needed.

In the final analysis, it seems to me that Ao has simply inherited another set of lies in exchange for the ones he’s been living since he joined Pied Piper.  He’s still the tool of corrupt adults who want to use him for their own ends, and still yearning to know once and for all what’s right and what’s wrong.  Changing teams isn’t going to do it.  Ao is going to have to change the game itself – I think we all know how he can do that – and it’s going to boil down to the rest of the cast being with him or against him.  Elena has made her priorities clear – she wants Ao to use the gun, and bring back the world she (and presumably he) came from, so while she appears to have switched sides, I believe it’s a strategic move, like Harlequin’s – indeed, the Allies still believe she’s Mirror/Miller, and that’s something she can use to her advantage.  Ivica will surely side with Ao in the end, and I suspect Hannah as well.  What of Team Gazelle, and what of Rebecka – and perhaps most crucially, what of Fleur and Naru?  Fleur’s heart clearly wants to be with Ao, but I sense that she’s going to a dark place at the moment and despair will savagely tempt her to do bad things.  Naru’s connection to Ao is deepest of all, yet she’s arguably at the farthest remove from him – we can’t even know where her relationship with Truth stands, and whether he’ll ultimately prove to be a source for evil or good himself.

And oh by the way, there’s that little matter of Eureka and Renton, too – and she shows up in the preview.  So does a dark-haired man who appears to be praying at a memorial altar in Ao’s home on Iwata, as Ao watches – but I don’t think that’s Renton.  So who is he – and since we pretty much know Renton is going to show up sooner or later, when it that going to happen?  As important as those two are going to be in the conclusion (whenever that is) I don’t think we’re looking at a Deux ex Eureka – the resolution for all this has to come from Ao himself, and nowhere else.  If anything, seeing his parents might be the final nudge he needs to see what the right course of action is, and the burst of courage he needs to follow it. 

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  1. J

    Sorry, I didn't read the whole thing because I wanted to avoid spoilers, but will the final episode be airing normally, then? If so, I'll be eager to marathon…

  2. At this point, we don't know when 23 and 24 will air – definitely not in their normal timeslot. It could be double episodes the last two weeks (though that seems almost impossible now) or they could be streamed, or they could air months later, or be BD/DVD only. We just don't know.

  3. J

    Oh, okay, thanks for the answer. Guess we'll know the answer in two weeks…

  4. A

    I am just throwing out random speculations, but what if the dark-haired man from the preview was Dominic?

  5. Well, it would be random…

  6. T

    I thought of that too. Removing the option of a deux ex machina, it shouldn't be Renton. In fact having Renton show up to help would really be letting the "Adults" make the decision.

    It could be Maurice but that seems like a stretch as well.

  7. A

    Dominic? I do not know, but maybe he's the father of that girl with black hair military.


  8. T

    I'm intrigued by this archetype Cannon. Making a distinction between archetype and IFO seems to suggest that IFO do in fact lack archetype skeletons. Including Mark 1. I wonder if the Quartz Gun is actually an archetype?

  9. M

    The man in the preview reminded me of Adroc Thurston. I agree it can't be Renton but Ao seems really surprised to see him there, whoever that is.

  10. Yes, yes he does. Surprise at seeing anyone there, or this person specifically?

  11. A

    Where the hell is RENTON?!?!?

  12. K

    It's weird kind of seeing you in the minority and me in the majority for a change, cause on this one while I've tried to tough it out I just simply cannot find the manner in which I can argue Eureka Seven Ao as a good show let alone a good sequel. I think after about the 3rd episode when Ao left the island all development for characters aside from him just stopped cold and or went off in all kinds of directions every other episode during the monster of the week fest and the subsequent timeline busting episodes. Elena I just cannot take seriously as an important memember of the cast with all her seemingly fourth wall breaking otaku references, Truth has just been an enigma of a character and even the show seems to have all but given up on trying to make something of him in having him basically come to the conclusion that he has no idea what he's supposed to be doing other than blowing shit up, Fleur has been the most decent of the supporting cast and there is some real emotion in her whole relationship with her father and his apparent recent demise. Even if it's nothing we haven't seen before I can point to it as one of the few things that the series has executed decently. Team Goldilocks is hardly worth mentioning and Ao even already seems to have forgotten about them an episode or so after he left Generation Bleu in protest. It seems like they've been written out of the show entirely now, but of course I could be wrong. Sadly I'm not really concerned either way.

    However then we come to Naru, for a character that is so prominently featured in the openings I am baffled as to why she has been used so little as I really felt she had the potential to be interesting with her strange spiritual powers and relationship to Ao, both of which have gotten even stranger and muddled in the second half. She's listed as a main character, but now it seems like the just couldn't find much of a place for her in the running narrativ for whatever reason save for token appearances whenever Truth shows up until the most recent episodes where she seems like she's being primed to serve as the final antagonist. I can't imagine that this is how they had planned for the character to turn out at the get go, but well considering her lack of screen time it's about the only thing that could possibly work I guess.

    And that's just it, while we're getting character plugged into holes where the plot needs roles filled, because of their lack of real usage and progressive development over the course of the series (again save for Ao who really deserves a stronger and more defined supporting cast as he's not a poor lead character at all) it's hard to feel any real emotional connection towards what they are doing and about to do and it doesn't help that we still have very little idea what is going on and how everything relates to the original and in what way.

    It's going to really take a miracle of a finale, some sort of absolute stroke of genius to pull something weighty and meaningful out of this finale for me that'll make the snake-like path of a journey to it feel either rewarding or involving I would think and I just don't see how they're gonna do it with only 2 or 4 episodes left. Never mind trying to work Renton or Eureka into the narrative now, I'm not even concerned about that and feel that it would be a mistake to try to add any more wrinkles to the story even though it's probably going to happen; the writers are going to have to do better than they ever have before with everything that is on the table right now to make something even remotely feasible out of this from where I'm sitting.

  13. K

    Oh also since I think it's worth mentioning I completely understand your frustration here. Believe me I do because I've been dealing with it for years now, and especially when it comes to my beloved mecha shows like Gundam. It definitely sucks when you feel very strongly towards a show or franchise, yet it seems people are being completely unfair and just looking for things to bash on it for either because of it's name, because of the hype->disappoint progression of commentary that tends to come with high budget sci-fi epics or whatever other reason people can find. It kind of sucks a lot of the potential fun out of it when all the discussion you're likely to get out of a show is pure focus on negativity and criticism eh? This is why I've tried to be as fair as possible with Eureka Seven Ao and highlight some of the things I think it has done well by me, but similar to Gundam AGE, despite my desire to defend mecha shows against IMO frequent unwarranted criticisms it's become really hard to deny some of my concerns and disappointments with the characters/narrative as the finale approaches ever closer and we're running out of time.

    Rather than call this a fault of any particular show though I think there are problems with the manner in which these types of TV shows are being produced at the moment that all studios/producers/writers are going to have to figure out how to "fix it" soon, otherwise all the unfair criticisms that I've seen made towards these shows are going to eventually become fair and accurate and I can't think of anything I'd rather less see on any front.

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