Eureka Seven: Astral Ocean – 22

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I hardly know where to start, but “Damn!” is as good a place as any.

I know it’s been a long wait for Renton to appear, but I’ll be honest – I don’t think anyone could have asked for a better introduction than that.  The fact that it came as the cherry on top of an episode that was superb in every way, from script to animation to music to the performances of the cast, is just that much better.  And maybe best of all, all the folks who’ve been complaining about the lack of Renton as if this show was supposed to be about him now have to wait until November to see the tail-end of this cliffhanger.  It almost – not quite – makes the fact that the rest of us have to wait too worthwhile.

There was so much about this ep that was right on the money that it’s an embarrassment of riches to choose from.  One thing that really jumps out, though, is just how great it was to see Ao and Naru together again.  Even I was a little skeptical that would be the case after all this time and the changes we’ve seen in her character, and even I’m willing to admit that keeping the pair of them separated for so long was probably a mistake.  Why?  Because their chemistry was just as winning as it was in the first few episodes.  I thought the entire awkward sequence with the two of them at the breakfast table was spot-on, right down to the Iwato locals eavesdropping.   Ao proves himself utterly clueless about girls, of course, and asks the worst possible question – “Is that what Truth’s into?”  But Naru’s surprise is genuine – it simply never occurs to her that Ao could doubt her loyalty to him.

So much has happened since that it’s easy to forget that the Ao-Naru bond was basically the heart and soul of the first arc of this series, but it all came rushing back seeing them together – and it really made me realize how much I missed that side of Astral Ocean.  The mood of those first eps was recaptured in a way I didn’t think possible, especially when Naru casually ripped her ears (or wings, or whatever they were) off.  Fact is, what Ao said was exactly what a lot of fans of the show who were ripping Naru said – that it seemed as if she’d chosen Truthie over Ao.  But remember what Naru said to Ao way back in the epic episode 14 – “I wanted to fly with you, not just be embraced by you.”  She just wants to fly with Ao, and grow old with him – and whatever makes that possible is worth pursuing.  This all comes down to two things for me – first, Truth offered Naru “wings”, by helping her realize that her illness was actually a hidden power.  And second, that Naru has always had an affinity for outcasts and outsiders – it’s evident in her devotion to Ao – and she was Truth not as evil, but as the ultimate outsider – someone who didn’t belong to the humans, or the scub, or the secrets.  It doesn’t in any way justify what he’s done, but it does help explain why Naru sympathizes with him.

In a way, I think Truth as depicted in this episode is a sort of cancerous tumor – the body’s own cells (the white blood cell analogy I used back in episode 13 now formally canon) genetically altered and turned against it.  The character has taken a lot of abuse from viewers – some of it justified, some not so much – but I think his context in the story is much clearer now.  And the great Kazuhiko Inoue really brought his helpless rage to life in this episode (hard to believe this is Nyanko-sensei, but that’s how good Inoue-san is).  Problem is, Truthie is also a mass murderer of incalculable scale, and has apparently decided that this world is so “afflicted” that only its destruction can be his goal.  And he’s also generating so much trapar that the “coral carriers” afflicted with scub in their bodies will die if they come into close contact with him.  So on that front, we’re left with a looming final battle with Truth – Team Harelquin having joined the cause (they were indeed playing at switching sides to allow Pied Piper to escape) and fighting alongside Pied Pier, with President Fleur “She’s not his girlfriend!” Blanc trading her power suit for a flight suit one more time.  Despite being warned that he too might be vulnerable to trapar overload  Ao joins the cause, with Naru flying with him at last – though the secrets say Nirvash can’t win because it doesn’t have a heart, and Naru says it’s because it doesn’t have an archetype.

What we’re also seeing is a looping in of the theme from E7, the tragedy of the scub coral.  The Coralians seek coexistence with humanity, but that just never seems to end well.  We see the growing movement around Naru, “carriers” who believe that the Coralians are a benevolent species and that communication and coexistence is the natural progression of humanity. But we also see infected humans dying (again).  This cuts to the essence of Eureka’s existence, really – the bridge between species, the living embodiment of the idealistic hope that humans and Coralians can share the same universe and live peacefully together.  And of course, through her union with Renton, Ao is the continuation of that hope – the true hybrid of human and Coralian.

On cue, jump forward a bit – to 12021 AD, in fact – and the long-awaited appearance of Renton Thurston.  The calendar tells us that Renton is now 31 years old, and it appears as if his world – presumably the one from the original series – is basically dead, with the humans having been unable to stave off infection by Coralians.  Renton has two-tone hair, shades, and the voice of Fujiwara Keiji.  I loved Renton’s grand entrance – badass, dark, and best of all, totally on-point with AO’s plot.  However, I’m not quite sure how I feel about him having the same seiyuu as Holland.  I don’t know if BONES is trying to make a larger point here but it seems an odd choice to me – but be that as it may, Renton is part of the story now and in a big way, too.  When an occurrence of the Seven Swell Effect takes place, he and “his” Nirvash head off to “Put an end to everything….get Eureka back… from that sky.”

And so, now, we wait – because in case you missed the news, it was announced this week that the final two eps of AO will be airing in November.  I don’t necessarily consider that good news or bad – it sucks to wait, but the alternative could have been worse than a 4-6 week delay.  And it certainly appears as if BONES is going to go for the epic in the conclusion – a conclusion which I still expect to come down to Ao’s decision about which world he chooses, or whether he chooses a third way.  You may have also heard about a choice I made, to move to Japan – something I’ll be doing in October, so it’ll be from Tokyo that I blog the last two episodes of Astral Ocean.  It’s going to be a crazy time in my life, but I’ll be here blogging Little Busters in the Fall, and gearing up for Taichi Tuesdays in January.  And of course, cursing cliffhangers and counting the minutes until we finally see the conclusion of AO

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  1. A

    🙁 I actually disagree with you 100% I think this show has just fallen with me with this episode. I loved the show at first but after a while I realize that I kinda dont care about anyone in this show anymore after all the weird character changes and plot changes etc. . .the only person that I have any feeling for is naru, because shes been such a fucking bitch since like episode 4 or whatever, and this episode was no different. However I DID like that renton showed up looking bad ass. . .I DIDNT like that HOLLAND was voicing him -.- but yeah with the whole "See you in two months" thing at the end I was pretty much like "yeah fuck you too Eureka Seven AO, I'm definately not going to care in two months time." Its good that you are still able to like this show. But for me, Id say this is barely just above "Fam" overall

  2. I'm used to it, and long ago stopped caring what other people think about the show. But that's opinion and this is fact: the delay isn't BONES' fault, it's NHK. They blacked AO out for two weeks for the Olympics and won't allow the eps to be aired by anyone else before they air them themselves.

  3. L

    I don't really know what to think. I haven't been following this since, uhm, I dunno, three or four eps after Truth (still the corniest name in ever, btw) showed up, partly because I just didn't have much time these last few months, but mostly because I just didn't want to see a repeat of wanton death all over again. Maybe I'm past that age, I dunno.

    Part of me still wants to watch this (even after getting the gist of most of it from Enzo's blogging), but another part of me just wants to say "aah, screw it!!" instead.

    I actually thought (and still think) this show started out better the the original E7 did, at least up until the antagonist showed up. Maybe I just don't like the whole "bigger picture" aspect of most anime anymore and prefer stories be a small macro of the few core characters. I (like Enzo, I assume) thoroughly enjoyed the earlier eps with Ao and Naru, whether they be Ao battling stigma, Naru battling the Stigma against Ao, and possibly the whole island scene. Once it went out to the rest-of-world setting, I kind of lost heart. None of the rest-of-world characters did anything for me, to be frank. The Gen Blue girls grated at me more than anything, Truth wasn't a cool bad-ass mass murderer, just an annoying one (with a corny name, btw). Btw, that screencap of his weird face (Large+02.jpg), WTF? He's a character from that GeGeGeKitaro anime now?

    I suspect that, in a couple of days time, I'll just dowload these last 2 eps, ep 14 (for context) and maybe the episodes where the original mama Eureka appears (need help with those ep numbers, Enzo).

    Renton's appearance does look nice from the screencaps above, but same voice as Holland? WTF!! I wonder, will he turn from abused child to child abuser now? …and his "world" died? So the 50+ eps from the first season were for what, exactly? They sure like wanton death, these creators.

    *Note: Like I stated in my first paragraph, I've only watched a handful of eps. This is not a conclusion or a review, just a semi-opinion.

  4. If you do decide to cherry-pick, watch episode 13. It definitely stands as an "Asperience" ep, as well as being (along with #2 and this one, #22) as probably the best episodes. #14 is also mission-critical and an Asperience ep.

  5. L

    Grazie, Enzo.
    Or should I use be using "arigatou" now, since you're officially "Nipponified" and all that? =P

  6. A

    HHHHeeeelllll YYEESSSSS Been waiting and waiting for Renton to finally show! I know it's taken awhile, but still I get all fanboy wanting a reunion scene with Renton meeting Ao for the first time and together saving Eureka. The pacing up until now was odd but I can finally see what direction their going with now and very much looking for long waited answers for everything and whats wrong with future world. November ….. talk about a network cock block …… well we can all hold back and wait before we blow tell the final ep.

  7. j

    Naru should, of course, just explain things to Ao, but maybe she doesn't realize just how dense guys can be about love, and archetypes. (And an info dump would be poor storytelling).

    BONES was totally trolling us with those horns.

  8. R

    then the real ending is in movie format (put BONES epic troll face here)

  9. J

    truth be told, I didn't know who Truth's VA was, but when he laughed hysterically, I knew right away that it was Nyanko sensei lol

  10. V

    This episode was plagued with pacing issues that were prominent in some of the earlier episodes of the show. I could hardly relate with Naru. All that angst that Ao had piled up inside of him against her has pretty much disappeared. She seemed like a very distant character. Its like the director was, oh yes, she was there too at the beginning, but we almost forgot about her, so here she is again. There's practically no character development for her as she was largely absent for more than twelve episodes.

    And even Truth seems tiring as a villain. I had so much hate for this guy when he was arrogant, but now he's a shadow of what he was. At this point I don't care about him at all. It does suck that it was partly Fleur's father's fault for him being imbued with new powers bestowed upon him by Quartz.

    And yes, after a whole month of hiatus… the show is pretty much going to lose all the momentum it has left and people will be like 'yeah, it was cool'.

    I just want a happy reunion between the three (maybe four) family members.

  11. A

    Wow… Talk about a cliffhanger. It is nice to see Renton, but it is frustrating too : a dying world, really ? I am not sure if I want him to be the Renton from E7 or an alternate reality one; I mean, E7 ended on an hopeful note… I would be sad to know that Eureka and Renton "failed" to bring a lasting peace to Earth. Furthermore, both the Nirvash and the Scub left Earth at the end of E7, so it is strange to see them.
    It is not easy to see how Ao could get a happy end. If he fixes his current time (the past), maybe the future will not be as devastated, but if he changes the future he might not even be born. If he goes back to the future to be with his parents, he loses Naru…

    Well, it will be long to wait for the conclusion, but it can be epic, so that's not so bad. I think it was the same for Code Geass ? Long wait before the final two episodes of season 1 (and those two ended on a huge cliffhanger…)

  12. T

    The end of Episode 22 reminds me alot of the end of episode 22 in the original series. Renton had returned to the Gekko and Eureka finally but a final confrontation with the Beams was still set to happen. Once Renton faced Charles and Ray it seemed there would be a resolution (of sorts).

    I know I'm setting myself up for major disappointment but I would still really like to see a second season of this show. One that focuses more on Renton and Eureka. Astral Oceans is wonderful but the best parts of it were the small teasers of what was happening in THE REAL STORY. The one that is happening in a different world and one that we still have seen very little of.

  13. a

    All I can say is that the dead world shown is not Renton's world–or at least, not the world with his and Eureka's names carved into the moon. There was a split-second shot of the moon in the epilogue following the movement of the Seven Swell, and there was definitely no names on the moon shown.

  14. B

    I'm fine with the grow-up look of Renton but I completely dislike (hate) the voice of Renton WHERE THE FXXX IS HIS ORIGINAL Yuuko Sanpei VOICE. Eureka 7 Ao is a completely screw up story and the only hope for me is to see Renton re-applier but Bones screw us all up again with Holland voice behind it. Great job BONES you can now fxxk yourself up.

  15. I don't think Yuuko Sanpei would have been a good choice for a grizzled 31 year-old Renton. I'm not personally a fan of using Holland's voice, but there were plenty of other options. I'm not sure what BONES was going for by choosing Fujiwara Keiji – I can only guess – but it feels like a mistake to me.

  16. J

    Damn, it's too bad fans will have to wait till November…but at least it's better than waiting for the Blu-rays, right?
    I guess I'll hold off watching this series till the finale hits..

  17. e

    Naru. And Ao. Bonding? <3 :,). I've been holding up for my usual dealers but I really want to watch this as it seems to answer a few of my concerns from my previous epi comment. So, in the meantime ufufu? Hadena? Which one? Decisions, decisions.

  18. I actually think Arufu does a very nice job with the subs here. I have no issues whatsoever with their translation.

  19. e

    Thank you for the advice.

  20. e

    All right, watched it. Hooray for the encode too, my laptop can handle this one without stuttering and lagging at all :,).
    The episode itself did felt like a step in the right direction. Frankly speaking I've lost the political plot compass since… 10 episodes ago I think? I'll have to rewatch the series for that. But in terms of being on board with the main characters emotionally: mission mostly accomplished regarding Naru, also thanks to her grandma and little sister at the door (lol).
    Truth was fine this time, sort of. On the whole though he has taken way too much precious screen time so far from the other characters. If I considered him a interesting or compelling character it wouldn't bother me so much, but unfortunately… eh.
    And then Renton came. Oh my baby how you've grown up to be all cool and badass. Auntie here is so proud. I'll worry and wonder about wtf happened to the world and where is the real Nirvash and stuff later. I'm just speculating that's not the EU 7 world Enzo: I've advanced the end of the Seven Swell sequence (24:12 and onward) frame by frame but I couldn't spot Renton&Eureka's heart carving on the Moon. Unless the animators forgot to put it in ^^;, but it would be too big of a blunder given how they've brought up this very detail as a clue times and again.
    Anyway, yay RENTON BABY <3 . Sometimes VA ignorance is bliss though. He sounded a bit odd but… Holland's voice? Ack. To also symbolize he grew up into the man he admired, perchance? Bless him, you need a big heart to admire Holland in spite of how – to put it mildly – gratuitously punchy he was.

  21. e

    EDIT: I meant at *23:45*. 24:12 is the episode total duration. Sorry ^^; .

    Also, I LOLed when Naru pulled off her hair ornaments. Nice one BONES.

  22. r

    I have a lot of mixed feelings about Eureka Seven: AO. Part of what I really latched onto with the original series was the seeming authenticity of the relationship between Renton and Eureka. What started as the infatuation of a hapless teenager grew into a deeply beautiful story where you can walk away really believing that the two leads truly loved each other. This resonated especially with me since it conjured the nostalgia that I felt for my wife whom I met and fell in love with when still in high school. It made me remember my infatuation with her, my personal battle to admit my feelings to her, the pain of distance between us during our time at different universities, the struggle to develop an adult relationship as young people, the sacrifices made to make it work, the leaping joy of reciprocation, and the terrible fear of loss.

    Stack this with Renton's coming-of-age, Eureka's struggle to find her own identity, Holland's confrontation with his past and acceptance of the present, and Anemone's horrible realization of what she lost and what she had become, and you have a story that can appeal to a wide audience.

    Where E7:AO is concerned, Ao doesn't appeal to me nearly as much as a lead. He doesn't evoke the same nostalgia that Renton did. He doesn't seem to really grow as a character. Beyond wanting to reunite with his mother, I'm not entirely sure what he wants. His relationship with the other characters doesn't carry anywhere near the emotional gravity that Psalm of Planets did. I'm still not entirely sure about his feelings for Naru, and with two episodes left, I'm not confident that Bones will be able to develop the tension necessary to create an emotional payoff between them.

    In fact, the only thing that I find really interesting about the show are references to Eureka and Renton, but not for nostalgia's sake. Rather, my wife is pregnant and we are expecting the birth of our first child. I watched Renton in E7:PoP and saw myself as a young person becoming an adult. I see Eureka in E7:AO and see my wife as an adult bringing a child into the world.

    But the show isn't about Eureka, Renton, Ivica, or Christophe Blanc; it's about Ao, who just wants to be with his mother. There's more to the show than that, but the other components feel like mere echoes of the secondary story arcs from the original series.

    The epilogue for Episode 22 was absolutely a high point for me, but with 2 episodes left, it feels like they have a lot to cram in to please me.

  23. S

    Can’t wait to hear what you have to say about the finale Enzo 😉

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