Planetary Remix: Eureka Seven Hi-Evolution 1

This review is part of Ogiue Maniax’s coverage for Otakon 2017.

To this day, Eureka Seven is one of my favorite anime ever. From the pacing to the characters to the messages conveyed, it is a joy to watch and to think about. Over the years, Eureka Seven has returned in many different forms, from an unusual experiment in “re-casting” its characters, to a flawed sequel. At Otakon 2017, I got the chance to see the world premiere of Eureka Seven Hi-Evolution 1, the first of a new trilogy of movies, I had to wonder just what form it would take. The result is something I certainly did not expect.

The general story of Eureka Seven is the science fictional romance of Renton Thurston, a teenage boy from a nowhere town, and the titular Eureka, a teenage girl who is actually of a mysterious other species known as “Coralians,” and one of the few to take human form. A world filled with giant robots, music, and youth culture, the original anime exuded a sense of style and sincerity that few works manage to capture.

Hi-Evoluton 1 actually starts off as a prequel to the events of the TV series, portraying the “Summer of Love,” the mysterious event where Adroc Thurston—Renton’s father—saved the world and became a hero. The second is a Throughout the original television series, it’s hinted that the events of the Summer of Love didn’t quite go as officially reported, so it gives insight as to just what caused the conflict. For this first half hour of the film, all of the animation is new, and we get to see a number of characters who would come to play pivotal roles in the main series, including Eureka herself.

The second part of the film is where things get unusual.

It’s common for movie series based on popular franchises to front load its films with existing footage and familiar scenes, such that the first film is a time saver, a money saver, and a way to catch unfamiliar viewers up with what a work is all about. Mobile Suit Gundam did this, Space Battleship Yamato did this, and most recently it’s been the hallmark of the Rebuild of Evangelion movies. Most of the time, these Part 1’s tend to be straightforward, acting as quick compilations/retreads that change little from the original material but set up the possibility for future deviations.

Not so with Hi-Evolution 1. While it certainly would have been possible to just cut and splice the TV series into a large recap movie, the film instead decides to focus on a particular crucial arc of Eureka Seven. When Renton leaves the Gekko (the ship of anti-government rebels of which Eureka is a part), he ends up living with a couple named Ray and Charles Beams, and in doing so matures tremendously within a short span. In the original TV series, this doesn’t happen until about 13 episodes in, so the fact that the movie cuts out such a large chunk of the early episodes is unorthodox in itself.

Combined with this, however, is the fact that the film then decides to play with time. Instead of presenting its events chronologically, Hi-Evoluton 1 sees fits to go back and forth in time constantly, marked by black and white transitions of “Play Back” and “Play Forward.” It can be jarring, and much of the audience’s audible reactions showed a desire for the film to just dispense with the jumping around. For me, I kept wondering why the director, Kyoda Tomoki, decided to do things this way when a standard compilation approach would have theoretically been much easier.

I have three thoughts. First, focusing on Renton’s time with Ray and Charles over the beginnings of his relationship with Eureka juxtaposes him with Adroc’s portrayal from the beginning of the film. Second, the order in which the scenes play out is not chronological but rather an “emotional order.” Third, the creators of Eureka Seven seem to see their works not as ways to return to the world of their creation, but as a way to “remix” them.

Renton is shown to be quite similar to his father in the sense that both have strong convictions do what they feel is right even if it means everyone’s against them. The crucial difference, which gradually narrows over the course of the film, is maturity. Adroc risks himself to save Eureka, but it comes from a kind of wisened, fatherly position, as well as that of someone who understands the consequences of going against the world. Renton, impetuous youth that he is, initially doesn’t quite fully comprehend the tough decisions. By manipulating the progress of time, Hi-Evolution 1 seems to want to first juxtapose the turbulent emotions of teenage Renton and then gradually draw them closer to Adroc’s convictions. I find it notable that Adroc is voiced by Furuya Tohru, famously the voice of main hero Amuro Ray in the original Mobile Suit Gundam. Not only is there a kind of parity in terms of movie compilation trilogies, but it makes thematic sense that Renton is the “descendant” of Amuro.

Music is a major part of Eureka Seven. Characters’ names, robots, ships, supernatural phenomenon, almost everything is a reference to music (the most obvious one is probably “Ray” and “Charles”). There’s a lot about rhythm and musicality in the series, and it gives me the impression that the creators treat it as a kind of “song.” The full English title is Psalm of Planets, Eureka Seven, after all. The previous film, Pocketful of Rainbows, was an experiment in seeing how different a story they could tell by using existing footage. In it, Renton and Eureka’s circumstances are far different, and even their personalities don’t quite match up with what fans were familiar with. In other words, it felt like a heavy remix of a familiar song, one in which the original tune is almost unrecognizable.

Hi-Evolution 1 feels like a remix that tries to retain more of the source than Pocketful of Rainbows, but still desires to be its own thing. It has the same characters and general story as the TV series, but with a few touches that emphasize different elements more. In particular, the relative lack of Eureka in the film is rather conspicuous, as is the complete absence of Eureka’s “rival,” Anemone. At the very least, we know the answer to the latter, The film concludes with a “next movie preview” showing her that is rather surprising to say, the least. I’m going to leave this exact spoiler ambiguous, but I will say that it looks like Hi-Evolution 2 is going to be deviating more heavily from the TV series, just like Evangelion 2.0.

After the film, Kyoda did a moderated Q&A. In it, he revealed the staff’s code names for the first two films. Hi-Evolution 1 is “Renton 7.” Hi-Evolution 2 is “Anemone 7.” If we think of these films as highlighting and drawing out different essences present in the TV series and creating new melodies from them, the general direction of this trilogy starts to make more sense.

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EUREKA IS BACK: Eureka Seven Hi-Evolution Preview

When news came out that a new Eureka Seven movie trilogy was coming out, I reacted with a mix of excitement and trepidation. After all, the TV series is one of my favorite anime ever, but things haven’t exactly been pretty for E7 fans the last few times around. The first film to come out, Eureka Seven: Good Night, Sleep TIght, Young Lovers, was more an interesting experiment in how different a story you could tell with existing footage than anything else. Eureka Seven AO squandered so much of its potential and was so convoluted that it ended up a major disappointment. However, there’s a big X-Factor that gives me some initial confidence in these new Psalms of Planets Eureka Seven: Hi-Evolution Films—the return of writer Sato Dai to the team.

Sato was not on staff for Good Night, Sleep Tight, Young Lovers, and he left Eureka Seven AO early on, and it’s suspected to be for creative differences (AO was basically funded by a pachinko company). While an anime is more than just one person, the lack of Sato and what it meant for those productions stood out in those two works like a sore thumb. If you’ve seen what Sato is capable of in anime outside of Eureka Seven, such as the excellent Battle Spirits: Shounen Toppa Bashin, narrative cohesiveness resulting from excellent emotional character development is a hallmark of his writing style. Having Sato at the helm is the best sign that Hi-Evolution will live up to the Eureka Seven name.

The first new film, out in 2017, is going to be a prequel that covers the First Summer of Love, the pivotal event that defines the world of Eureka Seven. The other two films, in 2018 and 2019, promise to bring a new ending… perhaps even going beyond the events of the TV series? I can only hope.

One thing that piques my curiosity about this new project is the preview image showing Eureka, Anemone, and Renton. In it, Eureka and Renton have more concerned expressions, while Anemone’s is soft and loving. While Anemone ends up in a happy place by the end of the Eureka Seven TV series, I would have assumed that their faces would almost be the opposite. The fact that it’s showing Anemone with such a look implies to me that something will be different about her; not necessarily a different personality or anything, but maybe a new perspective on her life. I’ve known plenty of fans who considered Eureka Seven to be the “Anemone Show,” so maybe their day has come.

In any case, I’m willing to put my trust on the line for Eureka Seven: Hi-Evolution. I won’t let cynicism beat me just yet!

To Be the Hero

aidariko-blue

I’m a fan of characters who support. Whether it’s Dominic Sorel in Eureka Seven, who stands by the long-suffering Anemone or Aida Riko in Kuroko’s Basketball, who coaches and manages the Seirin High School Basketball Team, often times my favorite characters are those who care less for being the “hero,” and who try to make a difference in their own way. Generally speaking, I’m of the belief that there are many ways to make a difference, and that you don’t need to be the one chopping the monster’s head off, nor should we fault others for not aspiring to be that mighty warrior. Indeed, even more recent main characters like Kuroko Tetsuya in Kuroko’s Basketball and Onoda Sakamichi in Yowamushi Pedal are protagonists whose powers are primarily based on “support.”

However, I find that, as much as I enjoy that character type, they potentially are a source of complacency, and one might even argue that they teach people to settle for less. Case in point, while I think Riko does a lot for her team and is just a great character in general, she derives from an archetype that is basically a sideline cheerleader. They’ll either be the newbie who needs things to be explained, or the informative expert who does the explaining, but when the chips are down their purpose in the story is to stare longingly as the hero goes into action. There’s some sexism historically at work here, with female characters being created to serve the male leads, but I don’t want to make the issue purely about sex and gender, especially given all of the work that’s been done to play with and expose those tropes, like how Witch Craft Works essentially genderswaps the typical shoujo heroine and shoujo ideal love interest. I also don’t want to deny the ability for a “sideline cheerleader” to be an interesting character in their own right. Rather, it’s more about the idea that “everyone is the hero of their own story,” and how there are positives and negatives to it.

On the one hand, the notion that everyone is the main character in their own lives, be it reality or fiction, can be a self-fulfilling prophecy of confidence, where one imbues oneself with agency and ambition, and accomplishes their goals. At the same time, it might cause people to seek out “glory” without necessarily finding their own definition for the word, instead conforming to what their society (or what readers supposedly think) are parameters for success.

On the other hand, if one believes in supporting others, this might afford them a point of view that could go unnoticed otherwise. Glory for oneself is unimportant, because what really matters is doing what one can. However, this same mindset carries the risk of encouraging passivity to the point that people might inadvertently lose opportunities to better themselves. Perhaps it even becomes an excuse for why they remain in their rut.

Obviously these are in a way two extremes, and that there is a full spectrum between light and shadow, to borrow a phrase from Kuroko’s Basketball. Characters like Riko and Dominic essentially work in opposite directions towards a center, with Riko coming from the manager character and Dominic defying what it means to “rescue the girl.” There’s a lot of interplay and room for interpretation, and it opens up paths for artists, be they professional, amateur, and/or fan, to explore and defy what they’re told is “normal.” I just find myself thinking about how simply saying that I prefer support characters can carry a lot of implicit meaning.

The last thing I want to leave off with is a scene from Game of Thrones, when Tywin Lannister, the patriarch of the powerful House Lannister, asks his grandson what makes a good king. When the grandson replies correctly with “wisdom,” Tywin is ecstatic and explains that wisdom comes in part from knowing what you don’t know, and heeding your advisers who are experts in their fields. In this case, though the king is supposed to be the one with all of the glory, is it the case that being a king is perhaps the biggest support position of all?

New Mewtwo Voice Actor for Super Smash Bros.

Upon hearing Mewtwo in Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS & Wii U for the first time, I was convinced that they had brought back the original actor, Ichimura Masachika, from the film Mewtwo Strikes Back. However, it actually turns out to be someone doing an excellent imitation (with the help of a voice filter), and whose acting chops are impressive in their own right. While the new actor Fujiwara Keiji might not have the cred of being an established theater actor like Ichimura is (he’s most famous for playing the titular character in the original Japanese Phantom of the Opera), you might know him for some of the following roles:

Ladd Russo in Baccano!

Nohara Hiroshi in Crayon Shin-chan

Kuzuhara Kinnosuke (Biker Cop) in Durarara!!

Holland Novak in Eureka Seven

Maes Hughes in Full Metal Alchemist (both original and Brotherhood)

Ali-al Saachez in Mobile Suit Gundam 00

Hannes in Attack on Titan

Jake Martinez in Tiger & Bunny

I actually had my suspicions because Mewtwo makes certain sounds in the new Smash Bros. that I don’t recall from Super Smash Bros. Melee, but I chalked it up to my own faulty memory. It’s also a lot more difficult to hear because only the Japanese version has voiced victory quotes. It was the same in Melee, except you could change the language settings there to Japanese, which is how I and a lot of other people learned that Mewtwo had victory quotes in the first place.

Here are videos of the old and new voices for you to compare:

Old (ignore the skins; they’re from a mod)

New

And for fun, here’s a video of Ichimura Masachika as the Phantom of the Opera:

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Didn’t Quite Go the Distance: Eureka Seven AO

It’s fairly common knowledge that sequels aren’t the easiest thing to successfully pull off in entertainment. Even if the sequel ends up being okay, it may not live up to its predecessor because of how iconic moments and innovations can start to become formula (having to fit “Yippee-ki-yay, motherfucker” into every Die Hard for example), or plot points from the first in the series have to be modified in order to cater to the new version. Whenever I watch a sequel, I’m aware of how daunting this mountain can be, and try to take into account those problems even if they ultimate are my criticisms. This is the approach I took when I heard that Eureka Seven, one of my favorite anime ever, was getting a sequel, but even with an open mind I felt that Eureka Seven AO not only paled in comparison to the original but was in certain ways a regression of what Eureka Seven had done.

Eureka Seven AO is billed as a direct sequel, as opposed to an alternate universe/retelling like the movie or the manga. The story centers around a young boy named Fukai Ao, who lives in the independent nation of Okinawa, and for whom life is difficult because of the way the community tries to ostracize him. In this world, the skub (or scab however they want to spell it this time), are considered a problematic natural disaster, especially because they bring with them mysterious monsters known as “Secrets,” which Ao ends up having to fight. For anyone who’s seen the original, the fact that the world of AO consists of real-world countries and continents is meant to imply that something is very strange or different about its setting, and trying to figure out just what in the world happened becomes part of the initial intrigue of the series.

When I say “regression,” I’m not referring to retcons or weird developments in AO‘s plot which cast a different light on the original’s events, but a regression of what mecha anime is capable of. Eureka Seven took an approach which let viewers explore its world through a cast of engaging, fleshed-out characters and a central love story developed gradually over the course of many episodes, and which anchored the narrative in such a way that the emotional excitement of the series builds up continuously throughout. It’s not altogether unique to Eureka Seven, and you can probably trace this style of show all the way back to Macross.  Eureka Seven AO, on the other hand, feels more like a mediocre 80s mecha anime, more keen to develop its story as a set of vague mysteries and tensions but never entirely delivering on any of them. It’s not just that the plot is worse, but that it ends up resembling the way a staunch non-fan might look at and describe their idea of a Gundam anime.

What Eureka Seven AO does have, at least initially, is a strong cast of characters with plenty of potential as to how they’ll develop, but much of it never comes to fruition (though the brief glimpses at Ivica’s character and past were things I enjoyed in particular), or if there is a development the lack of impact from the rest of the series lessens the overall effect. In particular, AO never manages to have its story properly focused by something like Eureka and Renton’s romance,  and though it didn’t have to necessarily be “another romance” (which might have well turned it into just a rehash of the original), there was nothing that could properly fill that void. It seems like the closest thing was just the mystery of what happened to Eureka and Renton, the intrigue of which the show feeds into fairly well, but the explanation we’re left with at the end is less than satisfying. And there is the potential for romance at the beginning, as the dynamic between Ao and his friend Haru is cute and gives a good sense of their relationship, but it ends up getting pushed aside. In the end, probably the most interesting point brought up in the show has to do with how the Secrets are treated by humanity, and how it reflects in some ways the way the Skub were regarded in the original Eureka Seven.

If the movie Eureka Seven: Good night, sleep tight, young lovers suffered from having a weak and confusing beginning but then a fairly strong finish as all of its disparate ideas came together, then Eureka Seven AO is the opposite: It starts off strong and with many of the pieces in place to tell something both grand and personal, but its plot and character development are so discombobulated that when the ending finally comes it hits like a drizzle instead of the torrent of emotions that the original provided.

Not the X-Games: Anime Expo 2012

Anime Expo 2012 was my first Anime Expo and my first west coast convention. While I’m not one of those really thorough con veterans, I still found some interesting differences between it and the conventions I’ve been to before, both when compared to the bigger cons as well as the smaller ones. Located in Los Angeles, it uses its position to its fullest.

Industry

In a change of pace of sorts, I  somewhat foolishly attended fewer industry panels than I normally would at a convention. I say somewhat only because of the fact that, for so many of them, they largely amount to announcements (which appear within a minute on Twitter) and they have Q&A sessions which lack teeth. Sometimes you can get a good one, and I try hard to ask good questions when I can, but the more “official” it is, the less chance you’ll get a decent answer. The foolish part is the fact that I was accustomed to Otakon, where one must generally choose between autographs and panels, an only later found out that AX works on a system of giving people “skip the line” tickets for attending guest panels. Lesson learned for (hopefully) next time.

Despite those limitations, AX2012 was by far my most autograph-heavy convention experience I’ve ever had, which is a reflection of one of Anime Expo’s greatest strengths: the sheer amount of guests, particularly Japanese ones. I managed to get stuff signed by the staff from Madhouse, Animetal USA, Kajiura Yuki + FictionJunction, a limited autographed image from manga artist Toume Kei (who wasn’t attending but offered the images as part of a gallery), and probably the biggest one for me: an OVA of Legend of the Galactic Heroes signed by Horikawa Ryo, voice of Reinhard von Lohengramm. I happened to take a fantastic picture of him.

I did manage to go to a few panels as well. I went to the Animetal USA Q&A just to see that bit of spectacle (it was calmer than I had expected), and attended the panel for GoFA, or Gallery of Fantastic Art. GoFA can be described as an organization dedicated to taking anime and manga and giving it a sense of realism by creating products and opening galleries based on those works. The panelists showed off actual products such as glasses and watches based on the designs of anime and manga creators, and mentioned that artists such as Hoshino Lily (Mawaru Penguindrum character designer) and Fukumoto Nobuyuki (Kaiji, Akagi manga creator) have or will have gallery exhibitions in Japan. Apparently they’ve been a part of AX for a long time now, but this was their first time running a panel, a privilege they received because they’re actually producing a stop motion animation based on the artwork of Toume Kei (Sing Yesterday for Me). We got to see a very short preview, about which not much can be said because it lasted less than two minutes.

Another panel of interest was a manga workshop run by an actual manga artist whose name I sadly did not catch (though Peepo Choo’s Felipe Smith was helping to translate). I was unable to stay for the entire thing, but what I saw focused a good deal on anatomy, working from the idea that a solid foundation in realism is needed in order to deviate from it. While I don’t entirely agree with that assessment, I think it is nevertheless an excellent skill to foster and definitely a legitimate way to begin to create art and comics. I do wish that manga workshop panels and the like could move more towards paneling and page layout, but I get the feeling that character design is much more immediate has much more impact for the vast majority of people.

Concerts

I went to all three of the concerts—Animetal USA, FictionJunction, and LiSA—in some capacity, though could only stay for a small portion of the FictionJunction concert due to some scheduling conflicts (more on that later). Animetal USA had by far the smallest crowd, but an enthusiastic one nonetheless, and it was great to hear their take on classic anime songs from shows like Gatchaman, Mazinger Z, and Saint Seiya. I’ll admit, I’m not a fan of heavy metal (though that’s not to say I don’t enjoy it), but I’m glad I went. Later at their signing, the most impressive thing was that there was a real Animetal USA cosplayer, a girl dressed as guitarist “Speed-King” (aka Chris Impellitteri). What little I heard of FictionJunction was definitely excellent. I definitely wish I could’ve seen it all.

The LiSA concert is one of the highlights of AX2012 for me, because I went in only knowing her as the singer of the Fate/Zero opening but not particularly interested, and came out of it as a fan. Not only were all of her songs really good, but her practically-headbanging enthusiasm just filled the concert venue. Impressively, she managed to do the emceeing for her own concert almost entirely in English. I’m not sure how much of it was from actual fluency and how much was practiced and scripted, but she pulled it off regardless. She gave us the benefit of singing the opening to a new summer anime (that wasn’t even out yet), Sword Art Online, and the concert actually made me want to check it out despite only having a passing interest in it prior.

Non-Industry Panels

If AX’s main strength is its industry presence, its main weakness is a lack of interesting fan panels. While fan panels can always vary in quality, they tend to follow along the same basic goals of bringing fans together in order to share in a topic or to convey new ways of seeing the things we love, hat’s not to say that the fan panels at AX weren’t or couldn’t be interesting, but that the sheer amount of “official” panels somewhat limited the overall presence of fan panels. On top of that, many were workshops or something similar, but personally speaking I generally don’t go to conventions for workshops.

I attended the Bloggers and Podcasters Town Hall, not knowing quite what to expect, especially given the use of the term “Town Hall,” but it ended up actually being fairly accurate. Moderated by the Benjamin “Benu” Lopez of the long-running Anime Genesis podcast, the audience (including myself) discussed various topics, including the move to include blogging into a podcast and vice versa, as well as ways to break up the factionalism and cliques which often appear around groups of bloggers/podcasters. It was a fruitful discussion, and I got to meet a number of people I’d only read/heard previously, though I do kind of wish that we didn’t just talk about reaching out but also ways to refine and improve our existing work. As I said at the panel, I do believe that content is king.

Given that I’ve been a part of academia for a while now, I went with the purpose of attending as many of the academic panels as I could. At times, this caused conflict as I had to sacrifice seeing a certain guest in order to see what other researchers were working on, but I think it was well worth it. Even though other events clearly overshadowed the attendance of the academic track, there was something distinctly different about having it as part of a general convention instead of simply being a stand-alone academic conference. Mainly, I felt like presenters had prepared for a mix of academic and non-academic audiences, and it made the presentations a little more fun than what would normally happen.

The highlights of the academic track were the keynote address, where Professor Jeffrey Dym of UC Sacramento discussed his “History of Manga” class, and the “We Make Manga” panel run by Northrop Davis of the University of South Carolina. In both cases, the speakers really knew what they were talking about, and described the challenges they faced in creating their classes, how they designed their curricula, and what sources they used as the foundations for their classes. For Dym’s panel, the things that stood out to me the most were his lament that Ishinomori Shoutarou did not have more work out in English despite his legendary status and the fact that he hesitated on including sports manga in his class because of how little of the really groundbreaking series (Star of the Giants for instance) exist in English. For Davis’s panel, it was definitely the fact that he mentioned his class as being designed to somewhat mimic the editor system used by manga publishers in Japan, especially given the degree to which endeavors such as Tokyopop’s old OEL material lacked in that very area.

I think the attendance could have been stronger if the academic panels hadn’t been added so late. The large color guide didn’t even have those panels, and it was clear that despite the giant screens showing the updated schedules that many attendees ignored it. When I presented at my own panel (which ended up overlapping with the FictionJunction concert due to a 40 minute delay, thus eliminating my chance of doing both), it was to a rather sparsely populated room, which I honestly think could have been made more lively if only people knew about it (and if the concert didn’t start and end when it did). Overall, I think I did an all right job (I did a visual analysis of the manga 7 Billion Needles), I just wish more of you could’ve attended it!

Cosplay

I think I’ll say it: AX2012 was possibly the best convention I’ve ever attended in terms of cosplay. Not only were many of the costumes excellent, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen so much variety. Popular cosplay topics such as Homestuck and Hetalia!, while still very present, didn’t even come close to dominating the visual landscape of the con, and cosplays I had resigned myself to possibly never seeing appeared in numbers. Whereas previously I had seen zero Dragon Kid cosplays from Tiger & Bunny, this time I saw five.

I remember being the only person to clap for Dragon Kid at Otakon 2011’s Sunrise panel, so this was a pleasant change.

In addition, I thought I’d never see a Precure cosplay at an American con, but I was gladly proven wrong. Have you watched Heartcatch yet? It’s really good.

Anyway, I’ll let the rest of the cosplay speak for itself, though keep in mind that this certainly isn’t an accurate representation of all of the cosplay at AX2012, merely what I photographed.

Final Thoughts

So there went my first Anime Expo. If I had to do it over again, I probably would’ve found a better medium between panels and autographs, and I would’ve definitely tried to see more faces. Also, the Kinokuniya in LA is definitely better than the one in NYC.

Ao is His Father’s Son (Eureka Seven AO)

Eureka Seven is one of my favorite anime ever, Eureka is one of my favorite characters ever in a show full of incredible characters, and I consider the pacing of the show to be among the best I’ve ever seen. It’s a tough act to live up to, and so with the new Eureka Seven AO currently running in Japan, I wanted to at least give it more than one episode before I started talking about it. Not that I thought that the first episode was bad and needed a second one to “give it a chance,” but my experience with the original told me that this may very well be a show which continually ramps up and whose threads (plot, thematic, or otherwise) are only barely visible in the beginning.

To cut straight to the chase, the main character Ao is clearly implied to be Eureka and Renton’s son. As a result, I feel like Ao inevitably draws comparisons to Renton, but also that the show obviously wants you to do so. The first episode of the original Eureka Seven was all about how Renton wanted to escape his boring, do-nothing town and join the fabulous rebels of Gekkostate, whereas Ao has to deal with the constant materialization of skub coral and the destruction it causes. On top of that, both have parents whose legacies at first seem larger than them, with Renton’s father Adrock being regarded as the greatest hero who ever lived and Ao having to cope with the fact that even mentioning his mother and her turquoise hair on the island garners animosity. The difference between the overbearingly positive reputation that Renton had to deal with and the overwhelmingly negative one that Ao must live with draws an additional interesting parallel, but I feel like it does so while making Ao seem like his own character.

It also doesn’t hurt that Ao’s relationship with his friend Naru is distinctly different from Eureka and Renton’s. It seems to be built on this strong friendship which goes beyond the immediate conventions of the island where they live, and I actually have it in my mind to judge anything related to Eureka Seven based primarily on how it handles its main romance. The reason is that when Eureka Seven was originally airing, during the breaks there would be commercials for the Eureka Seven: New Wave PS2 game where the slogan for the game was “Another Boy Meets Girl.” This of course implies that Renton and Eureka were themselves a “boy meets girl” story, and the fact that their romance was so unbelievably strong supporter that concept. In that respect, and many others, I continue to look forward to Eureka Seven AO. No guarantees it won’t wipe out (see what I did there), but I feel like it’s definitely off to a strong start.