If You Love ’em, You’ll Let ’em Go: Eureka Seven Hi-Evolution Full Review

Eureka Seven is an anime I love to death. Nearly two decades later, I still hold it up this TV series as one of the best ever. The sequels and spin-offs, however, have not been as hot. A film (Eureka Seven: Good Night, Sleep Tight, Young Lovers) basically reused footage from the TV series to tell a wildly different story where the characters look the same but are different people. A sequel TV series (Eureka Seven AO) damaged the story and visited gratuitous amounts of tragedy on the original heroes. And most recently, we have Eureka Seven Hi-Evolution, a trilogy that is similar to both previous continuations while embodying neither the best nor the worst of the franchise as a whole. 

Hi-Evolution consists of three films each focusing on a different major character: Renton, Anemone, and Eureka. However, much like Good Night, Sleep Tight, Young Lovers, they‘re seemingly not the same people as in the TV series. Whether it’s having different parents or literally being from another world, details great and small are out of alignment. Hi-Evolution also follows the pattern of intersplicing old footage with new, but again with drastic changes in context that make it unrelated. 

Or is it? Another aspect of the Hi-Evolution films is that they might actually be sequels to the original TV series, as well as possibly everything else in a sort of Turn A Gundam sense. It could be a unifying sequel, or a reboot, or an alternate universe, but it’s not very clear because so many things are so unlike what has come before. Or maybe it is obvious and I refuse to accept the possibility that this might be “canon” as it were. 

Hi-Evolution as a sequel would be saying something along the lines of “this is the real story you couldn’t see,” and my response is “eh.” As a remix or an alternate track, however, it has more legs. It contains solid narratives regarding relationships between parents and children and between people in general, the way humankind struggles with thinking of everything as a zero-sum game, and a look into dreams and possibilities. The issue is that I’m not sure why it had to be in the guise of Eureka Seven. I actually think if it had been conceived as an original project, it would be a lot less shaky overall, and wouldn’t invite such comparison.

I worry that the director and staff on Eureka Seven might be too attached to the aesthetics of the franchise, and it holds them back from being able to do more. As much as I adore that first anime, it might be an anchor dragging everyone down. Better to free everyone and let them soar with new ideas.

Otakon 2017 Interview: Tomoki Kyoda (EUREKA SEVEN)

At Otakon 2017, I had the opportunity to interview Tomoki Kyoda—director of one of my favorite anime series ever, Eureka Seven. He was at the convention to promote the world premiere of the film EUREKA SEVEN HI-EVOLUTION, and I spoke to him the day before the showing.

Eureka Seven was originally created as a media mix project with video games and manga telling side stories or different, alternative narratives from the anime. How much of a say did you have in the spin offs?

With the spin offs, we would say, “We want so-and-so” for a concept. The various directors and mangaka we were working with would present their spin offs to us, and we would check over them.

My next question concerns Eureka herself. Her appearance changes throughout the series, especially when she gets covered in scars. It’s a very bold decision, I think—especially for anime. What was the thinking behind changing her appearance?

When we were doing the original story, Mr. Kenichi Yoshida and I were talking about what we could do to provide lots of inspiration and different paths the story could take. One of the inspirations that someone came up with was, “What about drastically changing her appearance?” So we actually took that and went with it.

What is it like working with creators Dai Sato, Shoji Kawamori, and Kenichi Yoshida? Do you have any interesting production stories to tell?

With regards to Mr. Sato and Mr. Yoshida, we were actually all born in the same year, so we all have an understanding of our pros and cons; what each of us do well and what each of us do not so well. But with regards to Mr. Kawamori, he is a person we look up to. He is a very interesting person, and his works are also very interesting. But then if you meet him in person… whoa. You’re going to notice that he’s more interesting than anything he’s actually done. So, if we start talking about Mr. Kawamori, we’re going to go past two hours like it was nothing, so let’s just leave it at that.

In revisiting Eureka Seven with the new movies, what feelings are you hoping to evoke in old fans and those who have never seen the series?

First of all, I’d like to say that, for old fans coming back to us, thank you very much. I hope they will actually be very accepting of this, since, even if we use some old footage, it doesn’t mean that we could do something just like the old version. In that sense, it’s in many ways a new movie. I hope they will be very accepting of it. With that being said, for new fans I hope they take it for what it is, and accept it for what it is, and that they will see what Renton and Eureka and Anemone have to do in order to live through that world. So the greater idea I have for everyone is acceptance, really. I hope everyone will accept EUREKA SEVEN HI-EVOLUTION for what it is.

Thank you very much!

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!