Hello folks, and welcome back to Wrong Every Time. Today I’m eager to dive back into Eureka Seven, where we most recently experienced Renton’s first full-on psychological breakdown. As an admittedly post-Evangelion property marked with countless parallels to its big brother, it was clearly only a matter of time before we dove into the weeds of Renton’s mental state, as well as the familial trauma he’s been so assiduously denying. And as a first look at that trauma, this episode provided a number of fresh connections with its predecessor, along with some key points of differentiation.
Much of last episode’s imagery seemed to link Renton’s burgeoning adolescence with the environmental catastrophe facing his planet. Imagery like Renton staring down at himself in a classroom emphasized his expanded post-childhood perspective, while simultaneously evoking the sense of looking into a fishbowl, in keeping with Eureka Seven’s general aquatic theme. Other sequences offered a similar fusion of the personal and portentous – his navigation of an endless bathroom illustrated common feelings of adolescent sexual shame, while the ensuing sequence of falling into a deep sea brought us back to this world’s tectonic emergency. A great deal of anime could be summed up as “adolescent awakening framed as a battle for the fate of the world,” and Eureka Seven is effectively interweaving its internal and external conflicts towards just such an end.
Beyond the episode’s general evocation of adolescent anxiety, there was the further question of Renton’s absent sister. Renton’s sister is the key to his story, the blank space that explains everything else, and his relationship with her complicates his burgeoning feelings for Eureka. Does he truly desire Eureka as a romantic partner, or is he just looking for a feeling of safety, a home to return to? Evangelion made this mismatch of desires explicit: all of the Eva pilots were seeking parents rather than lovers, and thus could never truly comfort each other. But Eureka Seven seems to believe there is hope for its leads to connect, and I’m eager to see how. Let’s get to it!
Always a little bittersweet to sink back into this property, a symbol of a specific golden age for ambitious original anime. Anime has had such a messy, convoluted economic history that basically every era of its production is a historical anomaly, and the historical anomaly that was the ‘00s sure was a great one
Opening right off with an evocative skyward composition, as we stare up from wreckage towards the military jet. Three tiers of objects plus a slight pan creates a strong illusion of depth, and the base shapes of the wreckage are enticingly undefinable
Dominic has stolen a lifeboat, taking the rescue of Anemone into his own hands
“My name is Renton Thurston.” It seems that contact with the Corallian threatened Renton’s sense of independent identity, another parallel with Evangelion. Of course, the simultaneous necessity and intolerability of our separate identities, and the suffering that separation will inevitably cause, was basically the entire point of Evangelion. I doubt it’ll be so central here
“This hand… in that ocean, Eureka held it.” Eureka Seven’s strong ocean motif makes it kinda tricky to tell if they’re intentionally evoking the water of the womb
Both mechs landed in a fresh Corallian bloom. As Renton moves to investigate Anemone, Dominic raises a gun to his head
Once again, Anemone seems to be in terrible pain, and frantically asking for medicine. It seems that whatever compels The End to obey Anemone comes at a terrible physical cost, in stark contrast with the feelings of joy and companionship that seem to power the Nirvash
A weirdly touching moment, as Dominic and Renton each tend to their sickly space girlfriends
And now Renton asks to travel in Dominic’s sidecar. Oh my god, a buddy cop episode with Renton and Dominic was not what I was expecting, but I am so here for it
Great moment for Renton here, as he demonstrates both his courage and his skill in the face of Dominic’s pistol. He feels more confident in general now; it’s like admitting the ways he is still a boy has helped him feel certain of the ways he’s otherwise grown
“Anything wrong with what I just said?” Holland’s loyalty to Eureka seems to be his fatal flaw as a leader; he gets defensive about his favoritism, and clearly values her life more highly than the rest, prompting resentment among the ranks
Dominic and Renton have the precise energy of a bickering pair of brothers. Dominic demands to know where Renton learned the term “Corallian”
“The moment I entered that cloud, I felt like I was no longer myself.” More points towards the Corallian invoking some kind of singularity-style meta-consciousness, which would explain why Renton, Eureka, and Anemone were all coexisting in the same dream
“You entered the Zone, didn’t you?” I wonder if Sato is riffing on Roadside Picnic/Stalker here, and if this Zone is also the work of some visitor beyond our understanding
We’re given a variety of indications that Dominic genuinely cares about this world, and believes he is doing what is right. He’s clearly troubled by the destruction of this town, and smiles at a young girl until she throws a flowerpot at him
“All you say is ‘investigating this,’ ‘investigating that…’ What is the military hiding from us!?” The people of this town blame the military for the Corallian
“Stuff like that happen to you much?” Renton is getting some fantastic digs in on Dominic, but then again, it’s beginning to seem like this happens to Dominic a lot. When he doesn’t have either martial authority or his gun to wave around, he’s a much smaller man
Dominic points out that Renton could have abandoned him, to which Renton replies that he didn’t know what kind of medicine Dominic needed. Not a thought of betrayal, which by this point seems to be the sort of thing Dominic would truly respect
They’re even further humanizing Dominic through these running gags about his sense of direction. Seems clear they’re defining him as a fundamentally decent person working in a fundamentally inhumane institution
They get the medicine they need, but their bike is stolen. Fortunately, Renton can apparently hotwire just about anything
Dominic states that a girl at the hospital was suffering from “Desperation Disease.” I wonder, is some portion of the population simply losing hope for humanity’s survival? “Desperation Disease” seems like it’d be a fine stand-in for the sense of fatalism that our own climate apocalypse is instilling, and this show is clearly dabbling in some environmentalist themes already
Love this little bit of character acting, as Dominic follows up his treatment by lightly brushing and resting his hand on Anemone’s cheek. Without a word, it’s made clear how he genuinely cares for her
“At least for now… rest well, Anemone.” His following words are laced with an acknowledgment of his complicity in this inhuman scenario, an understanding that he will have to force her through suffering once again
Symmetrical compositions make the parallels between Renton and Dominic even more explicit; each are set in profile, but in opposite directions, emphasizing how they are similar figures destined to walk opposing paths
“It looks like we both fell for troublesome ladies. Right, Renton?”
The two actually introduce themselves as friends, and of course that’s the moment when their other friends arrive
Goddamn this show has some nice animation. Even this brief cut of Renton shrugging under Eureka’s weight possesses such fluidity and sense of physical volume
Renton shouts “I swear I’ll protect you,” and the Nirvash activates. It seems driven by him embracing the mantle of adulthood, and the responsibilities that come with it
The Nirvash exhibits more independent will than ever before, opening its cockpit and even lowering a hand to lift its pilots. An interesting riff on the original, from “the Eva will move to protect Shinji” to “the Nirvash will move once Renton acknowledges his duty as a protector”
Dominic states that “I believe we’ve met our true enemies,” seeming to imply there is some throne or ascension that these matched pairs will each be vying for
Renton has also grown enough to genuinely push back against Holland, calling him out on his reckless and selfish actions
And Holland is desperate for information about the dream, seeming satisfied when Renton reveals he briefly met his sister. So is there some “other world” that people have been transported to???
Ugh, so many questions! I figured this episode would actually clarify a couple things, but instead it only left us with more secrets to uncover, from Dominic and Anemone’s history to Holland’s fascination with the dream world. That said, we’re at least starting to piece together some portion of the relationship between Eureka, the Corallians, and the forces destroying their world. It’s looking like a new world is essentially being birthed in the same place as the old one, resulting in these devastating tectonic shifts – and as representatives of this new world, it seems that Eureka or Anemone’s ability to fruitfully coexist with their partner might hold the key for saving both these worlds. Either way, it was delightful seeing Renton and Dominic bicker like children for a while, and also gratifying to see Renton genuinely growing up a little. We’ll have to see what Eureka makes of his new confidence!
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