Hello everyone, and welcome to Wrong Every Time. Today we’ll be diving back into Eureka Seven, because goddamnit, I want to know what happens next! You can’t just stop your screening on a recap episode, that’s ridiculous. I need some action!
Granted, last episode’s series of Dai Sato-scripted monologues certainly helped flesh out our understanding of Eureka Seven’s wider world, relaying a great deal of exposition that would be difficult to integrate into active conversation. On Stoner’s side, we learned the Coralians are creatures of such awe and complexity that human language is simply incapable of describing them. That led into a discussion of the impossibility of fully conveying any felt experience, emphasizing language’s general inability to express all of the infinite facets that make up any moment or feeling. This impossibility is essentially the conflict that drove Neon Genesis Evangelion, though it feels less central to Eureka – Renton generally doesn’t have much difficulty expressing his feelings, it’s only the ostentatiously strange Eureka he has trouble reaching.
Dominic’s material was fittingly more practical than Stoner’s, and mostly focused on the interactions between the Corallians, military, and Gekkostate. We crucially learned that the LFOs were found rather than created, implying that they are also products of the Corallians. And we were also introduced to a former Holland who seemed far more competent and self-assured than our current leader, raising the question of what precisely happened to him between then and now. With all of these new thoughts to ponder, I’m eager to move into the second act of Eureka Seven. Let’s get to it!
This new opening also embodies a familiar style of ‘00s OP music, though not one I was ever particularly fond of – the pop-rap song. There just aren’t that many shifts in dynamics in a song like this, meaning it doesn’t do a particularly good job of matching up to the visual accompaniment. Granted, I’ve always been a guitar rock guy myself, so those scratchy chords that open the first OP were destined to be more of my jam
We open on a clear blue sky, before panning down to Renton, Eureka, and Mattieu suffering from the heat. Eureka Seven’s expression work is vivid even in these mid-distance shots
I suppose the fact that they ride surfing robots should make it obvious, but I’m appreciating more and more all the ways this show frames the sky as a different kind of ocean, embracing their similar coloration, as well as how the whims of wind and thermals evoke the variability of waves
They’re arrived at the city of Contrarado, a city possessing “many sanitariums run by the military”
This city is where Renton’s father Adroc met his mother. We see a poster that clearly frames Adroc in the pose and coloration of the classic Che Guevara portrait, seemingly framing him as a revolutionary. But from what we know Adroc worked for the government directly, so we’ll have to see where they’re going with this
After all the action and exposition of the last several episodes, I’m greatly appreciating this return to Eureka Seven’s more laid-back mode, where we can revel in the flavorful character acting, beautiful backgrounds, and fun dynamics between the secondary crew members
This episode’s backgrounds are phenomenal. Love the flecks of lightly painted off-coloration on the building they visit, which clearly evoke both the wear and tear of a heavily used farmhouse, as well as the damage the sun has slowly done to the paint job. Backgrounds like this don’t just establish a setting, they create a mood, a sense of physical atmosphere, and even an understanding of this place’s history
Apparently, Matthieu’s near-visit to the Coralian gave him a bit of a religious revelation, and so he’s decided to respect nature’s awesome power. This, in turn, ignited “the fifth health-conscious craze among the Gekkostate crew.” Yep, they’re treating us to a classic part one-style caper after all that action. They may be heroes, but they’re still also flighty, fad-driven surfer bums
Thus they’re on a quest for the “puncha nut,” billed as one of the three healthiest foods on the planet
“Since I hadn’t been able to talk to her much lately, I wanted to get her attention.” And thus he brags about knowing where to get a lot of puncha nuts. Renton still expresses his feelings in the manner of a child – rather than actually talking to Eureka directly, he decides to run off and find a cool-looking beetle or whatnot to impress her with
Holland only agrees once he learns that’s where Renton and his sister spent a great deal of their childhood days. At this, Talho explodes – Holland’s curiosity about Renton’s childhood is an extension of his curiosity about Eureka, and thus always a point of contention with Talho
The town’s entrance is flanked by a fading advertisement for “Adroc Beer,” emphasizing how this town uses Renton’s father as a sort of highway-side attraction. Once again, I appreciate the faded texture of these backgrounds, emphasizing the wear time has wrought on this poster – they don’t feel like sets, they feel like lived-in environments
“Somehow, I felt kinda sorry for everyone.” One clear step in Renton’s maturation is that there is no longer any glamor attached to the Gekkostate – he now sees these people for the messy and often sad creatures that they are
They’re caught stealing by Renton’s uncle, the incredibly named Yukatan Iglacias. So I’d guess we’re in fantasy Mexico, then?
Apparently, Renton has been hiding his lineage from the Gekkostate crew. It’s understandable – he’s presumably been living in his father’s shadow all through his childhood, and thus wanted to avoid such comparisons in his new life
Though Renton’s uncle initially appears to buy his “these are my military school friends” cover story, when another guest asks about Eureka, Yukatan embellishes on Renton’s initial story significantly. It’s clear that Yukatan understood Renton was lying from the start, but presumably understood his nephew would be doing so for a good reason
At the same time though, Yukatan’s lie about Renton and his fiancé’s successful military career emphasizes how Renton has actually drifted away from society’s expectations. All of the praise of the others only makes him feel worse about his actual choices
And as the other ex-military officers break into song, he can only stew in his inability to live up to his father’s legacy
“Follow, follow in Adroc’s footsteps.” This song is pretty direct, huh
Renton seems to think Yukatan was just hyping up his nephew with generous lies, but I’m not so certain. Still, Renton’s the one who’s actually spent time with this man – perhaps Yukatan is one of the principal figures responsible for his thorny relationship with his father’s legacy
“I’m sorry, I really wasn’t listening.” The only part of the prior conversation that actually attracted Eureka’s attention was when Renton slammed his fist down, clearly in emotional pain. Of course, Renton is too wrapped up in his own insecurities to take the hint from this, and understand that what Eureka truly wants is for him to be honest with her about his feelings
Oh no, oh no, it’s even worse than I thought. Yukatan believes that Renton has infiltrated Gekkostate as a spy, and has already tied up Mattieu
“I looked up to Gekkostate and decided to join them. It has nothing to do with you, Dad, or Sis.” Well, it took a while to get to it, but Renton’s at last standing up to his uncle
“I am who I am!” With a beloved legacy behind you, a simple statement like this can be such a difficult thing to admit. I’ve certainly struggled plenty with my family’s expectations over the years, and I imagine the scars of that struggle will always be with me. Good on Renton for having the strength to state this at such a young age
Really neat sequence of Eureka and Mathieu being grabbed by a mech while stuck in a transport vehicle. You get a very different sense of these mechs’ power when you’re not safely strapped into a driver’s seat, and every drop in elevation sends you floating and then slamming into the ground
Renton’s emotional breakthrough is immediately transposed to his fighting capabilities, as we see him express new confidence and skill in his piloting of the Nirvash
Renton is thrilled, but Eureka is troubled, stating that his movements are “not like the Nirvash at all”
“Since that incident, Eureka always stays near the Nirvash, but doesn’t touch it like before”
“I always want to be at her side. But that doesn’t mean I want to be in the passenger’s seat forever.” It’s nice seeing Renton assert his own feelings here. He doesn’t understand what Eureka is feeling, but that’s not his fault – Eureka just doesn’t generally express her emotions directly. Though it’s causing some friction, it’s ultimately healthy for him to embrace ambitions outside of pleasing Eureka
Jeez, and what a sad punchline, as Renton’s new optimism is contrasted against his uncle getting shuffled into a military van
Aw what, where did all that tragedy at the end come from!? We were doing so well this episode, stealing fruit and meeting relatives and whatnot, and then that conclusion had to undercut any sense of victory we might have drawn from Renton’s flight. And to be honest, I kind of love this episode for that – I love that it was ultimately more mired in the consequences of Renton’s flight for others than in his simple feelings of elation, in spite of framing Renton’s declarations as a clear developmental victory.
That ambiguity is a testament to the rich multiplicity of Eureka Seven’s overall perspective. This is not simply a shonen tale of a boy coming of age, this is an ensemble drama, featuring many adult characters who are just as confused in their own ways as Renton. Growing up is a messy process that will inherently provoke friction, as new desires, proficiencies, and levels of confidence alter all your relationships in ways both big and small. The tragedy of Renton’s uncle might have been inevitable, but that doesn’t make it any less sad; I appreciate a show that can simultaneously express both the thrill and the melancholy of a boy taking flight.
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