Eureka Seven Ao – 02 Review
If anything the first two episodes of including Eureka in the plot with a lot of flashbacks and hints at her presence like Ao’s turquoise hair and Nirvash’s reaction to Ao piloting it. That makes it all the more interesting to see how big her role in this story will be even if she’s just a figure from the past.
Eureka Seven Ao 02: The Anime Where Turquoise Hair Is Actually Weird
Eureka Seven Ao is a really visually stunning series. Along with Fate/Zero II and Aquarion Evol this series knows how to impress visually. That’s just another thing it shares with Eureka Seven. What Eureka Seven didn’t have was a tsundere with serious health-problems talking ominously about the future. Yeah, I’m talking about Naru who is kinda the moral support for Ao and weeps for him if he starts whining about his turquoise hair. Strangely he remembers his mother dying her hair so… isn’t that inspiration enough to do the same? He doesn’t need the turquoise hair to save the world, does he? But no, what does he do? He runs to a lonely place and gets all mushy staring at the sea. In the first episode I expected him to have turquoise hair only when piloting Nirvash but now it seems like he’s tuck with the terrible hair. He could shave off the hair, too, now that I think of it, becoming a Buddhist monk. Not that it will happen but I sure hope he won’t be whining about his turquoise hair again because there are options.
The Scab Coral throws the isle into chaos and Ao is faced with Gazelle and his buddies who demand back the bracelet. Ao remembering his mother angrily retorts that he will keep it no matter who has owned it before. Following a great insight Gazelle gives up but tells Ao that he should better deliver the isle from the threat of the Secret-monster. Ao accepts the challenge and after some colourful action manages to destroy the Secret-monster. Shortly after that Team Pied Piper arrives and Fleur Blanc finds Ao unconsciously floating in front of a big cave. After dragging him to the beach and waiting for his awakening she asks him where he put Nirvash. Ao’s doing the ignorant-innocence-routine and the girl’s doing a bad job of interrogating him. After Ao has simply walked away he hears soldiers at his grandpa’s house talking about his turquoise hair. Shocked about this he flees to a solitary spot on the island. As now Naru hears about the same thing in a different place she decides to leave the field-hospital to search for her boyfriend in all the sentimental places of the island. Finally finding him she realizes Ao’s practically swimming in an ocean of self-pity and it takes all of her dramatic ability to respond in an equally sentimental fashion that she doesn’t give a shit about his hair-colour.
I still love the series’ ability to put these little details into the dialogue to give the setting a bit more credibility. For an alternate-history-setting it’s important to at least mention the existence of a past. Most of the shounen-series in that vein don’t have an alternate-history-setting, they just have a setting which acknowledges the existence of all the typical shounen-gimmicks.
One thing that impressed me about this episode was the soundtrack of Koji Nakamura. It wasn’t the very memorable kind like the Guilty Crown, Aquarion Evol soundtrack or Sakamichi no Apollon’s jazz but the music in this episode did a great deal in colouring the mood of it. Eureka Seven Ao focuses on Ao so far and everyone else stays in the background. His actions are what determine the plot so it’s interesting to see how the series wants us to judge his actions. And it’s this where the soundtrack played a great role because even in the most dire situation the music seemed quite optimistic. When Gazelle yells at Ao to take Nirvash it isn’t really a cry of despair like “Do something!”, with the optimistic soundtrack it sounds more like “You can do it!” and the mood of the scene tells you that he can. So in the end there’s nothing dangerous about the situation.
Overall the episode was the heroic reversal probably everyone has expected after the drastic developments of the first episode so the only question was how well the episode would turn out to be. And I think they did a really good job of making it not too cheesy. Everyone knew that Ao would kick the Secret-Monster’s ass and it was quite spectacular but the series didn’t turn him immediately into the long-awaited messiah. Except the moments when Ao miraculously piloted Nirvash as if he was a true expert the episode showed really well that Ao wasn’t the biggest genius on earth. But it also made sure that none of his “Oh my god, what am I gonna do…?!”-tantrums turned into a melodramatic scene. Gazelle and his girlfriend Naru were there to end these moments very quickly decisively. I only hope that they keep it that way and not just did it since they wanted to conclude the introduction in two episodes.
The one thing that just doesn’t work is the series’ humour, I think. There are some charming moments that just correlate with an exciting moment but when it’s just about humour the series just isn’t funny. Ao acting ignorant while Fleur asks about Nirvash for example? Not funny in my opinion. It was just Ao acting strangely supported by the animation which just made it even worse because of how blatant the whole thing got. And Fleur was acting retarded in that scene and except if she’s generally a retarded character her behaviour was just plot-convenience for the sake of the joke.
The characters are still okay, I think and I’m curious to see what role Eureka will play. Some of those flashbacks definitely seemed like the story’s going for a tearjerker with Eureka fleeing from her responsibility. The female pilots of Team Pied Piper worry me a bit because Fleur Blanc seemed like the perfect candidate for a stupid love-triangle-sub-plot with Naru. And Elena, the pink-haired one could get quite obnoxious, too, if they overplay the Otaku-bit. I don’t know what it is with animes and otakus. All these shounen-series are about protagonists being a young idealistic courageous hero who are very bluntly telling the audience what’s good about being good. But in the same scene as this message gets thrown at you the series might say ‘Hey, but look at this side-character! He likes animes – just like you… and look! He’s a total weirdo!’. Just look at what ANN wrote here about Elena’s character: “She has such a passionate love for the two-dimensional world of television and games. She watches anime even during flight operations and quoting anime dialogue all the time, which makes her behavior not understandable.” I really can’t remember the last time when I got to see a fan of the ‘two-dimensional’ world who seemed like a normal person. Being an otaku isn’t an invitation to an asylum… The Naru-Ao-scene seemed eerily reminiscent of the Eureka-Renton-relationship, though. The one with the turquoise hair thinks he/she’s a monster and her/his partner has to assure her that he/she’s not. In contrast to Last Exile: Fam Eureka Seven Ao does much to remind the audience of the first series. I’m not really sure yet if that nostalgia improves the series or not but Eureka Seven Ao is definitely more of a sequel than Last Exile: Fam was.
The setting is still very mysterious overall which I think is strange. I mean, the introduction is over but the series keeps its cards close to the chest apparently. A lot of hints got thrown around like the Eureka-flashbacks and the total mystery of the Scab Corals with the Secret-Monsters. And there seems to be a bit of a national quarreling going on as well although I don’t know whether that will play a role. It’d be great, though, especially if they really go all-out with the alternate-history-setting in this regard. It could give the story a chance to have some politically reasonable plottwists that go beyond ‘Big evil nation with big evil plan plans to do something big and evil’. Of course having Team Pied Piper with its ship as the centre of story might also mean that such details of the setting won’t matter since it focuses on the places where the ship’s at so that it becomes more a kind of journey-story instead of one with a fixed setting.
The second episode left a slightly better impression with its upbeat tone and the optimistic action. Ao’s naïve characters is handled quite well (except that he’s miraculously talented) and the rest of the cast is okay. Visually this episode is also as impressive as the first one and along the visuals some of the scenes also seem to be filled with a sense of nostalgia. All in all the episode’s a very good conclusion to the introduction-part of the series.