Monday, November 26, 2012

Eureka Seven Ao

"Eureka Seven Ao" is not going to be a series I will ever forget.  Unfortunately I have to live a far worse life now because I have seen this show.  I am going to carry a grudge against "Eureka Seven Ao", a mental vendetta of pure fury forever.  Even when this existence ends and I'm reincarnated, that future person or creature will feel at an elemental level a raging hatred of "Eureka Seven Ao".  Its going right to very depths of my psyche, along with the Star Wars Prequels and "Final Fantasy XIII-2".  I am as angry right now writing this review I as have been for anything I have written for this blog.  If not more so.  But I know until I write and tell the world how goddamn awful "Eureka Seven Ao" is, I will never sleep again.  I to vent, badly.

Its been many a year since I've seen a legitimately great anime series.  The last one I watched might have been the original "Fullmetal Alchemist", but definitely "Eureka Seven" stands as one of the best Japanese programs I've ever been fortunate enough to experience.  Its plot... very little sense, but those details didn't particularly matter to me because it had gorgeous animation, a great romance plotline, and above all else, incredible characters who I truly loved and wanted to see have a happy ending, no matter how confusing and bizarre.  "Eureka Seven" doesn't even try to explain what's going on until episode 30, before that it doesn't really have much of a plot at all, its just a teenage boy, Renton, having his first love with an alien girl.  It was sweet, I have nothing but positive memories about it.  I may in fact have enjoyed "Eureka Seven" more than any other person alive, I think I'm alone with how much I fucking love that series.  "Pocket Full of Rainbows", the Eureka Seven movie that gave me that image of a grimacing Nirvash-thing that I put on almost all my negative reviews, was a lazy slapped together fraud created entirely out of reused animation and a nonsensical plot that was indescribably bad.  That movie was little more than a con job to steal people's money.  So when it was announced last May that they were making a "Eureka Seven" sequel, I was excited, but I could already envision myself many months later furiously typing away into the oblivion, trying to channel my anger into keystrokes.

Well, we're here now.  You did it, BONES, you pissed me off.  Congrats.

There is no excuse for what went on during the course of "Eureka Seven Ao".  The show was never actively terrible, it never got to the point of being directly offensive, at least not until the end.  For at least half the running time, it was watchable, if nothing special.  But at some point I started to realize:  I have no idea what's going on in this series, and I don't particularly like any of these characters.  I think BONES realized the problem too, so at some point it feels like this show was rewritten.  And then rewritten again.  And again.  And then a third time.  So having watch all twenty-four episodes, I'm left with nothing.  I don't know what this was supposed to be.  I don't know what they were trying to achieve.  Its a mess.  A goddamn mess.  This is the "Highlander 2" of anime series.  Sequels usually suck, but "Eureka Seven Ao" didn't have to be this bad.  If only I had any idea what was going on.  If only the characters knew what was going on.

Basically the idea here was to make a show featuring the son of Eureka and Renton, the original couple from the original show.  Their son's name is Ao, he's grown up in an alternate history version of Okinawa where there are giant robots and somehow the island is independent.  So right there "Eureka Seven Ao" makes the huge mistake of trying to build a complex geopolitical rivalry theme into its story, very little of which is all that well explained.  At best the political stuff is a distraction and pointless, and at worst its boring and a waste of time.  The Earth is being attacked by these space aliens called Secrets.  Eureka and Renton are in another universe, so Ao has been an orphan his entire life.  Ao finds a giant robot and has to fight the Secrets to protect huge mushrooms called Scub Coral, who you might remember as the aliens from the first series.  It all seems like standard anime fair, Ao joins a group of preteens who pilot robots, he has a childhood friend, there are aliens attacking.  It was at first generic, then it got worse.

You see, big twist, the Secrets aren't evil, the Scub are.  Or something.  The series cannot seem to make up its mind as to who the real bad guys are.  Just about every three episodes the factions will switch and we're fighting another enemy.  Of course, this is very badly done because the entire point of the first series was creating a connection between humans and Scub, basically a dialog between creatures of totally different dimensions and consciousnesses.  That's why the Scub create Eureka, so that she could have a dialog with humans and that creates the adversity that Eureka and Renton have to overcome in order to have their romance work.  So when "Eureka Seven Ao" starts coming along claiming that the Scub Coral are evil, I'm left utterly perplexed.  Wait?  The main villain from the first series, Dewey Novak, was right?  Humans and Scub Coral can't live together?  I'm reminded of "Chrono Cross", which decided that everything we did in the original "Chrono Trigger" actually made everything much much worse.  And that wasn't a writing decision I agreed with then, its much worse here.

Oh just when you think the plot cannot get much worse, they throw in time travel.  Uccchhhhh....

Okay folks, here's a confession:  I hate fucking time travel.  Time travel is a bullshit plot point.  There a few movies that manage to make it work, like "The Girl Who Leapt Through Time" or "Bill and Ted", and "Doctor Who" is great.  But "Doctor Who" includes a rule for time travel:  you cannot undo things that have happened.  This is why time travel is bullshit.  Because it gives the writer a way-out, a way to erase something he or the fanbase doesn't like.  "Oh God, Batman's dead!"  "Don't worry, I'll just send Superboy back in time to save him!"  So nothing that happens ever has any permanence.  You can retcon anything.  You can spend the entire story making up nonsense and then throwing a bullshit twist "fuck you" ending like FFXIII-2.  Time travel is something that should always be avoided, think very hard before you put it into your stories.  And if there must be time travel, don't fucking introduce it until your sequel.  That's nonsense.  If you kill off Batman, keep on going.  Let him die.  Don't retcon it.  You're only cheapening your own story.  And if you think there needs to be a sequel to your shitty RPG video game, write a story that actually needs a sequel, don't randomly kill off the main character just for giggles.

And don't make a series like "Eureka Seven Ao".  Consider this a seminar on WHAT NOT TO DO.  If you want to be a good writer, watch this show.  Then you'll know.  See everything here?  Don't do that.

About halfway through the series Ao finds a Magic Time Eraser Gun.  He can point the gun at a thing and that thing will never have existed.  Luckily the gun is only used about three times, but every time it is used you know the series has grown that much more confusing and full of plotholes.  In the last two episodes the main villain shoots himself with the Time Eraser Gun, and now he's never existed.  This leads to just about ten gazillion plot holes, because even though a major character has never been, everything is more or less the same.  People he killed aren't alive again, people he saved aren't dead, the show should be unrecognizable once you've removed him, but no.  However, by this point in the series, you'd have long ceased to care because everything is so stupidly confusing and rambling that a sane person would give up by episode twelve.

I can tell the series has undergone about a million rewrites too.  The first episodes introduce this character named Naru, Ao's childhood friend and potential love interest.  "Eureka Seven" was a love story at its heart.  "Eureka Seven Ao" is a... something.  Naru is set up to be important.  Then Ao leaves to join NERV and Naru sits on the island until she's kidnapped by the villain and immediately stops making any sense.  Ao and her have next to no relations after this point, Naru basically goes nuts, dancing around like a hippie with her own plan of some kind.  I'm not sure if she was evil or not, "Eurek Seven Ao" is never clear enough on villains and good guys, but Naru by the end comes off as a huge bitch.  There's no way around it.  Ao's relationships with the other two girls aren't much better, and there's no romantic payoff of any kind.

The biggest problem with this series isn't that I don't know have any idea what's going on, its that the characters aren't worthy of my interest.  Ao is flat poorly developed, he doesn't do much of anything.  His father Renton was a rich character full of flaws and inadequacies, but still heroic and deeply sympathetic.  Everybody on board the Gekko State were given at least some depth, there were at least a dozen memorable people on that show.  Holland was angry and adolescent but had to learn to grow up for Talho.  Eureka's kids at first were annoying but they had their own fears and issues and Renton became a surrogate father for them.  Eureka herself, though at first appearing to be a flat no-emotions alien girl, had plenty of character.  There is no such approximation with "Eureka Seven Ao".  No single perona can hold this series together, and nobody is sympathetic enough to make you want to root for them.  And its made so much worse when by the end people are having giant robot battles, and you aren't sure why they're fighting at all.

Some characters are just endlessly annoying and hateful.  Truth, the main villain, represents perfectly everything that is wrong with this series.  This guy is an anime prettyboy with ridiculous magical powers of flight and bodyshifting and "Dragonball Z" energy blasts.  Its weird to see such a magically powered character in a SciFi robot program, but he could have worked if... anything about him worked.  There is an ongoing mystery as to what the fuck is going on in this show, and Truth, you'd think, would be one of the people who knows.  Actually Truth, the central villain, has no idea.  He's as confused as Ao and the audience are, if not more so.  He keeps changing his motives and plans every episode just so that he can keep being the villain, even though I have no idea what he's trying to achieve.  That's a problem with just about everybody, but Truth really suffers from it.  Basically I wanted Truth to die horribly and quickly, since he became the avatar of the entire plot mess, and no, he never dies.  At the end he shoots himself with the Time Erasing Gun, and then somehow becomes the onboard computer on Ao's robot.  Why did that happen?  I don't think even the writers know.  Maybe they thought Truth was really popular and didn't want to kill him off.  There heads were up their asses.

I mean, all I really wanted was a simple story where Ao finds a girl he likes, he tries to have a relationship with her, and fights monsters with his robot and then meets his long lost parents at the end.  It didn't have to be complicated.  Nothing about the concept of "Eureka Seven Ao" said it had to suck.  But it did.

Then there's the issue of Eureka and Renton.  Eventually in this sequel the main characters from the original had to show up.  About halfway through the series Eureka crash lands on Earth riding the Gekko alone (which is unceremoniously sunk).  Its a great moment since Ao finally gets to meet his mother, while she's pregnant.  Its probably the best scene of the series.  You'd think now finally the series would shift and it wouldn't suck any more, but no.  Eureka goes back through the dimensional gate, and we only see her later as a Jedi Ghost for whatever reason.  Renton shows up way way way later at a super badass dude in an overcoat from the Bad Future where humanity is extinct, thus explaining why no other "Eureka Seven" characters are back.  Turns out the Scub Coral actually are evil, or something, and Renton is trying to save... I don't know.  I can't even try to explain it.  Somehow the Scubs killed Ao's baby big sister and Renton is now trying to kill them all.  So Ao and Renton fight for no apparent reason and Ao does a thing and Eureka and Renton go home while Ao wanders through time for awhile until he goes back to Earth riding a Rift Board.  That's your ending.

It really does not help trying to explain what's going on in this show when just about every plot point that got set up never really went anywhere.  One character, Elena, is set up to be this crazy duel personality and possibly a Coralian like Ao, she isn't.  There are these things in the robots called "Third Engines" which work through some process that is not understood, its never really important.  The series never really even explains what the heck a Secret is either, or what Truth was trying to do, and when you think about it, the ending really didn't settle SHIT.  Again, it was a mess.  Not a hilarious mess, not an entertaining mess, just a huge disappointment.

I'm not even angry any more.  I'm just sad.  How did it come to this?  Why did it come to this?  Why did this have to happen?  "Rebuild of Evangelion" is happening now, and those movies have been AWESOME so far, I'd take "Evangelion 2.0"'s events over the original series.  I was harsh to "Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood" for being a little sloppy with its characters, but for the most part everything was solid there.  There's no reason that "Eureka Seven Ao" had to be such a trainwreck.  BONES, what were you thinking?  Honestly, somebody explain to me what "Eureka Seven Ao" was trying to prove.  Because I don't know.  I see nothing but a wad of garbage in a dumpster masquerading as a TV program.



  1. Wow, Blue I don't know what to say ...Sounds awful, thats for sure.

  2. Shit, that's a shame. And you were so looking forward to it, too. Sequal betrayal is a terrible thing. But you know what? Don't let it get you down. There are plenty of other great series out there, like Evangelion, as you said. In fact, concerning Rebuild (I seem to be doing this a lot...), the third one was released two weeks ago, and preliminary reports seem to indicate that Anno has done it again:

    "Evangelion 3.0: You Can (Not) Comprehend

    New Eva film blows minds across Japan

    by Ryotaro Aoki

    There was a moment of awkward silence once the house lights came up in the theater after the end credits of Evangelion 3.0: You Can (Not) Redo. To Evangelion veterans who were there the first time around, it was probably a familiar feeling. To everyone else, it was probably more like a big collective “huh?”"

    Japan Yahoo reviews indicate that the fandom has been split in two. The movie's average rating is about 3.17 stars out of 5, with the overwhelming majority of reviewers either saying that this it the second coming of Christ, or letting loud wails of BETRAYAL!!!!!

    Looks to be fun, either way