Friday, May 25, 2012

Eureka Seven AO - 07

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Wherever The Truth is from, apparently they need more lolis.

Speaking only for myself, this might have been the most “Eureka Seven” episode Astral Ocean has offered yet. - complete with a massive plot bomb, much of which was incomprehensible to my feeble brain, at least so far.  I guess it isn't really E7 till you don’t know what the hell is going on, so welcome to the machine.  Of course it wasn't only that.  There was an overall feel to this ep that recalled the first show for me – iconic imagery featuring Ao (not) and Naru, a quick-cutting visual style that felt very much like the old Kyoda-sensei – but it still retained the somewhat darker and more nuanced feel of AO.  It’s an interesting mix.

Among the many things we don’t know yet is just what the deal is with The Truth, but what I can say for sure is that I’m glad he’s played by Inoue Kazuhiko.  There are very few seiyuu that bring what he does to a role – the confidence, the swagger, the insouciant humor seemingly always lurking under the surface.  Kazuhiko’s roles vary as much as anyone, as befits his incredible range – but they usually reflect a character who carries a great deal of light and darkness in him simultaneously.  In a role such as Nyanko-sensei we can even observe his performance modulate over time as the character slides further towards one end of that continuum, but that’s a character we lived with for four seasons – I have no expectation that The Truth will have any such journey.  Still, despite his brutality we can sense this character is operating on a different plane of awareness than those around him, and that “good” and “evil” as we know them probably don’t exist in his vocabulary. 

One character I haven’t given much thought to is Stanley (Sawaki Ikuya) who appears to be Christophe Blanc’s deputy (and also takes temporary command of Goldilocks).  I don’t know if he’s playing the Kozou Fuyutsuki role here, necessarily, but it’s now apparent that there’s more to Stanley than meets the eye.  He’s keeping secrets from his boss at the very least, and in concert with Rebecka.  When The Truth attacks GenBleu headquarters it’s Stanley who’s making plans for worst case scenarios, including telling Rebecka to destroy “that” – hidden under the HQ - if things should really go sour.  I suspect “that” is this, which the Allied forces Commander Tanaka (I find it very interesting that the Allied Forces are locally led by someone who’s apparently a Japanese-American) tells his bosses is “still underneath Gen Bleu’s HQ.”  I don’t know what “that” is, but based on what we can see in the hazy photograph – sharply angled features, triangular head – it looks very much like type the END.

Now that, Friends, would certainly be an interesting turn of events, pregnant with story implications to say the least – but for now, it’s a guess.  And given some of the other tidbits The Truth throws our way, even more so.  He tells Ao that this is an “erroneous world”.  He also tells Ao that while he’s interesting because he’s flying “That Woman’s” machine –all the more so as her son – Naru is even more interesting.  Why is Naru so interesting to the Truth, this blue-haired entity who wears a cat bell and thinks nothing of killing humans as if they were ants?  Ever since the concept art came out, I’ve always thought Naru bore a certain resemblance to Anemone.   Could just be the Yoshida Kenichi character designs of course – but then, it might not.

Possibly tying all this together is the magical mystery tour in the middle of the episode, a strange series of events that occurs after Ao flees Gen Bleu in The Nirvash only to find The Truth standing on his hood, unperturbed.  It’s an interesting and delicate piece of animation by BONES – all of a sudden we’re back on Okinawa, the colors are queer and unsettling and Ao and Naru are together again.  Ao’s acting strange, though, and he appears to cure Naru of her breathing difficulty – and even give her the ability to fly.  Turns out of course, that this is not the true Ao but The Truth – but Naru recognizes his shadowy avatar as “My Sea Giant”, the creature she encountered during the incident as a toddler when she lost her health.  And she spurns Ao to go with him.  When he wakes up he’s at Gen Bleu and the world looks normal again, but he’s been out three days – and the Truth’s abduction of Naru is all over the nets.  It wasn’t a dream, and Ao is (naturally) crushed. 

The episode title “No one is innocent” really makes a lot of sense, because the theme is clearly that no one is who they appear to be. The Truth discards identities like old tissues, Rebecka and Stanley are secretly colluding for unknown ends, even Elena is apparently playing at her idol alter ego of “Miller” – it was certainly Omigawa Chiaki doing the voice - and is oddly unperturbed when The Truth finds her.  Even Gazelle has a taste of this when his father who always called him a “worthless prick” wants him to return to Okinawa to help his Quixotic independence battle.  This is an episode where no one is trustworthy and Ao can’t even trust his own senses, as The Truth bends his reality.  This question of identity is key to everything – who is Naru, really, and just what is The Truth?  We’re no closer to a direct answer, but his interest in Naru seems to be our best clue.

As bewildering as this episode was in some ways, I think we’ve been building up to it because it played right into what seem to be core themes of Astral Ocean – deception and generational betrayal.  Ao and Gazelle are both at the center of this in different ways, but for both what’s significant is that the adults of this world – Okinawan, Allied, Japanese, American – are making an utter mess of things.  Ao especially finds himself in an unenviable position, a tool in the hands of many powerful people with their own agendas, and I think he’s going to learn some hard lessons about not giving his trust away too easily.  The connections to the original series are just beginning to show themselves now, not just plot-wise but thematically too – and in the end of that series, it was really all about Eureka and Renton putting their faith in each other’s hands, almost literally becoming a universe of two.  Despite the events of this week, it’s Naru who’s the one Ao can really trust – I’d bet the ranch on it – and I expect their painful story to be a direct spiritual descendant of Renton and Eureka’s.

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13 comments:

  1. One of the more mind-screwing episode I have seen this year... the "dream", Elena's alter ego and theEND (I didn't realize those two until I read the post)...

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    1. I actually thought the dream was an encode problem until I realized it was an alternate reality and the color shift was intentional. It was very stylish and cleverly done all-around.

      I'm not 100% sure about the END, or Elena-Mirror - but I am sure it was Omigawa Chiaki doing the voice, and we first saw her just after Ivica mentioned that he couldn't raise Elena on the radio.

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    2. I thought the colour was an encode problem as well, until I checked the screenshots on 2chan.

      I'm certain that Elena is Miller. ("Mirror is her band's name. There was a sign that read, "MILLER & THE MIRRORS, SPONSORED BY GENERATION BLEU.") Did you see the faint reflection of her skirt when Elena was getting dressed? It's the same skirt that Miller was wearing. Plus the implications of the "Mirror" name, the Omigawa voice and the lack of any mention of Miller's role in the end credits, all seal the deal for me.

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    3. Didn't the Solid Gold Dancer say "Hey Mirror, what are you doing here?" though?

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    4. He said, "こんな所にいたの、ミラー?" (Konna tokoro ni itano, Miraa?) In Japanese, Miller and Mirror are pronounced the same. And the signs I mentioned are on-screen just seconds before this.

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    5. Yeah, I did see the signs and the pronunciation is certainly going to be almost indistinguishable...

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    6. Which actually brings up an interesting point. I might have missed it, but just what language are they speaking inside Generation Bleu? English or French? In which case, how does Ao know this language? Was he good at languages in school? (I kid, I kid. This is simply one of those conventions in the world of fiction, both in Anime and Hollywood, that demonstrates how the fictional world is slightly different from our own.)

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  2. Ditto on thinking there was an encode/rip problem at first, but then I noticed a few colors weren't completely washed out in the proper way. AND it got lighter as things went on. Oh, and the colored wipes showed the colors that were being limited more each time, I think. It was a give away that the sequence wasn't "normal". Especially when Naru took a complete dive out of the car. ( I also loved the Ep 26-inversion with the fall and the Nirvash. If you've seen Eureka 7, that scene should stand out instantly. That and it's one of the best animated scenes of its era.)

    As for the Mecha, I really should have thought of that as theEND, but it's so grainy (and I was still in awe of the episode) that I didn't think that far on it. But theEND showing up really shouldn't surprise us. Given a few people pointed out that Truth is very similar to Dominic in design, this REALLY shouldn't have come as too much of a surprise. Still, I wasn't expecting this.

    ARGH! Brainfart just corrected itself. TheEND "died" in Eureka 7 as a white Mecha, not the black paint job we saw through the rest of the series. I completely forgot that. Yeah, that's probably theEND. Yeah, the production staff has been hyper-careful about making sure all details are from ep 50 states of the E7 world.

    Elena as Mirror would make a lot of sense, given the bits about her being an idol, previously, and the knowledge the character displayed. Plus she was changing and couldn't be found during the attack. Though a Dominic look-alike chatting with a pink haired girl is one of those little touches...

    Ao's dream sequence and how much of it actually "happened" are going to be a topic for a while. The picture that Fleur had showed them floating as Truth + Naru from the work site. That suggests that Ao was... "Astral projected" to the events. Or he's connected to Truth now and they were fighting each other on another level. We'll find out later, I'm sure. I have a heard time believing that Naru would be that cold to him, except in his own fears.

    Yeah, this is definitely the Eureka 7 sequel. You resolve a character storyline at the same time the conflict jumps to another level. There's no relenting. I'm really, really looking forward to whatever mecha combat we get to partially resolve the story around episode 13. I want to rewatch this already but, for the current episode count, that would just leave me wanting more.

    For all of the really good series this season, this is making a hard argument for the best. Watching Sakamichi & AO on the same night, it's really hard to say which is better. That's a wonderful problem to have, btw!

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  3. WoooooooooooW! Another GREAT episode, this is quickly becoming one of my MOST favorite series. With a great score of music, great story, and great combat this is an easy sell to me. The scene when Truth is standing on the Nirvash and Rebecca points the gun, that music is soooooooo sick. That dirty grunge feeling is just to good.

    Can't wait for more!

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  4. I'm amazed at all the bitching I see about this episode and the series in general (though mostly not here, happily). I love it - it's E7 as seen through Aikawa Shou's more mature, politically sensitive lens. I think he's writing over a lot of people's heads, TBH.

    I'm also sad but amused to see so many people rage at Naru and abandon her. We don't even know whether things happened literally as Ao saw them, or if she was acting of her own volition if they did. No chance she and Ao don't end up together - this is still E7. There might be a bittersweet ending but their relationship will not be sundered.

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  5. You idea about The_END got me to thinking so I went back and looked at Episode 48. There's no doubt in my mind that is definitely The_END in the pic's after it turns white. It's amazing how I didn't see that coming. Something else that really surprised me was the dialogue that leads up to the Transformation. The scene where Anemone pours her heart out about how she misses Dominic right before he shows up.

    Eureka: Renton please listen.

    Anemone: ..this. Even after this battle they tell me I can live on. I'll go and buy a small mirror somewhere and practice smiling.

    Kids: Blah blah blah.

    Eureka: Lets save her.

    Anemone: I'll practice over and over.

    Eureka: Your feelings will be past on, Anemone.

    I know it's a stretch but it's very interesting to me that the pink haired IFO pilot Elena would have an alter ego known at "Mirror".

    I'm also in awe of all the iconic images in this episode that seem to mirror ones from the original E7. This episode reminds me alot of Acperience 1. Except then Renton was in "the Zone" being given a choice of partners Eureka or Anemone and here we have a strange dreamlike sequence were Naru is given a choice between AO and the Truth.

    Last week AO flew into "a giant swirling orb of cloudy mist. The words "he has entered the zone" were even said. I couldn't help but think of a Kutay class Coralian when that happened. This week a dream sequence.

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  6. Seishun Otoko @ SeishunmaruMay 26, 2012 at 4:19 AM

    I agree, this is definitely the most “Eureka Seven” episode that Astral Ocean has to offer yet.
    A mysterious overpowered bishounen shows up and starts wrecking havoc. This is BONES alright! And hell yeah, it would be awesome to see typeTheEND squaring off with typeZERO again! Naru seems more like a Talho to me than Anemone. Those midriff... mmmm... how I've missed them =3

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    1. Same thought as you regarding Talho. Watching the opening scene, I thought it was going to be a story about the kids of Renton/Eureka and Holland/Talho.

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