Eureka Seven: Seven Swell? More Like Seven Crescendo

There are only SIX colors in the Seven Swell! No wonder it was called the Summer of Love.

I'm pretty sure that's not ROY G. BIV order, but that's okay.

Alas, “Seven Crescendo” is not quite as delightfully alliterative, and anyway the Seven Swell Effect isn’t much of a crescendo, even though Eureka Seven is.

Upon my seemingly never-ending plate of “series to rewatch” that has accumulated over the past few years (and is currently almost obliterating the notion of watching “newer series” for the time being) is now Eureka Seven, a series that I’ve looked forward to rewatching since I finished watching it the first time, in 2006. Eureka Seven places high on my list of “series that had an emotional impact on me”; indeed, I remember finding it hard to watch or read anything for several days in the wake of watching the final 15 or so episodes in one go. I also remember, the Monday after, nearly breaking down in tears while driving just because “Nirvash typeZERO” from the soundtrack was playing.

Upon revising the series, even after many of the specifics have faded from memory, I now better understand the reasoning behind the Tokyo Anime Fair’s award to Eureka Seven for “Best Screenplay”. One of the most common criticisms I’ve seen launched at Eureka Seven is that, for one reason or another, the early episodes of the series are “uninteresting”. It’s easy to understand why this is held against it, as many of the early episodes are, essentially, Renton and His Comical Misadventures Aboard the Gekko. To someone promised awesome with Eureka Seven, the early episodes are frequently a letdown, it seems, depending on what the individual’s definition of “awesome” entails. Does it entail cool surfing robot fights? Well, they tend to be disappointed, as there’s not a whole lot of that; but for those with more interest in characters than cool surfing robot fights come out almost equally disappointed, for there seems to be too much of the robots and not enough of the characters. And let’s not even talk about those for whom the phrase “surfing robot fights” should never be preceded by the adjective “cool“, ever.

What happens is that in addition to the wacky antics of Maurice, Maeter, and Linck annoying the bejezus out of Renton, of Renton being hazed repeated by the other Gekkostate members are tiny bits of foreshadowing and character development. Holland throws Renton in the brig after he tries to rectify the mistake Eureka’s children mad–and Maurice, Maeter, and Linck follow him into the brig, to serve their due punishment as well as afford Renton some well-deserved respect for taking the heat they would have gotten otherwise. Most of those I knew during Eureka Seven‘s heyday had nothing but burning hatred for Eureka’s three “children” (mostly, it seems, for their habit of crying in a chain-reaction…just like real kids do); while their role might be small, they, with everyone else, demonstrate early shades of their personality beyond being a thorn in Renton’s side.

Kids on a spaceship: Not just for Gundam anymore.

Perhaps most telling is the rather rapid decline and fall of Holland from suave, unspeakably cool counterculture figure to, well, a man who had his growth interrupted by the military. Even this early, the idolized Holland Renton has in his mind is slowly disintegrating as Holland proves himself to be…well, Holland. Even as Renton anguishes over Eureka seeing him in the elaborate hazing ritual Stoner and Hap put him through, lamenting his perceived (and false) “uncoolness”, Holland watches Renton’s escapades in his underwear in near-total darkness, drinks a beer, has a slight snicker, scratches himself, turns it off, and admits his own uncoolness. There’s a lot more at work than Holland simply being a callous bastard (his relationship with Renton’s sister Diane, for instance, the complicated interplay involving Eureka, and the lingering menace of Dewey, among many others), but the point is pretty clear: Holland might talk tough about being “mature” and “grown-up” and forcibly tries to knock sense into Renton , but it’s difficult to tell which of the two have the greater share of growing up to do.

While I doubt that scripts for every episode was written well in advance of the production, there’s a definite feeling that most of the series was planned in vague terms long before they first placed stylus to tablet. Indeed, for me, the pacing of Eureka Seven is nearly perfect for a 50-episode, four-season series: it’s a slow, gradual buildup that rewards, rather than a 50-episode sequence of instant-gratification. I was interested from the first episode, but it was only around episode 9 that my nascent taste-awareness confirmed my initial judgment. The narrative structure has more than a few echoes in Xam’d: while shorter, Xam’d was well-paced and carried the same near-mythical ethereal feeling Eureka Seven has, as well as the feeling that events in the series are on a track set by fate that the characters are simultaneously fulfilling and overcoming.

And this time, the 60s/70s counterculture references are leaping at me in full force. Maybe it was the semi-oblivious mindset I first watched the series in; I caught the Summer of Love reference but all else blew past or was noticed but forgotten in the course of the story. Indeed, with the pile bunkers, the world setup itself is a huge counterculture reference: the government literally pins down the Scub Coral to prevent them from uprising by driving the pile bunkers into the ground (although this seems to have little effect). Even the governmental logo–a hand maintaining a firm grip on a pile bunker–is more than a little reminiscent of The Man keepin’ people down.

The environmental aspect of the series even gets a kick-start early on–the Compac Drives especially, which I never really managed to (consciously) figure out or understand the first time through. They’re more or less products of the Scub Coral, manufactured by humanity, and harmonize with the Trapar flow to enable machinery to work. And they seem to run better, or at least get more active than boring green, in the presence of deep affection or love of some kind–or, more specifically, I suppose, harmony. The harmony doesn’t necessarily have to be with the planet or Scub Coral itself, but just present; feelings of dischord seem to either lower functionability or break the Drive entirely. Sounds corny and overly hippie, yes, but I highly enjoy it; you have to remember that I highly enjoyed the ending to Dan Simmon’s The Fall of Hyperion which is quite similar. And it still leaves open the question of what Desperation Disease is, although that’s a much later concern of the series.

Alas, I am only on the tenth episode of the rewatch, so I’m going to be mum for a while until I can at least find something solid to grasp upon rather than meander around the dense thematic world of Eureka Seven and trip over a root that I didn’t realize was there. There’s a lot to cover, and past trends point towards the fact that I probably won’t get anywhere near a properly scholarly treatment (or, at least, as close to a properly scholarly treatment that the Internetoblogohedron ever gets) of the variegated thematic structures of Eureka Seven, so I won’t worry too much about that, even if I’ll always feel like I’m leaving out something deeply interesting because I’m tired from investigating everything else that’s deeply interesting.

5 Responses to “Eureka Seven: Seven Swell? More Like Seven Crescendo”

  1. 1 Hisui 11 March 2009 at 12:24 pm

    1. You can answer this later if you like but my first question stems from a conversation about Eureka Seven. Do you think that Dewey was sexually abused by his father? Kohaku made a pretty convincing argument for it after watching the show. I did not think about it when I watched the show but her argument was pretty convincing. It would explain many things including what Dewey is/comes off as so much of a pedophile.

    2. Speaking of Kohaku she hated Maurice, Maeter, and Linck. She brought up her intense hatred every time we discussed the show. I really had no opinion of them. They were not horrible enough for me to hate them but too annoying for me to like them. Narutaki did not watch Eureka Seven yet but she liked Letz, Cofan, and Kikka from Gundam so she might be predisposed to liking Maurice, Maeter, and Linck.

    3. What about Nirvash typeZERO makes you break into tears if you don’t mind me asking? I am curious what about the show provokes such a reaction?

    If it’s anything in episode 48 when Anemone saves Dominic I break into tears each and every time. Even Kohaku’s cold unfeeling murder maid heart was touched.

    4. I actually thought that Xam’d was better paced than Eureka Seven in the fact that Eureka Seven that had a decent amount of filler that could have been applied to a little more resolution at the end. But so is my tastes.

    5. Also I am really looking froward with cautious optimism for the Eureka Seven movie. After Escaflowne and Utena I am somewhat gun shy of re-imagining movies but I will watch this one anyway.

    Anyway easger to hear what you have to say about the rest of the show after more rewatching.

    • 2 OGT 11 March 2009 at 1:26 pm

      0. You really like numbered comments, don’t you?

      1. That’s not something that occurred to me; Dewey was a pretty confusing character from start to finish, and he does seem a tad obsessed with sexuality (flaunting how awesome he is, giving Anemone a flight suit with conveniently placed “press here” symbols, and, hell, his whole relationship with Anemone), but whether or not he was molested as a child isn’t something I can comment on (yet); and then, if he was, why wasn’t Holland also? Or is this a vast conspiracy?

      2. That seems to be it for Maurice, Maeter, and Linck: most people either are indifferent or hate them, I’ve hardly come across someone who actively liked them. Given the level of absorption I watch Eureka Seven in, I’m not surprised that I’m not bothered in particular to the kids, and I think the series would be worse off without them, but, yeah.

      3. Nirvash typeZERO was the name of the song that played when Anemone and Dominic reunited in midair. That moment was probably the most powerful moment of the entire series for me (which took me by surprise, as I thought 26 couldn’t have been topped). It’s track 23 on the first disc of the first OST.

      4. Xam’d is more compact so it needed faster pacing; Eureka Seven was 50 episodes, so it could afford a bit more leisure time. Eureka Seven had one recap episode (14, and that wasn’t fully recap) and that was more or less it for “filler”. I find both series perfectly paced for the length they were, and the kinds of series they were. I’d bet if you made them both 39 episodes (who MAKES 39 episode series anymore?) the pacing would be pretty even for both.

      5. I’m looking forward to it, too; Utena is the only movie of that sort I’ve seen hitherto now, so we’ll see about Pocket Full of Rainbows.

      • 3 Hisui 12 March 2009 at 1:02 pm

        0. Yes I do. It lets me organize my thoughts better.

        1. Kohaku felt that if you look at flashbacks Dewey was made to keep his hair long looks suspiciously like his mother. Kohaku assumes that you were suppose to realize that the father was using Dewey and Dewey alone as a substitute for his wife. It would also go on to explain why Dewey is so resentful of Holland. Dewey was the one who had to suffer and literally be the bitch while Holland was able to live the normal life of the son.

        Also as you said it explains Dewey’s super creepy relationship with Anemone and more importantly the Ageha Squad. I am curious what you say after you finish the series. If I were not watching so many other series I would go back and watch Eureka Seven again just to see how much evidence there is.

        2. I am curious to have Narutaki watch the show even more now just to see his reaction to the kids.

        3. I assume that was the scene that made you do that. I think you have to have a heart of stone not to get into the scene. Or really hate Anemone and/or Dominic.

        On a unrelated side note I have to say I found Anemone oddly attractive which would not normally be the case. I am not exactly sure why.

        4. The problem with the term filler is unless it is super obvious filler it’s easy to disagree on exactly what is filler. IMHO Eureka Seven could have been tighter but that does not mean that is always a good thing. I don’t feel it really suffers from taking it’s time.

  2. 4 lelangir 11 March 2009 at 7:09 pm

    The counterculture media was perhaps one of my favorite aspects of the series (aside from it’s flat-out, kick-ass fun factor), especially how Holland et al. blatantly smacks their image across the media to subvert military ideology etc.

  3. 5 ghostlightning 30 May 2009 at 6:31 am









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