Anime Reviews

Being swept away

I have many a faint and fond memory of Eureka Seven, but wasn’t sure how to feel about news of its sequel. It ended with a quite profound sense of finality, after all. Everything that needed to be said, was, and underscored with probably the finest insert song ever used in anime, too. I’m using a lot of absolutes in this post because that’s just how I feel about Eureka Seven. Holland, Talho, Dai Sato, Supercar and Denki Groove. It was a great series.

I was convinced by Eureka Seven AO at around the 19th minute of the first episode, when a Scub Coral appears on Iwato Island and all hell breaks loose. There’s a huge explosion that decimates the surrounding fields and the island’s residents flee for shelter.

Caught in the middle is Ao. He’s heading away from the Scub Coral when a huge cloud of dust surges over him.

A group of what looks like farmers urge him to hurry when a “G-Monster” mecha appears and fires in seemingly random directions.

In an instant, the farmers are killed, crushed by huge rocks of concrete sent flying by an incomprehensible power. Merely collateral damage.
It’s around now that I need to mention that the soundtrack composer is none other than Kōji Nakamura, the lead singer/songwriter of Supercar. The song that plays during this scene is a swelling orchestral piece that speaks of a desperate struggle against an unstoppable force and had my heart beating twice as fast.

All that’s left to do is run.

Run for your life.

As everything you knew, everything you took for granted, is razed to the ground.

The animation in this scene, particularly the shot of Ao running, is outstanding (and also very similar to a sequence in Bokurano. I wonder if it’s the same person?) People often muse about the importance of dialogue in anime, but there’s simply something so soulful about movement like this. Everything you need to feel is communicated here: desperation, horror, fear, it’s all right there, in his run.

How much of this, I wonder, was informed by 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami? This is something we often forget when we’re merely consuming Japan’s anime, but it was a country ripped apart by natural disaster just last year. Imagine seeing a flaming wall of water head towards you, sweeping away everything, and everyone, in its path, and then look at Ao’s facial expression as he runs, and the music as it climaxes. The wide open fields covered with smoke and debris.

This is anime, the anime I remember blogging about, why I’m excited enough to be an anime blogger. These are rare moments, but every now and then, I’m still swept away.

22 replies on “Being swept away”

I have to admit, at the very moment where Eureka Seven AO convinced you, it started to make me feel a bit afraid for its future.
Simply put: the part where the main character’s life is turned on its head is a scene Bones has a fetish for. They used it in Bouen no Xam’d, Eureka Seven, Fractale… I’m sure there’s more examples out there, too. As soon as I watched the first episode and saw it, I thought “oh, okay, we’re going to have another Bones anime here”. Not that a Bones anime is typically a bad thing, but simply that we’re probably going to follow a formula here: Boy has life turned upside down, joins resistance movement/people outside the law/etc., hijinks ensue, discovers a grand, overreaching conspiracy about the world he lives in, discovers he’s the one who lived/the key to it all, series ends on a positive but somewhat dubious note.
We’ll see how it goes, though.

I feel bad for Xam’d. It’s a series that I love despite its faults, and I’ve seen a lot of people comparing it to this first episode of E7 AO. Xam’d had one of the most exciting first episodes of the last decade, and I guess that set the bar a little too high.
Another interesting comparison could be to Darker than Black and its sequel, Gemini of the Meteor. A lot of DtB fans didn’t like Gemini, so I hope AO has better luck!

As per usual beautifully written Paul. And boy am I excited for Eureka AO! To think it has garnered such a reaction from you completely pushes me over the edge of joy. Its too bad Sato Naoki is not on board to compose the music, how does Koji Nakamura fare in comparison to Sato Naoki’s work?

Probably the difference between Nakamura and Naoki is that the former has more of an electronic sound, whilst the latter is nostalgic and theatrical. Can’t wait to here more of Nakamura’s music in the series, though. I’ve always loved his sound and got so excited when I realised it was him on E7:AO 🙂

Immediately after i watched this ep, i rewatched this scene. The music was incredible; the whole scene was well orchestrated. I rewatched it again. Then the whole episode again lol. I rarely ever rewatch episodes unless its tv shows from my childhood but this one was magic.
Also liked the violins for the preview of the 2nd ep.

Like Celeste said, I was reminded of the first ep of Xamd, haven’t seen Fractale though. It was a reuse of a winning formula, deliberate or not. Although I do think xamd’s first ep was better.

Maybe there are some depressing conclusions to be drawn from the fact that the two new shows I’m looking forward to this season are prequels/sequels…namely E7 Ao and Fate/Zero respectively. But then, in both cases they’re revisiting stories I know and love, and feature songwriters I know and love on the soundtracks (Koji Nakamura and Yuki Kajiura, respectively).
There’s a sense of following a formula here – for some reason, the way the second half of the ep played out gave me flashbacks of the opening episode of Evangelion, despite my best efforts to ignore it – although I think for a lot of us the disappointment that was Fractale is still fresh in our minds. Even when they’re following their in-house tropes Bones are still a name that’s synonymous with ‘stuff that’s decent’.
I think it’s too early to say whether this – or Fate/Zero for that matter – is going to meet my lofty expectations. Right now, I do know this: it’s great to have them back.

You should look into Kids on the Slope, Martin. It’s about a burgeoning love for music, something I know is near and dear to your heart.
You aren’t the first person to point out the formula at work in this episode, either. Strangely, I didn’t feel that. I just oogled the gorgeous BONES production values, the TV equivalent of Ghibli. indeed, rather than series like Evangelion, whenever I look at modern BONES stuff, I just can’t shake the feeling of Nausicaa/Mononoke-style Ghibli.

When I call E7 Ao formulaic, I don’t mean it in a bad way…in fact, it’s almost nostalgic for me in that everything about it reminds me of the mid 2000s when I was watching more anime, interacting more often in the community and feeling like I was part of something fun and inspiring in blogging regularly. Maybe watching this will help me get back into the ‘zone’ and feel excited about watching something new again. ‘Swept away’ indeed!
I’m so glad you mention ‘Kids on the Slope’…I recall seeing the news items about it, but didn’t know when it was airing and almost forgot about it. Looking at the cast roll-call now that I’ve literally added it to my ‘want to watch’ list, there’s a certain Mr Watanabe and Ms Kanno on there…plus one or two VA names that are familiar too. Now there are three new shows to watch this season! Maybe the Good Times are back after all…?

Eureka Seven is not only one of my favorite animes, but it is also one of the minute few that transported me far far far away. Watching the show, I felt I was a member of Gekko State. The same way I felt I was on the Bebop, or a part of Planetes. Those are the only 3 shows to truly engulf all my senses. As excited as I am about this sequel, I am also quite terrified because a shitty sequel can ruin the experience and memories of the original. For me anyway. Maybe i should wait till its done airing because few things in life are as phenomenal as marathoning a great piece of fiction. Bateszi, as you’re the only blogger I still follow since back in the day (My interest in anime has dwindled considerably… nothing masterful has come out since Geass in 2008) i’ll await your opinion. Im definitely going to watch Watanabe’s new series. The guy is a genius point blank.

This is definitely a season to keep an eye on, kauldron. There’s so much good stuff airing. It’s funny that you should mention Planetes, by the way, because there’s a new show called Space Brothers (Uchū Kyōdai) that looks very similar (I’ve not seen it yet, but will check it out at some point. Any anime with adults as main characters is worth a look in my book! :))

I thought this episode showed a lot of promise, but I was somewhat amused by the number of shots they had of people (usually Ao) watching some huge event from the distance. Framed more or less the same way each time, with the character in the foreground, back toward us (or head turned) as a big light show or plume of smoke appears.

I noticed that, too. I think it was trying to emphasis the sheer scale of what we’re seeing. Also, very similar to the hand-held/camera phone shots of the 2011 tidal wave sweeping over Japan’s fields.

The criticisms here are valid but like Matin pointed out even if this is something we’ve seen before in other Bones series it just works. It took a while, but I have finally found a series I care about (it has been a struggle lately). I am definitely as excited for this series as you seem to be.
My only concern is the development of the plot. I felt better setup to immerse myself in the world because it is somewhat familiar but I always wait for the other shoe to drop in a series as perfectly set up as this one was.
Not to go on a tangent , but what about X’amd was dislikable? I thought it was pretty coherent.

(Sorry for the delay in response, I’ve been away on holiday for the last 2 weeks.)
Personally, I loved Xam’d, but I can understand the criticism of it, too. It just lacked focus; a series that initially felt like Nausicaa, with a huge scale and a lot of really exciting action scenes, but then retreated from all that viscera and became ‘smaller’ and more of a relationship drama. I really liked it and enjoyed how mature the whole thing felt in comparison to, say, Eureka Seven, but others probably felt betrayed that it never became the series promised by those first few episodes.

wow… bateszi I just clicked the link of your original E7 review and in the comments i essentially wrote an essay 5 years ago lol. Fun times…

I wonder if I should re watch those two episodes of AO. I may not of given the show a fair shake since all I could think about while watching was how amazing the first series was. When I hear AO’s opening theme, I think back to how amazing it was to hear Days by FLOW on TV. During the scene you mention with Ao, I just can’t stop thinking about Renton jumping off the cliff in episode 2 only to zoom into the air. I know it’s important to take sequels and even adaptations on there own merit. It’s just kinda of hard when it Eureka Seven, one few anime series that I adore from the bottom of my heart.
I’m not saying Eureka Seven AO is bad, fair from it. I just get the feeling I’m going to play this comparison game the entire time I’m watching.

It’s difficult not to compare it to the original, particularly considering how good it was. Many of us had similar issues with Darker than Black and, quite frankly, it’s now down to AO to assert its own existence. This first episode was an exciting start, nothing else. (I’m still yet to see more!)

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