Angsty young teenagers. Beautiful colourful animation. Self-important dialogue. Crazy pink explosions. Techno soundtrack. Grand ambitions that you know it will never quite achieve. Oh Eureka Seven, it’s like you never left us.
I have a bit of a love/hate relationship with Eureka Seven. I recognise that there are few anime that ever reach the sort of emotional highs it achieved. I love its scale and ambition, which can translate into some truly awe-inspiring set pieces and scenes. Then there was Bones at their most colourful and exuberant, with lime green sky surfing trails and pink explosions. It was a pretty extraordinary series, and I completely understand why its such a beloved anime for so many people. But boy oh boy did it have some problems. The main character was the most irritating whiny little shit ever to walk the face of the earth. Its self-importance meant it frequently strayed into being pretentious and it got so wrapped itself up in its own little world that it became impenetrable. Great anime, but massively flawed.
Eureka Seven Ao, based on the first episode, appears to be all of that again, for better and for worse. Considering the negative reaction Last Exile Fam got for straying away from the tone of its first series, it’s probably better for Eureka Seven Ao to try do everything to remain true to the original. I’m not sure how I feel about doing that. Fam had its problems, but its switch in focus from adventure to large-scale politics was not amongst them, and I sorta respected it for switching focus. However it doesn’t really become a problem if you use a similar tone and story with different characters for a psuedo-sequel in the vein of Eureka Seven. Its only when you do that several times like goddam Gundam that it starts to become a problem.
So yes, Eureka Seven Ao is about an angsty teenage boy having a magical artifact fall into his lap that means he can pilot a giant robot because he is the son of some magical creature from the past series. The opening episode did have a problem with expository dialogue, straying far too often into the “as you already know” variety, but I rather like all the side characters this episode introduced. They’re varied and interesting with distinguishing personalities that don’t fall into clichéd stereotypes, which is more than you can say for most anime.
The production values are where it stands out. This is pretty classic Bones animation, or at least the animation style they use for all their original productions. Colours everywhere, slightly more cartoony character designs with larger blobs of colour. Not sure if that makes sense, but it’s a look of theirs I like. OK, they use it a lot, but that means they’ve had time to perfect it. The music is the same funky techno soundtrack from last time, and it does a damn good job of ramping up the excitement in the more dramatic scenes. Directing is very good in this regard, which makes up somewhat for the awful exposition.
I should probably add here that it doesn’t seem like you need to have any experience with the original Eureka Seven to jump straight into this one. This seems like it’s off to a solid start too. Then again, Xam’d felt like it was off to a very solid start as well. Oh Xam’d…