[This post has plot discussion for the first 2 episodes, but considering them spoilers is debatable].
When an anime that I’m beginning to like does something consciously (as I perceive it) to remind me of another anime I like very much, I start paying attention. Eureka SeveN’s 2nd episode followed Neon Genesis Evangelion’s 2nd episode structurally, and it works. Perhaps I should include the first episode, but watching it won’t remind you of Evangelion, but episode two will definitely do so.
The key comparison is how the lead characters, notably Renton Thurston and Ikari Shinji (boys, both 14 years old) in the first episodes both end in a cliffhanger where the leads are in mortal danger: Evangelion’s end while Shinji is in the thick of the battle while Eureka SeveN’s end with Renton joining the fray.
Obviously, neither of them perish. What’s interesting is how the succeeding episodes delay the portrayal of the resolution of the battle until the later in the episode (In E7′s case, part of the battle is shown in the first act followed by an intermezzo). Plot exposition follows, as well as both the setting and some of the characters are further introduced and/or given more detail. It is only until later when the battle is shown, in flashback form. This exposition involves some commentary from characters other than the lead. In both cases, the characters through some mysterious source of power resolve the battle with devastating effect.
For the life of me I can’t think of a show that also uses this device, but I like it. This is what it does for me:
- It actually intensifies the suspense. Remember that nobody expects the hero to die in the first episode, and yet I end up starting the episode excited about what happened.
- It shifts the interest from the obvious outcome (‘of course the hero survives’) to how the outcome is arrived at — which creates interest in the science fiction and/or ‘world-building’ aspects of the show.
- It allows more characters opportunity to say something, therefore be known; moving the narrative inexorably forward.
A Personal Note
I’ve tried watching Eureka SeveN a few years ago and I didn’t reach ten episodes before I lost interest and dropped it. I wonder why it didn’t make a big impression on me then. When friends with similar tastes (to a degree) in anime ask me what made me drop it, I’m actually at a loss. I really can’t figure out why really.
This is especially bewildering to me now after watching the first two episodes again. I feel that these episodes had everything — every element so relevant to my interests that I’m sure I would love the show. I felt that when BONES conceptualized Eureka SeveN, they had me in mind too:
- A fresh, sport-based mystique to the mythology of robot pilots;
- Sexy mecha designs, I totally forgot how the Nirvash Type Zero transforms into a car (as if for the Le Mans GP itself, only bigger!);
- Attractive character designs;
- An interesting premise involving extreme sports (flying with snowboard-like devices), the culture it involves, mysterious energy sources, a narrative about friendship/family/love/making dreams come true, and oh yeah war and rebellion;
- Gorgeous, fluid animation of flying… flying robots.
I dropped this at the time when I had just seen Gunbuster which I fell in love with, and had started watching Gundam shows and dropping them left and right. I had written not too long ago about Gundam now that I’m quite its devoted fanboy, on how we will dislike some shows because we are not ready for them. This should easily explain how I managed to lose interest in Eureka SeveN.
Or does it? For Gundam there was a big case of mismatched expectations. I counted on Gundam shows to behave like FLAG practically, since I had confused ‘real robot anime’ with something much further beyond (in terms of grit and hardness in the science fiction) Macross, which was then the only non-not-that-goofy super robot show I’ve seen. But for Eureka Seven I didn’t really expect anything.
So to prevent further over-thinking, let’s just say I wasn’t that into the show to begin with. My attention wasn’t fully on the show and I missed the moments that I now find inspiring and representative of many of the shows I love.