The main focus of this piece is love. Love as it is presented in series by studio Bones. Before jumping into pretentious and flashy polemics, let me explain what I mean by love in the context of this piece. I don’t wish to be limited by the definition of love as a romantic feelings between two adults or mature teenagers. I want to broaden the definition of love and say that – for the purposes of this piece – love is the feeling of strong emotional attachment and empathy towards other living beings. Why so broad? Because I want to consider the extent and authenticity of emotional connections in various series by Bones. However, because my definition of love is so broad, I have to limit myself to only a few series, and I have decided to focus on Eureka 7, Bounen no Xamdou, and RahXephon. With this, let’s jump into the fray.
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I claim – and feel free to disagree – that love in E7 is the most shallow of the RahXephon, Xamdou and E7 trio. Allow me to explain why. E7 is shallow because it paints the picture of a very narrow and simplicstic love. Just as you did, I have enjoyed every moment of Anemone and Dominic’s relationship; I have smiled at the awkward moments between Reyton and Eureka and applauded Hollands attempts to capture Talho. However, all these relationships are silly. Yes, silly because they are devoid of the broader love. Each and every character in E7 – perhaps except for Dominic and Anemone– is a cold blooded murderer. Now you are probably questioning my sanity because – of all characters – Anemone is perhaps the most crazy one. And this is precisely why I coupled her with Dominic in their opposition to the murderous Main Cast of E7. She doesn’t kill by choice, she is forced into it by torture. If you watch the series and try avoid being sympathetic to the main characters simple because they are main characters, you will notice that Renton & Co have no love of life. They have no appreciation of other beings except for their buddies and allies. For them, there is a clear dividing line between enemies – the government – and us, the glorious and righteous rebels; between our own who must be protected and them who must be destroyed – a euphemism for killed.
I pose to you a question: can you love a cold blooded murderer? A murderer that has no justification for one’s actions other than uninspired “mamorism”? “Yes” is my claim, but the love for such a person is shallow and meaningless. Allow me to demonstrate this by contrasting the E7 with Xamdou and RahXephon. My claim rests upon the difference in the depth and genuinity – if there is such a word – of love between Akiyuki and Haru on one hand and sham of a love between Eureaka and Renton. Let me start at the very end of Xamdou. The very last moment of Xamdou is one of the greatest anime psalms celebrating love. Two adult – important factor – lovers meet after many years apart. They stand side-by side and profess their love for one another. There is nothing more. The lovers speak in calm voices; there are no grand monologues or gestures. Their joy is within them, it isn’t the joy aimed at the viewer – though we still feel it very strongly. The joy of their reunion, joy of their love is something very private and intimate.
Consider Rahxepone. Towards the end, there is a scene where Megumi yells at the top of her lungs that she is over her crush on Ayato. After which Haruka, in quite and calm voice, tells Ayato of her love that survived for many years. And Ayato reciprocates her feelings in a calm voice that is full of emotions. Just like Xamdou, the RahXephon confession scene is brilliant in it’s portrayal of genuine love devoid of pretentious or overblown drama.
Consider Rahxepone. Towards the end, there is a scene where Megumi yells at the top of her lungs that she is over her crush on Ayato. After which Haruka, in quite and calm voice, tells Ayato of her love that survived for many years. And Ayato reciprocates her feelings in a calm voice that is full of emotions. Just like Xamdou, the RahXephon confession scene is brilliant in it’s portrayal of genuine love devoid of pretentious or overblown drama. Contrast the E7. Perhaps in line with the younger age of its protagonists, all the declarations or confession in E7 are the moments filled with awkwardness and embarrassment. Remarkably, this is true not only for Eureka and Renton, but also the other cast with exception of, yet again, Anemone and Dominic. If you will, all the characters in E7 experience their first crush, their first – i don’t want to use a euphemism – sexual tension. The characters are not looking at the relationships from the position of “i want to spend my life with this person and I’m confident that even when it comes to laundry our love will see us through”. Rather the characters in E7 are acting upon a momentary impulse; they act as if their love is just a stimulant similar to the murders they commit every other day. Recall how Renton fell in “love” with Eureka. He saw her appear from Nirvash’s cockpit and felt excitement. Of course, the authors didn’t intend this as sexual excitement, but I doubt one can interpret Renton’s emotions as anything else. He though her hot, she had a cool car – sorry, ELV – and Renton soon discovers that someone is after her. I claim love in E7 lacks the gravity of the relationships in other series by Bones.
If you watch RahXephon and Xamdou, you will notice how rarely – if ever – do the characters blush. At the same time, in E7 blushes and romantic embarrassment are common place not only among young characters, but also among – age wise – adults like Holland. I claim that both RahXephon and Xamdou are the series that take the topic of love much more seriously than E7. The former two series are – in effect – an attempt and weaving a story about love of adults as opposed to crush of teenagers.
To defend this claim allow me to abandon romantic love and go back to my proposed definition of love as empathy towards living beings. Consider the idea I raised at the very beginning: Renton and Eureka are murderers. You probably vehemently disagree, but let me ask you why you do so. Take a moment to reflect on why you think Renton and Eureka are not two cold blooded mass murderers. Have you contemplated it? Perhaps you claim that they were defending themselves. However, why do they need to engage in the activities that force military to act? Perhaps they are defending the planet against the evil guy Z. No, that is not it because, neither them, nor us realise that the planet is in danger until the we are well into the series; thus, most of the time Eureka and Renton kill simply because it preserves their lifestyle as members of Gekko-go.
I do not expect you to agree to my claim just yet. However, I will continue to defend it. Consider episode 4 where the team of Geckgo is broke and chooses how to get the money. Renton proposes taking part in a surf-boarding competition, but the crew decided to go with smuggling. The latter is delegated to Renton who accepts and goes on to fly – granted, he was in the passenger seat – by a military base killing ELV pilots or at least destroying their units. Why did he kill these men and women? The simple answer is either for money or because he was ordered to. However, I don’t find these answers satisfying and I hope that neither do you. I think – and I’m certain the writers didn’t intend it as such – that Renton kills because he has neither respect nor love of anyone but himself. Hence he only values things and people important to himself. Sure, he claims that he love Eureka, but can you really believe it? Does he ever say that for him, happiness is what makes Eureka happy? Does he put her as a human being above her as object of “mamorism”? He probably does, but that is not central to his character. I claim that for Renton, Eureka is important only to the extent that she is his future love match. Of course, this is the fault of the authors as Renton is their creation, but from the view of love as portrayed by the series, Renton’s feelings are shallow. And seeing that you disagree vehemently, let me contrast this with Xamdou.
In the series there is an episode, six, where Akiyuki makes a successful attempt to save Nakiami from the Humaform Weapon only to earn Nakiami’s reproach and scorn. To remind you, after Akiyuki kills the Humaform he says that he did it to protect Nakaimi because the Humaform is an enemy. To this Nakiami scornfully replies along the lines of “So that makes it alright to kill it?”. If you can, do yourself a favour by watching that scene to feel and soak in its impact and implications for the development of the characters. Nakiami values living beings not as objects of mamorism, but as precious and irreplaceable lives. This scene, although likely not intended as such, is the condemnation of “mamorism” as shallow and, more importantly, unexamined basis of devotion and love.
I claim that nowhere in E7 such a scene exists and that the scene where Eureka picks up children is forced and unnatural as she goes on killing after saving the children. As I said before, the characters in E7 categorise everyone into “us” and “them”, those to be protected and those to be fought. By contrast for Nakiami a living being is a living being regardless of form or conflict side. And in Xamdou she is not an exception for Akiyuki’s father, Haru and many other characters share her attitude. I claim that the characters in E7 love for life does not go beyond “mamorism”. You disagree and rightly so. However, let me give you another example of celebrated Bones series where the unconditional love of life plays a central role: RahXephon.
Hold on, you might say, Ayato kills the Mu on the regular basis as if it’s nothing. Indeed, he does, until episode 19. I am tempted to say that in that episode he concludes that Mu and Humans are the same; however, this idea is misguided. Why? Because Ayato comes to that conclusion earlier, likely after he discovers that he is a Mulian in episodes 15 and 16. Here is a lengthy collage of screencaps from episodes 15 and 16 that illustrates the change. When going through it, recall that Mulian blood is blue, not red and note how wonderfully the director uses these two colours throughout the episodes and the series in general.
What happens in episode 19 is Ayato discovering -albeit too late – that he doesn’t give a shit – forgive the strong phrasing – if someone is a Mulian. Did Ayato have a romantic attachment to Asahina? Most likely he didn’t, but he loved her as a human, no, as a living being. This love shapes all his subsequent actions and takes precedence over simple ideas like “enemy”, “ally” and “mamorism”. The RahXephon equivalent of Akiyuki being reprimanded by Nakiami, is Ayato’s experience of the sorrow of losing a loved one. After that event Ayato becomes avers not just to death of dear ones, but to death as such.
At this point, let’s return to E7. Answer this question: apart from the major antagonists, did any of the Genkogo’s foes get any development as humans? The answer should be “no”. By contrast, in both Xamdou and RahXephon the sideline fighters get ample exposition; exposition that demonstrates that neither Zanbanee, nor the militaries have a moral superiority. Rather, they all want to live and to experience – or continue experiencing – love. One moment at the end of Xamdou is rather typical of the whole series. When the Souther Fleet is being decimated the obligatory dying scream over the intercom is “Mother” as opposed to cliché “Damn the Whatever the Title of Opposing Organisation”. Turning to RahXephon, you might claim that Raxhepon’s enemies are simple “enemy of the week” type villains. You are correct as through several episodes this is indeed the case. However, once the story shifts into higher gear the enemies become people dear to Ayato. Though I do feel that the term “enemies” here is not correct. You might want to consider what was the goal of the enemies of the week. In fact, if you think about it, they have never attacked first and, in the first season, the story strongly hints that the cause of the Great Mu war was not the attacks by the Mu, but a preemptive strike by America and Japan. Thus, there is little reason to believe that Mu ever posed any threat had it not been for the actions of humans. In fact, the finale gives credence to the argument that both Mu and Humans can coexist in a harmonious – tuned – world that Ayato and Quon give birth to, hence why the scene at the very end, scene that some people misinterpret as a battle between Ayato and Quon.
My claim here is that in RahXephon over the course of the series the sideline characters display not just love for particular individual, but for life in general. Even Makoto Ishiki and Dr. Kisaragi have that streak in them. They make sacrifices -sometime ultimate – not to protect someone important to them, but to indiscriminately protect lives of individuals. This is what puts Rahxepon on the same level as Xamdou and high above E7.
Again, let’s go back to Rahxepon and examine the love between a child and mother. The example of such relationship is Ayato and his, adopted, mother Maya. She loves him not as a main characters she know him to be; she loves him not as important part of Mu’s plans. No, Maya love her son as her son or in her own words Sure, she isn’t always home and Ayato does feel neglected, but i sense that Maya is akin Haru’s mother. See, Haru’s mother was also very neglectful of her younger daughter Midori. However, i believe that the neglect stemmed from the responsibilities these mothers have to bear as well as their awkwardness about maternal duties. When called upon, in Midori’s case the play and Ayato returning to Tokyo, the two mothers are frank, loving and caring. The feelings of these two mothers are genuine and when you watch the series you can’t help but empathise with them. But even more than these two women, I can endlessly talk about Akiyuki’s parents and their love for one another and their child There is nothing of a kind in E7 as it suffers from the “Missing Parents” trope. I suppose this is a simple shortcut to focus the narrative on the crew of Gekk0-go; however, parents’ love is the first we experience and for most people it stays with us for the rest of our lives. To omit it from the story that is supposedly about love, is very unfortunate.
I wish to make it clear: I like E7. I have fond memories of it. Despite this, I claim that E7 is shallow and that the love it portrays is moving yet fake. I claim that the emotions and love in Xamdou and RahXephon are true and sincere feelings that stem neither from momentary sexual desire, nor from adolescent sensation of first love. I claim that in both Xamdou and RahXephon the characters display love that is both very deep and genuine. If you were to ask, I envy the characters in Xamdou and RahXephon, I pity the ones in Eureka Seven.
A somewhat similar view of Xamdou that voices frequent criticism: many concepts – mythology in particular – are not made crystal clear and leave viewer guessing. And one more on the ending This post highlights something you will face when watching RahXephon, there are similarities with Eva, if you get over them, you will likely enjoy the show. Sorry, but I’ll have to share this: the best – in my view – moment of whole E7: Dominic’s confession to Anemone, that alone makes E7 worthwhile: