There are finales that really get me so pumped up and then leave me emotionally exhausted in a great way. These shows share the same trait of having this long, drawn-out battle and/or multiple set of missions cum alternate reality exposition dump plus one or many god-tier fights and emotional peaks that to me represent some of the best things ever about anime as a whole.
Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann did this and was amazing in that it’s just a 2-cour show. Mobile Fighter G Gundam robbed itself of some gravitas by having way too many dumbass episodes (note I didn’t say filler, I said DUMBASS). Mobile Suit Z Gundam almost pulled something like this off, but instead had a series-threatening arc of trainwreck just before the glorious, glorious end. Legend of the Galactic Heroes had a good one but kind of marred with having too many beloved heroes not there anymore (it’s best parts were solidly in the middle). FullMetal Alchemist: Brotherhood did it so, so good, unbelievably good, and perhaps better than any show in this whole damn list.
Part of why I think this is so, is because Eureka SeveN did it similarly and similarly well. It’s as if the FMA: BRO team was “put on notice” within Studio BONES and they had a standard to live up to. BRO is a manga adaptation, so it had a lot of help, which makes E7 stand out in my mind. What this post isn’t about is establishing studio and genre standards of what’s awesome, but instead is more about how the final episodes of Eureka SeveN provided amazing things that made it one of my favorite anime.
Now, Renton finally activating the Amita Drive, the Nirvash Type Zero revealing its final form, and Renton and Eureka finally getting it on and pulling out a Moonlight Butterfly attack of pure love is very awesome. However, this isn’t as interesting to me as the following, which I’ve ranked in the order of how much I favor them:
5. Holland jumps into the 909 to fight their way out of the blockade around the Great Wall.
This is the first of THREE appearances of Holland Novak in this list. Just as Misato Katsuragi is the other lead protagonist in Neon Genesis Evangelion, Holland is the other lead protagonist in Eureka SeveN. No I don’t think it’s Eureka. She’s more a character that things happen to, and less a character who does things.
In any case, Holland jumps from one LFO to another in mid-air, with neither a parachute nor a ref board, while hostiles are all around. It’s like Hikaru catching Minmay all over again, although this time Minmay is a giant mecha, and Hikaru gets to ride her and cause carnage.
4. Jurgens & the Super Izumo joins the Gekko-go
Jurgens rejoins the main force only to be ordered to act as an escort for Dominic, who’s ordered to collect 3 new ‘bodies’ for what would be the project involving Anemone. It wasn’t revealed then (that Anemone and Eureka are to become artificial ‘control clusters’ that allow Dewey to annihilate pretty much everything before the end), but what Jurgens and Dominic witness are the deaths of three specimens, all pre-pubescent children.
This is part of the tradition Mobile Suit Z Gundam started with artificial or cyber Newtypes, popularized to a great degree by Neon Genesis Evangelion: that of the lab-formed/manipulated child soldier (robot pilot). The horror here is the exposure of the costs involved – that of the death of the 3 specimens. This doesn’t only trigger a new resolve in Dominic towards Anemone, but also for Jurgens – who sees the military as the protector of the citizenry and not the tool of the likes of Dewey.
He seeks out the truth by going onboard the Gekko-go, and once satisfied he broadcasts his findings to the rest of the military. The handling of this sequence evokes that of SDF Macross when Exsedol (played here by Dominic LOL) boarded the Macross to parley. Jurgens plays Britai, and the Super Izumo is perhaps proportionally disadvantaged as Britai’s Aldoclass fleet was against Bodolle Zer’s main fleet in SDFM.
The mech pilots later on beat up on Holland, as Eureka SeveN isn’t the kind of show that’ll gloss over the fact that Holland and the Gekkostate killed so many military pilots. Now these guys are ordered to support Holland and the Gekkostate, and it’s no smooth walk to get them to do that, especially since these aren’t Zentraedi charmed by culture and Minmay.
3. Holland in the TB-303 Devilfish takes on a capital ship, and demonstrates the vulnerability of such ships vs. Mecha and re-establishes the Gundam conceit.
Holland’s final run with the Devilfish invokes two awesome things: First, the vulnerability of large capital ships against fighter craft. In naval warfare, when a fighter plane (with anti-ship ordnance) penetrates a given distance threshold from a naval vessel, that ship is pretty much sunk. It cannot evade any of the fighter’s attacks due to the difference in speed, and generally the fighter is too fast for most of its short-range weaponry. As we can see, Dewey’s capital ship basically deployed most of its resources (including all kinds of Gundam Funnels!) to fend off the Devilfish and the Gekko-go, but mostly the Devilfish which is the bigger threat.
This is also the very conceit of the Mobile Suit in Mobile Suit Gundam, albeit it conveniently hand-waved the irrelevance of non-humanoid fighter craft. The age of ship-to-ship naval style combat in space was violently usurped by the emergence of the Mobile Suit, specifically in the Battle of Loum where Char Aznable sunk 6 ships with a painted Zaku II.
Then, it also goes Macross Plus on us, particularly Guld Goa Bowman and his YF-21 wherein the pilot directly interfaces with the mecha and can result in physical (and perhaps psychological) damage. The Devilfish makes the physical damage intrinsic to the piloting experience, but the love is really remembered when just like the Macross Plus: Movie Edition Holland smashes his Devilfish onto the enemy capital ship in a physically taxing speed run just like Guld. Unlike Guld however, more awesomeness will follow; specifically…
2. Holland vs. Dewey and The Real Folk Blues.
This is an incredible showdown. Dewey, he of the sibling envy, the father-killer, faces Holland at last. At first we are shown a teasing reference to one of the great anime duels: Spike Spiegel vs. Vicious in Cowboy Bebop’s finale. It’s a tease because Dewey’s sword proves to be ceremonial and breaks after striking Holland’s submachine gun.
Even better, Dewey bested Holland. He got what he wanted, and more – he got to execute the culmination of his plan: his own death which triggers the apocalypse he’s wanted all along. Dewey revealed his character in an incredible dance sequence with Anemone a few episodes prior, in itself a reference to Turn A Gundam wherein a white-haired ‘enemy’ danced with a mech pilot in a ball. Both shows used the scene as set-pieces, albeit Eureka SeveN used it as an anchor for revelation and exposition. This gave context to Dewey’s suicide, and his ‘victory’ over Holland.
I feel that a lesser show would have Holland win, but this show is confident in how it presented Holland as a great character and that would be enough. It let Renton and the Nirvash do the next great thing, then Renton and Eureka perform the act that saves the world.
1. The End vs. Type Zero and The Rapture of Anemone
Episode 26’s big moment may be more memorable and iconic, but this whole scene to me is the more emotionally affecting. It starts with the duel between the two prototypes: The Type Zero vs. The End. Renton and Eureka are defending, surviving. Anemone isn’t even in the fight. She’s disintegrating with regret and self-remorse. It’s her thoughts to herself that kill me.
If they tell me I can live on after this battle…
I’ll buy a small mirror and practice smiling.
I’ll practice over and over.
So I can see him again…
If they tell me I can live on without hurting anyone else…
I’ll tie up my hair swaying in the wind,
Take one giant leap onto the earth,
And then hold my head up high and go see him.
I want to live, to say my thanks.
I want to live… to give so many feelings to people.
I want to live!
I wish I didn’t realize I had feelings like these!
[Eureka says something]
It hurts so much! He isn’t with me anymore!
[Eureka makes her appeals]
It’s so heartbreaking, to witness someone so young, supposedly having all her life ahead of her, think it’s all over and rightfully so. It’s a far more sympathetic portrayal, compared to say, Asuka Langley Soryu in Neon Genesis Evangelion when her turn to break down came. It’s because Asuka was a victim of childhood trauma, and Anemone is dealing with sins of her making, albeit fully a victim herself. And what of her sins? She regrets most of all, is her being unkind to someone who loved her, and now she’s acknowledging as if for the first time, to be someone she truly loves. And then, out of the sky!
Dominic falls to save her with nothing but love.
The End releases her to catch him. Gulliver(!) brings them together. And oh god Eureka SeveN succeeds as a romantic fantasy of the highest order with this scene. There’s no need to talk about what they said to each other, it’s enough that the show allowed us to play voyeur, but now let us leave that between them.
These events play out over a stretch of 6 or so episodes, albeit it feels like it could go up to 10. It’s not always big and heavy, it scales down to the slower, quieter, but perhaps heavier character drama involving the strengthening of Renton, Eureka, and the children as a family. It gets all weird and hippie as well, with all those colors and concepts about life and coexistence. These are things that long-running action anime tend to indulge themselves with: from Alchemy (complex) to Spiral Energy (non-complex), anime action shows like their magic. It works best when the things that surround it are outstanding action scenes, and incredibly affecting emotional scenes.
The things I take away from this rewatch are the following:
- The longer format makes awesomeness possible: 3 cours Revolutionary Girl Utena had its incredible “End of the World” arc; 4 cours Eureka SeveN has this drawn out finale of win; 5 cours FullMetal Alechemist: Brotherhood had a superbly made set-piece finale over almost the entire final cour.
- Star Driver, a recent Studio BONES show also with roots in Revolutionary Girl Utena would’ve benefited perhaps from another cour so as to avoid the mediocre finale it presented, relative to the immediately preceding examples.
- This makes Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann so remarkable in that it provided nothing less than what Eureka SeveN and FullMetal Alchemist: Brotherhood did in their respective finale arcs despite being only a 2-cour show just like Star Driver.
I haven’t seen that much anime, so do tell me if you know of shows that accomplish similar things with their final arcs, but of course let us talk about the things we love about Eureka SeveN by all means!