Opinion Prone

My opinions, let me tell them to you.

Here it is, my review of Eureka seveN, which is a wonderfully obnoxious 2,000 words. (The MAL mirror is here.) The short version is that I didn’t like the series very much though it did have a lot of technical merits. As usual, the review is spoiler-free, but today, there shall be additional, spoilerific rambling in the rest of this entry, followed by some kind of epic fanboy/fanrage showdown in the comments because ghostlightning thinks there’s love to remember in Eureka seveN. How about that!

Eureka seveN

You know, taking Renton out of this series completely would solve a lot of things.  Just think! What if Holland really was Eureka’s “chosen one” and he had to either risk the world or break Talho’s heart? He seemed like he was capable of being in love with multiple people at the same time anyway, right? And even if he was only in love with Talho, if Eureka was in love with him and needed him to love her to save the world, then that would be one hell of an interesting and dramatic love triangle — much more interesting than the sappy, idealistic romance that Renton and Eureka had where all of their problems stemmed from Renton being a dumbass (“Of course I’d want to know about my father! What’s wrong with you?“). The Holland/Talho/Eureka drama might have actually already happened in the events leading up to the start of the series, but Eureka not reciprocating Holland’s theoretical feelings kind of nullifies its relevance completely. (And to make Holland less of a pedophile, just age up Eureka; she’s not human anyway. Besides, her personality would be less typical if she were older.)

Taking out Renton and starting the story back earlier would also take out much of the need for explanations and flashbacks. If we follow Holland as the main protagonist, then the audience should know what his goals are much, much sooner as well, so we actually have a clear goal and obstacles rather than running around with little apparent purpose for forty episodes before cramming everything into the end. And while we’re condensing things, we could take out Dominic and Anemone as well because they were kind of like the Saji and Louise of this series and therefore completely pointless. Anemone ended up being useless to Dewey in the end, so what does it really matter? The fact that she was made to be a pseudo-Coralian was also so poorly explained that I wasn’t sure what the hell she was until I looked it up on Wikipedia afterwards. (Was it any clearer in the sub?)

Geez, I keep looking at Renton’s face in the picture up there and even his face pisses me off. He looks like such a smug asshole there, looking down at the viewer. There are so many things that bother me about the guy’s logic and how he handles things. You didn’t realize you’d been killing people all this time? Really? Really? His relationship with Charles and Ray was pretty disturbing too, mostly because he seemed so overly eager to be adopted into their family. Even if he is that desperate for a family, shouldn’t he be a little more cautious about assimilating into a family of strangers? His reaction to their request to call them “Papa” and “Mama” (I’m assuming it was “Otou-san” and “Okaa-san” in Japanese) was ridiculously childlike considering the awkwardness of the request in the first place. It was creepy as hell, especially considering his age. (Yes, I wrote about the age thing already, but it still really, really bothers me that he acts so much like a ten-year old, and sometimes maybe even eight.) Besides, if Renton’s grandfather and sister replaced his parents as parental figures, then I don’t see why he would be so desperate for a family, or even a place to belong — he could have gone back to (or tried to go back to) Bellforest, but he didn’t.

There was just zero reason for me to sympathize with this kid. Charles and Ray could stand to be purged from the series too, though they do have history with Holland and Eureka, and they were crazy enough to be entertaining. It’s just a matter of whether the slow-down of plot progression that results with their existence is worth it since they don’t really contribute much on the plot front.

I really thought the Limit of Questions was an aptly named and interesting concept, but it was pretty poorly explained, along with most of the relevant information concerning the past, the Scub Corals, and Dewey’s plan and motivation. There were also a lot of things that I wasn’t convinced of logically, like the fact that humans apparently had no idea that they had returned to the Earth. How the hell would you be able to keep secret your entire species’ return to its home planet? Did the entire population just immediately forget when they landed or had it, for some reason, been brainwashed out of the populace’s head? Dewey’s belated flashback was also confusing in explaining the Novak family’s role in the world, as well as the concept of the “sacrificial king.” Anemone’s apparent apathy towards his rambling exposition further made me disinclined to care. For revelations so long in the coming, they certainly were terribly done, especially since we never, ever find out why Dewey has such a one-sided hatred of the Scub Coral. That might be important, considering destroying them was his entire scheme. And in the spirit of getting rid of pointless characters: the Sages could go too. Dewey can be the Charles zi Britannia of this world.

Oh, those goddamn kids can go too. All they did was rub in more of the persistent family themes and inject “character development” very late in the game. Seriously, did we need those two or three episodes of Renton, Eureka, and the kids chillin’ on the beach being emo? Aside from the fact that Eureka’s transformation is never explicitly explained (an explanation can be inferred, but it sucks to not get assurance either way), the kids go through the “omg! You killed our real parents!” thing so late in the series that it’s ridiculous. Traumatized or not, you’d think that would be something they confront far, far earlier, like maybe as soon as they realize that their parents are gone for good. I also think it disturbs me on some level that Renton (and Eureka) actually comes to accept the kids as his kids rather than younger siblings of some sort. If we get rid of Renton though, then it isn’t as bad since the family concept is much more appropriate for Holland and an aged up Eureka, not to mention Talho. Still, I’m sure that Eureka can feel plenty of belonging without the acceptance of those war orphans.

Ahaha, I am tired of rambling now.

Last thing though: the ending was lame as hell and made no sense whatsoever. How does Eureka’s refusal to become a Command Cluster stop the end of the world? If the existence of the Command Cluster was what kept the Scub Coral dormat for all those years, then a lack of one means they’re all forced to awaken, thus pushing the world over the Limit of Questions, right? That was why they were trying to stop Dewey from blowing up the original Command Cluster. Then shouldn’t Eureka’s refusal to replace to Cluster just make things worse? And if her collar is going to have her self-destruct anyway, then it doesn’t really matter either way, right? How the hell does Eureka and Renton gattai-ing help anything? Even if it stops the self-destruction, something still needs to be the Command Cluster. Or even if that combination is what allowed the Scub Coral to reach “enlightenment,” unless they all simultaneously combined with something else on the planet to produce a shit ton of human/Coralian hybrids, wouldn’t they still breach the Limit of Questions? The brief epilogue really shows no hint of human/Coralian coexistence either. Furthermore, what do Eureka and Renton actually become after combining? A rainbow?? Maybe my accumulated frustration and apathy had me not pay attention at all for that last episode, but then maybe they shouldn’t save a bunch of last minute twists and revelations for the last goddamn episode.

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  1. ghostlightning on July 5, 2009 9:37 pm

    The review and this post is written by a small form coralian. Eureka 7 didn’t fail to do anything, but rather the reviewer’s own failure to appreciate the level of nuance that was invested in the set-up, the crafting of the references to generate even more meaning beyond what is plain, and the rich characterization.

    Reviews of Eureka SeveN that make many of the same observations in the review but arrive at far different conclusions: (tj_han 2006/04/30) (Martin 2008/06/19) (SDShamshel 2009/07/03)

  2. Kiriska on July 5, 2009 9:53 pm

    Antibodies are pretty small-form, yeah? Perhaps I have just acted defensively, obliterating all of your “rich characterization” because it was all a poorly disguised stink. Eureka 7 had some good intentions, but failed to deliver it in a coherent manner, so we strike at this poorly-formed blob by tearing it to pieces! Your gushing fanboy allies are too quick to buy into the facade!

  3. ghostlightning on July 5, 2009 10:36 pm

    Hardly fanboys, since those were first impressions as well. Mine is a second impression, as like you I disliked the show at first (and dropped it pretty soon after 7 episodes). It just rewards concentration and appreciation of character types as I clearly see the nuance the show does to distinguish its characters from past ones like them.

    Take the seemingly overlong hazing arc done to Renton. The payoffs here are incredible; setting up the children to form a love story that is a family rather than a simple romance. This is what distinguishes Renton x Eureka from all the rabu-rabu romance storylines (i.e. Simon x Nia in TTGL). But E7 doesn’t stop there, it takes its seemingly insignificant characters seriously!

    Take Moondoggie for example. At first his role is to contextualize the hazing done to Renton, and establish the loosey-goosey (non-militaristic) culture of Gekkostate. One would think that is enough, but the E7 also tells us how a buttmonkey hazen00b role can be appreciated by the ‘victim,’ almost like a Stockholm Syndrome dynamic.

    This creates something to consider for Renton: “Is this what I signed up for?” “Is Moondoggie showing me that what’s being done to me desirable?” This pays dividends in his runaway arc where he meets Charles and Ray Beams.

    BUT NO, E7 doesn’t stop there. Moondoggie is given his own growth arc. Throughout the show his relevance and utility and therefore his self-confidence continues to erode. And even if Renton was the one who displaced him (consider that Renton even stole his bag, in a context where are there are precious few personal possessions) Moondoggie’s triumph is when he man’s up and takes responsibility for his own opportunities. He succeeds Talho in becoming the pilot of the Gekko-go in the final battles.

    Find your nose (it’s sitting on top of your ass) and distinguish the stink that follows you around.

  4. Kiriska on July 5, 2009 10:56 pm

    As I say, its intentions were good enough; truly complex character development is a welcome rarity, but Eureka 7’s execution was never convincing or strung together well enough for me. The complexity or well-thought-out-ness of something doesn’t really amount to anything if the audience fails to care. Renton’s hazing arc was severely hurt by Renton’s insistent ignorance — if he had even shown the slightest indication that he MAYBE knew what was going on, and if he had understood even some of Moondoggie’s frustration at the situation, the situation might have been easier to appreciate because you aren’t busy raging at the absurdity of Renton’s ignorance.

    The familial themes in this series also seemed incredibly forced after a while since it repeats in almost every major character and many of the minor ones. Yes, the family aspect of Renton and Eureka’s relationship sets them apart, but the fact that they are so young still disturbs me, which is why I think it might have worked better if Holland had been the lead instead (or if both Renton and Eureka were older). I just don’t find the insistence of a family relationship between Eureka, Renton, and the kids realistic or convincing. (Additionally, Renton’s sudden declaration of Moondoggie as his “brother” only further adds to Renton’s weird family complex.)

    As far as Moondoggie himself goes, his continued “growth” late in the series seemed more like a distraction from the core story points than anything legitimate or meaningful. The attempts at making minor characters significant are again, admirable enough, but why should anyone actually care about Moondoggie at all? Despite the “growth” scenes, you know so little about him that it’s difficult to sympathize with him. Themes are more effective if you care about the character(s) used to further it. Besides, there should always be a balance between the characters and the story, particular when one does not fuel the other, as in the case of Moondoggie. To sacrifice much, much needed storytelling for the sake of a minor character just isn’t worth it (and for the hazing, Renton seemed to understand too little of it to really anything at all; the family concepts between him and Eureka are touched on in so many other places already).

  5. ghostlightning on July 6, 2009 12:29 am

    You were distracted by Moondoggie becoming a man, but not long enough to keep you from failing to get the accomplishments in execution by the main storilne.

    The complexity or well-thought-out-ness of something doesn’t really amount to anything if the audience fails to care.

    The audience (aside from you) does care. If you’re going to appeal to a majority (i.e. the audience) it’s not going to work. Your failure is all your own. It takes only one other person to care to isolate your failure.

    Familial themes are explored in other shows, but these aren’t the shows in Eureka SeveN’s context. Family isn’t a common theme (much less a major one) in Gundam, Macross, or the GAINAX robot shows.

    The 2nd Gen Thurston family serves as the model for the adults (yes, youth saves the world; not through sexifying things but actually building a relationship of substance — taking care of each other and being responsible for one another): Ray’s bitterness at not having progeny, and Talho’s creation of a family.

    Oh thanks for reminding me about Aniki Moondoggie. It’s a great contrast for the Novak brothers. Moondoggie has even more value than I thought.

    Renton’s ignorance is an important part of the narrative. During the lead-up to his ‘runaway’ arc he kept telling himself that he’s “a fool who doesn’t know anything.” This is then supported by how Charles and Ray treated him, allowing him to make the mistakes and learn from them — contrasting well with Holland’s viciousness [->]

    Renton grows from ignorance to maturity; from conversation to conversation… from Charles, to that guy in the marsh, to Norb, to Diane, to Adrock himself. But see, his mettle comes through (keeping his promise to Charles, being the “head of the family” during the “Great Wall” arc) not via some “Use the force Luke” regurgitation of advice. He makes sound and considerate/sensitive decisions in the end – and less of rage/righteousness; i.e. Simon vs. the Spiral King, Alto vs. Grace, Setsuna vs. Ribbons, etc. (even if his way was righteous: a path of peace, refusal to kill).

    All these are points of execution.

    Perhaps, the dub had something to do with your annoyance; though the person who convinced me to return to this show saw only the dub. Lousy voice acting will flat out ruin the execution of an emotional scene.

  6. Kiriska on July 6, 2009 1:15 am

    When I say audience, I mainly mean myself since I do understand I’m in the minority here; nevertheless, the minority percentage is still a percentage possibly encompassing thousands of people.

    Familial themes, or rather, parental themes via Renton was all it took to make it awkward. Moondoggie’s relationship with Renton was also incredibly minimal at best, considering Moondoggie’s insistence that he wasn’t Renton’s brother and Renton’s (weird) insistence otherwise. I never got the impression that Renton gleaned much guidance or support from Moondoggie, which might have contrasted them with the Novaks.

    The beach scenes near the end really reinforced for me the idea that Renton hadn’t actually grown at all. He was still getting frustrated at Eureka for things that are presumably not her fault; he was still completely clueless as to what he was supposed to be doing — which bothers me immensely because I never got the impression that he tried very hard to seek answers; the explanations he got from his sister seemed too conveniently handed to him. I don’t feel as if the decisions he made at the end of the series would have been all that different if presented to him earlier because he always had that idealistic righteousness. He was never presented as a particularly selfish character (“I’m going to protect Eureka!”), so of course he would make the “right” decision in self-sacrifice to protect the world.

    I do think that the voice acting for Renton attributed a lot to my animosity, though it isn’t because I think Bosch did a bad job. The problem might be that I think he did a good job — if his portrayal of Renton wasn’t actually accurate, then there might be things for me to reconsider. There are also some translation things that couldn’t be helped and just emphasize ridiculousness, such as the name Moondoggie, which I imagine sounds ten times less retarded in a broken Engrish than it does in actual English.

  7. Omisyth on July 6, 2009 9:19 am

    I lol’d. Seriously though, I need to rewatch the show and this heated discussion makes me watn to do so even more.

  8. Foolish R on July 6, 2009 6:54 pm

    If you read any of the author’s reviews. You can tell he doesn’t like any shonen manga, even if they are good. I personally havn’t seen E7 yet. I personally don’t know why you watch this genre. I wonder if he gave any halfway decent entertaining show a good review.

  9. Kiriska on July 6, 2009 9:02 pm

    Assuming you’re referring to me, what, I don’t like shounen because I don’t like annoying characters (that theoretically grow and develop throughout the series)? On the contrary, I enjoy a decent chunk of shounen, but I never got the impression that Eureka seveN was shounen. Indeed, I had a hard time categorizing it as anything other than “mecha” and maybe “adventure” and “romance.” I picked it up because friends said it was good, simple as that. Even if I didn’t care for shounen, I like to put faith in friends’ opinions, even if we end up disagreeing. As for the rest of my reviews, I suppose you can check that out yourself, huh?

  10. dotdash on July 9, 2009 12:25 am

    For what it’s worth, I agree with your summary of Eureka 7’s many faults. The bottom line is that it never had enough of a story to last all fifty or so episodes, what story it did have was paced poorly within those fifty episodes, and the main characters were annoying (mostly this is down to Renton, admittedly).

    It’s got some interesting things to it, and it’s worth watching if you’ve got the time and energy. Obviously it’s stupendously popular as well, but for me it was a constant battle through all this stuff that aggravated me pointlessly in order to get to the odd thing that I thought was nice.

    A friend of mine who’s a fan of the show made a point to me once that the interesting part of Eureka 7 is the way it targets both older anime fans and young kids simultaneously, through the characters of Holland and Renton. He said Renton annoyed me because I was an adult, but kids would respond to him much better. I very much doubt that at the age of 14 I would have had any sympathy with a blockheaded, whining git like Renton, but there you go. Holland’s immaturity is part of the conflict between a certain generation of Japanese men’s passing youth and growing need for responsibility. I get that, and I certainly found him a more sympathetic character. He always had a bit too much of that old-fashioned, gruff Japanese male stereotype so beloved of 70s and 80s anime heroes though, which made his treatment of Talho as the series progressed utterly disgust me at times.

    I always kind of liked Dominic and Anemone, although I was screaming, “For God’s sake, get on with it!” at the screen a lot of the time when they were on.

  11. Kiriska on July 9, 2009 12:42 am

    Well, it’s always good to know that I’m not completely alone in my opinions. Still, I personally wouldn’t recommend it even if you have the time and energy — there are plenty of other better and less aggravating titles to see. The things that annoyed me far outweighed the things I found interesting, so I’d say that it may be best to just look up a detailed plot synopsis to get the goals and themes of the series without the poor execution.

    I also doubt my 14-year old self would have taken to Renton, considering I still feel he was more of a 10-year old or younger. Holland’s immaturity was the main reason I stayed sympathetic towards Talho, so if anything, I guess that kept me going for a little while.

  12. dotdash on July 9, 2009 5:46 am

    For what it’s worth, the other thing that annoyed me was the constant, in-jokey references to late 80s and early 90s indie/alt-rock and youth culture. Renton and Adrock Thurston? Really? And all that stuff about The Hacienda, also known as Fac-51. Their obsession with cramming in as many of these pop culture references as they could meant that most of the names sounded at best awkward on the tongue, and at worst the cheesy obviousness of the refeernces undermined the suspension of disbelief that you need if you’re going to temporarily accept something in a cartoon as real.

    If they were going to conceive it from the start as a full-on, integrated postmodern work, it might have worked. Sorry to always come back to this, but Evangelion is, as always, the template. The use of old, sunken battleships as the surnames of nearly all the characters gives the series an air of impending doom and connects it to the war movie lineage that Anno was drawing from, not to mention the classic anime like Yamato that he grew up on. Eureka tries to pull a similar trick by tying the pop culture references from the creators’ youth into a similar thread of nostalgia and generational shift among a section of the target viewers. The difference is that the names from Evangelion still work for someone with no knowledge of Japanese history as standalone names that a normal person might have, whilst at the same time having a sort of classical aura all of their own that comes directly from the sound of the words. “Katsuragi Misato” rings very nicely in the ears.

    This is just an example of the sort of self-indulgent laziness that plagues Eureka 7. I do like the name Anemone though — it comes from Murakami Ryu’s “Coin Locker Babies”, which I read as a student, but it’s got a nice sound, especially in the Japanese mispronunciation (I seem to remember erading that Toji, Kensuke and Hikari’s names from Evangelion came from Murakami too, although not from anything I’ve read).

  13. Kiriska on July 9, 2009 5:54 am

    To be honest, most, if not all, of those references went over my head. I’ve never really even been in tune with current pop culture, much less that of a decade or two ago. Evangelion might be a model for all, but I think Cowboy Bebop might be a better comparison for Eureka to the extent that all of the episode titles came from a song (none of which I knew, even in Bebop, but hey). Considering that many anime also feature less than stellar naming techniques, I didn’t really pay attention to the oddity that was some characters’ names. I do see how an overt attempt to be clever can be irritating though. I guess I’m just lucky to be ignorant on that front here, else it would be another on the list of things I didn’t like.

    I also like the name Anemone with the Japanese mispronunciation — Eureka too, actually.

  14. dotdash on July 9, 2009 7:47 am

    But again with Cowboy Bebop, the characters had names that were evocative on their own too. You don’t need to know anything about The Stranglers or The Sex Pistols to appreciate names like Jet Black and Vicious, and Faye Valentine is just a name that glistens with sexy radiance.

    Borrowing song names for the episode titles doesn’t bother me so much because episode titles are what you could perhaps call “non-diagetic”, in that they don’t form part of the immediate on-screen world. I can accept the use of Carl Orff and Richard Wagner’s music on the soundtrack to the film Excalibur, but if I saw an orchestra and choir riding along after King Arthur’s army and playing O Fortuna, it would be ridiculous (and a rip-off of Monty Python).

    I agree that ridiculous names are part and parcel of much anime, which is partly why I don’t watch any post-80s Gundam.

  15. phossil on July 9, 2009 11:54 pm

    Im agree with you about the ending. Somehow it didnt fix in the hole story..

  16. Teenwolf on July 18, 2009 9:21 am

    I have to agree with this review of the animé. The main themes about war and harmony were interesting enough to keep you engaged with it but my god Renton and Eureka have one of the most annoying character romances I’ve seen. When they finally acknowledge they love each other mid way through the series that was cool, but I don’t think there were too many episodes where Renton didn’t stop shouting “EUREKA!” and Eureka shouting “RENTON!” back in order to proclaim their love. The innocence of that love was intriguing at first but just got frustrating, especially with those goddamn whiny kids. In a way it’s almost like they tried to take Chihiro and Haku’s love from Spirited Away and slot it into a 50 episode series, which inevitably didn’t appeal as much since their relationship wore on. There’s a part of me that likes the relationship they had considering it’s innocence, but the rest of me is frustrated at it.

    If they did get rid of Renton, the series would have been much better – definitely agree with you on that.

  17. Boris Jacksin on July 22, 2009 7:59 am

    I just finished watching the series for the second time and it doesn’t hold up after 3 years. There’s still a lot of things I like (the music especially), but the core of my annoyances come from the plot and Renton. As a story more reliant on characters than a strong plot, it does its best when it can show interesting character growth and situations. However, when it tries to shift gears as a plot-focused show, it loses its charm. The pacing just isn’t there, why did we have to watch Renton, Eureka, and the kids mope around on the beach for so much of the last arc?

    PS. The movie sucked. Despite my complaints I still like the show but in a different context. But that movie was horrendous and might offend those who liked the series more than me.

  18. Alaena on August 4, 2009 6:42 pm

    To be absolutely honest, I agree with both the reviewer and his/her equally eloquent nemesis. When I watched the series for the first time, I was riveted by the development of all the characters, but got the impression that everything was disjointed… like a whole bunch of drugged dreams strung together with 70’s-esque imagery to make a rainbow-riddled brain-bender. It made an entertaining, thought-provoking but thoroughly confusing show with amazingly developed characters and a universe that is so very easy to believe in, but various inconsistencies that riddled the story and made it difficult to enjoy completely.

    ON SECOND WATCHING, HOWEVER, I have to say that most of the original disdain has evaporated. I enjoyed the series thoroughly on my first watching, but on my second and third, I was able to see the emotions and subtle development that pieced this series together into a wonderful and comprehensible whole.

    I can understand that many people find Renton a weak, emo eyesore who pollutes the series with his idealistic whininess, but I found his character and his romance with Eureka refreshing, if at times a little bit exasperating. All of the characters have their own problems and decisions to make, and those decisions move the story in one direction or another.

    Eureka Seven is a beautiful and amazing series that, while it does have just a couple inconsistencies, is an amazing, amazing series that tears at your heart and keeps you glued to your seat with its amazing characters and its vivid universe.

  19. TJF588 on August 20, 2009 3:50 pm

    “Anemone” (w/ Japanese pronunciation, I suppose) bring to mind a kind of sea critter. I haven’t watched all of this series, but just aesthetically I don’t like Renton. Annoyingly goofy-looking, annoyingly goofily dressed, and prolly goofy-sounding, if not just annoying-sounding. I don’t much like being exposed to him, and whether he works as an artistic element or if I could warm up to him past these superficial qualms is of little consequence to me: It’s still a show, and I’d still be using it for entertainment, so please don’t inspire me to punch my TV. *sigh* At least he’s no Charmin bear. *cringes inside*


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