The penultimate volume unsurprisingly ups the ante in terms of exposition and tension as Eureka, Renton and the kids are led by Norb to the inner sanctum of the Voderac and, following a meeting with the enigmatic Sakuya, embark on a journey to a very familiar-looking planet. Meanwhile the Gekkostate wage all-out war on Dewey, which involves Holland taking some dangerous risks to fulfil his mission. Another, very different, mission lead Dominic on a search for a way to help Anemone that reveals a chilling secret.
Here we are at the penultimate instalment – I have to say it’s been an outstanding series so far but the pick-up in pace towards the end leaves me very reluctant to make any predictions as to how it will turn out by the end. Although there are still a few moments of humour the tone is now much more serious as the whole affair prepares itself for the final episodes. The relationship between Renton and Eureka was often shaky and full of ups and downs from the outset but when placed in an unfamiliar environment, without outside help or even the trapar waves that the Nirvash relies on, they’re in a position of real vulnerability and helplessness, which doesn’t help their strained relations at all.
I’ve lost count of how many anime shows place young characters in a position of responsibility that they are barely capable of coping with, and E7 is no exception to this rule; nevertheless it’s still powerful stuff when you see the five of them, Eureka, Renton and their impromptu family, out on their own with the fate of the world on their shoulders and with nobody to turn to.
This situation backs them into a corner and pulls their feelings right out into the open: in one really heart-rending scene poor little Maurice goes from being an annoying, snot-nosed brat into an anguished character who, like his two other siblings, really gets the viewer’s sympathy. After the pranks and mishaps that made those three irritating and comedic in equal measure, I suppose they too have to grow up and change in order to accept what’s going on around them, as unfair as that expectation may be.
These episodes touch on some of the darkest territory of the series so far in other areas too – shocked at Dewey’s manipulation of Anemone and concerned for her welfare, Dominic tries desperately to find a replacement for her as a pilot for TheEnd but after learning of her traumatic origins the decision he faces is harsher than he could have anticipated. Whether or not the musical reference here (that of the name ‘Warsaw’, its connection to the ‘Joy Division’ and the chilling historical allusion that goes with it) goes over your head, this is still one of the most unsettling and hard-hitting scenes of the series so far; I for one was left feeling disgusted at the military’s cruel experiments, but also felt pity for Dominic and Anemone too. The anguish and pain experienced by the poor children in that establishment was almost palpable.
As a matter of fact, it seems like everyone seems to be stuck in an unpleasant situation with no discernable way out: Norb and Sakuya are possibly the only ones who find a welcome resolution and aren’t suffering or in a tight spot by the end of the volume. After the Nirvash’s departure to who knows where, Holland takes it upon himself to place himself in the thick of battle against Dewey, but the toll it takes on his body might prove to be too much. It’s testament to both Holland’s stubborn nature and the madness of Dewey’s plan that he’s willing to risk his life for this – the exchanges between Dewey and Anemone highlight how much Holland’s wayward brother has sacrificed in regards to his humanity to fight against the Coralians.
For those who may feel put off by the angst of Eureka’s and Renton’s situation or the disturbing nature of the military’s plans, there’s still much to enjoy: the aerial combat scenes and the swarms of deadly multi-coloured Coralians are well-animated as always so from an action and artwork standpoint it’s still an exciting and aesthetically pleasing show that balances this well with the dramatic and character-driven side of things.
If it weren’t for the constant stream of information concerning the motives and origins of various characters punctuated by the series’ trademark aerial action scenes, I’d say this volume would actually be too dark and heavy-going for some. Right from Renton’s realisation of the true nature of the Gekkostate a few volumes previously, it’s been a series that keeps a hard-hitting and dramatic undercurrent beneath a happy-go-lucky exterior; the impressive presentation and attachment to the characters fortunately ensure that it remains enjoyable and give hope for an epic conclusion.