And so we reach the end of the road for Renton, Eureka, the Gekkostate and the others as the final confrontation with the true nature of the Coralians looms: Dewey swings his plan into action while our heroes make a desperate final attempt to find a peaceful solution. Of all the expectations I had of the series’ conclusion, at least one turned out to be right on the money: it’s heartfelt and suitably epic.
That’s epic in the sense that nobody we’ve met along the way is left untouched by the events that transpire in the last five episodes. The show introduced recurring demonstrations of the importance of harmony and understanding, which plays out both on personal and literally universal levels. For a story that featured such a numerous cast as this, it’s testament to the writing that I remembered, and cared about, every one of them; in the same way that the overall aesthetic is bold and bright, each significant character will linger long in my memory.
Endings are contentious things though. Fifty episodes and a plotline that takes genre conventions and plays around with the formula promises a conclusion that’s suitably extraordinary; in that sense I found the final moments to be slightly rushed and almost conventional in comparison, as emotionally moving as I found them to be. I admit that much of this feeling was down to personal ideas of what the series was trying to say from the beginning; if nothing else I was relieved that there was no ‘Gainax Ending’ or abrupt finale that left glaring omissions in the events.
The last couple of episodes still deliver on the emotional front however, and explain the main themes and concepts; for this reason alone I can declare it a success. The Renton/Eureka relationship is well and truly resolved in a satisfactory way, but for me a pleasant surprise took the form of a resolution for Anemone and Dominic.
All the way through I was yearning for those two to get more screen time – their very formal yet fascinating bond highlighted how a relationship similar to Eureka’s and Renton’s could play out under harsher circumstances. Imagine my delight when, in episode 48, Anemone’s long-buried affection and Dominic’s unswaying devotion finally found their way into the spotlight – it was a deeply moving lead-up to the final act that gave their own story the attention it deserved.
As overly sentimental as the final moments may seem, Eureka Seven was a romance from the first episode so it’s appropriate really that the focus is on the two leads. Again, anime conventions dictated the typical declarations of “I want to be stronger!” or “I will protect you!” but crucially it followed up on these feelings, clearly stating how they related to the characters’ personalities and are therefore more than hollow lines of dialogue that we’re so used to hearing. Visual cues such as Eureka’s and Talho’s hairstyles pointed to changes in their personalities and views during the series’ course but there were less visible signs that effectively showed how these people grew and developed as time went on.
Looking back, Renton is an almost completely different person at the end compared with his character at the beginning. It took some false starts and occasionally irritating steps backwards during the mid section of the series but he noticeably went from being a whiny kid to a young adult filled with resolve; Eureka too was changed by her experiences – the Coralian girl who learned how to be human. Their romance was built on teenage shyness but also true-to-life feelings that run deeper than mere infatuation: all the way through there was this heartwarming feeling that those kids truly cared about one another.
The broad worldview and its background were visually impressive too and offered a lot of food for thought on a more far-reaching level; behind a touching tale of young love the writers included more general observations of tolerance and those themes of harmony and understanding I mentioned earlier.
It’s easy to draw parallels with political and social issues, both recent and historic but tellingly current ones as well, in relation to how we view minority groups and lifestyles that lie on the fringes of mainstream society. The deeply spiritual Voderac, the surf-inspired Reffing subculture and the oppressive nature of the military were fascinating additions to a tale of youthful romance and cool mecha but also offered some jarring and occasionally shocking moments with hard-hitting social commentary. It reminded me that good science fiction should highlight things about our world as well as create exciting worlds of its own – some points were thinly-veiled jabs at real-life people and organisations but that doesn’t make their meaning any less clear or noteworthy.
Ultimately though, Eureka Seven was a tremendously entertaining series. It was not without a darker side but the carefree humour and bright, optimistic lust for life balanced the production out and made up for the minor hiccups in characterization and pacing; overall then I think it deserves to be viewed as another modern classic. I’m truly sorry to see it go but, at the time of writing, we fans can take comfort in the news of a feature film retelling. What direction that will take remains to be seen (what’s with the cover image of this DVD volume??), but it certainly offers chance to revisit a cast of characters who I’ve become really quite attached to.