Eureka Seven AO – 03

Ao decides he doesn’t want to pilot the giant again, for fear he’ll cause more damage than he’d prevent. On the way home, he and Naru are ambushed by Naru’s father and friends. They capture Ao and plan to use him as a bargaining chip in negotiations with Japan. The Okinawans also capture Elena in order to get Gen-Bleu’s attention, and warn them to stay out of their affairs. When an aircraft carrier-sized secret appears, escorted by a fleet of smaller secrets, Fleur and Elena engage it in battle. Both Bleu’s Ivica and Gazelle descend on the house where Ao is being held, with Gazelle ultimately rescuing him and flying him to the Nirvash, which he decides he must pilot so he’ll never have to apologize to the next generation for doing nothing.

If it weren’t for the kind old Dr. Toshio Fukai, Ao probably wouldn’t exist. Yet when Eureka fell from the sky and was eventually ostracized by the island’s people, he took her into his clinic and she gave birth to a son. One person’s kindness made all the difference. “Never hate, no matter what,” is Toshio’s advice to Ao. This, in the midst of his hospital, burned down and ransacked by vandals (and not for the first time). He turns the other cheek. So what if all the older people on the island want to blame Ao for all their problems? He’s going to protect them anyway. Not for their sake, but for their children; for the future.

If we remember correctly, Renton was a lot more self-centered and his self-doubt and feelings of inadequacy often paralyzed him. While it seemed like Ao (his son?? who knows at this point) was possibly going to follow this path (you’re not piloting it anymore? Really, kid?), but after spending some time with bitter geezers and being rescued by their kids who feel bad for bullying a foreigner, he changes his mind. We’re glad it didn’t take six episodes to do so, either. This doesn’t mean he’s in that cockpit for good, of course, but it’s encouraging that he’s taking on challenges – like the super-huge G-monster. With all this heavy, serious stuff going down, though, the episode still makes room for a brief gag in which Elena and a government official are caught singing karaoke.


Rating: 6 (Good)


Car Cameos: More Nissan X-Trail action, and Naru and Noah are taken away in what looks like a black Toyota Crown sedan of some kind; can’t tell which for sure.

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Eureka Seven AO – 02

Gazelle doesn’t take Ao’s bracelet, but suggests he come with them. They tether their car to the retreating JSDF ship, but the Secret attacks and they crash onto the flight deck. Ao has no choice but to enter the cockpit of a tarped FP that turns out to be an IFO called the Mk. I, the oldest of its kind known. He takes the reins and goes after the Secret. He almost has a redoubt, but Naru gets through to him and he defeats the monster just as Generation Bleu arrives. Ao ditches and is fished out of the sea by GB pilot Fleur Blanc. When he goes home he learns the townsfolk blame him and his mother for the island’s misfortune. Naru finds and reassures him. He shows her the “Sea Giant” he piloted.

In this world, Japan and Okinawa are separate sovereign powers that don’t exactly like or trust each other, and the Japanese forces exploit the island’s emergency to enter Okinawan waters. It’s an interesting dynamic, and the Okinawans don’t seem to like foreigners like Ao, especially when it seems troubles started the moment he arrived. This gets to Ao, but he learns that he’s a wanted man (and has blue hair) after he saves the island from the Secret. Talk about gratitude. Still, he’s upset that they may be right; fortunately, Naru is no fair-weather friend, and as far as she’s concerned, he’s a hero. We really like their friendship so far.

We’ll see from this point on where fate sweeps young Ao and Naru. There’s Gazelle and Co., there’s the JSDF and OSDF, and there’s Generation Bleu, who are rather surprised to see the Mark I flynig around, considering they believed it was scrapped years ago. There’s lots of danger and peril in these first episodes, but also lots of heart and determination, and lots of colorful, likable characters. We were better able to sort everything and everyone out this week, and this looks to be a most immersive sci-fi-drama. Not as in-your-face or insane as Aquarion Evol, but more serious and mature.


Rating: 7
 (Very Good)


Car Cameos:
Ao’s gramps drives a beige Suzuki Wagon R, while the Okinawan military guys get around in a Nissan X-Trail. Ao discovers his blue hair in the sideview mirror of a Toyota bB (pictured).

Eureka Seven AO – 01

Trouble begins to brew on an Oknawan island when Ao crosses paths with a trio of smugglers led by Gazelle. Ao comes into possession of a glowing green bracelet, and suddenly a “scub coral” emerges from the ground, and a “G-monster” emerges from the sky. They eventually retreat, but return the next morning, causing widespread destruction. Worried about his adoptive grandfather and sickly friend Narau, Ao is cornered by Gazelle & Co., but refuses to relinquish the bracelet, which reminds him of his mother…

It’s comforting to know that Japan shares Americans’ apparent obsession with remakes and sequels. Nostalgia is a powerful thing, and slapping the name of something well-known and well-liked will always increase its chances of success. So here we have a sequel to Eureka SeveN, six years after its first run. It was, at the time, the longest series we’d ever watched at 50 episodes, and we really enjoyed its style, its beauty, and most of its characters. We say most, because Renton Thurston really dragged the series down with his angsty, selfish, annoying behavior.

Well, Renton isn’t in this; instead we have Ao, who we gather is Eureka’s son. He doesn’t come off as whiny, and even if he’s weak, he’s willing to protect his weaker friend Naru and isn’t willing to simply hand something over simply because an adult threatens him. We like him so far, and this first episode really gave us the feeling of him suddenly being dropped into this overwhelming, perilous situation, yet maintaining his cool. This pilot also went big on the visual front: lots of stuff got Blow’d Up Real Good (clearly this series won’t be as delicate with its town as Rinne no Lagrange). There’s also a sloth, which is pretty awesome. But this first episode was merely setup: all we know is that something life-changing is going to happen to young Ao – in the next episode. Till then!


Rating: 7
 
(Very Good)


Car Cameos:
Ao’s FP closely resembles a Piaggio Ape, only it canfly, so it’s much cooler. Townsfolk flee the carnage in what looks like a late-’80s, bug-eyed Honda Acty Truck.

P.S. Sorry for the belated review, but we were on the fence about getting into this series, and finally caved – a decision we don’t regret.

 

Natsuiro Kiseki – 04

Yuka likes her cousin Takashi, but he’s interested in Saki. While resting on the rock, she accidentally makes a wish that swaps their bodies. Yuka is elated, and is able to arrange a date with Takashi. Saki is furious, and makes everyone wish for them to switch back, but Natsumi and Rinko switch bodies instead. The next day, Yuka goes on the date with Takashi while Saki, Natsumi and Rinko shadow them. When it starts to get serious, Yuka realizes it was a bad idea, since he only sees Saki and not her; Rinko spirits her away before they kiss, and everyone returns to their normal body.

We had pretty good episodes focusing on Natsumi and Saki; this week it was Yuka’s turn to take center stage. Only, most of the time, Yuka isn’t in her own green-haired, relatively out-of-shape body, but in Saki’s. When her wish to become Saki comes true, she totally runs with it without hesitation. For most of the episode, nobody is who they should be. We must salute the four voice actresses for nailing one another’s way of speaking and mannerisms, and there were lots of nice touches like Yuka-as-Saki cooling her face with a cola. Natsumi-in-Rinko was so much peppier than she usually is (reminding us of how she played Fam). We love bodyswap episodes (Fairy Tail and DS9 had some good ones), and this one delivered the goods.

The swapping wasn’t just played for laughs. Yuka learned that looking and sounding like Saki is no way to win the heart of her cousin (it’s allowed in Japan, though in decline). Going on a date with him only gave him the idea that Saki liked him, since that’s how he saw her. They made a good couple, but it was a dead end. Ultimately, she’ll have to approach him honestly, as Yuka, if she wants to get anywhere. We kinda feel bad for poor Takashi: about to kiss Saki one minute, and suffering rejection-by-text the next. Both Yuka and Saki kinda ended up toying with his heart. They are some cold witches.


Rating: 9 (Superior)

Car Cameo: A Daihatsu Hijet kei truck pulls up right at the beginning.

Sankarea – 04

Furuya comes to grips with the situation he’s in: Rea is now a zombie, which means he’s now living his dream. Rea’s father vows to win her back an exact revenge upon Furuya. Gramps mistakes Rea for his resurrected mistress. Rigor mortis sets in for Rea. Estimating she’ll rot into bones in a month, Furuya considers how he’ll be able to protect and preserve her body.

Now that Rea has been zombified thanks to Furuya’s magic potion, her goal is to experience everything a normal girl should experience; that’s how she interpreted his promise to stay by her side. That equates to making her his girlfriend, which is everything he ever wanted. He’s a bit slow on the uptake, however, as it’s more than halfway through the episode until he realizes that there are worse things than having a gorgeous zombie girl living in his bedroom.

Of course, there are some issues he’s going to have to deal with. Protecting the secret of Rea from his family won’t be easy, as it’s not a huge house; the encounter with gramps was a close (and hilarious) call. Whether he’s aware or not, Rea’s father isn’t finished with him, and won’t give up on getting his beloved daughter back. And then there’s the practical difficulties; at some point, we gather Rea’s going to need some brains to eat, and Furuya needs to get Rea embalmed or something soon, or he’ll have a real mess on his hands.


Rating: 7 (Very Good)