As Gazelle & Co. investigate the identity of the musician Miller in Britain and America, Pied Piper engages a new scub coral in Australia. Ao sees Truth’s shadow, but his attacks are useless. Upon retrieving the quartz, a strange trapar-based substance attaches itself to the ships, and later the pilots, causing them to hallucinate. Ao and Elena end up trapped in a vivid hallucination in which they’re on the run with Miller, but in real life Miller is made up of the substance. Investigators in Indiana learn that Elena is not really Elena.
This week, Ao gets all trippy and surreal again. We’re jumping here and there with the characters, and things are happening which may or may not be real. It’s a little disorienting, but that’s the point; the most effective way to portray the character’s disorientation is to put the audience in their shoes. This time the secret doesn’t take the form of an angel-like alien spaceship, but infiltrates thebodies of the child pilots. It makes quick work of scrambling their brains, presumably in order to scatter them far away where they won’t be a threat.
Ao asks a lot of questions about secrets and the scub coral’s origins that Georg isn’t able to explain in the alotted time. So we’re left wondering: are the secrets sentient beings, or do they operate on pure instinct, and this hallucinatory sand-like trapar is their latest survival tactic? A little more confusing is the role of Elena Peoples / Miller. We had a feeling they were the same person, but by episode’s end we’re meant to believe neither the pilot nor the rock star are really the real Elena, for real. So who exactly is she? For now, an enigma.
Rating: 7 (Very Good)
Car Cameos: Gazelle & Co. drive around in America in style, rockin’ a 1975 Chevrolet Caprice Estate Wagon, one of the more interesting rides we’ve seen in an anime. The MiBs also investigating Elena drive a fairly-new Cadillac CTS.
When Phoenix falls victim to a scub burst and resulting secret annihilates all military attacks against it, Pied Piper is on stand-by on the Mexican border. Rebecka and Gazelle attempt to get the governor to request Gen Bleu’s assistance. The governor himself was once a member of Gen Bleu, and considers himself Rebecka’s mentor. Ivica and Ao cross the border to aid people and soldiers who didn’t evacuate; Truth turns out to be manipulating the soldiers to hold the civilians in a store, which Truth transports to the Grand Canyon for an “experiment”. They learn that the secret considers anything with a human form an enemy and eliminates it. Ao leads everyone to safety by hiding in tents, and Fleur and Elena show up to destroy the secret.
This was a weird episode. At some points, it almost seems as if the governor of Arizona was stalling Pied Piper in order to observe the secret’s behavior, at the cost of lost of life and property. Phoenix is leveled and abandoned, save a group stranded at a big-box store. Ivica, a veteran of the Balkan War, decides it’s a good idea for Ao to get some time on the ground in a combat zone. This turns out to be a bad idea. We can’t say we wouldn’t freak out either if people are vaporizing into nothing right before our eyes. The secret’s “options” are cruelly quick efficient in their slaughter; like the Angels in Eva.
Ao snaps out of it long enough to realize said options are actually pretty dumb; they’ll leave you alone as long as you don’t look like a human. So Ao becomes the Pied Piper and leads everyone out using tents. When Ivica nearly sacrifices himself to open the secret’s mouth and allow the IFOs to deliver a missile buffet, as well as when he enters the warzone in the first place, it’s clear he’s a man who’s hoping to avoid needless bloodshed in the name of further understanding the secrets. Both he and Rebecka have seen enough.
Rating: 6 (Good)
In Japan’s capital Nagoya, army officer Nakamura argues in vain with the defense ministry on developing an artificial plant coral with which to reassurt Japan’s strength. He carries out the plan anyway, and Gen Bleu dispatches Pied Piper to retrieve the quartz at the core of the coral under Tokyo Bay. When the coral forms, a secret emerges. Ao diverts to deal with it while Fleur and Elena head for the coral. They learn the quartz is not whole, but the collected shards of the one that destroyed Tokyo 70 years ago. The secret and the water pressure damage Nirvash, but Ao is saved by Fleur and then Elena. He opens their trapar tanks to lure the secret to its destruction, and when the Nirvash runs out of fuel and is about to implode, Fleur and Elena carry him to the surface. Back on dry land, Gazelle & Co. discover Truth was behind everything. Truth lures Nakamura to his cause.
This week was another rousing and thoroughly entertaining episode with a little bit of everything, including Truth, who as it happens, is not so bad in small doses. We’re not even that concerned with learning more about him. He wants to destroy the world; we’ll leave it at that. This episode also features Fleur and Elena in surprisingly traditional bathing suits teasing Ao (go swim with them, dweeb…the sloth is!); a trip to Japan to maintain the balance of power (which no longer has a Tokyo…or an Okinawa, obviously); some cool, sleek submarine combat, and some really bad van driving from Gazelle (seriously, they’re lucky to have survived that crash…)
The underwater scenes had a nice sense of claustrophobia and suspence, especially when Ao strikes out on his own. About that: he’s never going to see eye-to-eye with Gen Bleu. They may need him to pilot Nirvash, but even if their missions put other considerations before peoples’ safety, Ao never will: he’s going after that secret before it hurts anyone. He gets a pass this week, since there was no quartz per se to retrieve and his insubordination has no ill effects, but there may come a time when Gen Bleu wants him to do something he really doesn’t feel right about doing. Of the three pilots, I’d bet Elena is the only one with no qualms about following orders. The other two have chips on their shoulders, so we’ll see.
Rating: 7 (Very Good)
Car Cameos: Nakamura travels around in a Toyota Harrier (AKA Lexus RX), while Gazelle & Co. ride in a Mitsubishi Delica Space Gear.
Ao is reprimanded for disobeying orders by being tailed very closely and obviously around Generation Bleu HQ. Fleur learns from Gazellle that Eureka hates his dad like she hates hers. When a scub coral and secret suddenly appear in the Republic of Faisal Arabia, Pied Piper is deployed to deal with it, but the US Government pressures President Fleur to recall the Triton while they’re still en route. Ao leaves the ship in disgust; Fleur follows him. After footage of the hardship in Arabia is shown globally, they are re-deployed to deal with the secret, which is protected by lightning. Elena’s IFO is disabled, leaving Fleur and Ao to work together to bring the secret down.
Finally, an episode that really went the extra mile. The strange confusing events of last week give way to some far more straightforward storytelling and action: Generation Bleu and Pied Piper avoid getting thwarted by bereaucrats and get the job done once again, with Ao and Fleur gaining trust in and respect for one another in the process, to the point where it looks like the begining of a friendship. Fleur is far less aloof in this episode (learning of the burden she lives with helps make her more sympathetic), as if she’s realized picking on Ao isn’t as fun now that she knows more about him. The two had always lacked something they could relate to (besides being teens who pilot mechas, but just watch Evangelion to see how well they got along), but now there’s an opening, and the two find that they not only work well together, but can socialize amicably too. Elena thinks it’s love. She may be premature, but perhaps not wrong. We’ll see.
As for the sci-fi action, there’s a lot of it, and it’s quite good. There’s a nice – if inexplicable – shoutout to Philadelphia as the place that last saw this particular secret-of-the-week, way back in 1752; and it somewhat resembles an eagle. The way it changes form and prepares a kamikaze run on the scub coral really ratchets up the tension. Ao is definitely finding his groove with Nirvash and Pied Piper; he may disobey orders, but his heart’s in the right place. He won’t stand by and let people get killed if he can do anything about it; and that includes stopping Fleur trying to beat the secret on her own, at the cost of her life. We also liked how her dad turned out to be not so bad after all, as he’d staged the footage that swayed the international community to authorize the resumption of the mission. Nice combination of character work and secret ass-kickin’.
Rating: 9 (Superior)
Without warning or declaration of hosilities, Truth singlehandedly wrecks havoc upon Generation Bleu, easily breaching security forces and eventually entering the hangar bay. Ao launches Nirvash with Truth clinging to it, and he unleashes a huge monster. Scenes unfold back on Iwate island, where a trapar factory is being built on the site of the scub coral. Naru approaches the coral and is met by Ao (actually Truth in disguise). He shows her she doesn’t need her inhaler, and she can fly if she wants to. The real Ao shows up and chases Truth, but Naru makes him stop and flies off with Truth, her “sea giant”. Ao wakes up in the hospital next to Fleur and Elena, but they show him a news report of Naru’s abduction.
What do Nazo no Kanojo X, Sakamichi no Apollon, Hyouka, Natsuiro Kiseki, Jormungand, and Sankarea all have in common? They’ve all had at least one episode we’ve seen fit to award a “9” or “Superior” rating. Eureka Seven AO has yet to accomplish that feat, despite being a remarkably consistent, entertaining and well-made series. This week is no exception. While imbued with exciting action, a rousing siege situation at Gen Bleu HQ, and some very strange psychological dream sequences, we found ourselves a bit lost throughout the episode. It’s not impossible to enjoy a story that leaves us in the dark, but in this case, the intrigue was overshadowed by our frustration. In short: we wanted the episode to throw us a bone, and it refused to do so.
Chalk up a lot of our frustration to this “Truth” fellow. After a quick and rather random introduction last week, this week he goes right at the heart of Gen Bleu’s strength, in search of “truth”, which is also his preferred name for himself. He goes after Ao at first, apparently knowing his mother Eureka, but when he sees Ao isn’t going to play ball with him, he goes after Ao’s friend Naru. Hardly anything Truth says makes any sense; he’s trying way too hard to be cryptic and mysterious, and his motives strike us as just as perplexing. His plan changes in the middle of the episode, and we’re suddenly back in Ao’s hometown. Super-omnipotent god-like beings are often tricky because there are so many directions you can take them, and their potential can be overwhelming. That was the case this week; the episode lost us and didn’t bother explaining anything.
Rating: 5 (Average)
Pied Piper moves in to relieve Goldilocks, whose command ship Medon is destroyed when Chief Bruno collides with the Secret. The three pilots are recovered and sped to the nearest hospital. Ao stays beside Chloe McCafferty’s bed and falls asleep, having not slept for days, but when he wakes up and hears Chloe’s failed strategy, he goes back out in Nirvash. As Fleur and Elena cover him, he flies through the hole in the clouds created by the Triton’s main cannon, dodges the Secret’s attacks and and destroys its core. His victory is witnessed by a mysterious shapeshifter calling himself Truth.
This episode started rather randomly, with two drug-related events in Myanmar and Lima, where some strange dude who can change his appearance dishes out his/her own form of justice. This troublemaker remains nameless until the very end of the episode when she nonchalantly approaches the entrance to Generation Bleu, calling herself “Truth.” He seems like one of those kinds of characters who thrives on chaos, and that’s probably what’s coming next week. But first things first, Pied Piper had to go out and save Goldilocks, and it was up to a hospitalized kindergartner had to snap Ao out of a brief funk.
Again there are momentary shades of Renton: moping about not being needed, then saving the day in as badass a way as possible, then making a stupid face when he’s praised, like a dog. Thankfully they’re only shades, as Renton would’ve probably sat out the festivities this week. Not Ao: even though he’s tired as all hell, he knows he needs to make a statement to his snobbish colleagues, and make sure Bruno wasn’t killed in vain. With a little help from GEORG, the AI with the funny face, he makes that statement. Another very good episode, but Eureka Seven AO has yet to really WAO us.
Rating: 6 (Good)
The Triton returns to Generation Bleu’s HQ in the Swiss Alps, a huge city-like complex forged from components recovered from scub corals. Nirvash is repaired, and Gazelle, Pippo, and Han are discovered in the hold. They meet with Bleu’s President Blanc and join the company. Fleur and Elena give Ao a tour, where he meets another team, Goldilocks, led by Bruno and composed of Maggie Kawn and Maev and Chloe McCafferty. Goldilocks are mobilized and are quickly ambushed by Secrets hiding in a hurricane. Pied Piper are called in as reinforcments.
This week is all about introducting the organization Ao has just joined, Generation Bleu. The episode does a good job sweeping him right into the middle of this strange, sprawling new place, aptly portraying how overwhelmed and unsettled he feels there. We’d even say he’s a little unwelcome at first, as the snobbish, entitled Elena and Fleur seem put-out having to babysit him. We meet yet more characters, including the three pilots of team Goldilocks (all girls), who are a little kinder to him. But the scene with Elena leaving Ao in the hall is pretty dire; as is Fleur constantly asking him “What are you doing here?” “Why are you here?” “What are you here to do?”
Yeah we get it, Fleur: you don’t like uncertain people. She has a military, no-nonsense way of doing things, and as for Elena, well, she’s in her own little world. But there’s one nice little moment that gives us hope: when Fleur helps Ao get into his suit. She may not be pleased that this green, blue-haired, wishy-washy guy is now a part of her team, but he is, she and Elena are going to look out for him. Maybe. Bleu is putting a lot of faith in the kid’s innate abilities and will, but with Goldilocks in serious trouble, they need all the pilots they can get. Here’s hoping his first official mission doesn’t turn him into a whimpering pile of angst.
Rating: 7 (Very Good)
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.