Review: "Eureka Seven AO" - Needs Less Plot, More Action
Ao Fukai, the lead character of Eureka Seven: AO, has problems. He’s an orphan for starters, and an outsider in a future Okinawa that has real problems with non-natives in general. And by “outsider,” I don’t mean that he’s from some other country: he’s quite literally an alien, or half-alien anyway. That’s not a spoiler, it’s on the cover of the Blu-ray set. Not that Ao is completely alone. He has a few friends on the island, including his adoptive Grandfather, as well as Naru and Naru’s pet sloth Noa. He’s darn good at driving things that run on Trapar particles spit out by the Scub corals that now inhabit Earth, but generally speaking life isn’t much fun since his mother vanished.
Then things get really bad.
Scub Coral has it’s upside, such as the trapars that allow for things to fly and the various industries that pop up when a scub coral can be tamed, but they also have a bad habit of attracting G Monsters (aka Secrets) whenever they appear. Secrets tend to make Scub Coral explode in a nuclear fusion blast that annihilates everything nearby, in addition to just plain blowing up other stuff nearby with regular weapons. So when Scub Coral appears on Okinawa, things get pretty bad, at least till Ao finds his mech.
Yep, Ao’s got his own mech: a Nirvash. Or is it the Nirvash from Eureka 7? Regardless of which Nirvash it is, once Ao finds it and somehow gets it to work he manages to defeat the Secret that showed up, with a little extra help from Generation Blu’s Team Pied Piper. Lead by Christophe Blanc, Generation Blu is basically a bunch of mercenaries with their own mechs who travel the world when called upon by various fractious governments. The mechs, called IFO’s, can only be piloted by children, so Team Pied Piper is led by Christophe’s daughter Fleur and her teammate Elena Peoples. Ao finds he’s landed on the A team by accident. Also, every single person in Generation Blu from Christophe to Fleur to Elena to the random crew members have some kind of angsty backstory, mostly involving Eureka in some way. Just to pile on to the character and plot overload, a couple of Ao’s former associates on Okinawa manage to end up in Generation Blu as well, working as a quasi-independent spy agency for the company head.
Does it seem like a lot of plot? It certainly is, and that doesn’t even include the half-dozen or so other folks from inside and outside Generation Blu that get major screen time or the actual villain of the show, a rather genocidal person-type thing that goes by the name Truth. The nature of what Truth actually is gets a little too spoilery to discuss here, but suffice it to say that when he shows up, people die. Lots and lots of people die as he tries to trigger some kind of Scub Coral take-over or something. Truth manages to snare Ao’s old friend Naru into his schemes due to her Coral Poisoning, as if Ao isn’t dealing with enough problems already. There’s also 2 other Generation Blu teams in the mix at various points as well with their own plot twists and turns. Seriously, there is a massive amount of plot in this show, and that’s probably the biggest issue it has.
There’s just way too much plot in Eureka Seven: AO to fit everything comfortably into a 26 episode show. There are subplots involving Fleur and her father, Elena and whatever her past is, several of the ship crew members, the guys in the Gazelle agency, and various governmental machinations involving the Secrets and Scub Corals and heaven knows what else. All these subplots do is drag the show away from what should be the real focus point, Ao, and blunt a lot of the emotional impacts on major events. It’s no spoiler to say that some characters die, but the show treats the emotional impact of those deaths so casually it’s like “Hey X just died” “Yeah, I know. *shrug*” More the shame, since Ao is a fairly compelling character and the way things start gives you the impression that there might be a really compelling story if it had just stuck to Ao rather than wandering off in a multitude of directions that mostly waste time. There’s also more plot scrambling as a result of some of the things that Ao can do with his mech, but I’ll leave that for you all to discover. It doesn’t result in anything more comprehensible though. I will say that the ending does actually give some measure of finality to things, but it’s almost too neat.
The animation varies from serviceable to amazing. This being a Studio BONES production the action is always well done, and they did manage to refrain from their tendency to make every female character extra bouncy. Non-action scenes tend to have a lot of variation in quality though. Both the Japanese and American vocal casts are excellent. Extras include 3 regular commentaries and a video commentary. Like most FUNimation commentaries they tend to be cast goof-offs rather than anything that might shed some light on the series, but such is the way of things I suppose. There’s also an entirely forgettable OVA that’s set during the time when Ao was in Switzerland. Seriously, save your 30 minutes, because it’s useless.
If it seems like I’m dumping on Eureka Seven: AO, I don’t mean to. Unfortunately after such a slam-bang opening, the show runs off a really promising path really fast, leaving something less than it could have been. Also, even if you saw all of Eureka Seven, Eureka Seven: AO probably won’t make any more sense as it’s really not a proper sequel per se. It might actually be easier to come in knowing nothing about the original Eureka Seven.
BTW, the sloth, Noa? Cutest thing ever.