Let’s look a little more at yesterday’s theme of Grown-Up Versions of Old Characters Showing Up In the Sequel, shall we?
I was never quite sure what to make of Eureka Seven AO. I’m still not, really. On the one hand, I did enjoy the show on its own – it may not be the greatest thing since sliced bread, and it got a little too convoluted, especially toward the end, but it has solid enough legs to stand on. It was certainly better than that alternate-universe movie that came out a little while back. On the other, I get the same vibe from it as I do from Darker Than Black season 2: “Maybe I would like this more if it wasn’t called Eureka Seven/Darker Than Black.”
Being a sequel, especially to a well-loved franchise, offers up certain promises. A sequel doesn’t need be a direct continuation of the story, or even have the same characters or take place in the same world/dimension, or have the same staff working on it – it can, and that often is the case, but it’s not required. What the audience wants from a sequel is, like an adaptation, for the derived work to live up to the name it bears. It needs to capture the heart, the core of the franchise, and put its own spin on that baseline idea. If you can walk away from Eureka Seven AO reminded of why you so loved Eureka Seven, then AO has done its job.
And that’s where my mixed feelings come from. While the animation, art style, and music were as Eureka as can be, for most of its length, AO felt like one of those in-name-only sequels that missed what the original was all about. It didn’t capture the counterculture atmosphere, grand adventurous scale, or – centrally – the excellent, balanced cast of characters that were the defining features of the original.
That, more than anything, is why this moment stood out. Where I had originally been watching with merely passive interest, this was the moment that made me sit up and pay attention. When the Gekkou-go appeared from the coral meteor; when Eureka stepped out in her Nirvash and said “Let’s fly;” when the namesake of the series finally showed her face, suddenly, the game had changed. A ball of fire had fallen from the heavens, tearing straight through the sky and exploding into a familiar shape that triumphantly bellowed, “THIS IS EUREKA SEVEN.” For the first time, AO gave me the rush. After twelve episodes, it had finally reached one of the stratospheric highs for which its predecessor is so well-known. Everything about AO that was not inherently Eureka Seven was for that instant wiped away.
For that moment, AO was able to soar with its mother series, Eureka. She just needed to drop in for a second and say “Let’s fly.”