The story is set on Okinawa's isolated island of Iwado, which has seen a growing movement advocating a return to an autonomous government. Ao Fukai, a 12-year-old boy with a missing father, lives on the island with an old doctor named Toshio and is about to enter middle school. Ao's mother was taken away a decade ago by unknown individuals. Naru Arata, Ao's 12-year-old childhood friend and the story's heroine, lives with her father, older sister, and grandmother. She has a "Yuta" power awakened within her due to an incident when she was young. A mysterious entity called "Secret" suddenly appears and launches an attack on the Scub Coral lifeform on the island. Ao launches a certain military FP called "Nirvash" aboard a Japanese military transport in his fervent desire to protect the island.
Building on an existing storyline isn't an easy thing to do - especially when the ending of the original tale has a degree of finality to it. That doesn't stop people making the attempt though, and nowhere is this more prominent than in the world of fanfiction. This rather odd realm of amateur (and not-so-amateur), writers is filled with continuations, alternate retellings, character side-stories, non-canon additions, and a host of other works that reflect the fan's passion for the source material. Although they often lack the quality and direction (and sometimes the logic and common sense), of professional pieces, they're generally imaginative yarns that can sometimes lead the reader to new insights about the original work.
That said, there are occasions where the story has been created not out of love, but simply because the author feels that they can do better.
Eureka Seven AO (which stands for Astral Ocean, but is also the name of the lead character), is the sequel to 2005's extremely popular Eureka Seven - and with director Kyoda Tomoki at the helm again and Bones producing both shows, it's easy to see why fans of the original would be excited. Written by Kato Yuichi, the new story focuses on Fukai Ao - a 13 year-old boy living with his grandfather on the island of Iwato Jima in the independent nation of Okinawa. Considered an outcast by the residents who blame the disaster that occurred ten years before on his mother Eureka - who has been missing since that time - his life changes when an accident delivers a strangely familiar bracelet into his hands, which in turn brings him into contact with a mysterious robot called Nirvash.
The tale begins in relatively familiar territory and progresses at a decent pace for the first few episodes, but as the series continues more things are added to the plot until it grows into a ponderous, shambling behemoth of ideas and concepts that simply don't go anywhere. In addition to this the storyline degenerates into a mediocre monster-of-the-week narrative for a good portion of the show, and elements of the original series have either been left out, crowbarred in, or completely altered - sometimes for no logical reason at all - creating some major continuity issues. The problems are further compounded by the addition of time travel and alternate realities, all of which lead to a rather lukewarm, confusing, and decidedly unsatisfying ending that lacks the catharsis of the original series.
Eureka Seven AO takes many of its visual cues directly from its parent, and Bones have worked hard to maintain the style while updating the design. That said, there are some odd decisions about clothing (Ao's school uniform resembles a costume used by male strippers), but some good animation and effects work balances the strange outfits. Much of the aerial combat is fluid, and although there are some minor issues the character movements are handled in a reasonable manner. In addition to this the mechs - which are clearly influenced by the original series - have a definite "man-made" feel that highlights the creator's desire for Eureka Seven AO to be more than just a run-of-the-mill sequel.
The show features two opening sequences that serve as bland-yet-functional introductions to the story thanks to the use of the check-box approach (protagonist running, birds flying, people looking pensive/cheerful/heroic/constipated, [insert cool action sequence], [insert suggestive minor spoiler that may have no connection to the plot at all], rinse, repeat, end with cool and/or spicy action still featuring the protagonist (and his love interest - male or female, species is optional), adverts, etc). The first closing sequence is equally unimaginative (and ticks all the boxes), but the second is something of a departure as it adopts a "pop-art" style and relies on still images to suggest that Ao's playtime is over.
"Escape" by Hemenway (the first opening track), is the type of bland rock song that seems to grace every major shounen title at least once, but FLOW's "Bravelue" manages to capture at least some of the magic of "Days" - the opening theme from Eureka Seven. "Stand By Me" by the oddly named Steropony is a rather dull, brooding affair that doesn't really fit with the formulaic closing sequence, while Joy's "Lolite" is a poppy little number that works surprisingly well with the associated imagery.
Eureka Seven AO is a bit of a mixed bag when it comes to overall audio quality, and the uninspiring opening and closing themes are reflective of the music throughout the show. The predominantly well-chosen background tracks often work within the context of a given scene, but there are far too many attempts at enhancing a humourous moment using a comedic tune, and many of these attempts fall short of the mark. In addition to this the diverse array of effects can be let down by a lack of care with choreography or poor production quality, and the issues are further compounded by a script that is sorely lacking in emotional intensity. With little to work with the Japanese cast are unable to showcase their talents effectively - resulting in performances that vary wildly as the voice actors struggle to breathe some semblance of life into their roles. Unfortunately things don't get any better with the English dub as, true to form, the approach is literal and the scope is limited.
One thing that should be pointed out is the continuous inability of the Western license holders to find people with accents to play particular roles, and it's painful to hear Sainty Reid as 16 year-old French pilot Fleur Blanc - especially when she macerates her way through terms like "maman" - the colloquial form of "mère" (mother). It's unfortunate that her first serious role is one that really needed a specific vocal style, and the truly sad part is that in an era where talented people can be found under every rock, viewers are still being subjected to the idea that everyone in the world speaks English (with an American accent), as their native language.
The wastelands of anime are littered with the shades of forgettable characters, and the numerous problems with the storyline and script deal what could only be called a killing blow to Eureka Seven AO. The foundation of good characters lies in the logical development of the plot together with an organic approach to dialogue - both of which require time, patience, an understanding of relationships, and a healthy dose of criticism. The original series featured some good character dynamics that added personality to each role, making Renton, Eureka, and several others believable to a degree - but more importantly they became interesting and likeable. Unfortunately logic appears to have gone out of the window with this "sequel" - resulting in a set of bland "people" with few saving graces.
The decision to treat Ao in a manner similar to Ikari Shinji from Neon Genesis Evangelion has backfired, and although some attempts have been made to save him from the pit of obscurity, he stands at the head of a queue of unlikable, uninteresting, and excruciatingly dull characters - all of whom shove him steadily towards the precipice. Truth initially serves as a decent antagonist, but his development is sorely lacking as he is quickly relegated from that role - becoming little more than a force of nature whose actions serve no purpose whatsoever. As for Naru, her status as Ao's love interest quickly loses all meaning once the plot shifts into monster-of-the-week mode, and like Truth her purpose in the story is ultimately rendered irrelevant. That said, there are some intriguing interactions between the supporting characters, but the approach to relationships is surprisingly lacking in emotional depth - becoming little more than background noises that are eventually swallowed by the confusing plot.
Eureka Seven AO is a strange, lumbering beast that struggles to maintain its balance before the weight of its collective flaws sends it careening into the realms of logical fallacy, but the odd thing is that nobody appears to have noticed any of the obvious problems during the planning, production, or ADR stages of the show - which raises quite a few questions. Kato Yuichi's confusing, poorly written storyline has a mechanical feel that lacks emotion or passion for the original series, and in truth has more in common with amateur fanfiction written by someone whose ideas, imagination, and belief that they can do better are greater than their talent. The shoddy dialogue makes it difficult to like or believe in the characters, and fans of the original series may find this addition to the franchise painful to watch. That said, the show does feature some rather nice action sequences that can distract the audience from the mundanity, and there are some interesting aspects of the story that really should have been more prominent. If all the viewer wants is something to pass the time then Eureka Seven AO isn't the worst show available, and if it isn't examined too closely then the show may attract its own fan base.
The decision to make a "sequel" to a successful show is understandable (anime is a business after all), but Eureka Seven AO highlights some issues that lie at the heart of the industry - in particular the lack of understanding about what the wider audience wants and a serious need for quality control at all levels. The simple fact is that the series has broken under the weight of too many unnecessary straws, and aside from the visuals the show lacks the finesse and polish that one would expect from a mainstream title.read more
OK. First off, let me just say that this series was a mess.
I had huge expectations for this sequel since I'm a fan of E7, however, this didn't even come close. What I enjoyed about E7 was the story and character development. I actually felt connected to many of the characters. The story flowed very nicely. I even liked the Nirvash as its own character.
E7AO started off ok while introducing the characters, then it quickly went downhill. The focus was more on the story and fight scenes. I dont think the story was good, but that's where the focus was.
I liked Elena and Fleur and i thought they had great potential. I thought that Fleur would develop feelings for Ao but that never happened. They actually threw in some signs that she had a thing for Gazzele. Elena made a lot of references to other anime. I picked up easily on the Evangelion ones. Both these characters failed to go further and were just part of the cast for a majority of the series until they decided to wrap it up and give them their scene. I felt like it just came out of nowhere. Ao just made me upset. He was a wet blanket. He was boring and indecisive until the end. Truth. Wow. Just wow. I think its always great to have a crazy character somewhere and let them have their 1 second insane facial expression, but Truth had his on more than half the time. It got old and annoying fast. Anemone is 100% a better character. I didn't even understand Naru. Noah was better than her.
The Mecha designs were well done I think. I wish they gave a little more air time to appreciate them. What was bad was that there were too many special ones thrown in. There were several Nirvashs and it became confusing because of them coming from a different time and all that. I understand that there are two, but it seemed like there were many more. I wonder what the back story was for Truth's Mech. It just appeared.
Then there's the story. The basic plot was good, but all the little details they threw in made it a wreck. I didn't even know what was going on half the time. There would be a serious fight going on, then it just switches over to a calm island scene. I didn't like this at all. It sucked the severity and seriousness of the events. They just jumped on the time travel hype, but time travel is really hard to put together. Its an interesting concept, but difficult to make it enjoyable. They would have been more successful if they had kept it more low key with a single goal. The protagonist didn't even know what his own goal was until the last episode. Also, that ending! Seriously, what the fuck? If you've seen it you probably have the same thoughts I have. The main questions, how and why. The series would be better off without it.
What was good about the series were the animations and music. They were consistent with the first series. The openings and endings were also pretty good. The animations for Ao were a bit lacking about halfway though. It kept changing. It might have been just me.
In conclusion, E7AO failed to meet my expectations. It may seem my intent was to bash the series but that is wrong. I'm just expressing what made me upset. It had a lot of potential so it makes me sad when it turn out like this. I wouldn't recommend it if you want to keep all of E7 in a good light.read more
Eureka Seven AO serves as a sequel to the fantastic Eureka Seven of a few years ago. however to call it a sequel is akin to calling a doughnut a loaf bread, it shares many of the same base elements, is similar on a surface and level but make for totally different products in the end. one of which has a giant hole in the middle.
The hole in this context is the story, or rather the lack of it. The series mulls around being a monster of the week show for the majority of it's run all the while attempting to raise mysteries and intrigue around a few side plots that aren't really addressed till later. the problem however lies in when it actually does address those plots, it's painfully rushed, borderline incomprehensible at times and leaves the impression that writers didn't have an ending in mind and just sort of winged it for the last stretch of episodes, culminating in a bizarre mess of a plot which feels like it was over too fast and drawn out at the same time.
the entire ordeal feels like a directionless mess. which spends so much time trying to make it seem like it's doing SOMETHING that it eventually becomes clear it's not really doing ANYTHING. introducing just a many plot points as it seemingly drops, it has a schizophrenic whiplash of a pace which never seems to settle in on what it wants to do enough to do any of it effectively.
as far as the plot goes, it's a disappointment to prior fans of the franchise due to it's handling of what few legacy elements it embraces but at the same time relies fairly heavily on you knowing/liking the previous series to fully understand it, which leaves new fans in the cold too.
While the story may be a broken mess, the animation and art design are actually very good. the show has some really impressive visuals at times and upholds to bones usual high standard of quality. backgrounds are often colourful and detailed and it features some of the nicest looking explosions I've seen in a long time.
The primary character designs were handled by Kenichi Yoshida, who was the character designer for the first series, which lends a nice bit of visual familiarity to the series and helps tie it to the original series.
mecha design is sadly a low point, the original series had shoji kawamori, a veritable god among mecha designers, and this series... doesn't. the mechs don't look bad on their own, but they lack the distinct visual punch the original had, only made worse by it's comparing the two styles.
and finally you have the G-monsters or secrets, the primary antagonists of the series. which are essentially monsters made of polygonal shapes. their appeal seems to be a matter of taste, they are simplistic enough to resonate with some, but bland enough to be forgettable to others. personally i found them to be an interesting concept that turned out to be unmemorable due to their execution, another failing of the story and it's lack of direction.
It's visuals are certainly one of it's strongest point and it rarely looks cheap, but some of the mecha/antagonist designs can feel sub-par which really takes away from some fairly well done action.
the music is the only point i have absolutely no problems with. the score is handled by Koji Nakamura (of supercar, lama and ILL) and is a audible treat, i often found myself rewatching parts of episodes just to hear the songs going on in the background. it ranges nicely from slice of life calmness to intense mecha action perfectly and compliments those scenes fantastically as it goes. the few insert songs are also great, though musical taste may be a factor in your enjoyment of them.
the music never failed to get me into the series moods and managed to accomplish the rare feat of both fitting the scenes subtly and without overstating itself but also being good enough for me to end up humming it long after watching episodes. of all it's traits, the soundtrack is the thing i've most taken away from AO and i personally am more likely to just listen to the soundtrack than rewatch the show.
overall the series is a real mixed bag, on the surface level it's great. it's pretty and sounds great with a seeming return to a fantastic world. but as is often the case things are not quite what they seem. it's ties to the original series are tenuous and confusing, it's own plot is underdeveloped and meandering and the whole experience ends up feeling a bit hollow. it's fantastic presentation does a lot to carry it, but in the end the the story is weak and it's art isn't good enough to watch just for it.
It's a case where the show is primarily bad, the most important thing (the story) is lacking and often confusing, but there is just enough good to balance it out. it ends up being a completely middle of the road show despite all it's qualities being at extremes. they just happen to cancel each other out into this weird show.
Personally it left me with an odd impression. I don't regret watching it, but i feel like i probably should and can't. which is really strange. much like this show.read more
Eureka Seven was one of my most favorite mecha-animes of all time, but I was very disappointed in Astral Ocean. Here are the reasons why,
Eureka Seven AO focuses too much on the action. In the previous series, there was drama and love. I know most of you will think to yourself "mecha animes aren't suppose to have any drama or love, just action" but the drama in Eureka Seven was what made the series. It made you love the two main characters, Renton and Eureka. But in Astral Ocean, you don't have the same connection with Ao.
The story of the show is still strong, it's very mysterious. There are new entities called Secrets attacking the unnatural beings known as Scub Corals. There is a man named "Truth" who is trying to reveal the truth to the world (sorry if that sounded repetitive) and he is the shows main antagonist. There is Naru who was Ao's best friend who decided to go total whack on Ao one day and follow the main bad guy. And there is the mystery behind of "what happened to Eureka and Renton?"
The art is still beautiful like the original show, I love the action scenes and the mecha drawings, it's pure epic. The sound is crystal clear, the openings and endings are amazing, (OP 2- Very Nostalgic to Eureka Sevens original opening), and overall I give the animation and sound effects a ten.
Here is where I get a bit pissy. The characters seem very bland compared to the characters in the original series. Renton from the original series was a crybaby, he was a crybaby but we got to know his character so well that we felt like we actually knew him. He was very true to himself, and he loved Eureka dearly. He cared for others and put his life on the line at certain times. The rest of the crew- members in the Gekkostate (Gekkostate is their flying ship) all had their own unique looks and traits that made us love them. Holland (the captain) was a bit of a jerk but nonetheless I loved him as a character of the show.
But the characters in Astral Ocean is a different story. Eureka Seven had humor and the characters were fun to watch and listen to. But in Astral Ocean, many of the characters seem way too serious and it feels like you can grab several characters and just meld them into one person- that's how boring they are. A lot of characters feel the same to me and I just don't connect with them.
Even Holland (from the Original series) was such an ass to Renton that I actually hated Holland. To actually hate someone that doesn't even exist, means that they're a good and true character.
Here's how bad the characters are in Astral Ocean- I won't be sad if Ao dies. I'm serious. He's the main character but he's so boring like the rest, that I don't feel like I'll be very sad if he died. However, if Renton died, I would be extremely sad and I'll hate the show for killing him, (thank God he didn't die) but if Ao dies, I'll just say "meh the show could still possibly go on without him" (and a lot other characters besides).
The only reason I'm still putting up with this show is because I can't wait to see Renton and Eureka reunite. But Ao? Whatever. He can do whatever he wants to, because he's as boring as the shows pet.
My enjoyment of the show would be around a 6 when my overall enjoyment from the predecessor would be a 9.
Overall the show gets a 7 because the art and action saves it from dropping below a 5.
Watch Eureka Seven then watch Astral Ocean. You'll see a depressing drop and you'll wonder, what in the hell happened? read more
It's entirely possible that anime in 2016 might seem perfectly healthy to you. But there are a lot of folks in the industry who are worried for its creative future, and I would argue with good reason. Is it too late to do anything about it?