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.
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.
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.
Ah, Eureka Seven AO, how I was so excited to watch you before you aired. Now here I am facepalming all over the place at how bad this show is, and how I was foolish to be excited for this.
Let me start out by saying, the original Eureka Seven is one of my all-time favorite anime series, and it's just sad for me to see what BONES did. They are merely marketing a show purely based off of nostalgia, and putting zero effort into it, less so than those incomplete adaptions used to sell more of the source material.
So first off, what is this show
all about? Well originally it was about Ao, Eureka's son as you probably could have guessed from the promo image, joining a group called Pied Piper-actually, just a subsection of Generation Blue-(The E7 AO equivalent of the Gekkostate, not.), and trying to find his mom (Who he calls "Anma!"-Where did this shit come from?). From there, it's total nonsense, especially in the second half. Seriously, I doubt even BONES knows what they're writing in this show. Hell, it's even hard to review this show because it's so messy. So where did it all go wrong?
Part of the problem is how Eureka Seven had a completely closed ending, with no loose ends. So, what the heck were they supposed to do for a story, a sequel story? Set it up in our world, instead of the world of the original E7? Introduce an overpowered villain with no motives, and then come up with something along the way? Put in terminology the viewer is completely unfamiliar with, and explain it midway when all the characters knew everything from the start, and assumed the viewers were the same? Put random things in, and forget about them completely in only a few episodes, making it completely redundant? How about just put in random crap to fill up 24 episodes? Really, these are warning signs the show is going to be a total mess.
There are tons of plot holes everywhere (Especially in the final two episodes which are just one large Deus Ex Machina), and lots of things will not make sense as such. In one instance, it's stated everywhere the Secrets are not the enemy as they merely take an element called Quartz away from the Scub Corals. But then later, Generation Bleu tries to eliminate all the Secrets. Oh and let's not forget how you can travel around the world in only an hour, it doesn't matter where. Seems the earth is way smaller than it really is...
How about the characters? Did the characters turn out good? Hardly, the show makes some of the same mistakes Shakugan no Shana III (Final) made. It introduces a bunch of characters, and then doesn't bother to develop them, or show any backstory, so they're just...there. Many characters will develop in some way, but it'll either make no sense, or it'll be a total character rewrite. We'll also get some good backstory, but the show then tosses it aside and forgets about it. The backstory rarely ends up being relevant to the story.
Lastly, can we forget how they introduced certain elements you never in a million years wanted in E7? An otaku girl? Moe girls everywhere, resulting in a harem practically? Fanservice? And what purpose does this serve? Really, what does it serve for a good story? In this show, it can't co-exist with the story, and character development like does in various shows.
Now the production values, believe it or not, despite being newer, E7 AO visually looks worse than its predecessor, and the animation can be rather messy. The soundtrack, same thing. Not all that much to it.
Really, they should have either made this not a sequel, or took a page from Gonzo from when they made Last Exile: Ginyoku no Fam, the sequel to Last Exile which also had a completely closed ending. That show managed to do a much better job at things, from the story, to the characters. It did not rely on purely nostalgia to tell a story, and the result wasn't all that bad.
Eureka Seven AO in the end is a prime example of doing everything wrong in a show, and what happens when a studio uses only nostalgia to tell a story. Take the E7 fanboy glasses off, and you'll immediately notice the many, many problems. One can only hope less of these kinds of shows get made in the future. Nostalgia can be great, but not when you use it to tell a story for a show.
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?