On Eureka Seven’s Design

April 15, 2010

So, I finally caved in and completed the romantic journey of Eureka Seven. What can I say about it that hasn’t already been said since it started airing five years ago? Not much probably, but I’ll just ramble on anyway.

It may be a fairly obvious observation, but coral reefs seem to be the motif that gives round and flat form to the natural landscape of Eureka Seven. They never look anything near as lush or pretty like coral reefs though, since they’re painted more as dry, barren wasteland, perhaps that was the intention. Global warming caused by men can lead to coral bleaching, just as poor treatment of Scub Coral will not help in producing Trapar waves. Here is an interesting interview with Dai Sato (scriptwriter), who wanted younger audience to take the show’s environmental message to heart.

Another intriguing thing mentioned by Sato above is that the story of Eureka Seven is intended to be a subtle allegory of Tibet, where atrocities like ethnic cleansing and child recruitment takes place. The ravaged ruins of Ciudades del Cielo in episode 9 for example almost reminds you of warn-torn state of Tibet.

Speaking of Tibet, it’s interesting to see how many aspects of Vodarac culture, such as their clothings, interior decorations, external facades of built environment, have subtle influences of Tibetan culture. I say subtle influences, because although I see elements here and there (like straight rows of punctuated windows, earthly materials) that may have been borrowed from Tibetan architecture, I don’t find any attempt at imitation, perhaps only at emulation of that earthly setting to reflect the teachings of Vodarac.

According to the traditional customs, when guests visit a Tibetan’s home, men are always seated on the first seat on the right (guest seat) and women on the first seat on the left (kitchen range…although I don’t see any kitchen in that picture). You could say I got a little into Tibetan culture after watching Eureka Seven ^^

Che Stoner and his rebellious co.

Moving onto character designs, I have to say I really love their look in general. I like how most Gekko-state members fashion themselves in casual surfwear garments, such as Hap’s wetsuit-like shirt with a bastardised O’neill logo, it adds to their cool and laid-back attitude. Then you have characters like Ken-Goh and Dr. Bear with ridiculous head to body proportions just for the laughs. And Che Stoner is simply gold. Gidget’s heavy make-up is interesting, because there are subtle hints throughout the show that hints towards her loneliness and desire for attention. What I loved the most however, was the design of Eureka’s rugged hair and skin after her first ‘transformation’.

It’s a scar from her once failed attempt to run away from it all by trying to emerge with Scub Coral, after feeling rejected from humans, or more specifically, Renton. But it is now the mark of everything that makes her truly beautiful. When asked by Sakyua if Eureka wanted to erase her scars, she declines and retains it as a proof of her struggle, but also of her courageous victory over it. And what could be more amazing, more awesome, and more spell-binding than episode 26, when Eureka leaves by herself to search for Renton, and when they are finally re-united inside Nirvash. Eureka’s lifting was also so enchanting and exciting, I wished that there was no mechas in this show just so I could keep watching Eureka lift her board instead of piloting that boring piece of junk they call Nirvash (*ducks rotten tomatoes). The climax of this episode may well be one of the most electrifying moments in anime ever.

Anemone is a flower 'without hope', but also a species of marine organism that lures its prey with beauty, and sting with its many paralysing tentacles.

"The roots of a lotus are in the mud, the stem grows up through the water, and the heavily scented flower lies pristinely above the water, basking in the sunlight. This pattern of growth signifies the progress of the soul from the primeval mud of materialism, through the waters of experience, and into the bright sunshine of enlightenment."

If you strip away the Coral, surfing mechas, and what have you, Eureka Seven is a romance at core.

A quick final thoughts on the series. I want to break Eureka Seven as a whole in half, the first half and the second half. There is no definite ‘turning point’ that separates these two, but I have been progressively less impressed by the show as it went on. It’s a shame because I really loved first half despite its childish sensibilities (it’s a show aimed primarily at younger audience after all). Mysteries that I was dying to find out just kept on coming, direction was consistently superb, relationships were being developed so well and thoroughly (especially renton-eureka, renton-holland, holland-talho) and I was even treated to pleasantly surprising acid trips involving Renton and Anemone. Unfortunately somewhere in the ‘second half’, I started losing interest and often frustrated and annoyed, which I won’t go further into. It is still a great series in my eyes with plenty of memorable moments, and all time favourite of many many fans, so hopefully I didn’t discourage those who haven’t watched it yet, and if you did watch it, hopefully you enjoyed going over some pictures provided here.

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22 Responses to “On Eureka Seven’s Design”

  1. gaguri Says:

    This will be my last post for a long while. I will probably still find time to watch anime out of love, and read blogs/forum out of habit (although I’m trying to do less of the latter). I’m still making random ideas and notes in my wordpress drafts, which I am hoping to polish and publish in future. I’d rather publish consecutive posts actively than write barely one article per month that animenano even fails to take notice of.

    Well, see you around!

  2. schneider Says:

    *chucks a box of rotten tomatoes*

    Ugly Eureka never quite grew on me. Those looked more like veins to me than scars.

    And It’s the opposite case for me. The first half I found just ok, but the second half of the show kept me pumped up until the final moments. I. Can. Fly.


  3. The Nirvash is a beautiful design. Your inability to appreciate it, and the spectacular feats the mecha action this show delivers is punishment enough. So no tomatoes for you.

    I loved the show throughout — from the slowest, painful hazing episodes, to the exhilarating and uplifting romantic resolutions in mid-flight I was charmed to the core.

    These, and the exemplary work put into the show to reference and created from the references from beloved mecha anime (Gundam, Macross, Evangelion) makes it sterling among the shows I regard as representatives of remembering love as an aesthetic.

    I appreciate the work you put in making this post informative (notes on corals and Tibetan culture) and I’ll miss reading your work. Until next time, thanks and take care.

  4. animekritik Says:

    May all your dreams come true!

  5. coburn Says:

    I had a similar experience in the second half of the show, and quite often found myself working through several episodes in a given arc just to get to the next not-episode 26-level payoff scene.

    My favourite bits from later on in the series were with Talho, and, looking back on things with a dimmed recollection of the chorelike aspects of watching, I think the advantage of Bones making it a long-runner was getting to grant every personality a thorough airing.

    Hope you find something exciting to watch in the meantime.

  6. Jack Says:

    I had similar thoughts, and felt there was too much meadering in the second half and not enough focus.

    Ah well, good lukc being more productive in the future!

  7. gaguri Says:

    @schneider

    I haven’t dodged much tomatoes since I started this blog so a box of them might actually hit me. hmmm

    I think you’re right, they look like veins for me too, but I’d like to think they’re still significant symbolic scars.

    @ghostlightning

    Ah, I’ve read your post on Eureka making various references to mecha shows. While I haven’t seen any gundam (STILL!) or many Macross, there certainly was lot of heads up for Evangelion. And hey, I’ll still drop by your blog as long as you don’t retire!

    @animekritik

    Now aren’t you a psychic, may your dreams come true too 😉

    @coburn

    Yea sometimes it became almost a chore to watch the sappy melodrama…and my god the kids won’t they ever shut up. I guess all ‘important’ characters got their spotlight, but not as much for characters like Hilda, Mathew, Hap, etc. who had plenty of screen time but never enough depth, which I think is a shame. I liked Talho too and the dynamics of her relationship with Holland, but that dynamic pretty much ended for me after she changed herself, everything was resolved after that.

    I have tons of exciting stuff to watch on my list, including Soul Eater! I am not expecting TOO much from Soul Eater, since I did drop it at some point, but when I look back it actually wasn’t bad as a mindless shounen fighting that didn’t require my full attention. And I miss Maka too, my biggest disappointment from Soul Eater was that why a character like Maka had to be in a show like Soul Eater.

    @Jack

    Haha, thanks for coming back and visiting my older posts too. Hope you’re still having good time with other titles I recommended from my top 50 list!

  8. coburn Says:

    Heh, I think I remember saying something to ghostlightning about not liking the kids, and, well… we can’t all appreciate the same things all of the time.

    As for Soul Eater, if you’re going to give it a shot I think episodes 10+11 are a really strong stand alone mini-arc which really showcase the visual win and general fuckyeah factor. It’s probably worth noting that the anime goes downhill/broken late in the day, so if you don’t feel like putting the legwork in you might as well consider it a 24-ep show with a dodgy second season.

  9. 2DT Says:

    This is one of those things that seems perfectly obvious only after you’ve pointed it out. 🙂

    And hey, you’re taking a break on a pretty good note for me, because I have absolutely no idea about Tibetan culture, other than the fact that their shepherds drink a really strong tea churned with rancid yak butter (which I’ve always wanted to try). Now I think I’m going to read a book or two about it. Cheers.

    You’ll be missed.


  10. I have no plans of retiring, though I’m not so naive that I won’t acknowledge the difficulty of maintaining WRL despite reducing my frequency of posting.

    It’s always good to see you in the comments, so I’ll keep your chair comfortable. Until next time, go get what you want… as Charles and Ray Beams’ (T_T) favorite track goes, ‘Take it by your hands.’

  11. Martin Says:

    Ah yes, the problem of trying to maintain a post schedule AND keep your writing up to the standard you want to maintain. I’ve settled on a philosophy of publishing when I’m satisfied with the final draft, and relying on my readers’ patience in the meantime. Rest assured I’ll still come back here to read whatever you happen to publish, however frequently it happens. (:

    As for Eureka SEven, I loved it. There were pacing issues but I suspect the problem with the second half was that there was this wonderful, tearjerking scene at the midpoint that created a dividing line, quite possibly unitentionally. That said, the ending was still superb…Anemone’s final scene was simple beautiful.

    You could go on about the aesthetic of it all for ages – I hope you get the chance to at some point! – because there’s so much environmental and socio-political commentary going on under the surface. I noticed how Xam’d drew a lot of inspiration from the colours and designs, and really benefited from them.

    The feature film retelling was a disappointment though. The hacked-up story and omission of the ‘counter culture’ themes did it no favours at all.

  12. OGT Says:

    Eureka Seven ❤ ❤ ❤

    I do think it is best to think of Eureka Seven as a story in two parts, delineated by episode 26; the tone, mood, and pace of the series completely and abruptly shift after that episode (which threw me off the first time I watched it).

    I do disagree that the second half is weaker, though, but I also like the increasingly apocalyptic tone it builds up. But I do know that the first time I watched it, 27-28 knocked me for enough of a loop that I was disoriented for the next thirteen episodes of the second half, which made it less enjoyable at the time, and the series certainly downshifts for a bit after that to build tension.

    Also Eureka Seven is not really a mecha series, it's a series with mecha in it. Or that's how it seems to me: the mecha series for people who hate mecha series.

  13. Jack Says:

    @gaguri

    I had already seen quite a few of your top 50, but there was plenty of shows I watched because of your list. Like Kinos : Journey, Toward the Terra, Mouryou no Hakko and FMP: Fumoffu!. One of those is not like the others. So, thank you for the recommendations!

    @OGT I think someone said that “It’s not a mecha show if it doesn’t have the name of the mecha in the title”. As wierd as that is, it seems a semi-reliable rule of thumb.

  14. gaguri Says:

    @coburn

    Thanks for the tip, I’ll take a note to restrain myself from continuing further than 24, sounds like a good idea.

    @2DT

    Thanks, don’t miss me I’ll be around your blog~

    @ghostlightning

    Yep, although this was my best quote: “Don’t beg for it, earn it; Then it will be granted to you”.

    @Martin

    Hehe, thanks. I certainly won’t go more into Eureka 7 here, but I’m glad to hear that you enjoyed it a lot more than I did. Sucks that the film was a disappointment, I’ll take a note of that and just skip it!

    @OGT

    27-28 was emotional for me too (although I predicted what would happen), it was presented just so well, which is why I’m hesistant to label 26 as a turning around point for me.

    About Eureka 7 being a mecha show, my opinion is that it’s a mecha show if mecha is featured prominently in the series. But every good mecha show is more than just mecha. Mecha is an interface, its essence should lie deeper. For Eureka 7, it is a romance story at core (…and I don’t happen to be a fan of romance in general).

    @Jack

    Lol i’m going to guess the odd one was Fumoffu? O well, sometimes you need a little laugh. As for the mecha show rule, like I’ve said to OGT, it’s a mecha show if it has mecha, simple as that. But just because it’s a mecha show doesn’t mean it can’t be romantic, dramatic, thrilling, philosophical, etc. We just need to be aware that a truly good anime can break out of its genre/conventions etc. and we need to always be able to look beyond that.

  15. Shadowmage Says:

    Oh dear… this was once upon a time ago for me. I recall enjoying the first half as a quality mecha series, being genuinely impressed by the Ray and Charles arc and losing interest around the final quarter. The show is probably the best “real robot” series of the decade, but the 00s was not a good time for mecha, though there were many interesting hybrids.

    As for Soul Eater, enjoy it as a (crappy) shounen action anime with some of the best visuals to grace a television anime. I honestly did not think that the second half was any worse than the first, but the last part of the the second season was pretty much the climax of the entire show.

  16. gaguri Says:

    Yeah, the ‘crappy’ being the important factor for my choice of Soul Eater, since I need to watch something easy while doing many stretching moves. And now you’re making me watch the rest of season 2 of Soul Eater hmmm…

  17. kadian1364 Says:

    After reading your entry, now I faintly recall the Tibet allegory being raised before, but I could count on you to make it all so plainly obvious to even an uncultured bumpkin like me. Props.

    My opinion of the second half of Eureka Seven is that it didn’t need to be prolonged as much as it was. Instead of “gearing down” for a whole cour, I think E7 would’ve benefited going from the end of the Ray-Charles arc straight into the endgame. 39-ish eps would’ve felt right.

    You don’t have to settle for less, even in the shounen action genre. If you’re looking for something easy to watch yet enjoyable, FMA: Brotherhood is about as good as it gets. Like many others, I was skeptical what new ground it could cover after the first adaption, but I’ve been converted. Writing is only slightly above genre standards, but it has an impeccable sense of pacing that doesn’t waste a single minute. Along with superb production and the lovable characters, FMA:B stands at the top of its class.

    Anywho, I love your posts (especially when it’s something I understand XD), so I’ll be looking forward to your next enlightening piece no matter how distant from now it seems.

  18. gaguri Says:

    i also think 39 would be just about right for Eureka 7, 50 was way too much for my patience.

    FMA: brotherhood…well, I did absolutely loathe first episode, but with yours and bateszi’s endorsement, i guess it wouldn’t hurt to try few more episodes.

    And thanks! I don’t know how far that ‘distant future’ will be though, hopefully short enough for most of my readers to not have ‘moved on’ from anime…because then I would be writing on empty air ;_;

  19. vendredi Says:

    You know, I never found the Nirvash particularly interesting either. Surfing robots are all well and good but the design of it always struck me as rather… bland, like a mashed up derviative of Gundam/Macross/Evangelion.

    I guess this is what ghostlightning means by a homage, but I felt it just lacked a certain ability to “pop out”. In that regard Eureka feels a bit like Code Geass – ostensibly you come for the mecha, but end up staying for the characters.


  20. Well, the mecha designer is Kawamori Shoji who did the Macross Variable Fighters (and created the whole franchise). Kawamori has also designed a few Gundams (for 0083 Stardust Memory).

    Remembering Love is big with Kawamori, I imagine LOL.

  21. gaguri Says:

    Couldn’t agree more vendredi. If I had to name some mecha designs I really liked, it would be Eva units, Rahxephon mecha (and dolems) and Escaflowne mechas. I liked TTGL’s designs, but the action of it more than their look. Didn’t really care that much for mechas in series like Code Geass, Full Metal Panic, which all seemed very derivative, like the ones in Eureka 7. I liked bokurano one as well, very slow and mechanical. Oh and Giant Robo, that one was actually pretty damn good.

    As for Kawamori Shoji, I guess I need to first watch more Macross and Gundam (calling myself an anime fan without having seen a signle gundam LOL) before talking about him…

  22. yuri Says:

    i LOVED eureka seven from beginnig to end. the mecha part from the series was more for the sidelines but thats wat made this show so awesum it didnt have to rely on the machines to make a good show it left all “the bells and whistles” out of it and made the characters so great and enriching it didnt need all that to make it great its not often that they make something simple and still great
    plus i have never cried and laugh at the same time or either watching an anime but this one really touched me kudoos to E7


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