Eureka 7 AO and the Obligations of a Sequel

Irrespective of how one feels about the quality of this Eureka 7 sequel, I think it would be safe to say at this point that Eureka 7 AO is clearly a different show from its predecessor. This is not limited to the fact that the cast and setting are completely different – there is a fundamental difference in the driving force of each of their stories. Eureka 7 is very character-driven, while in contrast Eureka 7 AO is much more event-driven. This difference has a jarring effect, and personally, it has hampered my enjoyment of the show a lot. Eureka 7 AO has made a very common mistake for sequels: by distancing itself too much from the original series it failed to take advantage of the fact that it is a sequel.

I had raised fears earlier about Eureka 7 Ao’s possible direction before the show had even aired, and unfortunately I feel some of my fears have been realized already. I always thought it was going to be a tough ask to forsake the original cast of the show because it was a tough act to follow up. I was also very wary of the idea of the cast being updated for modern day audiences. With every pilot besides Ao in the show being a young female girl, the integrity and sincerity of the show would come into question. Lastly, the setting is no longer recognizable and I felt this could also cause issues because it would reset the world building of the previous series in a disorienting manner.

What I could not predict, however, was the sequel’s unwillingness to clue the audience in on its plot. Eureka 7 AO intentionally communicates its story details in the vaguest terms imaginable and there is a general failure to establish a context for any of the events going on in the first place. Furthermore there is hardly any connection to the original Eureka 7, which compounds the confusion and frustration of trying to figure out the events on screen. This creates an impenetrable storyline; it is almost impossible to understand, and therefore care about anything that happens.

We have seriously degraded to this level…

The central figure of this obnoxious obfuscation of the story is embodied by the character of the Truth. As the central antagonist so far, his motives and origin are just as elusive as the overall plot of the show. To this point we still do not even understand why he wants to fight the main characters at all because the conflict is not even clearly defined. As a result, Truth’s only purpose seems to be a constant reminder to the audience that what they are seeing is just very unfamiliar and foreign to the Eureka 7 universe. His constant proclamations to Ao throughout the story that he doesn’t “see the truth of this world” carries a certain bitter irony as it leaves the audience just as distressed as Ao himself about this fact.

Honestly, what the heck are the creators here thinking? To me it is incomprehensible why Eureka 7 AO would fail to utilize what was already established in an entire fifty episodes in the original series. It would stand to reason that the fans of Eureka 7 would have grown attached to its setting and cast that we already spent so much time watching and that we would want to see more of it. Instead we were given a show that hardly seemed familiar at all, which raises the question if it needed to be a sequel in the first place. At the very least one would hope for a sequel to build off the same attributes of the original that made it so endearing for its fans. In the case of Eureka 7 it is being a character-driven mecha epic with an emphasis on the character-driven.

Truth is trolling Ao and the audience.

I have always personally seen Eureka 7 as a character-driven show because its defining qualities are really the characters themselves. Eureka 7 manages to be a very compelling show because of its ability to draw in the audience to care about each character’s feelings, ambitions, and dreams: Renton and his childlike innocence at the start as he tries to chase his dreams and become a part of Gekkostate; Eureka and her enigmatic background as she seeks to distance herself from a past of violence; Holland and the stress of the great burden of duty he has towards Eureka and the problems surrounding the scub coral. The show manages to operate on a deeply personal level that made it emotionally involving and begged you to care about the fate of the characters. The characters’ journeys and fates were genuinely interesting.

Fast forwarding to Euereka 7 Ao, and now the Eureka 7 franchise seems to have a different direction. Instead of being character-driven, the sequel is now event driven. The greater worries of story revolve around trying to solve the mysteries presented. What is the Truth’s real motive? What happened to the characters of the old cast? Why are there real world countries now? What are the secrets? Why are the scub coral back? None of these questions really revolve around the characters, but more about the plot. This fundamental change in the way the story is presented is quite a departure from what to me was Eureka 7’s greatest strength and it has clearly suffered for it. If the sequel is not going to build off what made the original successful, would it not be better to just make a completely new story?

Probably the biggest mockery about calling Eureka 7 AO a sequel to Eureka 7 is the fact that the character Eureka is barely a present force in the show so far. One would think that the titular character would be more involved in a supposed new addition to the franchise, and unsurprisingly, Eureka’s few appearances or mentions in the show constitute some of the best moments thus far. Of course being so familiar with her character already makes it easy to be invested in her, but this is more so a problem with the sequel’s cast. Literally nothing has been able to draw me into the story because the characterization is much weaker than the original. When the audience is more concerned with the world and cast of its predecessor than that of the sequel, it becomes hard to enjoy the story in its own right.

I care more about them than anyone in E7 AO’s cast.

Indeed a sequel should reward the audience’s fidelity by not being too repetitive. Eureka 7 AO does not want to make the mistake of just rehashing the original soullessly. I also understand a sequel should expand upon the world of the original as it would make everything more interesting. However, the problem here is that the creators took these two concepts to the opposite extreme by making this show much too different. It just underscores the general issue here that Eureka 7 AO does not fulfill the obligations of a sequel. It does not stay true to the original, it does not retroactively deepen the meaning of its predecessor thematically or on a characterization level, and it definitely does not follow through on what we have come to expect from the Eureka universe.

Altogether this just makes Eureka 7 AO a classic example of an ill-conceived sequel. It is just so hard to understand why the staff at studio BONES decided to go off in a completely different direction with this sequel. The show might have had a better chance if it did not use the name of a franchise it failed to use to its own benefit. Unfortunately it is too late in the game for Eureka 7 AO to turn it around, but at the very least I hope the story manages to explain its connection to the original neatly enough. That will mean the difference between a misguided yet mediocre effort and a complete and utter train wreck. No matter what, it is a disappointment for the fans like me.

26 Responses to “Eureka 7 AO and the Obligations of a Sequel”

  1. I wholly agree with you on that. Eureka 7 is one of my favorite anime series of all times and I always talk about how good it is, but I came very close to dropping E7AO. The only reason so far I keep watching it is a very mild interest in how things will turn out and my love for the original E7.

    (Oh, and, the last screenshot, “Pacific State”? That was the brightest episode, ever! I don’t think I’ve seen happiness portrayed so well in any other anime series!)

  2. Crummy uninspired characters are what killed this show for me and with 4 episodes left I can safely say it’s already too late and it’s an easy drop for me. I can’t say I find any of the cast in this the least bit compelling anymore, not even Ao and Naru because the former doesn’t have a decent supporting cast to help him grow or play off of (at this point it feels like his main confidante is Noah the sloth when I would have initially imagined it would have been Naru at the start of the show) and the latter who looked like she was going to be interesting at first with her whole sea giant sickness storyline but ultimately for being listed as the main heroine is barely in this show at all and thus can’t really be said to be all that interesting a “lead heroine”. It truly baffles me how a character can appear to have so much focus placed on her in the beginning and middle portions of the show even feature prominently in the opening and yet nothing happens with her other than her joining up with the villain and being as equally vague about what she’s trying to accomplish as he is in her extremely rare appearances.

    Speaking of which the plot might be compelling if it didn’t feel like it was moving in super slow motion only to veer off wildly in different directions with different focuses every so often as a substitute for you know…actually progressing. It’s one thing to keep people guessing, but at some point you have to start finding firm grounding and give the viewer something to work with going forward as a serial in order to maintain viewer interest. Something other than a bunch of crappy subplots about whether Elena murdered some idol singer or whether Team Goldilocks still exists. It would help if I was given a reason to care about these supporting characters, but frankly I just see the former as pure otaku reference bait as opposed to a real functioning supporting character and the latter as just sort of there to act as that other pilot team that’s not the main one that the main character talked with once or twice. Combine all that with an uncompelling laughing boy of a main villain in The Truth and the result is as expected just a very weak uninspired show.

  3. @FX

    It really has been hard to keep watching it. Especially because when I want to remember Eureka 7 I only want to remember good stuff. Stuff like that last screen shot indeed :p.

    @Kaioshin Sama

    Yeah the cast is really weak. Elena and Goldilocks were the most glaring examples to me, but it seems like even Fleur has become worthless lately. Then of course the Truth is just not a very good villain and as you said Naru has been ill-used for the story.

    I just look at this cast, then at the previous cast and the level of difference is incomparable.

  4. I’d say I was disappointed, but I was expecting this. Last Exile Fam was a disgustingly bad sequel to the original, and because of that I went into this expecting the same. Perhaps that wasn’t justified, but I tend to take the (arguably British) mentality of expecting the worst and being pleasantly surprised should it be good.

    I feel about Ao much the same as I did about Fam, despite the fact I’ve been watching it for almost half a year and 20 odd episodes, it doesn’t feel like that at all. It hasn’t left any impression, and I really just don’t care about anything, it feels like we’re still at episode 4. I feel like I haven’t been watching it.

    I really don’t know why they chose this direction, as I mentioned with the Opening in the forum, they want to link it to the original, but they seemingly want the audience to connect the two all by themselves, and don’t seem to bothered to do it themselves. Oh well.

  5. @Fumoffu!!

    I really wanted to believe this would not turn into something like Last Exile: Fam, but it is quite unfortunate. Yeah the key problem is like you said, I’ve been been watching this long and I don’t even feel like I have. Just leaves zero impression, mostly because the cast is so dull.

  6. The first installment in the franchise is by far my favorite anime to date. I respect the anime for everything it delivered in a very heartfelt story (could have been better handled). While the sequel did come short compared to its predecessor, I felt its handling could have been better in the way the alternate world was supposed to connect to the previous one as well as Truth’s handling as a character (lots of potential wasted there imo).
    The first three episodes delivered material worthy for a sequel with character development as well as establishing the nature of the setting and partially revealing an unknown threat that became apparent as the plot progressed.
    That said, I believe the anime clearly suffers from the fact that it emphasizes on building an entirely new world more familiar to our own (ex fp and use of the scub coral) which has been inferior to the experience offered by the one we knew. The politics were also given more focus for this reason and in the end the time spent here has been used by sacrificing time on character interaction. In addition to all this, the anime is only half as long as the original anime. Therefore, the real problem lies in the aforementioned points but also in that it’s supposed to offer a sense of continuity as pointed out in the review.
    To make a long post short, what the anime suffers from is that the scope of focus was too great from the start given the season limit and this is almost entirely due to the way the creators approached this new world from the perspective of a corporate firm like Gen Bleu making the atmosphere more reserved compared to the more adventurous and rebellious Gekkostate.
    While this anime disappointed as a sequel (to me for similar reasons that anime like GC failed), I believe an installment more worthy to bear the franchise name will come in the future.

  7. AO is just a pretentious show with Eureka Seven in its title, and just mentioning terms from the original show without explaining the link. Seeing the first episode, I was ready for the fact that AO is going to be different, but X episodes later, I never expected it to be drastically different with AO becoming a quasi-Evangelion clone.

    And what Kaioshin-sama said. When the only interesting character in the show isn’t even human (and no, I’m not talking about Truth… and yes, I was talking about Noah), then there’s a problem with the show.

  8. @025

    Yeah I thought the first 3 episodes delivered worthy material, but as soon as the Truth was introduced it was just a one way street to catastrophe. I remember watching his first episode and thinking in the first 5 minutes “Am I watching the right episode?”

    And while the scope might have been too big, could have used 4 cours perhaps, it’s ultimately the characters for me that destroy it all.

    @sadakups

    Well Noah is an interesting sloth…

  9. I seem to be in the minority, in not having the same distaste towards Astral Ocean. That may be because I was never quite as enamoured with Psalms of the Planets as others seem to be, but I can’t help but see an element of rose-tinted glasses in regards to criticism of the sequel.

    For a start Psalms had 52 episodes to tell its story, not 24. As such I’m much more able to forgive AO for being event driven; it simply doesn’t have the same time on focus on character studies. As long as I’m able to get a firm grasp on the main cast’s personalities and motivations, which (bar Elena and Truth) I am, I don’t consider this a particular flaw. For me Ao and Fleur are as decent characters as anyone from the first series. Having re-watched Psalms prior to AO, there were huge portions of the story where the show spun its wheels by slowing down and focusing on the main cast, only for them to repeat the exact same points and conflicts 3-4 episodes at a time. I honestly believe the show would be been better suited as a three cour show instead of four. 39 episodes were enough to tell the story and nuances of the characters growing. Different extremes for both shows’ I guess.

    Honestly, my biggest issues with AO, a few of which you’ve mentioned, stem from my same problems with the first season. In both a fairly large cast is introduced, only to then focus on 3-4 main characters, ignoring the rest. By episode 26 of Psalms, virtually nothing was know about the side cast of Gekko State, with not much more being revealed by the end. AO suffers the exact same problem. This is also true of the main story. I recall Scub Coral being mentioned in the first episode of the original series, then pretty much being never spoken of again until near the twentieth. It takes until the near the very end of get a grasp of the role they play. Likewise the back stories of Dewey and Amemone are dragged out until near the very end, despite their early introductions. If AO is being frustratingly obtuse and cryptic in revealing its tale, it’s because the show is taking far too many props from the original. Honestly, I think the show’s biggest flaw is not the shift to event-based drama, but keeping ambiguity on the same level as the first series, when it doesn’t have the same character focus to fall back on.

    I also noticed the heavy female presence in regards to Ao’s fellow pilots; however I’d only view this as a problem if there was a particular focus on moe appeal and fanservice. I guess there is an element of this Elena, but for the most part they’re treated as fellow characters rather than things to ogle at. If it’s the nature of the beast to have a particular female focus for a show to be popular with the otaku fanbase, then at least AO does it respectfully. And as the likes of Eva attests to, this isn’t necessarily a new thing.

    I guess the biggest point I personally disagree with you on is in regards to what a good sequel should be. I honestly don’t care if a sequel keeps the same cast, or timeline; all I want is for thematic similarities (eg. racism/xenophobia, trying to belong and the growth into adolescence), as well as a connected mythology to carry through both series’. I guess we stand on different sides on that debate.

    As for truth, I agree with you 100% regarding him (I’m still undecided on Naru). He is biggest problem I have with the show that doesn’t carry over from the first series. I have no idea what the show is trying to accomplish with him.

    Ultimately, while I can imagine Astral Ocean isn’t quite what everyone would have wanted from a Eureka Seven sequel, I still feel for the most part it keeps in line with the spirit of its predecessor, even if they way it manages certain aspects isn’t quite the same. Certainly, in comparison to the recent Last Exile: FAM sequel, which unsuccessfully tried to recreate the story with a heavy moe spin, AO is mostly keeping in tune with the same basic ideas, warts and all.

  10. @fathomlessblue

    I’m not going to deny that Eureka 7 had many faults and that many of those faults Eureka 7 Ao also shares. Both had a bit of impenetrable storyline going on, but there’s a key difference.

    Like I tried to point out, Eureka 7 Ao is much more event driven. The plot is put under a microscope as it is the main focus of the story. The characters are taking a back seat here. Eureka 7 is character driven, and like you just pointed out it had the ability to fall back on its characters for the show’s driving force.

    The old cast was way more endearing than the new one. And yes, you’re not wrong about Eureka 7 not necessarily developing a huge amount of characters, but it definitely developed a good sizable amount of them A LOT. Eureka, Renton, Holland, Taloh especially. The side characters got a few moments as well. Even Doggy got his moment when he decided to pilot the Gekkostate.

    Now the point of disagreement you had with about the obligations of a sequel… Whether or not we agree if they should keep a reasonable amount of old cast members or stay in the same timeline is whatever. But how can you really say it thematically stays true to the Eureka franchise? That’s where I’ve personally felt it to be the weakest of all. It was sort of there at the start, and I’ll always say the first 3 episodes were just what I expect from this franchise. But past that I haven’t seen it at all.

    It’s not as egregious at this point as last exile fam, I’ll give it that. But it’s definitely an extremely disappointing effort.

  11. eureka 7 is the best show on toonami ever

  12. IT WAS WORSE THAN A TRAINWRECK!! MY GOSH!! DAMN YOU, BONES!!

  13. Great article. This series was a beyond disappointing. I literally forced myself to finish it due to my love for the original. The final episodes failed to clear things up for me, I found myself digging through forum posts to see if anyone could help explain the ending better. Bones has failed to give E7 a sequel that it deserves and refuse to acknowledge Eureka seven AO as a sequel as it does nothing but tarnish the original.
    If they were to make a new sequel it would have take place in the original universe and have reoccurring characters like Holland and the gecko state. Unfortunately as much as I want this I don’t think bones will create it. even if there was a massive uproar from fans the chances are slim.

  14. I actually disagree, I just finished the series and felt it did a good job to follow the E7. Though maybe It’s been long enough that I forgot what E7 was about…

    But I did feel they tied the two worlds together and kept the same premise of protecting the scub and having it end up sharing it’s exsistence with the humans.

    I did feel the beginning of the series was very slow to pick up on this and it wasn’t till episode 11-12 I got hooked and was happy when it ended as I didn’t know how they were going to end this series. I’m only curious if they are going to continue and what they will do with the manga since it is still ongoing.

  15. I haven’t really bothered with this one, but the problem seems pretty similar to Last Exile Fam. Both are loved series that were character driven that for some reason received a sequel about totally different characters long after the series aired. At a certain point one my ask why even bother and just make a a completely different show instead of just exploiting the name.

    Ultimately without a strong cast, fans of the previous series are just going to ask “where are the characters I used to like and why am I even watching this?”

  16. ao really cleared things up for me. while the first is my absolute heart filled favorite, i feel the second was not so bad. granted they couldve explained ao’s story and his parents better. but still after seeing every episode faithfully (yes this includes the movie pocketful of rainbows!)I PERSONALLY HOPE AND CANT WAIT FOR ANOTHER SEQUEL TO THE AO SERIES. this is one that the crew who makes it should continue doing while giving it everything they have!

  17. i have yet to see this anime but now reading this it kinda makes me want to drop this. But back to my plan we need to try and find a way to get what E7 really deserves, a sequel. something that picks up a couple years after what happened to Eureka and Renton. Anyone wanna make a petition, I personally fell in love with the original E7 because it gave the perfect conflict and was something we could relate to on some basis. As i say again we need to find away to get a better sequel, something with the original cast and character.

    Petition For Better E7 Sequel?

  18. Over what i noticed on the series as i watched, it kinda felt repetitive like for eg.pokemon(soz to offend any poke fans here) where ash goes for an adventure then usually ends wid team rocket blasting away. Meaning for every episode a secret would rather appear , Ao then would destroy then poof end. this made me feel that BONES kinda wasted their time repeating these sequences.Unlike from the original one where it was different stories yet it still connected , i believe that is the main spice that took my attention and love for the series. But it’s sad to see that a sequel poorly told of a great series. Sigh……….

  19. 100% agreed. I can’t even watch it anymore. Too frustrate.

  20. I really think we shouldn’t give up on the eureka seven series just because of a little confusion. Of course there are some pieces that are alluding our understanding but if you think about it and put the pieces together yourself it becomes a little bit more clear and enjoyable to the viewer. I personally think the first series was better but there were still some heart warming parts in E7AO. All we can do is hope BONES considers the viewer opinion and adds that romance back in and explains the depths of the characters. That is what I personally miss. Hope they continue the series for the sake of all the fans…including myself of course :3

  21. Lol I love all the shows I’ve seen from BONES so far and I was disappointed in seeing this. I Love Eureka Seven, but Eureka Seven: AO (Astral Ocean) failed to be anything like Eureka Seven not even using anything from the old series except Renton & Eureka.. And mind you they had the least screen time. Renton coming in the last to episodes to be exact. But I think they realized almost every fan of Eureka Seven hated it’s sequel, so ( S P O I L E R ) they made the Quartz gun and Ao used to make it, so that nothing in the anime ever happened.

  22. I love all the shows I’ve seen from BONES so far and I was disappointed in seeing this. I Love Eureka Seven, but Eureka Seven: AO (Astral Ocean) failed to be anything like Eureka Seven not even using anything from the old series except Renton & Eureka.. And mind you they had the least screen time. Renton coming in the last to episodes to be exact. But I think they realized almost every fan of Eureka Seven hated it’s sequel, so ( S P O I L E R ) they made the Quartz gun and Ao used to make it, so that nothing in the anime ever happened.

  23. I do not criticize Eureka 7 Ao, maybe because I didn’t love the firts serie: it was full of characters of dubious consistency or that, personally,I didn’t like, as Holland who I found to be redundant, or Eureka herself. It’s real that AO does not treat the characters with the right precision, but it hallows you to find few personalities worthy of respect. Moreover it’s full of intrigues of state that fascinate me. As I didn’t love the first Eureka 7, I do not love Eureka 7 AO, but I can’t speak ill about it

  24. there must be another episode must be made of out the old E7 like the HUNTER X HUNTER 2011… and I will watch it again my idol renton and eureka… i love the story of it…

  25. I deeply deeply loved E7 and first few episodes of E7AO was awesome but yet confusing. For the show Ao and all but not really the time period. Episode 50 of E7 had a one year later event which showed gramps and the kids and they all made their wishes then it panels over and you get a quick glimps of Dominic and Anemone and then it slowly shows Renton and Eureka sooooo you think they would pick up the but nope :/ this guy wrote a really good sequel on the internet but I forget where but anyone have a partition let me know please

    14whawkins@gmail.com

  26. I tip my proverbial hat to Bones. I have just finished watching all of eureka seven both ao and the origingal. After sampling and allowing the information to swirl around in my mind like a great wine that I would savor, I have come to the conclusion that eureka seven ao isn’t the true sequel. Everyone out there may believe what bones has stated when they claimed it was, but I laugh contently and give them a good wink and a nudge, believing otherwise.
    To start my tirade, we have the Nirvash. Remember the last episode? If you do not, you should watch it again, now. The original Nirvash that Renton and Eureka flew became sentient and took most of the scub coral along with it to stop the limit of qestions and promised it would retrn if they achieven the next phase in evolution throgh their bond. Thus the Nirvash that is seen in Eureka Seven : Astral Ocean cannot be from that world. The only explanation that they have the original Nirvash still is that the Renton and Eureka seen in Eureka Seven: Astral Ocean is from yet another alternate universe, not from the same as the original. Though it could be said that Nirvash may have returned due to them having a child, but I doubt it. Nirvash had reached a new stage in evolution and if you remember when it wanted to change earlier it accepted the change and refused to go back. Thus this Nirvash, though the original isn’t from the “original” Eureka Seven universe.
    Now that you see the sparks of my fire, the kindling is that with the original Eureka seven in mind a human-corrallion hybrid could have survived and flourished in a trapar dense environment. How is that possible when in Eureka Seven: Astral Ocean they claim that the cells would reject each other? My logic is very simple: Anemone. If you paid attention during the anime, she was a human that had been thoroghly experimented with corrallion dna and didn’t have ANY side effects. The only thing that can be claimed as a “side effect” is her headaches that were a result of the scub corrall responding to attacks just like Eureka. Many would argue that most other experiments died and she was just an “exception,” though I would smirk and simply say then instead of being a failed experiement that was pushed too far and done improperly, Ao would have been the perfect hybrid and like Anemone he would have been perfectly happy and healthy.
    Now for the full blaze. With both the sparks and kinlding in mind. Know that in Eureka Seven: AO, there are two different universes that are interacting. In the universe that Renton and Eureka come from, it is highly possible that compared to the original universe they haven’t had Nirvash evolve. Furthermore since a major key event isn’t that same, it is even more likely that from the universe that Eureak and Renton come from has a different structure for their scub corral and corrallions compared to the orignal universe. One that doesn’t allow the crossbreeding of humans and corrallions. With this in mind the darkness can start to clear and doubt can be erased and maybe you can see the truth using my light.
    Cascading sparks will fly from this fire. I encourage you to take some of it and make a torch and use this fire to reach my destination of understanding. Maybe in the Future Bones will make the actual sequel. Until that day run forward with this torch in hand lighting your way.

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