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.
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.
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.
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.