Note: This article is also available at Ideas Without End HERE
With the Gekko’s purpose once again clear, and a course plotted in, it all seems plain sailing for the cast of Eureka Seven at this point in the narrative. As a result, when episode 15 begins with Renton and his companion Michael getting up to their usual hijinks, stealing fruit from a plantation and getting caught by the farmer – who turns out to be Renton’s uncle. Renton provides the introductory narration, explaining how the whole plan came from an ill-judged boast to Eureka about how he knows a place to get a rare fruit that everyone wants to try. He is now well-established as a leading character, in control of the narrative and even with enough respect among the crew to get his plans brought into action.
The fact that this time Renton doesn’t want to get involved in this, and that for once he was not trying to impress Holland with his quick thinking but Eureka with his savvy and boasting, makes the scene more amusing. It was established in how he acted around Dominic that he was still a child; it is this childishness that gets Eureka and Michael into trouble. The scene following the three’s capture, where Renton has to explain to his uncle why they were stealing rather than paying a normal visit, again begins humorously with exaggerated punishment and contrition; the episode still at this point looks like it will be a mere comedic diversion for the characters as they try to get some fruit and make it back before Holland loses patience. As episode 13 was a cliched “friendship in a war” scenario, this looks like a cliched “eccentric relatives” scenario – Renton and his friends end up sharing a meal with his uncle as he boasts and lies outrageously about what has happened to his older friends. However, there is still a tension in the scene; for the first time, really, since the very beginning of the series the viewer is reminded that the Gekkostate are outlaws and wanted by the police; Renton’s uncle has a wanted poster in his house.
While the comedic scene of boasting and an awkward family reunion plays out, this tension remains; the threat of some kind of punishment or repercussions for intruding in a town where the Gekkostate is unwelcome is ill-defined (for previously it has mostly been played out in the form of military forces being deployed to stop a warship with fighter escort) but clearly there. The truth is revealed after the meal; Michael, recognised as one of the wanted men, has been apprehended and beaten up by Renton’s uncle and his friends. Military police arrive, and Renton is congratulated – along with his uncle – as heroes of the state for infiltrating and arresting a dangerous criminal. When Michael and Eureka are taken off as prisoners, it falls to Renton to save them; he takes the Nirvash and kills the military escorts before rescuing his friends in a moment of genuine heroism. He has stood up to the “enemy” – the military and their thugs – piloted the Nirvash with what he sees as greater skill than Eureka, and destroyed enemy LFOs in combat.
This elation continues as he tries to remain modest in front of Holland, downplaying his skill and making out he was just doing his duty. The scene is once again comedic; the battle has been won, there are humorous repercussions for Michael, who is assumed to be drunk, and in the chaos the fruit was forgotten. There is another narrated montage from Renton as he wryly explains how the health drive that got them into the scrape faded away, but this lighthearted scene suddenly turns very much darker; Eureka will not let him near the Nirvash any more and is afraid of him, having seen him take pride in killing. What is more, his uncle is shown to be himself arrested for harbouring criminals and lying to the police; a moment that should have defined Renton as a hero (the man of action saving his friends and putting injustice right) has instead alienated him from Eureka and led to his uncle being condemned.
The episode works well when considered as a whole; the bluster and boasting of Renton’s uncle is shown to be him trying to keep himself alive in a despotic state where simply associating with wanted men is a crime. That Renton does not see or understand the cost of his actions (still assuming his heroism in the Nirvash was a good thing and not seeing Eureka’s revulsion at the ease with which he killed, and likewise not even knowing his uncle was arrested) is particularly effective; as the recap episode did, this episode expands the viewer’s understanding of the setting and raises more questions – Dominic’s report explained why Holland is so dangerous, and the human cost of the Gekkostate’s existence is now clear. While Renton’s uncle is not exactly a sympathetic character himself and were it not for the episode’s coda he would be simply an opportunist and exaggerated antagonist, that he is shown to be himself punished – and that his actions were necessary for his own survival in the society that has been created – rejects simple judgement.
That this all escapes Renton, and he is happy to not even consider the potential consequences of his actions, makes it all the clearer he is still a child – were there a scene where he found out the truth, the episode would be one of development for him but because there is not, he does not mature. While episode 15 of Eureka Seven is ultimately a minor diversion in the main plot, it goes beyond simple filler or sidestory by contextualising both the setting and characters.