Note: This article is also available at Ideas Without End HERE
The “A-Part” of episode 27 of Eureka Seven was dense with worldbuilding, using the moments of peace immediately prior to Ray and Charles’ apparent suicide attack to build tension while also – through snatched conversations – lay down the groundwork for the conflicts that will define the second half of the series. As Holland continually moved to shut himself off from distractions and turn the Gekko into a battlefield, the other characters looked forwards to the future – calling into question the Gekkostate’s future relevance.
The second half of the episode is thus all about the settling of the score between Holland and Charles. The Gekko is damaged and boarded thanks to a suicide run from Charles’ aircraft distracting the crew, but again the sense of continued back-and-forth continues; while the fleet-scale engagements have been confused affairs defined by supernatural intervention, this battle is one of wits and strategies planned far in advance. Holland had a contingency for the air attack and had prepared the ship to repel a boarding action. In a series previously defined by battles involving LFOs and capital ships, a personal duel between trained soldiers on a ship filled with traps and defences is a distinct change of pace and a very different sort of tension – the two sides taunt each other and form plots and counterplots while the crew follow orders.
All save for Renton and Eureka; they are alone and ignorant of what is going on with only their relationship left. What seemed like cruelty at first (and still does to Renton) has been contextualised as an attempt to keep children out of a mens’ duel. The bridge crew – including Talho, who serves in some ways as a mirror to Ray – are allowed in because they know the truth of Holland’s past. The children, who he seeks to ultimately protect, albeit in ignorant and immature ways, need to remain out of it.
The back-and-forth of the battle continues as each side apparently outdoes the other. Ray switches the Gekko to emergency power to cut the lights and defences while Holland uses the darkness to lay an ambush for Charles. Most interestingly, this is a fight of equals fought only with conventional weapons and tactics – a rare occurrence in a series where its technology is shown to be powerless in the face of unexplained phenomena. When the action stops – with Ray having ambushed Talho and Renton as they tried to rejoin the others – a mystery established back in episode 5 is finally resolved. The question of Talho and Holland’s relationship in the past has been hinted at but never made clear until now when it is revealed she was punished for pursuing it. Ray herself is shocked to see Eureka, but the situation has passed any chance for further explanation; Renton, in a show of defiance, pulls a gun on her complicating the standoff and ultimately buying time for Talho to regain the upper hand. The battle deteriorates still further as the Nirvash once again acts on its own, apparently attacking Charles and giving Holland the chance to make his move. Holland kills Charles but is himself injured, and Ray is taken prisoner – the battle is apparently over and the sight of the carnage unnerves Renton once again. Although previous episodes have shown indirectly the casualties of war – broken remains and the wounded following LFO engagements – Charles’ body is the first Renton has properly seen and it is someone he has once loved as a father.
Yet even with this – Ray apparently grief-stricken, everyone coming to terms with what has happened – there is no closure. Charles’ corpse had a bomb concealed on it which bought time for Ray to escape, and even after such a tense and closely-packed episode of revelations and action the arc lingers on. It is worth here comparing this developing storyline with its parallel in the series which so strongly inspired Eureka Seven, Mobile Suit Gundam. As mentioned in previous articles, the characters of Ray and Charles are homages to Ramba Ral and Hamon Crowley in the earlier series; both are married couples with a military score to settle with the protagonist’s ship and crew, both befriend the protagonist at a time when he is vulnerable. Yet it is how these fights differ that is significant. In Gundam, Ral’s quarrel is personally with Amuro as a professional soldier; Amuro is quickly becoming a top pilot within the Federation and so it is simply a matter of business for a soldier to fight his enemy. Prior to their meeting off the battlefield, Amuro has encountered Ral in battle against the Gouf, a powerful war machine that bests the Federation’s strongest weapons. Although the conflict ends with Ral blowing himself up (much like Charles in a way) that comes after Amuro destroys the Gouf in a plot arc which marks his maturation as a soldier and pilot; successfully beating a more skilled and technologically superior foe requires him to change his way of fighting.
Yet Renton has never fought with Ray or Charles – they have instead exploited him to track down Holland and Eureka. The series’ protagonist is thus a spectator – albeit an emotionally invested one – in a fight between equals, his maturation comes from coming to terms with being betrayed by parental figures. Eureka Seven is ultimately not a war story at this point – it is a story about past rivalries being reopened and hashed out, and how the future generations suffer as a result. There is not the emphasis on war machines fighting even when Renton does personally take on Charles – the Nirvash acts autonomously to end the fight peacefully in order that Eureka may be saved. In Gundam, Ral’s ultimate death at the head of a massed boarding action on Amuro’s base ship the White Base comes after every character is driven to fighting hand-to-hand. In Eureka Seven, Holland does what he can to keep everyone else safe while he settles a one-on-one duel.
Yet in both series, the death of the husband involved in this plot arc drives the wife to continue the battle; Hamon’s counterattack to avenge Ral proving critical to the drive of Gundam‘s plot. Quite what will happen as Ray moves to avenge Charles remains unknown yet a sinister prospect.