Note: This article is also available at Ideas Without End HERE
There is an ongoing tension by this point in Eureka Seven between the desire for normality – and the concessions that must be made to make this happen – and the repercussions of the traumas that the cast have encountered. Too much has changed for there to be any hope of the life that anyone initially wanted; Holland cannot have the life with Talho and Eureka he desired now Renton has entered the scene, Renton will not get his naïve dream of a fun life spent with sportsmen and rebels. How this has manifested is in an increased sense of responsibility, shown perhaps most clearly in Talho’s change of image. Her more modest outfit and short hair is a simple visual cue of “seriousness” – she is not the casual, figure that she was before but instead a mature adult.
Yet the initial emphasis of episode 31 is not on the Gekko’s crew, stationed as they are in a remote laboratory complex; it is on the Federation’s “sages”, their apparent government who made the unpopular decision to give Dewey power and now apparently regret it. His plan is made a little clearer – it centres on the “Ageha” squadron alluded to in the previous episode by the scientists ordered to construct experimental missiles for it. Yet the other mystery introduced in this scene is by far the more interesting one; the woman introduced is on a space station, looking down upon the planet below. Space travel is not an alien concept in Eureka Seven; much earlier in the series, the Gekko entered orbit to travel quickly across-country – yet the existence of what seems to be a completely habitable space city and space elevator is quite new and something not previously even addressed. Back on Earth, Koda (the woman on the space station) is presented as clearly someone of great importance; a vast honour guard has been assembled for her arrival. This provides a clue to the nature of the Earth government that strengthens the sense that it is fractured and losing control; the previous depictions of its reach suggested it was a military dictatorship with an effective secret police force engaged in action to suppress religious groups – yet Sage Koda’s arrival is met with almost religious ceremony and she is as much spiritual leader as politician. The war on the Voderak sect that has defined early conflicts seems to be a difference of faith, not an attempt to suppress religion as a concept.
When the story subsequently returns to the Gekko crew, the full impact of Talho’s changed appearance is becoming known; Michael provides a cynical view that she “realised her real age” and while he is rightly criticised for his lack of tact it provides a plain and explicit reminder to the audience of what Talho’s motivations were; while it is not quite so simple as her “acting her age” she is using it as a chance for a fresh start and to show her intent to change as a person. Her conversation with Holland, where he explains how unfamiliar she does seem and how this is natural since it encompasses both a change in behaviour and a change in appearance, seems to even bring out a change in him – he questions her decision to tell Renton the truth about Eureka. That scene seemed to be Talho living up to Holland’s legacy in his absence, yet Holland is concerned it might have long-term effects on morale. That this is juxtaposed with Renton and Eureka continuing to get along does suggest that for all Talho and Holland think they know what the right thing to do is, the truth may be far less dramatic than they fear and they are overreacting. Episode 30 showed a development of the friendship between Renton and Eureka born from greater understanding – and episode 31 has this manifest in a moment of accidental intimacy that evokes (coincidentally) the last time space travel was shown in the series. In that past episode, Renton and Eureka ended up physically close by accident and Renton reacted in a way which showed both his immaturity and awkwardness; in this episode, the same thing happens and crucially his response is no different.
Here it is worth considering how Eureka Seven uses accidental intimacy within its story. Renton’s unfamiliarity around women and naivete is an ongoing focus of the core plot-thread of his progress toward maturity; learning appropriate behaviour and coming to terms with social norms within an adult society is a vital part of a coming-of-age story. His relationship with Eureka has been a difficult one in part due to her complex history but predominantly due to his utter inability to comprehend what is appropriate or acceptable. By this point, though, although he is clearly still childish in his response to anything that could be perceived as a moment of human contact and understanding, he is nevertheless “better” as a character; Eureka trusts him in a way she did not previously and he is able to understand what she means. The accidental contact gives way to a genuine embrace in a charmingly awkward scene that reminds the viewer that although Eureka may be a Coralian, and she may have once been a child-soldier, she is still possessed of humanity and it is this which makes her relatable. Similarly, for all Renton’s social inadequacies, he is beginning to understand what the right thing to do is; this has been shown first in his taking a stand and fighting his corner among the Gekko’s crew, and now in his response to Eureka’s need for support. The scene begins with Renton remaining apparently the same as he always has been but, as it progresses, continues the theme of sudden change and epiphany; only now can Eureka really be open about her feelings not only for Renton but about her past. The big changes that the characters are undergoing are moves towards greater openness and honesty, with the intent of putting behind them the confusion and mistrust that invited past conflict. The love story of Eureka Seven is thus as much a story of coming to terms with the flaws of others and accepting them for what they are as anything else.
Yet the culmination of the scene – the completion of the move from awkward adolescent accidental contact to genuine love in the form of a kiss – is interrupted by Eureka having a premonition about the Nirvash. It turns out the machine is acting uncontrollably, rejecting the repairs being done to it. The scientists claim their aim is simply to repair the Nirvash, not upgrade it, while Eureka claims this is what is causing the problems – as the explanatory video in the previous episode showed the machine is sentient and evolves over time and one such evolution is happening now. Past changes in the Nirvash have resulted from the progression of Renton and Eureka’s relationship and here an outsider is trying to interfere with the process. The result is a complete reworking, bringing the story in a new direction still and with it the eccentric figure of Dr Egan. The gross, childlike Egan brings with him new revelations about the setting; he used to be the husband of the ship’s doctor Misha, and he knows Eureka. Yet the biggest surprise is when he claims that the planet on which the story is set, for all its strange similarities with Earth, is in fact not Earth. This has never been made wholly clear previously; the strange landscapes previously assumed to just be results of various natural disasters are in fact alien landscapes. Notably, Egan’s laboratory is inside an abandoned botanical garden and parallels with William Baxter, who lived in his remote farm, are apparent. Isolation and unity with nature are again shown to be condusive to radical thought that rejects what is known; Egan turns the viewers’ (and the other characters’) understanding of Eureka upside-down by claiming she might be a messenger from a nonhuman intelligence; it has been known she is a Coralian, but what implications this may have have been downplayed until now.
Here it is worth noting the use of real-world names in Eureka Seven; it is a series heavy with allusion and references to computing, dance music and extreme sports and this has been clear from the start with references to the “Second Summer of Love” and even the names of the war-machines used (LFOs, the 808 and so on all being references to the theme of electronic music). Many of these are simple references, such as the Gekko’s electronics staff being called Woz and Jobs (references to pioneers of computing) or the pun inherent in Ray and Charles’ names. Yet Dr Greg Egan, the radical expert in extra-terrestrial and nonhuman intelligence, is a character whose referential name is possibly more important. The living author Greg Egan (1961-) is renowned for his works’ focus on transhumanism, rational thought and radical imagined science and his fictitious namesake in Eureka Seven is portrayed as a radical scientist with theories about nonhuman entities that defy received wisdom – both respectively renowned for their reclusiveness.
What the meeting with Egan reveals is a theory that, while it seems initially radical and absurd, holds with the contextual clues the series has provided; beginning with the belief that the corals are sentient and the Coralians (Eureka included) are their way of monitoring humanity, the next logical step is the belief that eventually humanity will be judged based on what the Coralians have seen. While Egan’s theory is limited in scope, it provides a new way of considering the past phenomena surrounding the Nirvash; if Eureka is an observer or emissary from an alien species, and the Nirvash has some kind of symbiotic relationship based on her own friendships and emotions, then how she is treated – and how her opinions of humanity are shaped – may in time affect the Coralians’ response. This interpretation is then again reconsidered as the Nirvash’s new form reflecting Eureka’s own innate desires; Egan claims the upgrade it builds towards is an aircraft form to reflect Eureka’s desire to “fly.”
This first half of episode 31 of Eureka Seven has significantly advanced the main plot via a series of character vignettes; much has been learned about the Nirvash both explicity via Egan’s exposition and implicitly from how that has informed the audience’s understanding of what they have already seen. Egan himself is clearly a driving force of the story, and sits within it both as a parallel to William Baxter (as the radical, almost-spiritual voice that rejects what is “known” for more interesting possibilities) but also as a contrasting approach (in that rather than accepting faith and forebearance as a route to contentment he chases knowledge and new horizons).