Note: This article is also available at Ideas Without End HERE
Episode 31 of Eureka Seven marked the moment of first contact and with it the beginning of the alien-centric plotline that appears to define the remainder of the series. The true nature of the human antagonists is shown as Dewey orders a preliminary attack on the Coralians knowing it will fail, in order to make his armies look better when they bail out the beleaguered defenders of the town that is targeted. What these revelations serve to do is undermine what has so far been assumed to be the case, and change Eureka’s position within the story. As the apparent emissary of the Coralians, she has remained distant from humanity’s main interaction with them; her relationship with Renton and Holland has emphasised, in its own way, the importance of family and love. Meanwhile, the apparent diametric opposite of the protagonists (in the form of the Federation, Dewey and Anemone) makes its first move against the Coralians with force.
Episode 32 begins with the aftermath of the massacre that Dewey caused; Dominic, the human face of the Federation since his interaction with Renton earlier in the series, is faced with the amoral child soldiers of the Ageha squadron who seem blind to the real human cost of their mission. Eureka Seven has so far largely avoided such moves into military SF in the traditional sense – it has presented the military as a concept as the opposition, an exploitative means of enforcing the state’s will. In such a depiction of the military, the people within it become humanised by how they question authority and how their personal morals intersect with their duty to their leaders; Dominic is a traditional protagonist-esque figure in his powerless humanity. The Ageha children represent a militaristic ideal that is touched on in many of the military-SF stories Eureka Seven touches on – a perfectly obedient conditioned force of supersoldiers. Yet in most such stories these characters are presented as conflicted like Anemone; the tension between their innate humanity and their warlike conditioning humanises them and is used for dramatic effect. For example, a character like Marida Cruz in Gundam Unicorn is at times very much like the Ageha children; she fights single-mindedly and unrestrainedly in support of her ideals. Yet Marida’s story is about her own self-doubt and her relationship with others, such as the protagonist Banagher. There is an internal conflict in the character between the soldier and the human being. The Ageha children are not presented thus far as having this humanity remaining; they are completely amoral.
This is perhaps made most clear in their conversation here with Dominic, where they discuss Dewey’s next move – a repeat of the same process of attack and counter-attack to see if it goes any better. Dominic, the “human face” of the Federation, is appalled by what he sees in the ruins; the Ageha children are unfazed. There is apparently no potential for redeeming Dewey’s soldiers – they are oddly single-minded, moral-absolute “enemies” with nothing sympathetic about them – and Dewey is presented as trying to sideline their predecessors. Dominic is sympathetic and caring, and Anemone is the doubting, Jekyll-and-Hyde figure that perhaps evokes Z Gundam‘s Four Murasame or Unicorn‘s Marida. In military fiction the interest comes, as said above, from what happens when orders go too far and a soldier does not want to obey them for whatever reason. The very concept of unquestioning obedience should be terrifying and alienating – as the scenes of the Ageha children are – because it removes the first counterpoint to tyranny. That Eureka Seven has focused in this way on Dominic – Renton’s narrative foil – and his struggles within the military structure is ultimately one of its strengths. It is not a simple one-note story about a single relatable soldier intended to evoke sympathy for those caught up in a war (as perhaps something more like Lalah Sune’s story inMobile Suit Gundam is) but instead a story about the slide from authoritarianism to tyranny and how reasoned voices are silenced. His scenes provide insight – and indeed a more convincing insight than Holland’s series of personal grudges and the Gekkostate’s odd countercultural manifesto – into why the Federation are the enemy.
What they also serve to do (when considered in the light of Dewey’s plot arc) is show how the Federation itself is being sidelined within the story as Dewey takes over. While the humanised characters are the face of the “enemy,” and there is a military story being told, there is the potential for a resolution to the story that embodies the more utopian vision of characters like William Baxter. Dominic and Renton are much more direct foils, they are both working to try and promote a more reasonable position within their respective organisations which may in turn lead to an overall peaceful situation. If the future of the Federation is in Dominic’s methods, there is hope for a responsible and reasonable military. Thus when Dewey reveals his true plan, and pushes out this chance for reconciliation and peace in favour of fanaticism and genocide, the nature of the series’ villains is changed – it is not simply a conflict between counterculture and establishment but one between those with some humanity and a more monolithic “evil.” This revelation would not work earlier in the series – that it, and the reveal of the Coralians, comes so late, it is more shocking. It is presented as a tragedy the Federation have walked into and introduces a new potential for development – how the Gekkostate will respond to this. Previously the conflicts between Holland and the Federation have been personal – fighting for self-defence, or rivalries such as those with Ray and Charles. Now, though, a clearer ideological conflict has emerged that has nevertheless been touched upon earlier – Holland has in the past shown himself to be an ideological enemy of the Federation in his standing up for religious groups and general disobedience.
Furthermore, it is now a conflict that Dominic’s counterpart, Renton, can fight in on two levels; firstly Dewey has potentially ruined the relationship between human and Coralian (the Gekkostate, after their meeting with Egan, now in possession of the facts about the planet) and secondly, throughout the series Renton’s main motivation has been doing “the right thing” – standing up for simplistic moral absolutes like protecting the weak. Dewey, in his grab at power, has removed the moral ambiguity of the Federation that provided the sources of tension previously, and presented an undeniably amoral faction which is perhaps the most dangerous. While the Federation were shown to be powerful and oppressive, they were divided and crucially human; they had officers who questioned and doubted and made judgement calls. Dewey’s regime, as has been shown so far, offers none of that.