Thursday, November 22, 2012

Eureka Seven Ao - Ending Explanation

Seems like a lot of people are confused by the time/space dilemma in Eureka Seven Ao. Well, here is some explanation based on my observation and interpretation. 

1. The scub coral resolving the limits question
They didn't go back in time in the same universe/space, that would disrupt the continuum and but still not solve the problem. Precisely because the scubs understood what humans wanted, at the end of of E7, they went to other universes that are parallel to Eureka Seven's universe. But one of the universe/space they travelled to (namely the distant future of Ao's planet) activated its defense mechanism – the secrets – in order to destroy the scubs. The scub corals then went back to the past of Ao's planet to where there were no secrets, but the secrets travelled through the time portal left behind by the scubs, and the phenomenon known as scub burst began. Therefore the universe in the original E7 was never altered by the events in Ao. 

2. Ao's origin 
The loophole in this whole thing isn't what the scub corals did, but how Ao ended up in the universe he was in. I guess somehow Renton and Eureka found a way to travel to other universes, that would explain how Eureka, who was pregnant with her first child at that time, appeared in Ao's universe with the gekko. When their first child died, I think Eureka realized who Ao was and the fact that the scubs have traveled to Ao's timeline (the distant past of the planet that is parallel to the one in E7). Then later we see Renton and Eureka, who was pregnant with Ao, trying to destroy the scubs in the distant future so they don't travel to the past in the first place. This is when Renton sends Eureka to the past of this planet so she can give birth in the trapar-less environment, where scub burst happened 10 years later when Renton apparently failed to prevent the scub corals from the distant future to travel to the past. 

This explains three things

1. While Eureka was going into labor, she told Fukai Renton is fighting for their child.
2 . Renton said he should be the one to apologize in Ep23, after he meets the apparition of Eureka. Because of his failure, she had to take it upon herself to protect Ao's timeline and by doing so, she was stuck in time/space limbo.
3. Renton knew Ao's name when they first met. 

So the idea is circular, Eureka finds out she will give birth to Ao after meeting Ao, and Eureka being sent to the past to give birth to Ao. We don't know if the past determined the future or the future past. In other words, while knowing the existence of Ao, if Eureka and Renton decided to not have a second child after the first died, then Ao's existence would have been erased. At least that's what I think. Bones never made it explicit, so the gaps are left to your own imagination. 

3. Eureka time/space limbo 

Quartz is basically the mechanism of the scubs that allow them to space travel. Before the scub burst could happen, Eureka attempted to take the quartz somewhere else, however she merely expressed the wish of traveling to a different time and space, but did not specify which timeline and space. As a result, she was unable to materialize and unable to remain in one timeline. 

4. Quartz Gun 
Renton told Ao that he was going back to the future to destroy the first scub that appeared in this universe. He did not mean his own universe, but the future of Ao's universe. But the implication is that by erasing the scubs, those who were already infected with the coral substance would likely disappear as well. Ao rejected this idea and went for the third option, which is changing the mechanism of the world. After he fired the Quartz gun, it seems like scub burst no longer happened in the newly altered world. My take on this is that secrets, the anti-virus of this world, ceased to exist, and therefore the scubs who traveled to this universe from Eureka's universe in the distant future did not have a need to travel to the past now that nothing is trying to destroy them. Since scub burst didn't happen, Naru and coral carriers were not infected and Elena is probably back in her own time. 

[Before Ao fired the Quartz Gun the third time, I am a bit confused to when Eureka saved Elena.....]

Well, I think this is as much as I can sort out. Just how much did the Quartz gun changed the world and sequences of change that took place, we will never find out. It's best to have suspension of disbelief and accept the outcome if things were to make sense. 

Link to Full Review

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Eureka Seven Ao Review (Ep23/24 focused)

Year: 2012
Studio: Bones (Sequel to Eureka Seven Ao)
# of Episodes: 24

Synopsis: [ANN: Eureka 7: Astral Ocean]
"Ao, the son of Eureka, lives on Okinawa. He comes into contact with Mark 1, which turns out to be Nirvash, his mother's mecha, which no one has been able to make it work since his mother used it. Ao ends up joining an organization called Generation Blue with Nirvash and helps fights G-Monsters/Secrets."


The amount of hate this show, and particularly this ending, is receiving is a little irrational in my opinion. Is it a perfect series? Of course not, half of the characters are not fleshed out and it was never explained just how the world is changed by the Quartz gun, we are asked to suspend our disbeliefs and just accept the outcome. It all seems rather pointless at first glance, but once you connect all the cues, the bigger picture does come through. This sequel is no where as bad as people make it out to be and I'm going to try to backup my arguments to the best of my ability, so if you don't have the patience to read through my lengthy justification, I do suggest you turn back now. Or alternatively, you are welcome to read my explanation post first if you had difficulty figuring out what transpired at the end. Well, let's get on with it. 

First of all, AO did answer how the limit of questions was resolved at the end of the E7 with a good plot twist that actually ties well into the story. But granted, if all your expectation weighed on seeing the old cast reassembled and their post-E7 life told, then you are in for a disappointing surprise. Yes, the connection is still there, but only with Eureka and Renton at the core, the rest of the cast had no spotlight. But once I stopped obsessing over how different it was from E7, I was able to appreciate it for what it is - a story about Ao, Eureka and Renton's son, embarking on a journey to discover who he is and who he can be.  

That said, I do feel conflicted about the ending and some degree of cognitive dissonance. On one hand, I find it good albeit frustratingly hard to tease apart. On the other other hand, damn....I was waiting for a forever family union. It's just bittersweet to see them stranded in different timelines after what they have been through. The thing is, if you accept what Bones is trying to do here, then there is little way to negate the ending because as things stand, someone or something needs to be sacrificed in order to keep things in relative balance. The entire show sits on the premise that Eureka and Renton's child cannot survive in trapar-heavy environment, which entails Eureka destroying her own kind. Because Renton doesn't want her to go through the pain, he takes the burden upon himself and sends her to a different timeline. Of course, the scub corals wreaking havoc across different universes – even if it is unintended and much of it driven by the emerging secrets – is another incentive for Renton to destroy them. Eureka and Renton are not glorified as heroes who saved the day, they are parents who selfishly wished to save their only child and who were willing to abandon the world they once protected so Ao could have a chance to live. It's heartwarming but also heartbreaking. Yes, it is selfish, but is it wrong? No matter the answer, I think it's a mentality most parents can empathize with, and that makes E7:Ao sincere at the interpersonal level. The part that Eureka gets stuck in a space limbo is a twist that's devised so Ao is given a chance to experience the world, see things through his own lenses and make decisions that are meaningful to him. Rather than just being Eureka and Renton's son, he's important within a much bigger picture, and I rather like how his personal growth is handled. The theme of family ultimately ties the whole show together. Renton and Eureka wanted to sacrifice everything they ever worked for so Ao can have a place in the world, and Ao returns the gesture so his parents can be together again. Like Bones series, this one is also about personal struggles and growth, sacrifice and hope. And at the center of those themes, holding the pieces together, we have love – Renton and Eureka's love for Ao, and Ao's love for his parents. I just wish there was more screen time with the three of them together. 

Again, I have enjoyed the sequel, regardless of what the majority thinks. No, it's certainly not Eureka Seven and it doesn't have the same vibe or live up to the spiritual height of its predecessor, but it was a good effort from Bones to create something new. The biggest difference that separates Ao from E7 is that it has a much more sinister take on racial-integration, revealing all the implications and limitations, which aren't that far fetched if you consider how little we know about the scub corals. The sequel questions the beliefs the characters fought for so adamantly in Eureka Seven, so it seems that in retrospect, the journey in the original series appear to lose some of its weight and purpose. However, I'm probably in the minority to think that the values in this series do not necessarily contradict with that of E7. The show never takes a side as to declare which species is "evil" and deserve to be eliminated, and it never imposes a set truth upon the audience – having Truth take on different forms is a rather symbolic and profound representation. It's not regressive in the sense that what the characters did in E7 was completely meaningless, but because they didn't know how the scubs resolved the question of limitation, they simply could not have predicted the outcome and its impact. Ao’s decision at the end of the day helps the story to reach a somewhat neutral standpoint, it foretells a future perhaps not as rosy as the one we were made to believe at the end of Eureka Seven where humans and scub corals co-exist in harmony, but it is also not as radical as what Renton intended to do. Co-existence is not a negated notion, because otherwise the union between Eureka and Renton would not have been possible, it is just something that hasn't been achieved yet in practice on a universal scale. 

Many complained the series is rushed, maybe we could have squeezed in a couple more episodes, but on the whole, I feel like Bones had this ending in mind from the very beginning if you bothered to search for cues that were dropped over the course of the series. Most questions central to the plot are answered to some degree of satisfaction, such as Elena's behavior, Ao's sister, and the nature of Truth. But there are equally many questions remain unanswered and perhaps should have been addressed, such as what happened to Naru and the rest of the Coral carriers and whether the the scubs are gone for good, even in the distant future. Also, it would have been nice to see the members of the Pied Piper once more to seal the impression. But the biting political commentary, the philosophical inquiries of right vs wrong and the well devised plot twists compensate for the occasional lack of direction and weakness in characterization;

In term of production value, I don't think anyone has anything to complain here, the animation is top notch from beginning to end, save for a few negligible off model issues. Bones doesn't deserve all the bashing, because I genuinely see the effort they devoted. If the end purpose was really to milk the franchise with no consideration for the creative process, it would have been a lot more convenient to come up with something cheesy and uninspiring rather than go the length to weave together such a cognitively demanding plot. But I guess each to their own, those who loathe the series would not be convinced otherwise just because a few people find it charming in its own way. I'm not trying to sound condescending, and I can see why people are disappointed - the cast was too large to be fleshed out and it concluded on a somewhat heartbreaking note, but maybe I've seen enough Bones shows to be less bothered how convoluted it can get and simply focus on the messages and themes that the story tries to convey.

Story: 9/10
Character: 8/10
Directing+Style: 8/10
Music: 9/10
Animation: 9/10
Enjoyment: 9/10
Overall: 9

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

2012 Fall Anime - Final Watch List

Yeah I know I never posted the second part of "First Impression", I really got lazy here. But here is the watch list!
Three weeks into the season, I think I have enough information to finalize the list. The stats is based on the first three episodes (two in the case of Robotics;Notes and Psycho-Pass). It really hasn't changed all that much from what I planned from the start. Some of these shows I will follow on a weekly basis, others I will probably marathon once they are finished. The rating is relative rather than absolute. This season is pretty strong on the whole, so the competition is quite fierce.

Rating: 9/10
Keywords: futuristic, technologically advanced world, police and guns, criminals, criminals hunting criminals, right vs. wrong, psychological, psychopath meter (in other words, psychopathic mentality can be quantified, a little too convenient for my taste, but I sense there are problems associated with it, which are already apparent in the first episode), fluid animation  (few studio are capable of combining CG seamlessly with traditional animation, and Production I.G is at the top of the ladder, truly breathtaking stuff), solid directing, interesting cast, hope won't turn as depressing as Fate/Zero
Interest Level: High

Zetsuen no Tempest
Rating: 8/10
Keywords: dramatic, Shakespeare, mysterious, magical powers, kickass actions, fluid animation, world on the verge of collapsing, interesting character dynamic, Bones to the core (did I mention world on the verge of collapsing? You can't get more Bones than
Interest Level: High

Rating: 7.5/10
Keywords: exotic settings, magic, adventure, very likable characters, fast-paced plot, very shonen
Interest Level: Medium ~ High

Tonari no Kaibutsu-kun
Rating: 8.5/10
keywords: stylish, quirky, things that actually make me laugh (hooray), refreshing, interesting characters, great directing, Brains Base is at it again
Interest Level: High

Rating: 8/10
Keywords: dark, twisted, battle royale, violent, psychologically intense, inner demons, survival of the fittest, geeky (smart) dialogues
Interest Level: High (with a degree of discomfort because of the content, but it could still be very good)

Shinsekai Yori
Rating: 9/10
Keywords: post-apocalypse, suspense, suspense and suspense (this show really knows how to crank up the suspense, the atmosphere is creepy despite little to nothing is actually happening in the big picture), supernatural, unspeakable secrets, great character development, excellent pacing, top pick of the season for now
Interest Level: High

Rating: 6/10
Keywords: polished animation but too much CG for comfort, style over substance, flashy by inconsistent, messy directing, fanservice, fantasy, bishies with swords in blue uniform, eye candies, a stellar cast of seiyuu, oh and finally CUTE CLEANING ROBOTS, no really, they are awesome
Interest Level: Low ~ Medium

Robotics Notes
Rating: 8/10
Keywords: slow start, light hearted, great character dynamic (very down to earth), school club, carefree, chasing dreams, subtle and warm, main character has Elephant and Mouse Syndrome (say what? but it's rather intriguing to say the least, finally we have a syndrom other than "spirit perception".)
Interest Level: High

Rating: 7/10
Keywords: generic shonen, main dude has a stone heart oh so cold, boring/irritating female lead too naive for her own good, supernatural (fire power, ice oh so original..but on the whole it's a pretty violent show, more than I thought it would be)
Interest Level: Medium

Suki-tte Ii na yo
Rating: 7.5/10
Keywords: Shojo, romantic tragedy (not quite, but it's not a happy go lucky either, it's just a show wanting to be taken seriously and I'll give it the benefit of the doubt), self-esteem issues, socially awkward girl meets popular boy, good directing, very artsy in style, surprisingly well adapted 
Interest Level: Low ~ Medium 

From highest score to lowest 
Shinsekai Yori
Tonari no Kaibutsu-kun
Zetsuen no Tempest
Suki-tte Ii na yo

Well, that's it. Someone shoot me now. This season is very packed and I suspect most of these shows, with the exception of K, is going to be more than one cour. I haven't had a season this busy in ages. The lineup is above average in terms of quality and potential, so much so that I have trouble deciding what to drop. Maybe I won't end up dropping any at all (again, someone shoot me). Right now, K is in the red zone, one more episode and I'll decide. So rest assured that even if none of these shows turn out to be masterpieces, the season as a whole should be decent and enjoyable. Oh right, Chuunibyou and Little Busters!.....what can I say, I'm not particularly into those types of shows in the first place, but I'll see at the end of the season whether I'll give them a try.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

"Cowboy Bebop Helmer Shinichiro Watanabe, BONES Plan New TV Anime"

For full article, link here --> Anime News Network

We got some great news today! The legendary director Shinichiro Watanabe (Director of Cowboy Bebop, Samurai Champloo, Kids on the Slope) is going to be working with Bones on a new original series. I should point out that Watanabe was part of Studio 2 at Sunrise, which split from the company after completing Cowboy Bebop in order to establish BONES. So considering the numerous connections he has with the personnel at BONES, having him back with the studio is really something to look forward to. Put the two together, I think we should expect something stylish, innovative, and lushly animated. Now I'm actually wondering if this new series is related to CB in any way, because Bones announced a couple of month ago that they were working on a new version of a "familiar" title. It's really hard not to draw parallels with Watanabe on board. But either way, I'm just happy we have the talents reunited. I can't wait for more updates!

On a second note, Watanabe is also working with MAPPA on a new series. Kids on the Slope, also directed by Watanabe, was MAPPA's first project after the studio was established by the co-founder of Madhouse. My initial surprise at how well Kids on the Slope was produced subsided when I found out MAPPA's origin. I want to talk a little about the parent company Madhouse. Madhouse hasn't been doing all that well financially, probably as an impact of taking on less mainstream projects that are well praised but not popular within the general market, and this led to the loss of its independence last year when NTV became its biggest stockholder. While being under another company buffers the financial situation and ensures that the studio receives enough budget to carry on, it also raises a lot issues. As we saw with the case of Studio 2 splitting from Sunrise as a response to the increasing pressure from Bandai, Madhouse also risked losing a lot of creative freedom by being under NTV. Let's face it, an artist's unique vision might not give rise to works that actually sell, and the boss company probably sees making a profit as the more important objective. When there is a conflict of interest, guess who wins? So MAPPA was established as an effort to preserve the creative freedom. Works that can't be produced at Madhouse will be produced at MAPPA. Well, that sounds better than nothing, and I hope with the help of many talents, such as Watanabe, the studio will continue to shine.  

Saturday, October 6, 2012

2012 Fall Season - First Episode Impression Part I

For detailed season preview click here 

With the new season in full swing, I thought I would do a "first episode impression" post to get started. I will only be previewing series I'm absolutely interested for, that's about 7-8 show if I get around to put together my thought. Here is Part I. 

Zetsuen no Tempest

"Mahiro Fuwa, a teenager whose family was mysteriously murdered a year ago, is contacted by Hakase Kusaribe, a young woman who stands against her clan since they left her stranded on a deserted island. As the two decide to help each other, Hakase's quest to oppose her clan brings to light that the Kusaribe clan intends to awaken the "Tree of Zetsuen" whose power can bring chaos upon the entire world."

My Thought: 
That was definitely a great opening, better than what I had in mind. Besides depicting the first chapter of the manga, Bones introduced a couple of original scenes that really enhanced the overall feel of the characters. The pacing is fast, but not incoherent, demonstrating solid directing from beginning to end. The highlight of the episode is probably not the plot, as it's still in its initial stage, appearing somewhat generic and perhaps a little over the top in the drama department,  the animation and music is what took my breath away. With beautifully choreographed action sequences, which exude both energy and grace, Bones once again flaunts its expertise and confidence in the domain. Similarly, the landscapes are equally crafted with detail. The orchestral soundtrack in the background compliments the scenes perfectly, setting the kind of atmosphere that's essential for successful story telling. Given the premise, I could not have asked for a better execution for an opening episode.

Interest Level: High

Saturday, September 29, 2012

2012 Anime Fall Season Preview

Looks like the god of anime has heard my prayer, because somehow a good number of studios, as if by mutual agreement, are putting out darker themed series in the fall season. There are a ton of shows I want to check out this season, so to be more organized, I'm going to divide the shows into four tiers based on my priority.

First Tier - Series that I'm very excited about and look forward to the most. It's very likely for me to stick through it from beginning to end.

Second Tier - Series that I'm interested in checking out. But depends on how I feel about it after a couple of episodes, it may move up or down my watch list.

Third Tier - Series that I kind of want to check out for one reason or another, but only if I have time to spare as my schedule is packed with school, volunteer, amongst other things.

Fourth Tier - Series I have no interest in what's so ever. I rarely, if ever, move series out of this tier once they are in.


Okay, without further ado, let the rant begin.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Anime Spotlight - K

So "K" is one of the series on the upcoming Fall Season lineup. Why did I decide to set it apart and honor it with its own post? Well, to be very honest, there is nothing immediately impressive about the production studio or director, but there are a couple of eye grabbing facts. First, all the trailers released up to this point boast god tier animation. That's a pretty flashy entry into the stage if you ask me. I can't vouch for the story –  we know absolutely nothing about it , but one thing is for sure, the company is ready to throw in some pretty gigantic budget.

Second, and also why I made this post, the project in question has attracted a good number of well known seiyuu. The cast is grand and I mean, really grand. The list of names has a petrifying effect, even on someone like me who don't normally rave over voice actors. Let's take a look.

Daisuke Namikawa
Ulquiorra (Bleach), Fai (Tsubasa), Italy (Hetalia Axis Powers)
Daisuke Ono
Sebastian (Black Butler), Itsuki Koizumi (The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya), Shizuo Heiwajima (Durarara!!)
Jun Fukuyama 
Grell (Black Butler), Lelouch (Code Geass),  Ayasegawa Yumichika (Bleach), Shimao (Natsuyuki Rendezvous)
Mamoru Miyano
Light Yagami (Death Note), Masaomi Kida (Durarara!!), Tamaki (Ouran High School Host Club), Death the Kid (Soul Eater)
Miyuki Sawashiro
Celty (Durarara!!), Shinku (Rozen Maiden)
Satomi Satou 
Chitanda Eru (Hyouka), Ritsu Tainaka (K-ON!)
Takahiro Sakurai
Claude (Black Butler), Kira Izuru (Bleach), Suzaku (Code Geass), Yu Kanda (D.Gray-Man),
Yuichi Nakamura
Greed (Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood), Hotarou Oreki (Hyouka), Hazuki (Natsuyuki Rendezvous)

The cast parallels if not surpasses what we had for Polar Bear Cafe, and that was already one hell of a cast that got everyone talking. Well, if all things fail, at least the show will have commercial success. I'm pretty hyped up to hear Light talking Lelouch that's for sure. 

Friday, July 13, 2012

Progress Report - Spring/Early Summer Edition

This is just one of those miscellaneous post about my watch list. There aren't gonna be a whole lot of info here regarding currently airing series or upcoming ones. On that note, I feel very reluctant about writing season previews, simply because I don't think I have what it takes to carry on the task. For one, it's extremely time consuming, for two, I would feel the pressure to prepare one for every season and I don't want to trap myself into the habit. There are plenty of previews out there written by excellent bloggers that offer more than enough to keep you informed, so I shall be the lazy bum I am and leave the task to the more experienced.