Koukyoushihen: Eureka Seven - Hi-Evolution 2 - Reviews

DrakeChandler's avatar
Dec 9, 2021

Starting off, I want to be clear I’m am not coming at this topic from the perspective of most E7 fans. When I watched Eureka Seven for the first time, I came out of it generally lukewarm. I liked it, but it was a series that was consistently very shaky. Subplots, such as some racism in the middle of the series, would get dropped. I understood the main villain’s plan, but not any reason he had to go through with it. Renton and Eureka were serviceable protagonists, but not nearly my favorite characters or couple in the show.

Needless to say, I wasn’t too on board with riding the rest of this wave with everyone else. I was done with Eureka Seven. And maybe in some other universe, I did stop; but not in this one.

I do know what compelled me to watch Anemone: Hi-Evolution despite having none of the prior prep work. I have a friend who adores E7 and hates what the franchise became after the original show. I know how it feels to have a franchise you care about go down the gutter. I watched Hi-Evolution 1 and thought I understood the problem. Hi-Evolution 1 felt like it manipulated nostalgia. It was 30 minutes of a prequel short film and then a recap movie for the rest of it. But not the entire series, just the arc of Ray and Charles. …Why?

I tuned into Anemone after crawling out of Hi-Evolution 1’s gutter, and something very bizarre happened. I liked it. Maybe too much. I couldn’t stop thinking about it and I needed to know why I love this movie. It has callbacks to the original show, Pocketful of Rainbows, the manga, AO, the novels, it’s all there. But I didn’t get the feeling of something insidious like I’ve seen other voices online mention. I was on the opposite spectrum. I felt like this movie cared enough to celebrate everything E7 was and what led it up to this point.

Before I write my own plot synopsis, I will say that I do hate the marketing for this movie. I see from most official sources this being called “the untold story of Anemone.” Bro, there’s no “untold” anything in this movie. It’s all an entirely original work. If you were invested in these movies because Bones is still trying to push this idea that they’re a remake of the original show, then we’ve all learned the hard way that is not the truth. These are not Rebuild of Eureka Seven if that phrase helps. Hi-Evolution 1 is an inconsequential film on the narrative itself. It’s a prequel to the show; these movies; I’m not done with the manga or novels yet, but probably those too. However, through research and reading interviews, I get why it’s thematically important and fits in with this trilogy.

The Hi-Evolution trilogy is about parenthood and the relationship between a child and parent. Renton losing his father and finding new parents, however clumsy it may be, is what happened in Hi-Evolution 1. I guess Ray and Charles dying is never shown in the movie because they are characters in Hi-Evo 3, but I'm still not going to glorify a clip show. You can watch the TV series and easily piece together what's canon in the Hi-Evo universe on your own. Anemone however finally feels like a real movie. Its story is all its own, but the themes are consistent. The story is Earth is in danger of being destroyed by creatures of Eureka’s making and the military has devised a method of sending the Anemone of their dimension through a portal into other universes. How this is supposed to help works in context, but you can already see how they try to tie every franchise entry together in this way.

What matters here is that the character of Anemone is going through her own grief of losing her parents, mostly her father, and not having found a way to cope with it. Eureka is a villain for most of this movie and I can understand why that upsets people, but Anemone and Eureka relate on an intimate level in this film I feel like I didn’t get from the show. If Eureka: Hi-Evolution ends up also having loads of more depth to dig into, I may write a review for that too; but as it stands, Hi-Evo 3 is following that same trend of making Eureka a mom again. However, based on the trailers, is in a vulnerable position more than ever with needing to protect her young and defenseless daughter. The theme couldn’t be any more obvious.

I’ve watched videos, even spiteful ones, about these films. Many E7 fans, I gather, are angry about the mechanics of the storytelling and the new theme of this series. Why wasn’t the romance of the original good enough? Why can’t it be left alone? Do Kyoda, Sato, and Yoshida hate this series?

Absolutely not. All three of them came back for Hi-Evolution after the original series because they had a new story to tell. I don’t know what Bones was thinking when producing the other projects, I didn’t really do any research into those. However, times are different now than the early 2000’s and that’s surprisingly relevant. Eureka Seven was a series that ended up being about counterculture. It wasn’t intended to be, but according to Tomoki Kyoda, the techno scene they were surrounded by had an anti-establishment root. It was only the first three episodes that developed according to plan before the series just kept changing over the long course of 50 episodes and didn’t resemble their original vision anymore. That stuff happens. And they wanted to tell a story applicable to today. “It’s not relevant to a modern setting. That’s why I felt that I’d like to update those old elements for this theatrical trilogy,” according to Kyoda.

Could they have made something new? The answer will always technically be yes. However, these guys clearly don’t harbor any hate for the original E7 is my point. It’s them three because they are the fathers of Eureka Seven. They may try to be humble and deny it, but Bones clearly thinks so and so do the fans. Dai Sato himself said, “The producers agreed that there was meaning in the combination of ‘Kyoda, Sato, and Yoshida’, so I decided to join the project.”

The result is an all-new kind of experimental movie made to shake the status quo of what to expect from anime just like the original was. If you’re an E7 fan and that’s not what E7 ever meant to you, then I’m sorry. This movie isn’t meant for you. Its creators clearly just have a different understanding of what E7 is to them.

And I liked it. This film plays around with visual storytelling in ways that only the modern age could achieve. I love seeing Anemone’s reality in 16:9, but the other dimensions in 4:3. The transitions are smooth and sometimes so creative to the point of shock. And all the new footage interacting with the original show is also in 4:3, which is outright cool. Even the flashbacks done with CG animation, which I initially disliked, eventually played a key role in separating the worlds the audience was being taken through. Every time I was on the verge of a complaint, I gave the film the benefit of the doubt and it made my faith in it worthwhile.

Thankfully, we know this movie isn’t as much of a waste to the narrative with Eureka: Hi-Evolution being a direct sequel and not just a thematic one like Anemone: Hi-Evolution is to Hi-Evolution 1. Probably also explains why the naming convention is similar too.

This movie turned me into an E7 fan because I finally got some meaning out of E7 when I couldn’t before. It did what it set out to do. It changed literal events from its predecessors, but it did so to make people reevaluate how they felt. It did so with themes of grief and parenting backing it up, and those messages seem like they’ll only be stronger in the next film to come. And I for one will buy it immediately.

?/10 story
?/10 animation
?/10 sound
?/10 characters
8/10 overall
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