It’s Wednesday, May 18, 2022. I pick up my friend and we’re rushing to the closest theater that’s playing Eureka: Eureka Seven - Hi-Evolution. I’m regretting that we didn't leave earlier because two traffic accidents on the highway slowed us down, but we barely made it in at the opening minute. We were the only two people at our showing.
I really hope people don’t sleep on this movie. I’ve never been a part of the E7 fan base. I’ve said as much before in my Anemone review; but I looked at the E7 subreddit and it has many of the same sentiments I saw Anemone get as well: people upset that the romantic conclusion of the original series wasn’t left alone.
It’s not as if that isn’t a fair criticism. However, I also quoted interviews in my previous review that state romance wasn’t what Eureka Seven was built upon. That’s what the fans took from the series, but the intentional messages the authors’ tried to tell about counterculture versus government establishment were diluted somewhere along the way.
When I watch these movies with that in mind, I feel like I’m watching a second chance come to life. Every one of E7’s founding fathers returned for the Hi-Evolution project—Tomoki Kyoda as director, Dai Sato as head writer, Kenichi Yoshida as character designer, and Naoki Sato as composer—and it couldn’t be any more apparent that romance is not the driving force of these films. It does play a role; but both in Anemone and Eureka, it plays a far more meta role than this franchise has ever dabbled in before.
I won’t spoil this movie, so I’ll leave any “Ending Explained” type notions out of this; but I’ll use the Anemone film as a quick example. In that movie, it doesn’t spend any time on developing a connection between Anemone and Dominic. You’re just supposed to sense there is one based on your memories of the show. Because E7’s franchise features a canon multiverse, and we know within Anemone: Hi-Evolution that Anemone and Dominic are from different universes, we’re expected to accept their immediate connection because of them sharing visions of their respective lives. And I did. Within the context of the film, it works.
The same trick is more or less pulled in Eureka: Hi-Evolution, but to an even greater extent. Kyoda and the crew seem to have a reasonable understanding that not everything in the franchise is bound to be remembered point for point, so they do a good job at choosing what to contextualize and what to skip.
For example, there is a flower in this movie that the main villain, Dewey Novak, claims does not grow on this planet. And he is correct. It is a flower that grows on the Pocketful of Rainbows planet. But knowing where the flower comes from is just fanservice and irrelevant to the concept that Dewey recognizes Eureka is not from this current world.
On the other hand, I hope you remember why Eureka ever grew wings and a third eye from the series—it was kind of hard to miss—because they don’t address that at all.
Eureka: Hi-Evolution is littered with details like that, which play a major role in shaping the story of this movie. So what is the story anyway? Let’s get into that.
For context, Eureka across all three of these films is the same character doing boundless dimension hopping. And after the events of Anemone: Hi-Evolution, Eureka has finally given up on meddling with spacetime. This has the unfortunate result of fusing the separate worlds of Hi-Evolution 1 and Anemone: Hi-Evolution into one Earth. Now Earth is overpopulated, and some of these “foreigners” are multiverse duplicates of people that already exist. The same goes for Eureka herself.
In my Anemone review, I was mistaken that the child in Eureka: Hi-Evolution’s trailer was Eureka’s daughter. This is not the case. Eureka is protecting an alternate her by the name of Iris.
Within the decade between films, Earth’s governments—mostly the United States—invested in building a space station, connected to the planet by an elevator, which all “Green Earth” humans (from Hi-Evolution 1) will be forcibly migrated into. This has caused an alarming increase in riots, terrorism, and militias trying to fight for either equality or sole control as the dominant life forms.
Dewey Novak is a leader of one such militia and is hunting down Iris to use her spacetime bending powers to give Green humans dominance over the planet.
Whew. Okay, that’s a lot to take in all at once. But it’s all pretty vital to understand what Eureka is going through. Even though I just explained the political climate of the setting to you, this movie is hardly political. It’s entirely a character study of Eureka herself and whether or not a criminal can ever be forgiven.
Anemone and the U.S. Armed Forces as a whole both have, which is why Eureka is an operative tasked with protecting her duplicates. It helps in the military’s case as well, that Eureka has lost her powers after the fusion of the two planets.
However, Dewey has not; Charles and Ray have not; and more importantly, Eureka hasn’t forgiven herself. In Dewey’s case, one of the scab coral phenomena during the fusion caused his Anemone film version and an unspecified other version to fuse as well. That creates a conflict of interest as the “Green” Dewey (presumably from Hi-Evo 1’s world) wants genuine freedom for his people, while the Hi-Evo 2 half just wants revenge on Eureka and to use Iris to make himself whole again.
I will say that Charles and Ray do feel like a wasted opportunity. I’m not sure why they were ever kept alive in Hi-Evo 1 if their ultimate role was to want revenge on Eureka based on a misunderstanding. You see, they think Eureka killed Renton in the Hi-Evo 1 universe; but we know it was Anemone who killed him when we saw it from her perspective in Hi-Evo 2. Unfortunately, Anemone isn’t in this movie all that much and so there isn’t much time spent between her and Charles and Ray learning the truth. The scene is supposed to more so function as their opportunity to forgive Eureka as well; and they do, but it feels like the one thing that could have easily been cut out.
The most important story here is inevitably the relationship between Eureka and Iris. Iris is actually a pretty good character herself and behaves like a real child. She whines and disobeys Eureka for a little while, being stripped of her once normal life; but eventually learns the hard way to be obedient after some near death experiences. Likewise, Eureka is hardly a good makeshift mom to a child; but Iris, despite her faults, does eventually warm Eureka’s heart. And it ultimately ends up being really cute how Eureka learns to compromise with Iris by rewarding her good behavior.
They’re the heart of this movie and it’s nailed perfectly. Iris doesn’t understand why Eureka is cold and tortured (having blown up over 7,000 worlds and all), but Iris is a needy child who can’t ever be out of sight. It’s a perfect exercise for the two of them to help each other mature as Eureka teaches Iris to control her powers, and Iris gets Eureka to finally open herself up to someone.
And while we’re on this topic, I want to mention one of the most notable scenes in my opinion. You see, the anime industry has done a pretty good job at ruining why the original trope of bathing scenes ever existed in the first place. It’s symbolic of bearing witness to someone’s secrets within the grander Japanese culture, however most anime completely miss that intent and go straight for fanservice. Not this movie.
Eureka has a shower scene that’s excellently created. The camera pans up her body, showing every scar, and constantly cutting to traumatic experiences from other media within the franchise. It sets a tone that this scene is not to be enjoyed. And as Iris sees her scars as they bathe together, the questions she has for Eureka only get more sensitive and personal. This is an excellent execution of the trope’s original intent to expose the character both externally and internally at the same time.
Touching on other aspects of the filmmaking, all of the technical skills put forth here behind the scenes are 10-out-of-10 perfect. This is the greatest work of animation Bones has ever created. Not only are the action scenes jaw-dropping, but even the quieter scenes are full of so many subtle details that bring the world and characters to life. The fight choreography as well is on another level. It’s far more grounded than anything we’ve ever seen from E7, maybe even Bones as a whole, and it results in some stellar sequences of well performed gun fights and CQC.
Also, I know for certain the soundtrack of this movie is bound to get overlooked. It doesn’t have any of Anemone: Hi-Evolution’s high-energy choruses, but an entirely atmospheric and ambient soundtrack. However, I’ll die on a hill stating this is some of Naoki Sato’s best. The music of this movie reminded me of similar quality music from Mass Effect and Hyper Light Drifter. The use of ambiance is just that good in this film. It caught my attention so many times over the course of the movie and I cannot sing its praises enough.
I feel like this review is almost wrapping up, and it kind of is; but it’s a struggle to keep my lips sealed on the ending. It’s not purely literal, but one that’s meant to be read into as characters make some shocking decisions. I’ll say that Dewey in this movie is such a fearsome villain that my heart really did sink as he pulled out his trump card. But I was also equally delighted by the light at the end of the tunnel that exists for both Eureka and Iris. Me having someone to discuss the film with and break down the ending as to what it means is an experience that only made me appreciate the film even more.
If this is the ending to Eureka Seven’s franchise, then the daring meta exploration of these movies was the perfect note to go out on. It’s no surprise diehard fans of the original will be disappointed that their TV show more or less gets relegated to being just a dream with Hi-Evo’s context, but these films are a work of art about parenthood, legacy, having hope no matter how vague the future seems, and letting things pass on.
If Bones does produce any more E7 after this, they’re going to be shooting the intent Kyoda, Sato, and Yoshida had for these movies straight in the foot and completely miss the point of why these men came back together to conclude this franchise in the first place. I don’t even have a quote to back that up, but it’s what I personally feel when I consider what this movie means to me. Is that not the point of art in the first place?
“I don’t think the answer to [Eureka Seven’s theme] has ever been revealed, nor do I think it needs to be. The internet’s a hotbed for interpretations of and arguments about works. It’s good fun to read them, but I think it would be distasteful to snuff it all with my own answer.” - Tomoki Kyoda