「ドント・ルック・ダウン/Third Engine」 (Donto Rukku Daun)
“Don’t Look Down”

That’s all of Team Goldilocks present and accounted for, then.

It was an interesting call for Astral Ocean to go with a character-driven episode with a very narrow focus this close to the end. Perhaps it shouldn’t be, given that those were the signals the series was sending with episode 17 – that the big questions had been laid out, and the pieces were being moved into place for the final push. Still, after the grand scope of the last five or six eps it was interesting to see the narrative focus almost entirely on the three Pied Piper Pilots, with a solid side of Gazelle and global politics – no Secrets or Scub, or Truth – really, a return to much earlier in the series in many ways.

Since in many ways this show has been from the beginning largely about Ao trying to find someone to trust, it probably is fitting that this was a major theme of the episode. I think it’s probably fair to say that Ao has pretty much ruled adults out as trustworthy options, with the exception of his Mom and possibly Ivica. That leaves us returning back to the generational divide, a commonality with the original E7. Ao may have “defected” to the allied forces, but it’s not as though he did it because he has any special trust or affection for them – he did it because the people he cares most about are Pied Piper, and he figured that since he was committed to using the quartz gun for what he sees as selfish reasons, he’d be more of a burden to them than anything. Better to be a burden to people he doesn’t care about than people he does.

This is a pretty universal dilemma – an orphan boy feeling as if he has no place in the world, and that he carries misfortune with him wherever he goes. With that said, though, I think Ao certainly hoped all along at some level that Elena and Fleur would come after him. If he can’t trust adults, he might at least be able to trust them – if not his own age, they’re not adults either and just as important, they’re being used and exploited (note the article Pippo is reading on his tablet, an exposé of child labor abuse at Generation Bleu) almost as much as he is. Late in the episode Blanc makes reference to a comment Ivica had made, that it wasn’t they that were blowing the pipe and leading the way, but the children – an interesting statement in many ways, but especially now that the generational divide that’s always been an undercurrent in AO is coming to the surface.

As Ao is being courted by his new “friend”, Tanaka – with big bowls of candy and sweet drinks, the symbolism could hardly be more broad if Tanaka actually had a van – Elena and Fleur are dishing out screencaps and giving us their most intense interaction of the entire series. I’m not sure we really learn anything more about just who (or what) Elena is – she says openly that she killed Miller and took over her life, but I suspect we knew that – but I think we do learn that her desire for friendship with Fleur and Ao is genuine. She continues to cast herself as an outsider (probably accurately) and use her otaku humor as a shield. Fleur continues to tread too carefully in personal matters, not realizing that Elena is practically begging her to violate her space for once and call her out for the bullshit games she plays to isolate herself (“Otaku knowledge is a circle-jerk” indeed), and refusing to acknowledge her feelings for Ao (who may be too young for her, but not outrageously so).

Elena, in her usual flip manner, jokes about “the power of love” being what finally gets the third engine in Fleur’s IFO (and her own) to engage, but she’s actually almost certainly spot-on. What she feels for Ao is probably closer to fraternal love (and perhaps literally so) but it’s love nonetheless, and that unites the two girls in purpose. Presented with a choice when they confront him on the U.S.S. Ronald Reagan (where Maggie Kwan is apparently a fighter pilot in this no-Goldilocks timeline), Ao is forced to admit the truth – in the end, he wants to be with them, quartz gun or no. Col. Tanaka does earn a few points here, as he certainly could have gone ahead and shot Ao rather than let GenBleu have him back – but there was probably as much strategy as compassion in that decision, as he doesn’t know enough about the quartz weapon he covets to risk killing Ao when he might be the only one capable of using it. Even in enemy hands, if Ao is alive he can always be recaptured later, and the quartz gun along with him.

As always, we’re left wondering not just who’s in the right, but who actually believes they are – and who’s simply acting out of naked self-interest. It’s now clear than Christophe is the big picture man, while Stanley represents the money people – Big Blue World is his priority, not GenBleu – and that Rebecka is going to be forced to choose between them, probably soon. And Elena and Fleur’s actions may have been driven by love, but they’ve effectively isolated GenBleu from the rest of the world – the US is demanding that the UN label them as terrorists, and as Gazelle says, “everyone is our enemy now”. We know what Ao wants – his Mom back – but everyone from Christophe to Ivica to Team Gazelle is going to have to make a declaration of purpose soon, as the time for straddling the fence is coming to an end.

There’s a troubling note to add regarding the broadcast of AO, and it’s this: with the Olympic delay, there now isn’t enough time to air all 24 episodes of AO before Zetsuen no Tempest takes over the slot in October. Episode 22 is currently listed as the final regularly scheduled airing. What does this mean for the final two episodes? At this point we just don’t know. MBX could air double-episodes of AO for the last two weeks – but that presumes BONES will have them ready, and there’s no sign of a double-broadcast yet. We could end up having to wait for a delayed broadcast, or have them exclusively streamed online – they might even end up as BD-only episodes. I’ll keep you posted as information becomes available, but for now all we can do is wait and hope the delay isn’t a long one.

 

Preview

60 Comments

  1. “Bones countinues to screw up”
    I saved dozens of you precious seconds of your time.
    Now onto those of us who actually wish to discuss the show.
    I really liked the episode. But that damn teaser made me think this was going to be a huge twisty turny one.
    As for that brodcast snafu AO might as well have another reason for the haters to hate.

    Cyrus
  2. I was hoping to see the Kyubey drawing Elena did at the end of the note for the pit-crew with the offered energy drinks as one of the screen captures. I laughed so hard at that one for some many layers of wrong!

    I also got the feeling that Elena was the first IFO pilot out of the two girls and had to deal with a lot more shit before joining GenBlue compared to Fleur. Killing Miller seems to be part of her training as a child.

    Ani_BEE
      1. my brain went there as well, Kyuubei leaving a note (contract) offering Morning Rescue it was just to much.

        The last two cons I went too I also drew a Kyuubei when someone wanted sign in’s, I done it in the past myself. lol

        Ani_BEE
  3. Well I think the previews looking epic for the last seven episodes was done on purpose, for the number countdown, (the seven as in the title, I mean). I really hope that the last two episodes aren’t delayed, I will have a heart attack. I’m enjoying this way too much, and it was weirdly nice to see the group psychology of this episode in comparison to the focus on plot and Ao’s development in the last several weeks. I’m looking forward to the wrapping up of the plot, as well as getting to the meat and bones of the issues with Ao’s family.

    Genesis
  4. Love love love this episode. At this point, I think E7 AO can do no wrong in my eyes. Ever since I saw the second ED, I’ve been craving for some bonding time for our Pied Piper trio and indeed we got a very well thought-out character driven episode this week. Elena remains the most mysterious character on the main cast, we have no idea how is she related to Eureka or Ao for that matter but as you said, it seems like her desire for friendship with Fleur and Ao is genuine. The various political satires continue to intrigue me and It’ll be interesting to see how everything blow sup in GenBleu’s face next week. Oh god, I hope the final two episodes are not BD-only episodes. That would be an excruciatingly painful long wait.

    Seishun Otoko
    1. Totally agree with this. Loved the team bonding here.

      Also, man did I love Elena this ep. She had a number of great moments and especially her impassioned push for Ao to say what he really wanted. I already loved her character and I’m very curious about the mysteries surrounding her but this was a great moment.

      DangerMouse
  5. *Sigh* I’m getting Star Driver vibes all over again. With that series the first few episodes really drew me into its world, had interesting characters, and a bunch of questions and mysteries surrounding its premise only to meander for several episodes and have a complete wtf (but awesome) ending. Sadly this seems to have happened with E7 AO. I will say, however, that the characters and mysteries are still holding my interest, but I think I’ve sort of lost interest in it with so many questions which still have not been answered, and everyone seeming to hold back valuable information till the end. In short its just so damn cryptic that it is hindering the show a bit too much. Maybe I would not have minded it nearly as much if this were a 48 episode series, but for 24 episodes, and it nearing its conclusion with still no real evidence as to what the over all story is about is more than a bit disheartening…

    Censor this!
  6. finally it’s cornering into a them against the world vibe like E7, i wish that would have happened 10 episodes ago, felt like they dragged truth out too long for me, an exposition in visciousness without no clue as to it’s purpose kind of made it feel over emphasized…like oh i get it he’s a badass and they can’t stop him…he’s got an aggenda…but what? would have been nice to know a bit more about his motives and maybe even enjoy how good he was at accomplishing them. go along for the ride so to speak. It felt more like i was watching him from innocent bystander’s perspective. really that’s how Ao would see him. so i see the point of it. at this pace i would have liked to see it go to the 50 or so episodes like E7. also i felt like Tanaka acted very realistically, he can’t kill someone who can nuke secrets but he’s got to worry someone else might. tough place. (wasn’t tanaka the half japanese hawaiin police guy in magnum PI? a nod maybe?)

    Breedo
  7. Yet another horrible episode. This anime just keeps surprising me with every episode, its such a train wreck compared to the masterpiece that Eureka Seven was. BONES really jumped the shark with this one and I though Darker than Black season 2 was bad.

    Deviluke
    1. Eureka Seven was hardly a masterpiece. It was convoluted as all fuck and ran on narm as much as it did Trapar Waves. Not to mention all the Evangelion parallels you can make between both it AND AO. That said, it was very enjoyable, but it’s no Cowboy Bebop.

      Da5id
      1. Characters suck, nothing is getting done, story makes no sense, its generic as hell and I can go on and on but the anime just sucks in general i really dont like it but I keep watching it because am fan of the series.

        Deviluke
      2. How could you say this epi’s story doesn’t make sense? We can obviously see Ao decided to follow his true feelings and return to GenBlu. That is done explicitly. I’ve been watching this anime without really thinking deep and i find the story interesting with mysteries here and there,but it still makes sense.

        So exactly what is it that you find senseless in the story?especially this epi where i think it’s clear on what the epi is trying to tell

        Boo
      3. In my opinion the conflict of the story is the truth, not that “Truth”, but the truth. Ao’s current world might be something false and that is being unraveled. But rather than a conflict, maybe it is more suitable as a problem? Either way i think that is still the core of the story.

        As for Ao being whiny, exactly when did he whine? All I saw was a 13 year old doing everything he could to reach his goal. Even if he did whine at a point, he kept on moving forward, no?

        Boo
      1. There’s expressing an opinion and then there’s just taking a shit on something.

        At least try to be constructive with it instead of continuing to unfairly compare it to a nostalgia-soaked version of the original that you haven’t even watched recently. Even when I was ripping on Guilty Crown, I still made a point to talk about what they got right and how they could’ve made certain parts work.

        Also, if people disagree, don’t call them butthurt, because that doesn’t much help your case.

        Da5id
    2. I think I agree that this show basically sucks and has little going for it. There is no ‘there, there’. The conflict and message and backstory behind the show are either not explained or so convoluted that all we are left with is a mish-mash of fancy graphics and weird character interactions. I’m not of the opinion that E7 was a masterpiece so I can’t really say it was better than this show. As for Bones, however, I do have higher expectations of them. I even really enjoy the convoluted messes that are RahXephon and Xam’d, because I felt that their world at least had some sort of larger pertinence to a metaphor for reality….

      VyseLegendaire
  8. Am I the only person who’s watching this solely in the hope that Renton shows up? I’m starting to think neither he nor anyone else in the original cast will ever appear, which leaves me the question of: Why? Why is Bones going to the trouble of putting him in the OP, name-dropping him and making him relevant to the plot if they’re never going to fucking use him? WHY EVEN INCLUDE HIM?!

    I’m so tired of this bullshit. We have a big Gen Bleu vs the World plot going on, and the character episode here just feels out of place and breaks the flow. I’d understand it if this was a 50 episode series, but the show has 6 episodes to wrap everything up; they need to get moving. I don’t even care about any of them anymore. I’m done trying to analyze this. JUST GET ON WITH THE GODDAMN PLOT ALREADY!!!

    I need a drink…

    A Disgruntled Fan
    1. Finally someone who agrees with me. This is an Eureka Seven anime just in name Eureka just makes cameos to make fans of the series happy but its clearly has nothing to do with the first series.

      Deviluke
    2. I’m a disgruntled viewer, not a fan. This show was my hope for the season and its so far not delivering at all. I’m so sick of loose-ends. Maybe the show will magically get a 2nd season and explain itself over the course of another 24 ep?

      VyseLegendaire
  9. Hey, did everyone seriously NOT notice that scar on Fleur’s stomach (which might be a shoutout to NGE again / Expy Misato Katsuragi. The placement and design is very, very similar)? …..I mean, seriously. Are they trying to imply that she had an abortion / teen pregnancy? Had shrapnel cut through her? Or did she try to kill herself at one point because I am seriously seeing some stitch marks on that scar, which even the power of SCIENCE! apparently could not resolve.

    And what does it all IMPLY exactly!? With what Elena was saying about it, I’m definitely leaning more to the teen pregnancy angle, especially considering how Fleur seems to shoot too high when it comes to dudes and gets burned. …Sounds like the type that doesn’t get that what she needs is right in front of her nose, let appearances be damned, and let the consequences be damned too. It’s love, right?

    J
  10. Why do so many people think Ao is a whiny character? He’s the exact opposite, he’s almost way too mature for his age. Renton, who was fourteen and therefore slightly older, was far whinier about everything, and he was still a fantastic character. I’m thinking people must either really lack empathy or they don’t know what it means to grow up without your mom. I for one did grow up with mine so I can’t say a thing about it personally, but my own mother was an abandoned child and I think Ao’s plight is very realistically rendered; even though my mother was finally brought into contact with my grandmother, the emotional scars never went away for her. Mother issues are a very big problem, especially when you’re younger.

    Genesis
      1. If you don’t mind me going off into a tangent; I wonder why it is that there are many people who firmly believe that because they loved the original there is no place for a sequel in their lives? I have plenty of nostalgia for the original, and I know it was flawed and there are still parts of it where I have to facepalm and wonder why that particular part made it into the final cut (of the original, that is). Still, I positively loved the first Eureka Seven, but that doesn’t mean I will, by principle, compare the two so thoroughly in order to find the flaws in the sequel. I know most people don’t think so, but I think it’s very appropriate that AO kept it’s Eureka Seven title, and not because it’s about Eureka. The original wasn’t so much about Eureka as it was about Renton’s interaction with her and honestly, his obsession with her. So it’s apt that Ao, who too is obsessed with Eureka for entirely different reasons, should be included in the Eureka Seven universe canonically.

        Genesis
      1. Ah, but you see, Renton’s mother figure wasn’t his actual mother whom he had never met. His mother figure was Diane, and he did in fact have a sister complex. On top of that, he also had a father complex. And you’re deluding yourself if you think Renton was “only whiny for like 10 episodes.” I’ve seen the entire series over twenty times and I’m sorry but that just isn’t the case. There’s nothing wrong with Renton, but he does whine far far more and, much less reasonably, than Ao.

        Genesis
      2. Its funny because he never whines about his sister or his dad he doesn’t even mention them at all he knows they left but he doesn’t make a big deal about and doesn’t search for them he just goes with it. He just cares for the man that raised him which is his grandpa.

        Deviluke
  11. What do you mean he doesn’t talk about them? His whole narrative perspective is as if he were writing a letter to his sister. Not only that, he goes ballistic on everyone when his dad is mentioned, like in episode 15 he hates being compared to his dad (this is a clear indication of his complex) and in episode 1 he punches a kid when he’s provoked about it. He can’t control himself when he finds out Eureka knew Adroc, and the reason why he gets so attached to Charles and Ray is because he has never known a proper parent of his own. Renton is chock full of mother and father issues. In fact, his are a whole lot more complex than Ao’s. Ao is so obsessed about Eureka because she is the only mother figure he has ever had and she mysteriously disappeared. That’s not so hard to understand. At least Renton’s grandfather was related to him; in contrast, Ao’s Jii-chan isn’t blood related at all, and so Ao feels indebted to him, like he was a burden.

    Genesis
    1. You might be right since I haven’t seen Eureka Seven for about 2 years (since I saw it twice). But still AO is just horrible in comparison, BONES cant do sequels to their animes they always seem to mess up. It seems they didn’t learn from Darker Than Black second season.

      Deviluke
      1. The thing is, while AO is not as great as the original, due to time constraints which limits character development and plot development, it’s not awful at all. Compared to a good deal of anime lately, Astral Ocean is amazing. If you think about it without comparing it too much to the original, which had 26 episodes just to develop all the characters, it’s doing a pretty good job. Granted, Truth is hardly my favorite villain (I would have liked someone less… magical?) and the characters aren’t quite as lively as they could have been (excepting Ao, who is excellent), but I’m having fun theorizing and watching anyway. The music is great, very different from Naoki Sato’s but very likeable nonetheless; Ao is truly one of the best characters I have ever seen (quite an accomplishment considering I’ve literally seen hundreds of series) with very realistic emotions and reactions; The animation is top notch, though I do wish some of the fight scenes were extended, though again, time constraints; The rest of the cast isn’t awful either, just look at Elena. As weird or even annoying as she might come off, she’s incredibly complex in reality, and that slap scene this week was amazing. That’s true characterization for you. In addition, while the plot seems complex, it’s actually not as baffling as the original’s, if you care to analyze it properly. Since time travel and dimensional travel are heavily linked, it makes things really complicated looking, but if Bones does it right, most everything should be resolved, and it should have less loose ends than the original did.

        Genesis
  12. I loved this episode, personally. The Pied Piper team have been my favourite characters from the start of the show, so it was nice seeing an episode with the focus solely on them. I really enjoyed seeing them bond like that. Not to mention that with all these developments, the shit’s about to hit the fan.

    I do worry about the remaining episodes though. I hope my earlier fears aren’t becoming true; that the show was dragging out its monster of the week killings and not getting to the main plot soon enough so it would bite them in the ass. Because, really, there’s still plenty of story to be told, I just hope it won’t get rushed. All the delays aren’t helping, and I dread an ending that will only be available on DVD.

    Also, Ao isn’t whiny. It’s not like he’s constantly angsting about everything and letting everyone down; throughout most of its run he’s been quite driven (and in this case, it’s pretty justified, given that he’s carrying a reality-warping weapon with him). That’s more than I could ever say about his father.

    Dvalinn
  13. Who cares if Ao is whiney or not? What is the point of this show? Does any even have any freaking idea? So far this show has been an exercise in doujin-wonderland fappery.

    VyseLegendaire
    1. Well, if you dislike it so much, I can’t imagine why you’re still watching. The original didn’t seem to have much of a point up until the end, it was always vague on purpose. Watching it on a week-by-week basis must have been agony, since for more than half of the series we would have seen Renton just having random adventures and improving his relationship with Eureka and the rest of the Gekko. Dewey and the plot took a really obscure backseat until around episode 40. Unlike Renton’s journey, which was about self-discovery and romance, as well as acceptance, Ao’s journey is about family love, and values (what is most important to you). Ao, who for all extents and purposes is an orphan, wants to find and reunite with his family, that is his driving force. However, the real question that the series has been touching on lately is, “what is Ao willing to do to achieve that goal?” Is he willing to change a whole world, even though his morality tells him it’s wrong?

      Genesis
      1. You know, just because you love something doesn’t mean that you’re blind to it’s flaws. You should watch it again more recently if you want to see what I’m talking about. Try spacing it out week by week, or watch it on Toonami on Saturdays, I hear it’s airing.

        I might not be the absolute biggest fan of Eureka Seven in the world, but I know I must be pretty up high. I spent over a month of my life watching this series, and by a month I mean that I would finish episode 50 and then watch episode 1 right away, over and over. So don’t tell me I don’t have the right to critique. I have written papers on this series, for fun and for academic purposes; knowing the flaws to something doesn’t lessen it’s quality. The same goes for Astral Ocean; it’s not as good as the original, but it’s definitely not a train wreck. Or at least it wouldn’t be if you cared to think instead of whine.

        Genesis
    2. Interestingly enough, VyseLegendare, that is an apt description of the world Ao finds himself living in. As I understand it, I think one of the themes is that loneliness and despair may lead to madness.

      Ian
  14. Guardian Enzo (the reviewer here) is right – LTC Tanaka was playing psychological warfare against Ao, from openly filming them together with a stunned Ao agreeing with everything Tanaka said to the 1,000-page contract he put in front of the boy.

    Everything the Americans did was political, from Ao and the Quartz Gun “threatening” the “security” of the world to the declaration of Gen Blue as a terrorist organization for keeping the secrets of the quartz from them. A simple power grab – any WMD is “terrorist” unless an already established nation controls it. What are the Americans afraid of – using the Quartz Gun against Washington, D.C. and changing reality?

    So, IMHO good plot for Ao so far. The buildup is about how Ao sees the world, and it’s an imperfect, evolving viewpoint. I do wish the writers had given some of Truth’s background, to make him less an uber-antagonist. We don’t know Truth’s goal, Naru’s goal, or if Ao leaves the present time/world for his mother’s world/time or vice versa.

    At first I thought the Scrub quartz would lead to Human stardrive development, but apparently it’s reality-warping material with a life of its’ own instead. Plus the Secrets being semi-sentient guardians of the universe: is that real, or contrived? So may questions to answer before the end of the season – or the opening to season two.

    jhpace1
  15. Speaking of sequels… I really cannot see why people hate on this series. All the hating I do see/hear comes off as whining. Until someone compiles a mature, and well presented argument as to why this sequel “sucks” that can validly tear apart the world-building, character development, politics, and storytelling of EurekaSeven AO as poor… please remember Last Exile: Silver Wing and try to tell me AO is worse.

    If you need an essay from me as to why Exile: Silver Wing was miserable, I will oblige.

    kumakaori
  16. To add my two cents, I can’t help but feel one vital component, overarching character arcs, is almost completely nonexistent in this series. It wasn’t perfect in Eureka Seven, in fact it was blocky as hell, but it did at least keep us emotionally invested in the characters whereas with this show the only character who I can say that I’m really emotionally invested in is Ao because ironically he does have one of, if not the only, overarching character arcs in this series with his helplessness in dealing with the situation around him and how realistically he reacts to it. The rest are just untapped potential really with the possible exception of Ivica. I know I people will say it’s all down to time constraints but animes like Trigun and Gurren Laggann managed to deliver in exactly the same amount of time. Honestly they need better script writers to back up Sho Aikawa and/or a second season. Both would preferable.

    ExM
  17. Loved this episode. Elena was fantastic and the team bonding fully coming to the surface.

    She had a number of great moments and especially her impassioned push for Ao to say what he really wanted. I already loved her character and I’m very curious about the mysteries surrounding her but this was a great moment.

    DangerMouse

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