Neon Genesis Evangelion (video game) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
So I hear that Eureka Seven AO gets a lot of hate in some quarters from fans of the original series who feel like it betrays or lessens the original series' message, impact, etc. And I do get where that's coming from, to a certain extent. Firstly, Eureka Seven Astral Ocean is *confusing*; it takes awhile to reconcile two undeniable facts. Yes, Ao is Eureka's son and Renton is his father. And yes, Ao lives on a near future Okinawa, which has only recently declared independence from Japan. And all of this is in the distant PAST of Earth as we knew it in the original series timeline, which didn't reveal its taking place on Earth in the far flung future until very late in the series. There's a lot of time travel and inter-dimensional jumping around that is rather hard to follow and takes awhile to sort out. Add to that the fact that Ao comes to possess a special gun for his Nirvash that instead of destroying its target like a beam weapon, instead randomly jumps to a reset timeline somewhere else in the space/time continuum.
Whereas the end of the original Eureka Seven left one hopeful that Humans and Coralians, i.e. Scub Coral would find a way to co-exist, in Eureka Seven AO, once the Scub Corals discover inter-dimensional travel, they resume their slow conquest of space-time, using this as a means to escape and evade the "Limitation of Questions" dilemma posed in the original series. Eureka and Renton have made it their mission to stop the Scubs' plan of conquest across the dimensions, the result of which first sends Eureka hurtling back in time to the mid 21st century, where she gives birth to Ao. She then gets stuck in a time loop that Ao and Renton have to find a way to fix somehow.
Our star-crossed family is reunited briefly in an emotionally rewarding moment...Mother Eureka, Father Renton, and son Ao. Ao uses his special trans-dimension gun one last time to re-unite his parents and to send himself hurtling into yet another brand new reality on Earth where probably nobody remembers who he is; But he embraces this fate willingly and concludes the series ready for new adventures. Eureka Seven Astral Ocean is markedly shorter and a bit more melancholy than Eureka Seven. But it's a respectably good sci-fi action series in any case. I suppose it could stand alone, but obviously you can't fully appreciate it without having seen the original Eureka Seven. Do be sure to listen to the special features with the commentaries by Stephanie Sheh and Johnny Yong Bosch who reflect on coming back to reprise their roles as Eureka and Renton, as well as Micah Solusod reflecting on how he studied the original show to get a feel for how to play Ao, and the happy coincidence of the similarities between Johnny's voice performance and Micah's, which makes sense thematically for this father-and-son duo. I'm glad I went back to re-watch Eureka Seven and I'm glad I followed that up by marathoning Eureka Seven Astral Ocean directly on the heels of re-watching the original show. I felt so inspired I went out and acquired an Eureka figurine to celebrate.
The visuals are amazing, it is worth watching & owning on Blu-Ray, though it's even more painfully obvious in Eureka Seven Astral Ocean how much the series shamelessly steals from Neon Genesis Evangelion even more so than the original series did.