‘Eureka Seven’ and Understanding Emotion

On Funimation’s website, they describe Eureka Seven as “The Greatest Love Story Ever Animated.” When I first began watching the series, I thought this statement was hyperbolic. Having finished all 50 episodes, I can assure you that while it may not be the greatest love story ever animated (that award goes to Your Name), it is an extremely close second.

For those unfamiliar with the show, Eureka Seven is an anime-original series from Studio Bones, the studio behind Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood and My Hero Academia. Eureka Seven follows 14-year-old mechanic Renton Thurston who, after a female mecha-pilot named Eureka literally falls out of the sky and destroys his house, Renton joins a group of ragtag mercenaries and rebels known as the Gekko State. However, I am not here to talk about how the show deals with war or its environmental subtexts. As the title states, Eureka Seven is ultimately a deep introspection on romance that just happens to also be a mecha anime.

The relationship between Eureka and Renton begins as a one-sided attraction, as Renton is seemingly infatuated with Eureka. This is mostly due to her mechanical expertise, particularly when piloting the Nirvash type Zero, Eureka’s personal L.F.O. (Light Finding Operation). Trained as a soldier since she was discovered by the military, Eureka would have been completely alone if it not were for the Nirvash. The mech appears to be an extension of Eureka, with her communicating with it as if it were sentient. She treats it as if it is her best friend, confiding with it when troubled.

Eureka and several of the other members of Gekko State, including their leader, Holland, defected upon discovering the true nature behind the war. Because of her upbringing, Eureka has no concept of emotion and is constantly confused by the behavior of those around her, especially Renton. Holland has a particular soft spot for Eureka, which constantly puts him at odds with Renton as he protects her as if she were his own daughter.

When Renton becomes increasingly more competent with the Nirvash, Eureka begins to push him away. The situation worsens when the Nirvash begins preferring Renton as a pilot over Eureka. Feeling unneeded by the group, Eureka runs away. As a reaction to her feelings of uselessness, her body regresses into a cocoon-like state. If Renton hadn’t found her in time, she may have been lost forever.

While Eureka is in the med-bay healing, Renton is expressly forbidden from seeing her as the crew believe his presence could hinder her recovery. Renton, of course, disobeys this order and breaks into Eureka’s room to show how much he cares for her. Eureka doesn’t understand why Renton is acting the way he is and pushes him further away. Because of her scarred appearance and Nirvash’s preference for Renton, Eureka belives she is more useless than she has ever been.

Because of Eureka’s seeming indifference toward him and the rest of the crew’s ignorance towards his feelings, Renton leaves the Gekko. He believes the world is much bigger than him or the Gekko State and the war they are fighting, wanting no part in any of it. The only reason he chose to stay was to better understand Eureka, but it seems that is no longer a possibility.

After Eureka’s conversation with Renton, she realizes that she felt “peculiar,” as if some invisible force was pulling her down. Upon discussing these feeling with the rest of the crew, she acknowledges her jealousy of Renton, only to feel empty because of how their last conversation ended. The crew, realizing how much Eureka cares about Renton, desperately attempt to hide his departure.

When she does finally find out, she attempts to fill the hole in her heart by completing Renton’s jobs around the ship. She begs and pleads Holland to find Renton and bring him back. Holland promises her that he will, only to break that promise upon learning that the Gekko is about to be attacked. Eureka, believing Holland has given up due to his own disapproval of Renton, leaves the Gekko to search for Renton herself. As fate would have it, Renton returns to the Gekko just moments after Eureka leaves, forcing him to go back out and search for her.

Falling into the Nirvash’s cockpit, Renton sees Eureka blush in front of him for the first time. The last time they saw each other, they could not have been more distant. Now, upon realizing how much trouble Eureka is having turning her feelings into words, Renton hugs her, showing that he reciprocates her feelings. The once seemingly robotic stranger now clearly displays emotion. It’s more than just small moments of laughter now. She may not fully understand what love is, but she knows it is what she feels.

Admitting love is all swell and dandy, but putting in the work to keep the love real is the real struggle. While on the Gekko, likely weeks after Renton saved Eureka, Renton learns that Eureka knew his father. Having grown up without him present in Renton’s life, he immediately gets mad at Eureka for not telling him sooner. Eureka does not understand why Renton is so mad, likely due to her not having parents herself. Because of his ignorance of her feelings, Eureka storms off. The two then spend the whole episode trying to figure out how to fix things. When they finally talk things out, Eureka reveals she’s been harboring a deep insecurity about not understanding emotional attachment. Upon realizing his mistake, Renton questions whether he deserves her after how he neglected her feelings. The two reconcile over their mistakes, learning from them and discovering more about each other in the process.

These small moments of growth between them lead to what I believe is the moment that truly defines their relationship. Near the end of the show, the two, along with the three children, become stranded on an island far away from the world they are used to. While there, Eureka experiences some abnormal swelling on the left half of her body, likely due to the inevitable Second Summer of Love. She tries desperately to hide the changes from Renton and the children, but they eventually confront her. She runs off, scared of how they might perceive her now. To try to lesson her fears, Renton hits his own left arm with a rock so that it will swell up just like Eureka’s, showing that she can share her pain with him.

The fact that the two can be so open with one another when they were once complete strangers, how Eureka can share and understand emotion when she was unable to in the beginning, and how Renton can empathize with and respect Eureka’s own thoughts and feelings, demonstrates just how well developed their relationship is. While the overarching plot of the show was never perfect, the writing of Eureka and Renton kept me invested. They truly are the heart of Eureka Seven.

Published by John Wintroub

I am a fan of all things pop-culture related, especially film, music, anime, and comic books. Killer Queen has already touched this bio and King Crimson has obliterated the rest.

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