Eureka Seven is an anime I love to death. Nearly two decades later, I still hold it up this TV series as one of the best ever. The sequels and spin-offs, however, have not been as hot. A film (Eureka Seven: Good Night, Sleep Tight, Young Lovers) basically reused footage from the TV series to tell a wildly different story where the characters look the same but are different people. A sequel TV series (Eureka Seven AO) damaged the story and visited gratuitous amounts of tragedy on the original heroes. And most recently, we have Eureka Seven Hi-Evolution, a trilogy that is similar to both previous continuations while embodying neither the best nor the worst of the franchise as a whole.
Hi-Evolution consists of three films each focusing on a different major character: Renton, Anemone, and Eureka. However, much like Good Night, Sleep Tight, Young Lovers, they‘re seemingly not the same people as in the TV series. Whether it’s having different parents or literally being from another world, details great and small are out of alignment. Hi-Evolution also follows the pattern of intersplicing old footage with new, but again with drastic changes in context that make it unrelated.
Or is it? Another aspect of the Hi-Evolution films is that they might actually be sequels to the original TV series, as well as possibly everything else in a sort of Turn A Gundam sense. It could be a unifying sequel, or a reboot, or an alternate universe, but it’s not very clear because so many things are so unlike what has come before. Or maybe it is obvious and I refuse to accept the possibility that this might be “canon” as it were.
Hi-Evolution as a sequel would be saying something along the lines of “this is the real story you couldn’t see,” and my response is “eh.” As a remix or an alternate track, however, it has more legs. It contains solid narratives regarding relationships between parents and children and between people in general, the way humankind struggles with thinking of everything as a zero-sum game, and a look into dreams and possibilities. The issue is that I’m not sure why it had to be in the guise of Eureka Seven. I actually think if it had been conceived as an original project, it would be a lot less shaky overall, and wouldn’t invite such comparison.
I worry that the director and staff on Eureka Seven might be too attached to the aesthetics of the franchise, and it holds them back from being able to do more. As much as I adore that first anime, it might be an anchor dragging everyone down. Better to free everyone and let them soar with new ideas.