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In 2025, Ao’s life is less than settled; his mother had disappeared ten years ago, leaving him living on the island of Iwato Jima with his guardian Dr. Toshio Fukai. The town blame his mother for much of their misfortune and because he is not Japanese he is considered with suspicion as an outsider. The Earth has been ravaged, drastically reducing its population, as the planet is used as a battle arena by two warring alien races. When he accidentally comes into a bracelet owned by his mother it gives him control of the powerful fighting machine, Nirvash, and the chance to discover the meaning of his birth and the fate of his mother...
Eureka Seven AO: Astral Ocean - Part 1 (2012 - 24 eps) is a science fiction anime show, directed by Tomoki Kyoda, from a Shō Aikawa script. The show ran for twenty-four episodes and produced an OVA. Part one covers the first twelve episodes, on a two DVD set. The show is a sequel to Eureka Seven.
The show postulates a number of intertwining mysteries, not least the disappearance of Ao’s mother. Periodically giant alien organisms, the Scub Corals, appear out of nowhere. Although capable of devastation, they are quickly followed by the appearance of the Secrets. When the two collide the planet suffers. When Ao joins the organisation developed to combat the Secrets, the Generation Bleu, he meets sympathetic fellow pilots, but the lines between right and wrong, friend and enemy are blurred, leading Ao to question the whole war.
The anime presents a richly deep plot and although it is not short of thrilling aerial action, it never descends into just monster of the week, although there may be a level of action at which you start to find some elements repetitive. But overall the mystery of the show remains highly dense, which should please audiences who require something more than just action. For the non-action addicts, you do feel that a bit of prudent pruning would have created an even better show. The show continues to develop throughout the series forging, breaking and re-forging relationships and alliances, it can all become deliciously complex at times.
Of course, to have structure to the mecha madness we have Ao joining Team Pied Piper, a mecha group determined to stop the Secrets at all cost. One of the more interesting figures is introduced in the form of Fleur, who is a girl with real daddy issues. Some may feel that the show is too convoluted for its own good, it’s a matter of choice, and personally I felt it kept you going through the high number of action sequences.
The show displays a high level of production quality from the fluid animations to the mouth-watering backgrounds. The fight choreography is effective and the generally positive impression of the show comes from the smooth lined, highly detailed picture.
The show is presented with an aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and audio options for either The English 5.1 dub or the original Japanese 2.0, with English subtitles. The 5.1 has the greater punch overall, but the vocal work is better in the original Japanese, so take your pick which is the most important.
There are a number of extras in the set, with a full length commentary on episode 5 and 10. They are both light and fluffy affairs, nice to have, but ultimately easily missed. Inside the Booth: Eureka Seven AO (13 min, 21 sec) which follows a vocal actor through his day, taking in offerings from the people working on the English dub. Oddly it was more interesting than it sounds and will give you a good idea how the dub is created.
Original Commercials (2 min, 56 sec) has ten, short, television vignettes for the show and the special release Japanese DVD set; just remember that I sat through them so that you didn’t have to. You get the textless opening song ‘Escape’ (5 min, 49 sec) and the closing song ‘Stand by Me’ (4 min 23 sec), feel free to sing along to your heart’s content. The set wraps with the English Language Trailer (1 min, 54 sec) which makes more sense and gives you a better idea of the show that the Japanese trailers.
So, what’s not to like? There is lots of destruction for the mecha fans and a complex story to boot. In the end the show is a worthwhile successor to the original Eureka Seven.