Eureka Seven AO:
In short, I don't get why this series is supposed to be this uniquely awful thing, but that's almost certainly due to my policy of not engaging with the in-the-moment seasonal anime fandom (and also being a know garbage eater). Hipsterism perhaps, but it's just a fact of anime that many shows, especially ambitious original productions, often suffer from various production-related issues that eviscerate their originally planned endings and cause corrective continuation bits to arrive later in piecemeal fashion. It's simply easier from a consumer's standpoint to wait and see what ultimately comes out and then watch the show once all of its constituent parts are available. Even if a show completes its TV run mostly without issues, a patient viewer might still benefit from things like BD fixes and bonus content.
That said, AO's missing final piece, i.e. the show's proper epilogue episode, arrived astonishingly
late and in a laughable format, as a streaming tie-in for a pachislot game
. No, really. And if you missed that useful Anime-Now summary of the epilogue that was up for perhaps some months and has since been scrubbed from the internets alongside the whole site, good luck enjoying this piece of unsubbed content. And while I have to commend the creators for going above and beyond the effort usually expected of such tie-ins, it speaks volumes of how compromised the original ending was it if had to be amended this way. If I had to wait five years for the true final (which is not a movie or anything, just a standard episode cut into five-minute Youtube chunks), I'd surely given the show a lower MAL score as well.
But since I didn't have the opportunity to get mad at a missing ending, how was the rest of the show? This might be an unpopular opinion, but I thought it was pretty okay, and refreshingly fresh as a spin-off with some carryover sequel elements. I generally tend to enjoy continuations that try new and different things, and AO goes shorter and more episodic. While there is a very twisty main plot, it often takes a backseat to weird-shit-of-the-week shenanigans, reminiscent of the football episode in the original Eureka Seven
but with more genre-aware belly laughs. And since it's set in an alternate universe, it can confidently do its own thing without having to worry about injuring the original canon.
The only two characters to cross over from the original Eureka Seven dimension are Eureka and Renton, and while this new show does put them through a bittersweet emotional wringer, it doesn't commit vein-popping characterization vandalism like Pocket Full of Rainbows did. That film was the real war crime.
And I have to separately mention how cool the epilogue episode is, at least in terms of its big sci-fi ideas if not of its release format. Although the episode is mostly concerned with tying up loose ends concerning the characters, it does somewhat off-handedly introduce the fascinating question of how to identify and rescue a person bouncing erratically back and forth within the timestream, Quantum Leap
style. You could probably base an entire procedural series on that idea alone.Galaxy Cyclone Braiger, episodes 1-3:
Braiger is an interesting artifact of post-MSG super robot genre evolution in that it's all about the edge. Seriously, the very first episode, aptly titled "Merciless J9", takes time to hammer home the point that hey kids, this is a super robot team that kills
. And they kill human beings, no qualifiers added. The setting could be Kim Stanley Robinson's late UC, with humanity colonizing every nook and cranny of the solar system and terraforming everything with gusto. Organized crime is rampant, but that's about to change as a mysterious rich person named Isaac has acquired a ridiculous size-changing super robot named Braiger and gathered a badass team, collectively known as the J9, to pilot it and kill every criminal dead. Yes, even the white-collar ones. And some cops too, sometimes merely on a suspicion that they might be crooked. Too bad none of the three J9 shows were brought to west by the early anime syndication pioneers since it would've been interesting to see how someone like Carl Macek would have dodged the whole cop-killing aspect.
Apparently Lupin the Third
was a big inspiration for the shared J9 franchise style, but at least in Braiger's case the end result is much more nihilistic. The members of the J9 team are not gentlemen scoundrels, they're assassins, and even their character designs emphasize their villainy. Isaac obviously takes the cake with his black cape and multiple supervillain lairs, and Kid has the enforcer look down with his all-black outfit and compulsive gun-fondling. Omachi is Fujiko except with a smirk that reveals her to be an evil clone, and Pancho's outward look just screams named henchman. Bowie, the team's getaway driver, is the only member who's not visually coded as a villain, and since he seems to be our nominal main character, one might except the show to use his comparative everyman status to wring out some interpersonal conflict out of the proceedings. Unfortunately, his characterization seems non-existent, and despite being a race car driver, he accepts his new job with absolutely no qualms about slaughtering mafia mooks and gang members by the hundreds. So our main characters are basically four Doom guys, and if you steal a shipment of algae or commit wire fraud, you can be sure they will vaporize you and probably burn down your house and shoot your dog as well. Wholesome. If I had to take a guess where this torrent of violence is headed, I'd say there's probably some sort of Edmond Dantès thing going on with Isaac that's turned him into a figurative cannibal villain who's taking revenge on other villains, but then again, perhaps this simply was someone's honest idea about cool main characters. They're also stupidly over-powered so the robot action scenes are all curb-stomps, but if nothing else, I'm going to keep watching to see how high the body count is going to get.