One more new show: Eureka Seven Ao, plus Medaka and Polar Bear 2

Eureka 7 Ao, the sequel to you-know-what, opens with great expectations upon it and finishes episode one with a hell of a lot of questions.

Sorry Ao, he doesn't know. Neither do we. But it's only episode one.

I glanced through Wikipedia to remind me of the original’s main points but didn’t look too closely. I figure I would recall whatever important things I needed to know while watching. Now I’m not sure if that’s true. There’s so much that feels unfamiliar about this new show, like the tropical setting and recognizable locations. However, there is scrub coral around, and all the characters have the most brilliantly colored eyes. And Ao, our hero, looks a lot like Renton. Considering the lack of subtlety concerning a memory of his mother, I think we already have our answer. But nothing is explained in the first episode. Things just happen.

One of many scenes where someone looks at something cool in the distance.

We got a sophisticated international company doing some kind of work, people delivering suspicious cargo to the Japanese navy, one of the items falling into Ao’s hands, scrub coral going berserk, or being made to go beserk, and a hell of a lot of scenes of commoners staring in awe at magnificent light shows that proceed to stomp them flat. The episode’s death toll is huge and might include the grumpy doctor who took Ao in (like the grumpy mechanic who Renton started with), but certainly not Naru, the physically frail, spiritually inclined girl who’s Ao’s best friend. She appears in the closing credits, after all. It’s a good first episode, starting quietly, almost informally, and becoming almost impossibly cosmic and violent by the end. Ao is developed enough that I want to see what happens to him next.

It looks like Medaka Box will mostly be about solving problems, and some episodes, like #2, will have two stories in them. That works for me. There’s not much going on in terms of characters. Zenkichi has the most room for growth since his reasons for following Medaka are complex. Medaka, so far, is just this strange, superhuman, slightly crazy girl; she’s the most fun if we don’t really know what makes her tick, or that we get little hints each story. Here she effortlessly finds out who vandalized a track star’s shoes using powers of observation that would makes Holmes go “Who wrote this, anyway?” and we learn that Medaka has a good sense of who to trust, and that she’s crazy. In the second story we find she’s not good with animals, but not for the reasons you might think. Also, she’s crazy. But crazy in endearing ways. She chases after the shoes culprit wearing the vandalized spikes on her hands for no reason. As for her strategy for catching the dog … well. I’m still sure I’ll get sick of Medaka and these characters eventually, but not yet.

Panda Bear's cafe.

Polar Bear’s Cafe 2 is not as annoying as episode one. In fact, it’s actually pleasant. While we still get too much Panda, the other cafe staff and regulars have stepped up and given us new variations of the animals acting like people theme. In the first story each of them imagine running their own cafe and wonder what it would be like. While it’s predictable (none of them consider serving food that other species like or could even eat), I rather like the idea of the llama cafe. The second story, cherry blossom viewing time, is livened up by Penguin. Like episode one, Polar Bear is content to stand back and observe what’s going on around him, which means he’s possibly the most entertaining character of the lot.

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