Thursday, March 6, 2008

On the Wings of Angels, Part II: In Praise of Eureka

Concurrent with watching "Wings of Desire," I was viewing the fine anime series, "Eureka Seven." Through that, I've developed a special bond with one of the characters. Her name is Eureka.

Eureka is the female protagonist of the show who is not who she seems. Watching the show you learn she is a humanoid Coralian sent by the Scub Coral (sentient alien beings who became based in the land of the Earth) as a tabula rasa (blank slate); to learn about humans and give info to the Scubs as to whether they could coexist with humans. She does not, however, know the purpose given to her. Although the concept of alternative humanoid beings learning what it means to be human have been explored before (notably on "Star Trek: The Next Generation" with Data), what separates Eureka from the others in my mind is her innocence.

When you first meet her, she seems very enigmatic and distant with a belief in very few things. That's when she meets the male protagonist, young and willing Renton Thurston, who develops a deep and pure attraction to Eureka. Through their growing relationship to each other, Eureka begins to explore who she is and what she means to others.

Slowly she reveals that she has the heart of a child. This was first indicated in her relationship to the Nirvash (the mecha she pilots); she treats Nirvash not as a machine but as a spirit with thoughts and feelings. She approaches human emotions and concepts with awe, fascination, fright or any combination of the three. From the deep guilt she feels for being a member of the SOF, with which she participated in killing the parents of her adopted children (Maurice, Maeter & Linck); to the overwhelming rapture she feels when Renton continues to love her through everything that changes about her and what he learns about her. Part of the success of conveying this character's beautiful nature lies within the brilliant performance of the magnificent Stephanie Sheh. Through her voice, she brings a certain type of openness and separation from life that I relate to perfectly.

The difficulty I had when I was growing up was not only relating to who I was but how I related to myself through the prism of autism. Growing up for anyone is always tough, that much I know, but coming from such a mild background of autism I could simultaneously see both sides of the spectrum at once. What I see in Eureka is another standing on that same line where I stood. I wanted to understand the world and live joyously in it, but I was also scared to death of the world I longed for.

The fear mostly came out of wondering if I would be truly accepted as myself. I've discovered, the hard way, when you get older, your world becomes a smaller place in the world's eyes. This was trouble for me because my world was continually at the forefront of my mind. So, with baby steps, I had to adapt a compromise between myself and the world... a gray area. It was never easy and at several points I wanted to give up in the worst possible way. Eventually, I emerged from that difficult chrysalis to being an autistic adult (though mind you, I'm still learning).

When I watch Eureka, I see that part of me. Struggling to accept who she is while trying to adapt herself into the world she longs to be in with Renton and the kids. Sometimes art has the startling ability to adapt a piece of your soul so fully without even asking. In that sense, I see Eureka as an angel; stemming from a still wounded place in me to give me comfort as I do the same for her.

1 comment:

Ari said...

I actually am a very avid anime fan. I've been meaning to watch Eureka 7 for a while now. If you like this type of thing I recommend Haibane Renmei or Any Makoto Shinkai film. Makoto Shinkai's films are really great!