What They Say:
For Renton, every day’s the same. Nothing happens, nothing changes. He goes to school, he goes home. The only thing that keeps him happy is lifting on his ref board. Then one day, a giant mecha called an LFO comes crashing down on him – literally. Inside is the most beautiful girl he has ever seen!
The thing is, the girl is on the run from the military with her stolen mecha, and she’s brought trouble with her. Renton will have to summon up all his courage to face his childhood hero; get the girl he’s hopelessly smitten with to like him; and – oh yeah – live up to the legacy of his father who saved the world. But hey, at least it’s not boring anymore.
Contains episodes 1-26.
The audio presentation for this release brings us the original Japanese language track as well as the previously created English language track, both of which are in stereo using the Dolby TrueHD lossless codec. The series is one that makes out pretty well with the whole lossless upgrade as everything comes across a bit bigger here, clearer and better placed. There’s a good bit of action to be had throughout it to be sure, especially in this half of the series, but it also works through a lot of dialogue in a number of different situations. That allows it to play well across the forward soundstage as characters are spread across the screen as they engage in conversation and the action has a very good flow across it as well with the way the various mecha and ships move about. It definitely hits some big moments but it’s also a product of its time where it goes only so far with it overall. But it’s definitely an improvement in both tracks over the original and we didn’t have any issues with dropouts, distortions or other problems during regular playback.
Originally broadcast in 2005 and 2006, the transfer for this TV series is presented in its original full frame aspect ratio in 1080i using the AVC codec. The series is one that works off of the standard definition masters from Japan that are all that’s available but it got a remaster in high definition here. The result is one that will definitely vary a bit depending on your setup and how well your hardware deals with the show. In general, this is a pretty good upgrade compared to the previous DVD editions, especially in terms of the removal of all the compression artifacts that plagued a lot of Bandai DVDs. This remaster is one that we see some differences between the Japanese Blu-ray release as well in that this one comes across a bit brighter, which can bring out the flaws a bit more. We’ve seen this with a couple of other releases over the years. Because of how the show is animated, there’s definitely some banding to be seen as well, but what I noted is that it’s not as bad as what some of the screen captures I saw looked like, which is why we tend to talk more about how it looks in motion than in stills. The series definitely gets an improvement here in quality overall but it’s limited by the source materials. Overall, there’s some aliasing to be had and how well your setup handles an interlaced release factors in, but it looks to be mostly on par with the Japanese release but at a fraction of the price.
The limited edition packaging for this edition is pretty nice as it uses some familiar materials overall but also looking fresh and new. The heavy chipboard box that we get which holds the series as a whole has a bright and colorful front panel with Eureka and Renton together in small form in front of Nirvash with lots of blue skies behind them that gives it a big feeling. The back panel gives us a very different shot that’s really adorable from the second half of the series that will make longtime fans smile. Both sides use the logo well and the use of the blues with sky and water is definitely appealing. Inside the box we get the slightly thicker than normal Blu-ray case that holds the four discs (three for the series, fourth for the extras) where the front cover has the classic image of Renton on his motor bike with board in hand and a huge smile. The off white and red background is definitely eye-catching without dominating and we get the simple logo presented in a welcome way. The back cover breaks down what this set has with the premise, a clean listing of the extras and a few good shots from the show. Add in a simple but effective technical grid that has to cover only one format and it’s very easy to read and well laid out. The release doesn’t give us any inserts but we do get artwork on the reverse side that uses another familiar image. With the left providing the breakdown of the discs and extras along with episodes by number and title, the right has the Nirvash surfing along the trapars with the green flowing everywhere.
The menu design for this release goes kind of simplistic with a couple of minor touches of connective design to the cover and the show itself with the line work for it. The bottom third has the menu itself which goes for the overall disc numbering in the two collections so you know where you are and we get the standard menu navigation breakdown with a submenu for episodes. Languages are easy to select without any locks on it and submenus load quickly which works well, though once again you can’t get to the extras as they use a different pop-up menu overall during regular playback. The rest of the screen is given over to clips from the show itself after a brief loadup of the logo across the sun filled cloud scene and it has a decent look to it but is pretty unmemorable overall
This release brings over a good chunk of the extras that were on the previous editions on DVD from Bandai. This edition has several of the original Japanese language commentaries by cast and staff that are definitely worth checking out if you haven’t seen them before since they both have a good bit of a fun with it. The other familiar extras across the show discs include the first two clean opening and closing sequences. The fourth disc has a lot of the really meaty material that clocks in at almost two hours worth of time. There’s multiple voice actor interviews for both languages that lets them deal with the characters quite well. Providing for both the leads of the Japanese and English casts definitely helps to make it a lot more interesting.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
One of the bigger shows to roll out of Bandai Entertainment in the past decade both for home video and broadcast on Cartoon Network, Eureka Seven has finally found a new home and received a welcome high definition transfer as well. The series is one that definitely helped to move things along in terms of visibility when it came out as Bones as a studio was racking up some solid shows and Dai Sato was working a variety of projects as well. This series also garnered attention because it was a planned fifty episode series and that brings its own pros and cons, largely in terms of pacing. It can take a bit longer to get where you want it to be, but when you do you really feel like you know the characters and their experiences well enough to truly invest in the big moments. Eureka Seven does just that and, for me, works far better in these larger sets in marathon form than it ever did for me in the single disc releases we got almost a decade ago.
Centered around young Renton, we’re introduced to a fourteen year old young man who lives in the remote area of Bell Forest where nothing seems to happen. And that sums up his life to this point. While it’s certainly true, there’s a bit of perspective to be put into it as well. Renton is the son of Adroc Thurston, the man who supposedly saved the world some years ago but is now all but forgotten by most people. His father was apparently central in bringing about the LFO’s as well, mecha-like devices that “lift” through the central energy waves that reside throughout the planet, sort of a natural life force of a sort that can be used to ride machines on, be they the giant mecha or just surfboards. Renton’s lost his father through all of this but along the way he lost his older sister as well who went off to search for him. He’s been left with his grandfather who has a hatred for a lot of things about the modern world and has in his own way little love for what his son has gone and done.
Renton being a typical teen, he’s got his idols which include Holland and the gang on the Gekkostate, a sort of pirate/smuggler kind of group. It’s little coincidence when Holland and the group end up showing up at his place where his grandfather works as a mechanic. As it turns out, Renton’s grandfather has been holding onto a particular add-on to the drives that power the LFO’s for his son and has just been waiting for the day when Holland and others with him would come for it. What he didn’t expect is that someone like Eureka, a somewhat cool and child-like young woman would be there as well in the Type Zero called Nirvash, an LFO that’s one of the first and one of the one’s that changed the world. And he certainly couldn’t have expected that Renton would become smitten with her nor that by getting close to her that he’d actually be able to finally pull off moves with lifting that he’s never been able to before.
Renton’s joining up with the Gekkostate is essentially a prologue to the series. Once he’s on board we start to get more of an exploration of the world at large and how the Gekkostate operates, from its shoestring budget to the way that they’re treated almost as rock stars by their fans. They show up in magazines such as ray=out and some of the members have a fashion budget so that they can help up the reputation of the group. At the same time, the Gekkostate is being chased by the State Forces for reasons not divulged for a bit and their attempts to capture them are hampered by an interesting component called the Aviation Corporation, a group that’s responsible for handling the massive city states where all the lifters of different types park throughout the world. Through meeting some of the characters on these sides, we start seeing some of the characters that are going to have impact later on as the cast is definitely expansive.
With a very good portion of this set, it really is all about the setup. While there is an ensemble cast here that’s used to varying degrees as there’s a lot of supporting players, it really is all about Renton and Eureka. And I’d even say it’s far more about Renton than Eureka as she comes across as a supporting player through a lot of it as we slowly start to get to know her and what she truly is. Eureka’s role is stronger in the second half, but this set has to work towards establishing the world as viewed through Renton’s eyes. And that’s hugely important because through him, we see this world with all of its problems and his inability to see what’s truly going on. While he pilots the Nirvash for awhile and gets into a few scuffles with it, it never really dawned on him that the Gekkostate was in a state of war with the Federation forces that are pursuing them, forces that want Nirvash and Eureka back. When he finally does realize the stakes involved in a particularly brutal way that was completely necessary, it’s when we start to see more of the real Renton in a way.
So much of the initial run of episodes was about Renton leaving him, going with strangers and a girl that he fell in love with at first sight, that it takes a while to truly warm up to him. And in a lot of ways, he’s hard to warm up to in general because a lot of what he does is the kind of selfish and self-involved nature of a fourteen year old boy. That’s made worse with how some of the adults interact with him – particularly Holland – as he becomes a symbol of their own naivety at times which results in quite the physical beatdown. While I can understand Renton and how he feels and his inability to grasp the big picture – one that others aren’t explaining to him – he’s also frustrating to watch because he doesn’t seek it out. He just looks for what’s closest to him, what he can easily grasp and understand, and clings onto that. So watching as he grows and changes in small ways as he’s exposed more to the reality of the world is the big thing here.
This is especially true later in the run here when, like a child of his age, he simply runs away since he can’t handle what they’re all doing. This ends up landing him in the hands of Charles and Ray, freelance couriers who are actually a lot more. It’s coincidence of course that they end up in each others company, but what it provides is key. For Renton, he’s spent most of his life with his grandfather, having lost his parents at an early age and his sister leaving as well. Charles and Ray are a really fun and engaging couple and they basically adopt him for awhile, something that he falls into very, very easily and with a kind of need that he didn’t realize existed. Seeing this dynamic, especially after the kind of rough thing that Renton fell into with his idols in the Gekkostate and with Holland in particular, is fascinating to watch even as short as it is overall. But it’s an important part of his growth and change as he experiences different styles of living.
Of course, a good part of the series is also the action and it’s nothing to be sniffed at here either. Bones in general has done some striking action material over the years and the use of the mecha that they have going on surfboards, riding the trapars and dealing with the Federation forces works well. The Federation side and their goals are kept kind of at a distance, a true threat and one that is growing, but it’s one that doesn’t connect clearly because the key players are working as subplots as they build their plans and forces. But what we do get is really quite exciting here for the most part since it shows the beauty of the style, the flight itself and some of the brutality. But mostly, the show wants to give us a good taste of the innocence first here with what Renton can do, particularly as a co-pilot with Eureka, and with seeing his idols take to the sky and ride the waves.
I’ll admit that as much as I love Eureka Seven overall, the first half is one that definitely takes some time to really get to a point where it can connect for me. The world building is a third priority in a lot of ways as it’s focused primarily on Renton and then the ensemble cast as a whole. What it does here is to take its time in exploring the world, dabbling in the politics, the military and the religious side while also giving us a taste of how normal people exist in such an unusual situation. There are no answers here and often there aren’t any real questions either – which is what you get from a fourteen year old boy that just wants to get into a world where it’s not the same thing day after day. It’s when Renton starts questioning, starts trying to understand, that it really gets interesting. What we need is that self involved time first to establish him and who he is and to be able to better understand his struggle with the reality. The payoff is there in this set, and even more so in the second set as he truly has to grow up.
Japanese Dolby TrueHD 2.0 Language, English Dolby TrueHD 2.0 Language, English Subtitles, Episode Commentary, Interview with Japanese Voice Actors Keiji Fujiwara (Holland) & Michiko Neya (Talho) Parts 2 & 3, Interview with English Voice Actor Crispin Freeman (Holland) Parts 2 & 3, Interview with English Voice Actor Kate Higgins (Talho).
Content Grade: B+
Audio Grade: B+
Video Grade: B+
Packaging Grade: B
Menu Grade: B-
Extras Grade: A
Released By: FUNimation
Release Date: April 22nd, 2014
Running Time: 625 Minutes
Video Encoding: 1080p AVC
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Sony KDL70R550A 70″ LED 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.