What They Say:
Relive the classic era of anime with the studio that brought you Escaflowne, Fullmetal Alchemist, and Wolf’s Rain. Eureka Seven, the greatest anime love story ever told, returns to the spotlight after almost a decade!
Renton is a teenager trapped working as a mechanic in a backwater town. He dreams of joining up with the daredevil group of pilots known as Gekkostate and following in his father’s heroic footsteps. When a mysterious beauty named Eureka shows up asking for a tune-up, Renton soon finds himself drawn into a high-flying mecha dogfight that makes him a target of the military. When the dust settles on the spectacular battle, Renton is invited to join Gekkostate, but he soon discovers that even a dream come true has a dark side.
For this viewing I listened to the English track presented in Dolby Digital Stereo. A Japanese language track also in Dolby Digital Stereo is available along with English and Japanese subtitles. There was no real directionality or other aural tricks that I could discern on this release, but the sound quality is fine. I had no trouble hearing the dialogue, music, or sound effects.
Eureka Seven is a very pretty series and holds up very well considering that it is almost a decade old. Each episode is presented in 4:3 aspect ratio. The colors were vivid, the actions easy to follow, and no distortions or other issues were visible. Some of the scenes where the Gekkostate and the LFOs are flying through the air are beautiful—the final episode especially so. Visually this is a great show.
Eureka Seven comes in a standard Blu-ray case with the twenty-six episodes spread across four discs housed in a center inset. A fifth disc containing extras is placed in the back cover. The case comes in a slip cover that replicates the case’s images and text.
The front cover features Renton against a red and white background, walking his motorcycle and holding his board. The title is placed in the upper right-hand corner in subtle white text against red. The spine features the show’s title logo along with a set of three, thick, slanting blue lines, while the back cover is dominated by a solid blue background with the show summary, special features list, and Blu-ray specifications in white. Five screenshots from the series line up vertically on the right side.
Overall, it’s a functional design that is easy to read, but I’m not quite sure how visually enticing it would be for a new viewer.
Eureka Seven’s menu is an exercise in minimalism. The entire background is blue and the show’s logo is written in a clear white font. The disc options run underneath the logo, also in white font. The option being chosen changes to a pink font. White, slanting horizontal lines run vertically down the right side of the screen, and subtle music plays on a ten second loop. As a menu design, it’s functional, but like the case art, is rather dull.
This set contains an embarrassment of riches in terms of the extras included. There are over 111 minutes of extras ranging from episode commentaries, clean Op/Ed, trailers, and voice actor interviews. While the commentaries tended to be a bit ramble-y, I quite enjoyed watching the voice actor interviews because both the Japanese- and English-speaking voice actors were featured. It was interesting hearing their different views on the characters and the processes they went through for the recording sessions.
Life is hard when you’re fifteen. It’s even harder when your father dies to save the world, your sister leaves you, and you’re raised to be a mechanic by your grumpy grandpa. That’s the life that Renton Thurston lives when we first meet him. He suffers from what Stephen King calls the inertia of small town living—he desperately wants something more from life, but he can’t break the momentum of his existence without the aid of some outside force.
That outside force comes in the form of a mecha piloted by the beautiful and enigmatic Eureka. She crashes her machine into Renton’s home and requests a tune-up. Renton and his grandfather help, but soon find themselves under attack by governmental forces desiring to capture Eureka and her mecha, the Nirvash typeZERO. With the help of the Omnita drive—created by his father—Renton and Eureka manage to defeat the government forces, and the smitten boy decides to join her on the Gekkostate, a ship helmed by outlaw daredevil pilots and lead by the mysterious Holland.
The land of Eureka Seven is one that is suffused with energy called Trapar waves. With a proper board, one can surf on these waves and they serve as the primary propulsion for ships and mecha alike. The people that surf the Trapar waves are called “Lifters” and the rockstars of this subculture live aboard the Gekkostate. A fanboy, Renton is awestruck by his heroes, but his enthusiasm often makes him the butt of the crew’s jokes and an outlet for their anger—especially Hollland’s. Although they are famous Lifters, the Gekkostate also takes on odd jobs to make ends meet, often smuggling and stealing to get by. Their real job, though, is opposing the government. They use the magazine Ray=Out to disseminate information about the Trapar waves and other things to the general public and often they have to they engage the government in full out fights. Now that Renton’s wish to leave home has been granted, he finds himself forced to grow up quickly, and his sense of self and his deeply held beliefs are almost constantly put to the test.
Eureka Seven is a show I’ve wanted to see for some time as it is considered to be not only a classic, but “the greatest love story ever animated” as it says on the case. I was very excited to get the opportunity to review both parts one and two, but after now having seen part one, I really don’t see what all the fuss is about.
Now it could be that many of the issues I encountered while watching this will be resolved in the second part, but right now the first twenty-six episodes were rather disappointing due to issues with characters, an inflated sense of mystery that overstays its welcome, and a general lack of information about this world and the characters.
To begin with, Renton is all over the place. To be fair, his personality is presented in a manner that is completely natural for a fifteen-year-old boy, but that doesn’t mean that I have to enjoy it. Simply put, he gets on my nerves. He’s whiny, he’s selfish, and he doesn’t think before he acts. And his voice! There are times when he speaks that I just want to launch my remote through the TV screen. It’s like fingernails on a chalkboard.
Again, he acts like any other fifteen-year-old boy would, and the voice acting actually isn’t bad—it’s just that I’m getting old and grumpy and past the point of identifying with a character like this. Thankfully, he does have a character arc and he does develop into a stronger character, but getting through the early episodes was like pulling teeth at times because he was so annoying.
Now Renton alone isn’t enough to pull down this anime. At its heart, Eureka Seven Part One is a basic coming-of-age story, and the worse a character is at the beginning, the more powerful the journey is to his adulthood. Where the show really suffers, though, is in how little information it gives about the world and the various characters’ histories. I have no idea what the Trapar Waves are, where the LFOs came from, what the Compac drives truly are, why the ground needs to be held in place with huge pylons, why some people fall ill with “Desperation Sickness,” what Renton’s father did for the government, why he died, how his death saved the world, or his connection with Holland. For that matter I have no idea how Holland and others know Renton’s sister Diane, who the primary antagonist is, or why the government is so dead set on exterminating a particular race of people. It’s all a mystery, and while a sense of mystery is necessary for driving a plot and making a setting interesting and unique, there comes a point where they become more irritating than tantalizing. It’s not necessary to answer all of the questions, but providing some will string the viewer along and give a sense that there will be some sort of closure at the end. Right now, even though I have twenty-six more episodes to go, I have no idea if those answers will be forthcoming. And even if they are, I feel like I spent a good part of the first twenty-six confused and just spinning my wheels. Some answers would also help me understand some of the characters better—especially Holland. I barely have an idea of what motivates him and often his actions feel more like they are designed to move or slow down the plot instead of what he would actually do as a character. His jealousy over Renton and Eureka’s burgeoning relationship, in particular, feels forced.
There were, however, some aspects that worked quite well. My favorite character on Gekkostate was easily Talho—Holland’s lover and second-in-command. Although she can come off bitchy at times, it masks her deep level of concern for all of her crewmates, and she often sees through to the heart of a situation, which is necessary because Holland’s judgment is often clouded by his emotions.
I also liked the freelancers Charles and Ray. Near the end of part one, Renton runs away. He meets Charles and his wife Ray seemingly by accident and lives with them for a few days on their ship. The two are hired by the military to take out the Gekkostate and originally pick up the boy to gather information. However, the three bond almost immediately and Charles and Ray come to think of Renton as their son. Renton, who had first been raised by his sister before she left and then by his grandfather, took to them almost immediately as they filled a void in his life he probably didn’t even realize he had. The interaction between the three was probably the best-written part of the entire series. I believed Renton’s love for the two of them far more than his love for Eureka, as a matter of fact, and when it came time for Renton to leave to rejoin the Gekkostate, the parting was genuinely sad and affecting—especially because they will be enemies soon.
If the writing throughout the rest of the series had been that strong then I would have enjoyed the experience more and would have let the other issues go. There are times when stories do one particular element so well that it fills in for what it lacks in other places. However, there just aren’t enough strong moments like that in this collection.
My hope is that Eureka Seven will come together in the Part Two and that learning more about the world and characters will make me enjoy the show more. However, even if it does, that still won’t make this a strong first half. If I need extra knowledge to enjoy a story then it’s not properly written. Right now I’m don’t see the great love story that I was promised, but I do have twenty-six more episodes to go, so with any luck I will. Recommended only for its place in anime history.
Japanese 2.0 Language, English 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: A
Video Grade: A
Packaging Grade: B-
Menu Grade: C
Extras Grade: A
Released By: Funimation
Release Date: April 22nd, 2014
Running Time: 625 minutes
Video Encoding: 480i/p MPEG-2
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Panasonic Viera TH42PX50U 42” Plasma HDTV, Sony BPD-S3050 BluRay Player w/HDMI Connection