What They Say:
Renton is a teenager trapped working as a mechanic in a backwater town. He dreams of joining up with a 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.
Presented in Dolby TrueHD 2.0 in both Japanese and English languages, Eureka Seven feels a little behind its brethren, such as Samurai Champloo, which are typically mixed into a 5.1 or larger soundscape. The mix also had a persistent high pitched whine whenever characters of higher pitched voices were speaking; I tried adjusting levels on my Yamaha receiver but could not make the almost EMF type whine dissipate. The noise was prevalent when played through other mediums in my home as well, a Sony sound bar and a laptop connected to a 2.0 Edifier speaker setup. I’m hoping I just got a poorly manufactured set of discs, as this made viewing the whole series difficult for me (and my wife, who possesses very sensitive hearing).
The AAA vocal cast sounds as fantastic as ever, sporting such talents as Crispin Freeman, Johnny Young Bosch, Stephanie Sheh, and Kari Wahlgren. The characters are portrayed with a palpable realism, their emotions feeling complex and raw at the most important and tense times in the show, which is always my personal hallmark for a great cast. Anybody can act happy and sound believable, it’s an easy emotion to convey, it’s the multitude of layers to sadness and anger that separate that wheat from the chaff. This show is the wheat, baby.
The video, on the other hand, looks fantastic for an SD remaster. When Renton and the Gekkostate crew are out lifting, the views and animation make the action feel almost as adrenaline inducing as they must be feeling. This is especially noticeable when out in the Nirvash, as the speeds capable are much greater than that of a single human on their own board. Studio Bones created another visual treat with the original 2005 release and this BluRay makes sure to treat the colors and scenery with great respect in the remaster, with the sheen of machines such as the Nirvash and the Gekko popping off the screen in their shining moments.
Loaded into a three-page case, the seven discs containing the 50 episodes and special features are well secured. The discs themselves are relatively plain in design, with a nice blue hue accented by chevrons down the left-hand side. The case itself has reversible cover art depicting the cover art of the first two original releases on the front and back, which is the better of the options if you hate reading like me. The sleeve that goes over the package itself feels a little small as the case keeps getting snagged by its plastic covering on the corners of the sleeve, leaving some ugly fold and impact marks. Its thickness makes it a hard fit in most media rack solutions, so this collection is best kept for the bookshelf.
The menus are presented in their native 480i, split horizontally (hamburger-style?) with some surprisingly low-res video on the top half and the menu selections on the bottom. The menu gives four options; play all, episode select, setup, and extras. Within each menu option you get some simple choices, with setup in particular providing the cut and dry choice between Japanese or English audio and “yes or no” on the subtitles.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Renton Thurston is stuck; stuck with his grouch of a grandpa, stuck in a life all but spelled out for him, stuck in the middle of nowhere. For being the son of a supposedly legendary hero, the life of a mechanic, though crucial in its own rights, is far from the legacy Renton wants to uphold. For the young man, his true passion is lifting, the sport of surfing powerful invisible waves called trappars. This desire is fueled by the combined efforts and exposure of wandering lifters Gekkostate and the counter-culture magazine that promotes their every move ray=out. Ray=out, and the whole idea of Gekkostate, takes me back to the 1990s and the thriving skateboarding community fueled by similar magazines such as Thrasher and Transworld Skate; which makes it very easy to relate to Renton’s plight. Lucky for him, this will all soon change and Renton will finally get to meet his heroes…though you know what they say about meeting your heroes.
As complicated as it is fulfilling, Eureka Seven is a genre-jumping amalgamation of romance, action, and adventure that doesn’t waste a moment of its 50 episode runtime. Beginning with the most fortuitous crash in his life, Renton is introduced to the world of Gekkostate, his boyhood hero Holland, and to the instantaneous first love, Eureka. Smashing an LFO, or Light Finding Operation, almost directly into his home is certainly one way to get in touch with the folks you look up to and almost certainly better than most ways us normal people have in doing so. Autograph at a con…..or ramming a giant machine into the side of my home? Easy choice, friends. This lone event springs Renton’s life into high gear as he soon finds himself a crew member aboard the Gekko and living his life beside the people he’s always dreamt about.
For the first 15 episodes or so, Renton gets to know the crew through various light-hearted and inconsequential shenanigans; shopping trips gone haywire, ridiculous hazing disguised as errands, and other comical misadventures that provide an enjoyable introduction to the crew of the wandering Gekko. Each member is memorable and endearing in their own right, a testament to the quality of the writing in Eureka Seven, nobody feels completely tertiary to the story. My personal favorite is Moondoggie, purely because I find his angsty hatred of Renton childishly endearing, like a big brother who’s afraid the new baby will steal all the attention from Mommy and Daddy. You could be easily fooled into believing that the supposed outlaw status of Holland and the Gekkostate is based in the same vein that police and communities had a distaste for skateboarders back in the day. You know the drill, the MAN is just mad because we keep hopping the fence to his house to shred the hell out of his rails and curbs, just replace rails and curbs with trappar waves. This lighthearted adventure story is soon to come to a screeching halt though, as Eureka’s past and the archnemesis of the Gekkostate step into the light.
Whilst watching, I was always perturbed by Holland’s propensity to be such a jerk to Renton and company, given his outward appearance and legendary status as a lifter. Being captain of a ship is assuredly a stressful post, but the beginning of the show made life on the Gekko seem like the main concern daily was finding sweet trappar waves and affording fuel and dinner, not exactly life threatening material. His attitude not only towards Renton but to the crew as a whole becomes gravely understood in the introduction to Eureka Seven’s diamond-like edge and the stranding of the Gekko. After an encounter with a Coralian (which also ushers in archnemesis Dewey) leaves the Gekko down and out, Renton abandons Gekkostate in a way not dissimilar from Amuro Ray’s initial desertion in 1970s mecha classic, Mobile Suit Gundam. Isolating himself from the crew, who need a break from his incredible lack of social tact anyway, Renton is taken in by a pair of mercenaries that provide him shelter and a little love as he tries to determine who he really is in the obligatory journey of self-discovery. In the meantime, Eureka is doing a little soul seeking as well in trying to define what her feelings for Renton are, which only makes their reunion that much more melodramatic (but still satisfying for a sap like me).
After this, Eureka Seven takes a disappointing turn for the worse, both in visual appeal and story quality. Gone is the humor and emotional clarity of each episode and its conflicts, replacing those are a cloud of gloom and doom ushered in by Dewey and his machinations of world destruction and sci-fi prophecy mumbo jumbo. This acts as a bit of spoiler to the beginning of the series, chocked full of emotional rollercoaster moments, good humor, and effectively simple plot structures. Not even Renton and his comic relief is safe as the dark turns get thrown at the crew so fast he can’t go through his usual “mope, mope, joke” structure of emotional coping. Now it’s just “mope” mixed with emotional outbursts that grind on both the crew and the audience watching him. I liken it to dealing with a teenager whose only emotional response is something you’d find scribbled on the back of a My Chemical Romance album, depressing and angry.
Visually, repeated animations and blurrier action sections are most noticeable, especially when compared to the fluidity of the first section. Luckily the finale takes whatever budget was left and really tries to blow the doors off the place, and to mostly great effect. Kinetically spastic robot combat, planet-cracking machinations, and alien superstructures coat the screen in what feels like a deliberately exotic display attempting to make up for the drab of the previous handful of episodes. Luckily for us, the soundtrack stays strong through the entire series with its haunting mix of rock and electronica creating a freshly tense atmosphere normally reserved for sweeping orchestral soundscapes.
At $50 (MSRP 69.99) USD, Eureka Seven’s complete BluRay collection is well worth the entry price for one of the decade’s most notable blends of action, adventure, and romance.
A scifi classic, Eureka Seven’s Bluray collection is the definitive version to own. Chronicling Renton Thurston’s journey of love, self-discovery, and epic trappar shredding feels just as compelling as the series’ original 2005 debut. Packed with a meatier special feature set than most and an excellent 1080p conversion, Studio Bones has released something truly worth owning for fans of the series and of the mecha genre in general. It’s just a pity my set had some type of audio based aberration.
Japanese Language, English Language, English Subtitles, Actor Commentaries, Voice Actor Interviews, Episode 50 (Special Textless Version), Textless Songs, U.S. Trailer, Trailers
Content Grade: B+
Audio Grade: A+
Video Grade: A
Packaging Grade: A
Menu Grade: C
Extras Grade: B+
Released By: Funimation
Release Date: August 30th, 2016
Running Time: 1250 Minutes
Video Encoding: 1080p AVC
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Samsung 46” 1080p TV through Yamaha 5.1 Surround System.