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Eureka Seven Hi-Evolution 2 Blu-ray Anime Review

7 min read
A mishmash that leaves few likely truly entertained or made better for it.

The story of Anemone gets more complex.

What They Say:
Witness the second movie of the high-flying trilogy, featuring the untold story of Anemone! See it all from her eyes—from the long-lost days of peace with her father, to every harrowing battle against Eureka and Renton. Mystery shrouds the outspoken mecha pilot and the origin of her dutiful assistant, Dominic. What will he reveal about Anemone’s past, and is she prepared to face the truth?

The Review:
The audio presentation for this release brings us the original Japanese language track and the previous English language adaptation, both of which are in 5.1, encoded using the lossless Dolby TrueHD codec. The action tends to be fast when it kicks into gear with the aerial fights as sounds whip around, but it’s never overpowering and it doesn’t feel gimmicky either. There is a good bit of impact with the bass level in several big action scenes as well which helps to give it some presence. Dialogue is well placed throughout, especially when there are numerous people on screen such as the bridge of the Gekkostate, and the depth is spot on as well in such scene. We listened to this almost entirely in Japanese having seen it in English theatrically but spot checking showed no issues with either language track.

Originally in theaters in 2018, the transfer for this feature film is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and is in 1080p using the AVC codec. Animated by Bones, the first act of the film is pretty much what you’d expect from a modern anime film with all the bells and whistles thrown at it. It’s a delight from top to bottom in showing off the action, the aerial fighting, the color vibrancy and design, and everything in between. It’s easy to be caught up in the whole thing as a kind of fireworks show even, just enjoying the spectacle of it all – since there’s little in the way of a discernible plot for any new viewer. Once past that, we get the TV material cleaned up here with a windowboxed presentation so that nothing is cut off from any of the sides. It looks good but obviously doesn’t hold up to what we start with considering its age. But it’s a clean look that retains the right kind of feel to it even while the color definition just can’t keep up tot he new.

The packaging design for this release comes in a standard-sized Blu-ray case that holds the two discs against the interior walls with no hinges. The set comes with an o-card slipcover that replicates the case artwork that utilizes the key visual/theatrical poster for this film with both Anemone and Eureka as they fall through the door to the universe. It’s a good looking visual with the color design and I like that the case went for a green stripe along the top for the format material. That this fits into a slipcase of the same just feels like overkill but it all works nicely enough to give us some good looking artwork. The back cover goes for an all-white background where we get a headshot of Anemone at the top and some nice shots from the film along the right. The summary of the premise is clean and simple and we get a good breakdown of the extras as well. Production information is straightforward in its super tiny legalese size while the technical grid breaks out both formats in a very clean and clear to read format. The first pressing sets come with a card inside while the reverse side cover artwork lets the two leads have their own panel with them set against some varied backgrounds.

The menu design for this release is one that adds a little flair to it as it’s made up of clips from the film, showcasing some really nicely designed locations and character material with colors that really stand out in a great way. This is in contrast to the slim navigation strip near the bottom that’s done in a garish green, tying into the cover nicely, which definitely stands out here. The selections are simple and easy to make and navigating for language or scene selection is a breeze as are the extras. Everything loads quickly and easy for it whether as the main menu or pop-up menu during playback and without issue. It may not be a big standout menu design but it’s effective in setting the mood.

This release has some good extras with it that’ll delight fans of the property. We get the familiar here with the teaser and trailers but we also get music videos and Japanese promos. The big piece is the new interview with Kaori Nazuka, the voice actress for Eureka, that was done at Anime Expo 2019.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
After the struggle that was the first film in the series, I had hoped that things with the Anemone film would come together a bit more clearly. The project is one that’s definitely interesting in how they’re putting it together as an expansion on past events but doing so through pulling from the past projects and adding new material. The previous works are all well-animated and it all ties together better than I would have thought initially in terms of the visual design, even if it is jarring for a while with it changing aspect ratios. But conceptually, I like that it draws material from the original, the young lovers film, and the AO series while adding all the new material it does.

And this one does feel like it’s going for a more cohesive approach at first with its focus on Anemone. Seeing her as a young child in the opening minutes sets some of the foundations, particularly with her happiness and family connections. It makes the shift to the teenage years fueled with anger and revenge jarring in its own way but I actually like that contrast because it shows how someone can change so much. The death of her father is a huge point in her life that radically alters her and the things she latches onto in the years afterward, for better and worse, help to mold her, such as her time with Dominic. But we also see the weird times in between as the film progresses and one of the grimmest of moment is when Eureka draws her to the five seconds before her father’s death and talks of being able to rewrite the world in a way that would bring them together. Eureka’s all about trying to get back to Renton herself so it’s not selfless but it’s a harsh moment to watch Anemone go through – though it’s also one of the weakest moments in the film for me visually with the CG character animation.

Once past the initial parts, it bounces around a lot and quite honestly I lost the plot along the way. The visual shifts are jarring, it moves backward and forward in time, it plays with the whole multiverse concept several times in a way that leaves you unsure of what they’re trying to accomplish here. It’s engaging watching as Anemone deals with the more immediate situations in front of her with the fights she engages in and seeing how we go from TV footage to film to AO and then new material here but at the same time you end up focusing more on just the how they did it as opposed to the story of what’s going on in those scenes. I like the material that we get with her and Dominic, and how she feels he doesn’t represent the Dominic she was communicating with by device at times, and seeing how her handlers deal with events as it goes further and further out of control in the face of Eureka 7. But so much of what’s going on here is so fractured in its approach that within the space of 90 minutes I ended up disconnecting more and more from the film and simply just enjoyed the visuals. Which is not exactly a ringing endorsement.

In Summary:
There is, quite simply, a lot working against this project. The distance from the original work, the frustrations people had with both the original film and the AO series, and the gaps between these films as well. The third and final installment is now set for 2021, three years after this saw its original Japanese release. Funimation put together a good release here in terms of the encoding, building upon the dub, and putting together a good looking package with some enjoyable extras and pack-in material. Eureka 7 was the kind of project back in 2003 that was stunning and engaging, keeping me enthralled with it. Now, it feels like it’s being poorly reheated by people who have a real love of it but aren’t able to go all-in with a full and fresh presentation, resulting in this mishmash that leaves few likely truly entertained or made better for it.

Japanese Dolby TrueHD 5.1 Language, English Dolby TrueHD 5.1 Language, English Subtitles, Interview with Kaori Nazuka at Anime Expo 2019, Music Promo Videos, Original Japanese Trailer

Content Grade: C-
Audio Grade: B+
Video Grade: A
Packaging Grade: B
Menu Grade: B
Extras Grade:B+

Released By: FUNimation
Release Date: March 3rd, 2020
MSRP: $34.98
Running Time: 100 Minutes
Video Encoding: 1080p AVC
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Widescreen

Review Equipment:
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.

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