Eureka Seven has been around for a little over four years and in that time it's made quite the name for itself. Licensed by Bandai Entertainment the show was not only successful enough in Japan to warrant 50 episodes, a slew of manga, a lot of games, and even a feature length film, but here in the States it landed on Cartoon Network's Adult Swim lineup. That means it joins the ranks of Wolf's Rain, Cowboy Bebop, Witch Hunter Robin, Death Note, and Samurai Champloo. That's some list of peers and it should clue you in that this show is something special.
On DVD Eureka Seven has enjoyed a fair amount of success as well. Twelve volumes of the show were released containing all 50 episodes plus supplemental material. Bandai finished releasing the individual installments well over a year ago, and if you're anything like me then you were waiting for the collection to come. Well, that day has arrived! All twelve discs have been reissued in the form of a two-part Anime Legends collection, with the first set being made available now. The second part comes out in about a month or so.
I must admit that prior to checking out this collection I had never really seen Eureka Seven. I caught the show on Cartoon Network a few times, but had no idea where it was in terms of story so I was quite lost. Buying twelve DVDs just didn't quite suit my budget (or shelf space) so I held off. Naturally when the opportunity came to check this set out I jumped at the chance! Man, am I glad I did! Eureka Seven is a fantastic show that keeps you glued from episode to episode, and it's something that lovers of mecha, science fiction, or just plain good anime need to consider watching. But what's it all about?
The show takes place on an undisclosed world at a point in time where humanity has unearthed monstrous and ancient machines known as LFO's. Natural changes have occurred through the world and all of the technology seems to run off of tapar, which is an energy of sorts that allows LFO's, boards, and ships to fly. Making matters worse, the tapar often times locked in the ground somewhere and frequent tectonic shifts cause quite a lot of damage when they happen. Cities have been leveled by these events, but in all fairness the militant government that controls the world has done much more damage to the livelihood of people. To that extent there are groups of people who live outside the law by running errands and doing odd jobs for people. One such group is Gekkostate.
Gekkostate is lead by a guy named Holland and consists of a group of talented ex-military types and LFO pilots. They were all part of a squad when they worked for the powers that be, but they became fed up with the military's policies and all the senseless slaughter, so now they enter battle against the organization they used to work for. They have become notorious and people around the globe idolize them for the freedom they embrace. One kid in particular looks up to Holland quite a bit, though he soon realizes that heroes aren't necessarily all they're cracked up to be.
Renton Thurston lives with his grandfather, who professes to being a simple mechanic though there are hints early on in the show that the Thurston name carries some weight. We soon discover that Renton's father, Adroc, is something of a legend. Songs are sung about the man and everyone's jaw drops when they realize that Renton is his heir. There's a bit of a mystery surrounding this connection as well as it becomes quite evident that Renton has a destiny of sorts that is tied together with a girl named Eureka and an LFO known as Nirvash, or Type Zero; the world's oldest LFO.
Since the story follows Renton we see just about all of it from his perspective. He's an average 14 year old, with all the mood swings and hormones that go with it. As such he instantly develops a crush for Eureka, whose odd styles and manners add to a certain mystique about her. Naturally when the opportunity comes to travel with Eureka and his idol Holland, he takes it. Renton joins the ranks of the Gekkostate and from there the mysterious nature about his relationship with Nirvash and Eureka grows. Nothing is really explained in this part, but we do get a lot of fascinating material before episode 26 brings it all to a close. As interesting as all of that is; and trust me when I tell you that it will keep you glued to the set, I found the character relationships and developments here to be the most involved aspect of the show.
Renton grows so much in such a short amount of time. You really get a feel for his character, that he's human and at that age where you're almost an adult but not quite. Eureka gets a boatload of screen time as well and she's every bit as engaging as Renton is as a main character. The other characters in the show all come across as richly developed and human as well. Holland in particular struggles with the responsibilities of leadership, ghosts from the past, and some personal demons. The only thing I didn't like about his character was the fact that he took out all of his anger on Renton, to the point that he continuously beats the kid up, yells at him, and treats him like crap. I can only hope that the next installment will offer up an explanation to all of this and see some resolution.
As it stands the first 26 episodes of Eureka Seven are downright awesome. I didn't feel that there was a single bad element to anything here and I was thoroughly entertained from start to finish. It's a rich, deep storyline with characters that are memorable and feel real. The constant sense of a mystery just beneath the surface keeps you coming back, and the burgeoning relationship between Renton and Eureka oozes charm. I can't wait for the second part and am kicking myself for not watching this show sooner!
Eureka Seven is presented on DVD with a 1.33:1 full frame aspect ratio as it was produced with in 2005. While the aspect ratio may leave something to be desired, the artwork is striking, fluid, vivid, and attractive. Every design in this show is something special and there's a lot to love with all the mecha, ships, characters, and environments presented here. The technical quality of the presentation is decent as well, though there are more flaws here than I would have liked. Some blocking is noticeable in parts and there is some aliasing at times. Grain isn't necessarily pervasive but it's visible enough to be noticed in darker sections of the show. All around this is a very good looking series, but it could have been oh so much better.
The show is presented on DVD with English and Japanese 2.0 stereo tracks. Considering this is an action based show with lots of shooting and explosions, I was really hoping for a stellar 5.1 English offering. Alas that wasn't in the cards, but it's nice to know that the 2.0 selections do offer a fine enough presence on the soundstage. It's annoying to note that there's little to no directionality and everything is relegated to the front channels. Some of the material comes across as kind of flat, while some of it does have a nice amount of depth. Overall both tracks do a fine job with the material at hand, though if you're looking for something that will work your system you're going to be left wanting.
Considering these discs are re-issues of the ones that were already available you can expect that the bonus features are going to remain the same. Each disc contains clean animations and trailers, but the real treat is the fact that they each contain interviews and commentaries with the cast. Some of these selections are quite lively, informative, and very interesting to watch. As is the case with any voice actor commentary you will only take so much away from them, but the fact that there are some of each of these features on each disc makes this collection quite bountiful.
Eureka Seven is a rock-solid show. It's wildly imaginative, engrossing, and heartfelt. I kind of passed off the show as being "kiddish" when it was on Cartoon Network, but after experiencing the first 26 episodes I've discovered that it's anything but. The presentation of the show could have used some work, and Bandai merely re-issued the original discs for this release, but altogether this is an experience that's not to be missed. If you didn't see it on Cartoon Network or didn't buy into the individual DVDs, consider this Anime Legends collection highly recommended.
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