Holland Novak, father of the year.
Review copies for both parts 1 and 2 were provided by FUNimation Entertainment.
Check out Kaushik’s review of the classic 2005 anime too.
Since Bandai Visual Entertainment went under, FUNimation and other companies have picked up the licenses to a lot of old series they dubbed and have decided to re-release these classics on Blu-Ray for the first time! So given the chance to revisit an old favorite, what does the Inverseman think of Eureka Seven nine years later? Find out inside!
Renton Thurston is an average teenager whose late father somehow saved all of humanity. But none of that matters to him, Renton just a kid who enjoys “lifting” (think surfing but with hoverboards called Refboards), and is bored with life until a mysterious girl named Eureka literally crashes into his life riding the LFO Nrivash typeZERO. It turns out Eureka is part of the Gekkostate, a rebel group led by the famous lifter Holland. Renton thinks he’s just entered paradise and found true love, but his expectations soon meet reality. There’s a lot more to the Gekko, its crew, and the world than on the outside.
The first thing to know about Eureka Seven is that it’s incredibly long. We’re looking at fifty episodes, and that’s not including the movie and 24 episode sequel season (read our reviews here). When you start watching, you’re in it for the long haul, but I’d also say that this weakness is also its strength; you get inside the characters in such a deep level that only fifty episodes could do. As the viewer you dig so much into Renton and the Gekkostate. Honestly, the lasting power which makes this show what it is is the cast.
Expect to likely dislike Renton when you first meet him: he’s a whiny naive kid to the core, hopelessly crushing on Eureka, who is incredibly emotionally stunted herself. In spite of his flaws and childishness, you stick with him and really see him grow, not in a linear fashion but all over. As a viewer you start to root for Renton more, watch him struggle with his emotions for Eureka, see his relationships develop, understand family on a deep level, see him take responsibility, see him fail at it, and ultimately become an adult.
And the development isn’t just limited to Renton either. Eureka, who obviously has more to her than the outside, becomes more human with each experience she has with Renton. Holland comes to grips with his skeletons and actually does a little growing up himself. In fact, much of the whole cast, even minor characters and the antagonists, get rich time to really develop in human ways, not like little progress bars. You wind up caring for just about every character you meet, even the military.
At the centerpiece though, is Renton and Eureka’s relationship. You see the two start distant and little by little they come together and capture an innocent pure love for each other, one that is actually put to the test by the end of the series. Eureka faces all of the emotional spectrum from romance, to guilt, to parental love, to sadness, to joy all brought out from sharing her experiences with Renton. Renton himself learns that simply just playing love at first sight won’t do and you see him truly learn to commit to Eureka as well from all the ups and downs of his maturing alongside her and their odd “family” too. Ultimately, the two learn to “not beg for things,” to “do it yourself or you won’t get anything” in their pursuit of each other. It’s difficult these days to write a love story in anime that doesn’t ride on cliches, but even more so one akin to Eureka Seven.
While the characters are amazing, the plot has a few lasting holes that still could have been patched up by the end of the series. To this day we still don’t know exactly why or how the Amita Drive exists or how exactly Adrock Thurston saved the world from the First Summer of Love. Not to mention we never really did get closure as to what Desperation Disease was either after all these years and a sequel. Then there are also a lot of odd plot details that stay in the dark for a while to keep the audience as naive of the world as Renton, but when they are revealed it isn’t clean so they become easy to miss.
Other than these inconsistencies, the plot is enjoyable though and actually tackles tough questions of racial and religious tolerance that were very important in the mid-2000s. Namely there’s a theme of harmony not just among humans but also with the planet as well, you could almost say the planet is a character too. Only after we’ve really warmed up to the characters and seen them grow do we finally get our “battle to save the world”, but when we do that battle becomes so much more meaningful so at least it’s well paced into two halves, a motley crew of surfers somehow caught up in a world a lot bigger than they thought.
The design of the Land of Kanan and the overall world is bursting with character. The otherworldly buildings are grand and the scub corals are enigmatic. At first, the viewer really doesn’t know what they are, only that they’re there. In this essence, choosing not to pour out boring exposition and leave viewers wondering works. You don’t know what trapars are but you eventually figure it out by the third or fifth episode at the latest. When not being surrounded by these alien-like structures and corals, everywhere you see references to music, skate culture, and surf culture as if you probably would buy an issue of ray=out yourself or see the Gekkostate somewhere in sunny California. The combination of the two elements with Bones’ strong art direction makes for a subtly psychedelic experience. Yet the place where the world shines best is in the air. Battles in the LFOs aren’t your cut-and-dry shootouts; they carry tons of character from the way they ride the waves and perform various tricks in a visual spectacle unique in all of mecha anime to this day.
The soundtrack to the anime sounds as good as it looks. The orchestral moments play up the drama well while other pieces reflect the character of the show. To this day I still remember the scene where Eureka rescues Renton and all the suspense in between. The voice acting is solid, and for this review I’m paying a little more attention to the dub that aired on [adult swim], which is still solid years later. After all, many A-list voice actors like Stephanie Sheh and Crispin Freeman did help forge their breakouts on this series among others. One curious note is that the Blu-Ray release contains voice actor interviews and commentaries with the original and dub actors that were on the Bandai DVDs years ago. It’s pleasent to know that every last extra feature was preserved and oddly nostalgic to hear Yuko Sanpei’s thoughts and see Johnny Yong Bosch without a beard.
Eureka Seven is definitely a classic mecha, but with a twist. The heartwarming young romance is just as strong as the fighting and the personality of the show really makes it shine as a more atypical mecha series. If you like giant robots and don’t like your love stories being cursory subplots, this is a definite watch where the romance is the main event. It’s a little long and it’s not perfect, but nearly a decade later, it still holds strong. I give it a 4.5/5. Join me next time when I force my friends to play soccer.
– Amazing character development
– Solid art direction and animation
– Great voice acting and dub
– Plot has a few inconsistencies
– Length, while well paced, is hit or miss
Director: Tomoki Kyoda
Series Composition: Dai Sato
Music: Naoki Sato
Character Design: Kenichi Yoshida
Original Run: April 17, 2005 – April 2, 2006
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