Monday, March 1, 2010

Eureka Seven

Hello, Space Monkees!

(Translation note:  for whatever reason, the name of this show is not pronounced in the proper manner with a long vowels sounds.  Instead both the title and the titular characters have their names pronounced in an odd Japanese way.  The English dub doesn't even pull it off, as the first vowel sound is nearly impossible for an English trained dub.  Most of the English voice actors say "El-rekka" or "Ay-rekka".  Not that any of this matters since this is a silent review, but keep it in mind when reading Eureka's name.)

This is exactly the kind of show that I needed after "Gundam X".

Where that was pointless, scatterbrained, and ultimately just plain old boring, "Eureka Seven" is deep, focused, and a long enjoyable story.  I think one of "Gundam X"'s most singular flaw was that ultimately in the end, it was just a show about giant robots fighting, nothing more.  The plot, the characters, everything, it was just an excuse to get big machines beating the gears out of each other, with the plot just being some kind of facade to make things seem more important than they really were.  "Eureka Seven" is a full face-turn.  Yeah, there are giant robots beating the gears out of each other here, but I think the robots are the facade here - trying to draw in viewers with absolutely awesome bits of action while really telling an emotional love story.

Don't get me wrong, "Eureka Seven" isn't simply a correction of everything wrong with "Gundam X".  Even on its, without any preconceptions at all, I have to admit this is as good as anime gets.  You cannot ask for much more than this.

"Eureka Seven" is the tale of Renton Thurston, a young boy who is the son of the great hero of the entire world:  Adroc "the King" Thurston, who saved everybody from a calamity called the "Summer of Love".   (Get used to all sorts of strange terminology, as this show loves making up concepts and not bothering to explain exactly what they are for dozens of episodes.)  Renton is all alone in the worst except for his bitter grandpa, as Adroc disappeared saving the world and Renton's beloved sister, Diane has went missing years afterward.  A major gimmick of the show is that during Renton's own internal monologuing, he is actually addressing "sis".  Where she is and what Adroc did to save the world is just one of the numerous mysteries that continue on during this show.  Notably, unlike certain other giant robot animes ("Neon Genesis Evangelion"), "Eureka Seven" actually explains everything in the end for you]

All Renton really wants to do is Lift, sort of flying on surf boards while streams of visually dynamic green energy follows you, like his hero, Holland of the rebellious battleship, the Gekkostate.  Unfortunately, as he describes his life in typical teenager fashion, "everything sucks" because his boring old town has no good Lifting spots and Gramps is far too grumpy to let Renton follow his dreams.  That is until a mysterious girl crashes her giant robot, the Nirvash, onto Renton's house.  She is Eureka*, a member of the Gekkostate that Renton is inevitably going to join due to plot convenience/contrivance.  Also Renton is 100% in love with her.  There's only a few problems:  1) the typical relationship foibles, 2) she has adopted the exact same annoying little kids from "Mobile Suit Gundam", and 3) she isn't entirely human.

Normally characters of Eureka's archetype in anime are just cold emotionless on the outside dolls.  If you do get any sparks of emotion, it will be for the very briefest bits of time and then they're back to being robots.  Eureka is a robot for all of five minutes, but she breaks out of this shell fairly early.  Her love for Renton, her difficulty in understanding what exactly she is, and her fear of what the heck is happening to her make her a far more approachable character than say Evangelion's resident blue-haired alien guy.  Or being a bit more personally topical, she's better developed than "Gundam X"'s horrible, nothing-to-say love interest, Tiffa.  Also unlike "Gundam X", the supporting characters are fully fleshed out; nobody is spared an emotional backstory.  Its a cast you can love from the start for their faults and strengths - even the annoying little kids grow on you after awhile.

Yeah, I really cannot stop trashing "Gundam X".  I can't help it.  It was so bad.  I really was caught off-guard as to how boring that show would be.  Luckily "Eureka Seven" is better in every way.

The plot, though hardly the darkest thing anime has ever produced, remains fairly serious and realistic throughout.  When a character dies, they die.  There are a few random faceless mooks, but any time a named character dies you will know there entire backstory, personality, and dreams for the future.  Even the villains are shown to be either completely sympathetic or products of their environment.  Going into details would involve far too many spoilers, but needless to say the character arcs are understandable and realistic.  Renton especially has real growth, going from a whiny little kid to a almost a father of a family himself (though without aging).  This is probably due to "Eureka Seven"'s expansive size, with almost twice the length of a normal anime at fifty episodes exactly.  Instead of the story rushing at light speed to fit the medium, "Eureka Seven" gets to take its time and develop the characters' evolution.

In fact, the plot moves at a fairly leisurely pace, especially for a giant robot anime.  I mean, it isn't on the level of ".hack//SIGN", AKA the slowest TV show of all time.  Robot battles, which typically would be the focus of any giant robot anime, instead are pretty few and far between.  Maybe half the episodes actually feature a giant robot doing any real damage.  Notwithstanding, the action is incredibly cool, especially the last few.  Because the robots are all Sky Surfing, the action is fast and full of great twists and turns.  If you enjoyed the space battles of "Cowboy Bebop", the action of  "Eureka Seven" will blow your mind to sky.  I mean, simply the battle between the Nirvash and its main rival robot, TheEND makes this entire show a spectacle worth watching.  The point is, "Eureka Seven" has so much more than the spectacle, which is exactly what makes the show so wonderful.

Presentation though, is where the entire thing comes together.  The music?  Just wonderful.  I mean, there are so many tracks here that I love and have stuck in my head right now.  Especially the fourth opening theme, Sakura, which combines techno J-pop with Amazing [Freaking] Grace!  I love this song!  The art style moves towards the colorful with tons of rainbow energy blasts, chromatic robots.  Even the smoke is pink.  As for the voice acting its excellent in both English and Japanese.  You'll find that "Eureka Seven" has managed to find just about the very best anime English actors in the entire business.  Notably one of them is none other than Mr. Cripsin Freeman, also known as "Mr. Sexy Voice".  Dear God, Freeman, your voice is so awesome, it weeps me just go numb.  I would marry your voice.  I'd bare its children.

Okay, here's where I have to put the cons, I'm afraid.  If you bother to keep count, you'll find that "Eureka Seven" probably has more tears than any other show ever made.  At least once an episode, somebody is going to cry.  Renton and Eureka have cried so much and so often I'm stunned they haven't busted their tear ducts.  There's a lot of psuedo-science nonsense to explain the oncoming end of the world which I really don't buy (information quantum mechanics?).  Also, if you want your endings to make sense and not be driven by a long string of dues ex machinas created by the Power of Love, you're not going to be happy with the last episode.  However, I think it fits the theme of this show.  These are just minor issues.

So if you want an anime to fall in love with, I recommend "Eureka Seven".  Want to enjoy a rich story with character growth and a nice ending?  "Eureka Seven".  Kick-ass action and great music?  "Eureka Seven".

However, if you want something to hate and despise forever, there's always "Gundam X".

* I assume Eureka's last name is "Seven", thus explaining the title.  No better explanation is ever given.  Then again, I thought the hero of a certain Square Enix RPG had the full name of "Chrono Trigger", so what do I know?


  1. You know, it's strange. I read some Eureka Seven fanfiction but never saw the actual anime. I may give it a try, after FMA Brotherhood and Axis Powers Hetalia.

  2. Yeah, I'm watching Full Metal Alchemist Redux myself right now. I'm meaning to get around to the original Full Metal Alchemist some day. For the longest time I only knew it as "that show X-Play always complained about".


  3. If it follows Japanese pronunciation, I presume it would be pronounced "eh - oo - reh - ka" (anyone prefer IPA?)

    I admire the fact that you can still find time to watch anime and blog, Blue, what with being in college and all.

  4. Blue, I think I asked you this before, but have you seen Code Geass? It, too, is a giant robot anime with a deep story.

  5. this has to be the only anime I've ever actually liked, the others being the kamikaze screaming, cut someones head off variety

  6. "I admire the fact that you can still find time to watch anime and blog, Blue, what with being in college and all."

    I think he probably does what I do. Which is not sleep until 3 AM every night and recharge over the weekend. XD I need to stop that, lol...

  7. I don't really watch anime's anymore, but 50 episodes? Is that per season, or was the airtime once a week? Or is it seriously only 50 episodes? Because to me that doesn't seem like much. Oh, and I lol'd at the Chrono Trigger comment >_<

  8. @YKProductions

    Animes usually last only have a year in Japan. Many animes, Like EVA and Bebop, have only 26 episodes.

    However, it seems Japan do run shows per half-year. FullMetal Alchemist was one year, Eureka 7 was one year, Death Note was 75% of a year, etc.

    Unless it's based on a manga, animes are rather short.

  9. I can't tell if you were being serious when you said you thought Crono's last name was Trigger. Were you?

  10. @Yuany: I find a lot of free time here at college. Having a BS major helps.

    @Drake: Uh, yeah, I was 100% serious.

  11. that's why Naruto and DBZ were so long, lmao. Thanks guys, I didn't know that.

  12. This anime is one of the best out there. However, Gundam seed is still my favorite. Code Geass is good to but Lulu goes crazy just like Light from Death note^^ Well a least Lulu did the right thing by ending his life.

  13. Check out my blog too. I'll be bloging about anime and manga as well