Eureka Seven Vol. #01 (also w/box) (of 12) (Mania.com)
Review Date: Tuesday, April 18, 2006
Release Date: Tuesday, April 25, 2006
What They Say
Eureka Seven tells the story of a young boy named Renton, whose life just plain sucks. That is, until a giant robot crashes into his house. Piloted by a girl named Eureka, this encounter will lead Renton to be pursued by the military and pulled into a web of drama, intrigue, and non-stop action. Renton's time to daydream is over.
After living a boring fourteen years of life, Renton suddenly finds everything he ever dreamed of is now happening and reality is nothing like his dreams.
For our primary viewing session, we listened to this show in its original language of Japanese. The series sports a solid stereo mix that has a good deal of directionality across the forward soundstage both for dialogue and action effects. The action effects are the ones that are much more noticeable though as the LFO's and ships are flitting about the screen but some of the dialogue is very well placed as well. We spot checked some of the English track as well and that came across essentially the same. We had no problems with dropouts or distortions on either language track during regular playback.
Originally airing in 2005, the transfer for this TV series is presented in its original full frame aspect ratio. The materials for this show look to be in pristine shape as expected and it really shines through here, especially as the first series that we've put through the HD DVD player with its upconversion feature. The series has a lot of vibrant colors to it at the start, from the massive amount of green in the backgrounds that looks fantastic to the kinds of colors you see on the LFO's such as Navish with the sharp whites and vibrant pinks. A lot of sky is used throughout the show and the blues, an area that typically shows some movement or break-up, is very solid here. The transfer is free of aliasing and cross coloration but some of the fast paced scenes showed a slight bit of interlacing but that's more attributed to the upconversion than anything else.
The cover art for the first volume has the same artwork as the Japanese release with Renton pulling along his bike and board against a mixed red/grey background. It's not the most exciting cover out there but I'm glad the Japanese artwork was used since future volumes have some really good pieces. The back cover is designed with an attractive shot of the sea blending into the sky and it has a good summary of the premise and lists all the discs episodes, features and extras clearly. The bottom portion is filled out with the typical things such as the staff and the basic bit of technical information. No insert is included with this release.
The first volume has also been done as a limited edition box set which is filled with a number of items. The box itself is a very solid chipboard box that's the top-lifting type which will throw some folks at times as they pull it off the shelf. The artwork on the box set is very slick as the two main panels feature either Renton or Eureka with the funky lettering around them and a heavy dose of grey that draws out their colors. The side panels feature more of the cast members from the Gekkostate in either bright vibrant colors or a subdued lime green filter. The bottom half of the box just has the logo in black but it looks good as an overall package. Inside the box is a good collection of materials to kick off the show. The weakest depending on your body type is the brown large t-shirt that has the gekkostate logo on the front and the Eureka 7 logo on the back. The first volume of the manga, which is also Bandai Entertainment's first manga release, is included as is the double disc CD release of the series soundtrack. This release is a good multimedia release of the series in that you get audio, video and print as well as something to wear.
The menu layout is nicely done and straightforward with a series of clips playing behind a cut up display with a bit of music playing along to it. The bottom of the menu has the navigation strip which is kept minimal and works well. The clips that play are mostly of action sequences from the first few episodes and it works well with the opening song music that keeps it flowing nicely. Access times are nice and fast but unfortunately the disc did not read our players' language presets and played English language with sign/song subtitles.
The opening volumes has a couple of good extras to it that help flesh things out though it'll appeal more to the Japanese language fans. In addition to the always welcome clean opening sequence, there's also the first in a Q&A series with the voice actors. This one starts off with the actresses behind Renton and Eureka and covers what they think of the show and how they approach their characters. Also included on the release is a commentary track by the two actresses. In the original Japanese release, there was a commentary track on each volume so it'll be interesting to see if we get more of them in this series release.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
With the first five episodes of Eureka 7, the main thing that I can say about it is that it is simply a heck of a lot of fun. The series introduces a number of concepts into its first few episodes between how the people live, the political and social make-up and a bit of a surfer mentality as well with the concept of lifting. Of course, all of it is tied around the introduction a fourteen year old boy who through we'll see the show.
The shows pedigree is one that certainly has me interested in seeing where it's going to go in the long term. Coming from Bandai through the creative efforts of Bones with Dai Sato, one of my favorite scripters of the day, the fifty episode series has a pacing to it that allows it to take a bit more time to introduce things and to let the character introductions and growth occur a bit slower than what most people are used to these days with so many twelve episode series running out there. While it's not a Gundam series, the series length is similar and from past experience there, this looks to be another show where it'll be in the late teens before we really start to see what the series is angling to be all about.
Centered around young Renton, we're introduced to a teen who lives in a remote area where nothing seems to happen and that sums up his life to this point. While it's certainly true, there's a bit of perspective to be put into it as well. Renton is the son of Adroc Thurston, the man who supposedly saved the world some years ago but is now all but forgotten by most people. His father was apparently central in bringing about the LFO's as well, mecha-like devices that "lift" through the central energy waves that reside throughout the planet, sort of a natural life force of a sort that can be used to ride machines on, be they the giant mecha or just surfboards. Renton's lost his father through all of this but along the way he lost his older sister as well who went off to search for him. He's been left with his grandfather who has a hatred for a lot of things about the modern world and has in his own way little love for what his son has gone and done.
Renton being a typical teen, he's got his idols which include Holland and the gang on the Gekkostate, a sort of pirate/smuggler kind of group It's little coincidence when Holland and the group end up showing up at his place where his grandfather works as a mechanic. As it turns out, Renton's grandfather has been holding onto a particular add-on to the drives that power the LFO's for his son and has just been waiting for the day when Holland and others with him would come for it. What he didn't expect is that someone like Eureka, a somewhat cool and child-like young woman would be there as well in the Type Zero called Nirvash, an LFO that's one of the first and one of the one's that changed the world. And he certainly couldn't have expected that Renton would become smitten with her nor that by getting close to her that he'd actually be able to finally pull off moves with lifting that he's never been able to before.
Renton's joining up with the Gekkostate is essentially a prologue to the series. Once he's on board we start to get more of an exploration of the world at large and how the Gekkostate operates, from its shoestring budget to the way that they're treated almost as rock stars by their fans. They show up in magazines such as ray=out and some of the members have a fashion budget so that they can help up the reputation of the group. At the same time, the Gekkostate is being chased by the State Forces for reasons not divulged yet and their attempts to capture them are hampered by an interesting component called the Aviation Corporation, a group that's responsible for handling the massive city states where all the lifters of different types park throughout the world. Through meeting some of the characters on these sides, we start seeing some of the characters that are going to have impact later on as the cast is definitely expansive.
Eureka 7 reveals itself slowly and is taking its time in doing so but it is also filled with a number of excellent action sequences that help move things along. I'm typically loathe to compare shows to other shows but this one has such a strong feeling of other things at times. With the series structure and design by Dai Sato, my interest was already high since he wrote a lot of my favorite Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex episodes. The Bones animation is gorgeous throughout with a lot of great looking character designs, pieces that don't always look like every other show out there. While Renton does look reminiscent of some of the younger wolves from Wolf's Rain, I love that Holland looks like an updated grey-haired version of Mugen from Samurai Champloo. But what's really kept me hyped on the show as it played out is the music from Flow which when run during some of the action sequences or fast paced areas is like we're seeing a variant on FLCL in front of our eyes. With all of these elements combined, Eureka 7 is highly appealing.
With series from Bandai that run in the 50 episode range, experience has taught me that they tend to be shows that take awhile to reveal themselves. With such a high profile team of creative people active on it and an opening set of episodes that have shown us an interesting world and characters to populate it, it's one that I'm definitely looking forward to seeing how it will grow and change. This release provides a lot of material from all different aspects of its release in Japan in one shiny package which puts it ahead of a lot of other releases right there. While there are the usual kinds of clichés that you see at the start of any series, there are a lot of very interesting hooks as well that will appeal across different audiences and genders. I'm already counting down the days until I can get my hands on the second volume.
Japanese 2.0 LAnguage,English 2.0 Language,English Subtitles,Interviews with Cast Members,Clean Opening, Audio Commentary,LE: Eureka Seven Original Soundtrack,LE: Eureka Seven Vol. #1 Manga,LE: Eureka Seven T-Shirt
Panasonic PT50LC13 50" LCD RP HDTV, Toshiba HD-A1 Progressive Scan HD DVD player via HDMI -> DVI with upconversion set to 1080i, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Monster component cable and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.
Mania Grade: B+
Audio Rating: B+
Video Rating: A
Packaging Rating: A-
Menus Rating: B+
Extras Rating: A-
Age Rating: 13 & Up
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: Bandai Entertainment
Running time: 125
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Eureka Seven