Eureka Seven Vol. #01 (of 10) (Mania.com)

By:Dani Moure
Review Date: Friday, October 13, 2006
Release Date: Monday, September 25, 2006



What They Say
From Studio Bones, responsible for acclaimed series such as Wolf's Rain, Cowboy Bebop and Full Metal Alchemist comes a new series filled with sci-fi, adventure and intense action !

Renton is a 14 year old boy who finds his life very boring, that is until Eureka falls into his life....quite literally!

He meets Eureka one day when she falls straight out of the sky in a giant robot, Nirvash, and disturbs his boring existence. Adventure, robots and sky surfing are going to be some parts of his new life!

The Review!
One of the newest series taking US TV by storm hits our shores pretty quickly with the release of the first volume of Eureka Seven.

Audio:
I listened to the English language track for my main review, having previously seen some of the episodes in Japanese, and I noticed no dropouts, distortions or other technical problems with the track, which is a pretty standard anime stereo mix with some decent directionality. The dub is pretty good so far, with Stephanie Sheh doing a good job as Eureka and Crispin Freeman his usual charismatic self as Holland. The generally very good Johnny Yong Bosch starts off a little shaky in a few places as Renton, but I'm sure an actor of his quality will grow into the role as the series continues.

I also spot-checked the Japanese track and noticed no technical problems with that either.

Video:
Presented in full screen, the video looks extremely crisp and sharp, showing off a really good transfer on the part of Beez. The colour palette the show uses is generally very bright, and that comes across with great vibrancy on screen. Alas, I only wish a show like this was in widescreen. I didn't notice any aliasing, cross-colouration or other artefacts during regular playback.

The English subtitles are white, in a clearly readable font, and I didn't notice any glaring errors.

Packaging:
The front cover has quite a striking layout, with an image of Renton on his bike in the top right. A small strip down the left contains the volume number with an amusing piece of text describing the show. The logo is below the image of Renton, along with a few select credits from the show. Four screenshots are also in a strip right at the bottom. The back cover includes a description of the show as well as an episode listing with brief summaries of each. There's no technical grid that usually appears on a Beez release, but technical specs are clearly listed, as are the extras. The cover, while busy, generally looks really nice and I just really like the different design and feel of it.

Also included inside the case is an 8-page booklet, detailing a few of the ships and who mainly pilots them, a listing of most of the Gekkostate members and who they are, and a little bit of information on the show. It's a really nice addition and shows that Beez really like to go the extra mile and actually care about the shows they're releasing.

Menu:
The main menu starts with a fairly lengthy opening animation, before cutting to the menu proper. The opening theme plays, while an image of Renton appears to the left hand side. On the right is the show's logo, a video segment playing clips from the show, and the selections underneath. There's also line art in the background, moving about. Sub-menus all have different music playing over them, and have different images but fit the same theme. There's a small transition as each menu fades to the next as well. They don't try to be too fancy, but are really stylised and in tone with the show and again, look really good. This is just a high quality release in general.

Extras:
There are a couple of really good extras on this volume. First is a fun audio commentary on the first episode with the Japanese cast. It's not wildly revealing or anything, but much like many English voice actor commentaries, it's a lot of fun to listen to (and they sure have a lot of energy!). The second main extra is an interview with Yuko Sanpei (Renton) and Kaori Nazuka (Eureka). It's another good piece as the actors discuss their thoughts on the show, and it runs about fifteen minutes in total. There's also a textless opening and closing thrown in for good measure.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Eureka Seven is a series that was just made to be a hit around the world. Co-produced by Bandai in the US, and coming from Studio Bones (they of smash hits like Fullmetal Alchemist and Wolf's Rain), the anime series was supported by a manga series and some video games to boot. The story, as presented in this first volume, is fairly straightforward and easily accessible, but also quite engrossing with a cast of characters that make events all the more entertaining.

Renton Thurston is the fourteen year old boy who takes centre stage in the show. His father was the legendary Adrock Thurston, renowned for riding waves called "trapars" found in the air using LFOs, the show's surfing mecha. Renton is tired with every day life in his town, living with his grandfather waiting to become a mechanic, and longs for the day he too can ride the trapar to his fullest potential, and join the group of riders called the Gekkostate, and their charismatic leader Holland.

It's not too long before Renton gets his wish, as the world's first LFO, the Nirvash Type Zero, lands on his doorstep (quite literally), along with its striking pilot Eureka. Renton takes to her immediately, with several nosebleed reactions, and as it turns out she just happens to be a part of the crew of the Gekkostate. His grandfather isn't pleased, but Renton wants to be a part of Gekkostate all the more, and after he helps them out of a tight spot, showing off the potential in his skills, Holland and the crew think he might be useful. Against his better judgment, Renton's grandfather agrees to let him go with them, and Renton's adventures begin.

Renton is, so far, your pretty typical teenager. Like most shows of this nature that run for so long (Eureka Seven is 50 episodes in total), if he's going to grow it'll be a progression as the series continues. For now, he is just a young boy who was bored with every day life (and living in his father's shadow) and wanted more, dreaming of lifting and joining up with those he admires. Despite his rather stereotypical appearance, he makes a good, watchable lead character that pretty much any viewer should be able to relate to; the youngsters are probably feeling the same right now, while older viewers will no doubt remember times when they had similar feelings. His attraction to Eureka is naturally the source of a lot of the comedy in these first five episodes, but thankfully its overplayed only to the point of still being funny, rather than to annoyance.

Of the other cast members, Eureka and Holland tie for the most interesting so far. Eureka has that air of mystery that so many anime females have nowadays in a series like this, but her bluntness makes her funny and her warmth towards Renton, in her own way, makes her more likeable. Holland is equally mysterious, but he is the series' epitome of cool and he plays the role extremely well. He's always there to save the day when he's needed, showing up criminals and looking out for Renton along the way.

The most other notable character is Talho, who gets a fair amount of focus in the last couple of episodes on the disc, and has already formed a really nice antagonistic relationship with Renton. Her constant ribbing of him is pretty funny (and hopefully won't wear thin too quickly), and it was actually really nice to see Renton standing up for her when she was getting attacked, trying to be the man. Even if he didn't manage to sort things entirely on his own, it gives us a chance to see what he's really made of and how he'll react more as the series goes on.

But while the characters are great, the story will probably be hit or miss depending on what you like. In many ways, similar stories have played out over and over again in anime, just with a slightly different premise and quirky feature. But if you go in to it realising that more than likely it'll have similar themes to several other shows, then you'll probably get a great deal of enjoyment from it. The idea of riding invisible waves to transport both yourself and robots makes for an enjoyable concept in itself, and when you add in all the other plot points (most of which just end up being questions without answers so far) you have a lot of story left to look forward to. Just what and why are the Gekkostate around? Who is Holland really, and what are his ties to Renton's family? Who is Eureka? Who is fighting them? The list could go on.

This is how it should be, of course, since this is still very early on in the series. It'd be unfair to wrap up this review without commenting on the general design/production aspect of things, as Eureka Seven does look really good. Not only that, but the voice-acting is good on both sides of the pond from what I heard, which again is how it should be.

In Summary:
There's a long way to go yet, but after this initial outing Eureka Seven seems like it could develop into a really fun, enjoyable show. Catering to all audiences, it's easily accessible with an interesting story and a hugely promising cast of characters. If it all continues to come together, this'll be a real one to watch. Kudos to Beez as well for a very good DVD presentation, and one that improves of the disc count of the US release (ten as opposed to twelve). I'm definitely looking forward to the next volume.

Features
Japanese Language (2.0),English Language (2.0),English Subtitles,Interview with Japanese cast (Part 1),Audio Commentary with Japanese Staff (Episode 1),Textless Opening and Closing

Review Equipment
Philips 28" Pure Flat Widescreen TV, Pioneer DV-464 code free DVD player, JVC gold-plated RGB SCART cable, standard stereo sound.



Mania Grade: B+
Audio Rating: B+
Video Rating: B+
Packaging Rating: A-
Menus Rating: A-
Extras Rating: B+
Age Rating: 12 & Up
Region: 2 - Europe
Released By: Beez
MSRP: £19.99
Running time: 125
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Eureka Seven