Eureka Seven Vol. #12 (also w/special edition) (of 12) (Mania.com)

By:Chris Beveridge
Review Date: Friday, May 02, 2008
Release Date: Tuesday, April 15, 2008



What They Say
Deep within the Scub Coral Command Center, Renton is reunited with his long lost sister Diane. In a vast and mysterious library the origins of the Scub Coral and the history of mankind are revealed. Learning from the follies of the past can the two races create a future united?

Dewey stands before the final precipices of his mad plan, prepared to destroy a world he has judged as beyond redemption. Using the suborbital super weapon Oratorio #8 a hole is driven through the crust of the very world and Anemone is dispatched on one final mission. As The End descends upon the Command Cluster, Dominic follows through the rapidly closing hole in a desperate attempt to save not only the world but the girl he loves.

The Review!
Everything reaches a climax as the world is at risk and the future is in the hands of the next generation.

Audio:
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.

Video:
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. 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 and what little issue we had with de-interlacing in the first volume has disappeared in the shift over to the Blu-ray player.

Packaging:
The final volume cover art for Eureka Seven is intriguing in that it hints at the future more than anything else as it shows to children that look similar to Renton and Eureka but with some key elements switched. The visual of them looking off into the distance while wearing bathing suits is somewhat surreal, but it all fits perfectly for this final volume as it speaks to the future more than the present within the shows continuity. The back cover utilizes a rather bland shale blue background that doesn't have much to it but does make it fairly easy to read the text. 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.

Menu:
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.

Extras:
The included extras for the final volume are once more good and very Japanese centric. The final Japanese commentary track is included, done originally for episode fifty, and it brings in the voice actors for Renton and Eureka as well as the sound director and the series director. The last episode also has its entire episode presented in a clean fashion, which is kind of unusual as I'd expect them to just clip the opening and closing portions of it for here. It does at least allow you to watch it without any of the credits which is a plus as there are a lot of good moments here, but it would be something that should have been done as seamless branching and an option via the setup menu. Rounding out the extras is another trailer for the video game.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Back when Eureka Seven first started showing up as trailers and previews here in the US, I was admittedly skeptical on some level just because of the awkward nature of that first episode. At the time, I had friends overseas who were watching it live and the show was something that just didn't click well for the first half dozen or so episodes for a lot of them. But suddenly they found out what the show was really shooting for and it won them over handily. I felt the same way at the start because those early episodes with Renton just felt like bad angst filled drama that I couldn't connect with. I could understand a younger audience getting into it, but after some of the shows BONES had done before then, I was feeling a bit let down.

As the series progressed however, it captivated me. As it revealed its nature, and that it would go the distance with these characters, it won me over. Beyond some of the predictable moments involving Eureka's kids, I found the show to engage me completely with each volume. The stories of the characters flowed well together and the progression of events unraveled in such a way that it teased while providing plenty of payoff. When Charles and his wife showed up in the series it became something even more amazing as it started to tighten up and define itself even more. So with these final four episodes, there's the fear that it won't finish in a way that would satisfy or it would just completely crush me with what they could put the characters through.

So much has been building up over the ten or so episodes, as is something of a tradition with shows of this length and ones by people of this caliber. The way things have barreled forward as Dewey has begun his master plan and put all his pawns out there has been fascinating to watch as is watching how everyone else copes with it and tries to stymie him. His plans to deal with the scub coral have gone to a huge level, one that at times feels a little over the top, but his reasons are certainly sound as he wants to save the world in his own way. What makes it so startling is when we get the realization of just what the world is after all.

Perhaps I had missed something earlier, or I'm a bit simple minded, but when Eureka and Renton arrived on Earth it left me perplexed at just what had happened and what it all meant. I had thought maybe I missed a few key frames when I blinked or something. With the opening episodes here, we get a very much needed history lesson on what happened back on Earth ten thousand years ago with the arrival of the scub coral and how it impacted things. How it changed the world and how humanity attempted to deal with it. The revelation, to me at least, that the world we've been watching was underneath everyone all this time is simply fascinating. Almost serving like a Dyson Sphere, the planet had been covered in the scub coral without the current generation of humanity realizing it. And Dewey intends to take down the control center of it all with his satellites so that humanity can reclaim the world from the scub.

As a finale to the series, the creators have dealt with a number of small story elements that needed to be dealt with. They didn't feel rushed and there are some wonderful moments of beauty to be found amid all the action, destruction and impending doom. Eureka Seven admittedly plays out predictably in this area once the story is set up in full, but the smaller stories are what kept me so fascinated with it. The big picture has its appeal and it won me over handily, but it's the accents that give it the heart that it has. One of the best moments comes when Anemone is down below in an attempt to take out the Nirvash for Dewey and Dominic comes in to try and stop her. This pairing has been a lot of fun from the start, much like Ray and Charles in a way, and to see them finally have their connection is almost magical. Anemone has been such a bipolar character because of what she's gone through that to see her finally win out in a way here just warmed my heart, especially with the beautiful animation that came with it.

The last episode of the series is one that is simply pure payoff from start to finish. The emotions of the characters are strong, the animation is stunning at times and the script just keeps it flowing along smoothly. There are some moments where it gets a bit too lovey dovey and even a bit silly, but within the framework of the show it fits perfectly. This is the Second Summer of Love after all and if you can have that love expressed in a visual sense like they do here, especially with the Nirvash, then it misses the point entirely. BONES won me over completely with this last episode and their tender, peaceful one year later epilogue at the end that teases with potential. While it has left me satisfied and happy, it does leave me wanting to see much more of how it could all turn out.

In Summary:
When it comes to long series involving companies like BONES and Bandai, there are certain expectations that I have. I expect to find the early part of the series chaotic and often times not all that engaging. I expect for the middle section to torment me with its setup by showing a level of depth that is possible with intrigue, politics and more. And then I expect the last ten episodes or so to be all about the payoff. Eureka Seven essentially lived up to those expectations and the model I've become familiar with those involved. This final volume is a wonderful capper for the series and it has cemented it as a show that I desperately want to see again in collected form in a marathon session. It's been a very long series to watch with twelve volumes but it's been one of the best shows of the last decade of this length. It requires time and effort to go through but in the end it has left a permanent mark on me as a show that has struck a chord with me. Very highly recommended.

Features
Japanese 2.0 Language,English 2.0 Language,Episode 50 textless ending w/commentary track,SE: - Psalms of Planets Eureka Seven Complete Best CD,SE: T-Shirt,SE: Video Game Manga Vol.2

Review Equipment
Panasonic PT50LC13 50" LCD RP HDTV, Panasonic DMP-BD10 Blu-ray 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: A-
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
MSRP: 29.98/59.98
Running time: 100
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Eureka Seven