Eureka SeveN - Psalms of Planet- Vol. #01 (Mania.com)
By:Eduardo M. Chavez
Review Date: Wednesday, April 05, 2006
Release Date: Sunday, April 30, 2006
Writer/Artist:Kataoka Jinsei / Kondou Kazuma
Translated by:Toshifumi Yoshida
What They Say
Renton Thurston is a young 14-year-old who is tired of his monotonous life. The only thing that makes him happy is when he lifts, and extreme form of aerial hover-boarding. His feelings of frustration come from his life of toil in his grandfather's garage and being the son of an enigmatic, legendary hero. One day a large LFO (Light Finding Operation) craft called Nirvash falls from the sky and a beautiful young girl named Eureka emerges and asks for repairs. When a smitten Renton literally falls over himself to help her, the two begin a journey that will change both their destinies...
For their first release BANDAI appears to have come into the game running. If this volume had a dust cover I possibly would have confused it with a Japanese version. Printed in a B6 sized GN, this title is printed right to left with color plates. The cover features the original Japanese art (on both sides) with the original logo (in English and Japanese). The front cover features a portrait of the title's namesake Eureka, while the opposite cover has main character Renton both are on a static white field. The book's spine has the same logo and Eureka character art as well.
Inside, there are a couple pages of color plates. Color looks clean and the binding there is fine. The rest of the book looks fine as well. Mangaka Kondou Kazuma uses a lot of screen tone in a variety of grades and they generally look good. I did not notice moiré effects, though I do think the print is a little dark. Fortunately, the alignment is good, so there is very little to complain about here.
As far as extras go, this volume features 4 pages of omake comics, a page with messages from the mangaka and author, a Japanese staff/thank you's page and a two page preview splash spread for volume 2 (done in white on black).
Kondou's art really capture's BONES's designs perfectly. Looking through the Eureka SeveN website and checking out the previews for this title, I can see how Kondou was really able to get Yoshida Keniichi's sense of form and style perfectly. In typical BONES style, the characters have a lanky body big head look. Costumes are very hip, casual and functional. That style also carries over to the facial hair, accessories and hair designs. Everything is shaggy, baggy and fun (even the science jackets). There plenty of ethnic influence from all over the globe. The stereotypes are old, but they do no real harm. Line work is clean and strong even though Kondou's lines are generally thin. Kondou uses a lot of screen tone. Tone for depth, texture and shading. He mixes tone in for clothing patterns as well. This can be a little distracting but I did not mind it too much.
Backgrounds are solid. I wasn't expecting much for a shonen title, but Kondou really knows when to put them to good use. He draws them in when showing the mecha. He draws them in detail when inside a Federation Building to create a dramatic impact. And best of all he really draws landscapes well when characters are lifting. The layout really does a fine job to present the movement and technique of lifting (though I am not thrilled with the mech design). Kondou really frames those scenes well and it really did a good job helping set the tempo of this fast passed title.
Mechanical design is monstrous. The mechs are way too top heavy for how center of gravity maneuvers like sky surfing. The legs are very thin and the knee joints shouldn't be able to withstand the force and weight to control a board very well. I don't like the airships either. They look too sleek for big battleships. I also question the room for storage and offices, when judging at the scale from the inside.
Starting of with the positives, BANDAI does a great job with the SFX and aside text. SFX are all kept intact with small subs. They use a pretty small thin font for their subs which do not distract much from the original work nor compromise scenery designs. The asides, like the SFX, are surprisingly very rare in this shonen action title but those that I did see were overlaid nicely. Signage is also overlaid. I would rather see these translated in a glossary myself.
I might be nitpicking but I did find name order inconsistency in the omake section annoying. For the most part BANDAI translated names given name first, but on the staff page (after the mangaka/author messages) they are family name first.
The rest of the translation, by Toshi Yoshida (adapted by Trish Ledoux), is generally very good. Now here is where my problem is. I have not seen the anime in English, I don't know what these voices are over here, but a few of the characters sound seriously strange. Maybe it is the source material but at the start of this title Eureka talked a lot like Yoda. The dialogue is already short and choppy, so to hear phrases like "Still half asleep, this one" seriously caught me off guard, when from chapter two on her diction changes completely. The use of colloquialisms is another issue, but they were used in context so I didn't really care too much.
Contents: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Renton is tired of the monotony of life. He is tired of how boring his sleepy town is. He is seriously tired of having his life dictated by his gramps or by teachers or by officers that do not know anything about his passions in life. But if there is something he really can live without is having to live up to the legacy his father - legendary war hero Adrock Thurtson.
It is not that Renton does not want to be like his father. His father was a great hero who accomplished great things and brought peace to his part of the world. Renton just has to live in the world his dad left where adventure or even choice is not available. His future is either joining the military or becoming a junk man; essentially he is stuck in this sleepy village for the rest of his life.
So when a way out of town comes in on a hover-board, he realizes that he cannot pass on the chance no matter how dangerous. The way out is with the anti-Federation insurgents the Gekko State. This group of hover-boarding renegade vigilantes travels the skies doing something or another while supporting rebellion against the military industrial complex. They fight for their own future. They ride their own waves. And Renton is going to have to quickly learn that nothing is free unless you earn it.
Renton has to take this chance now. There will not likely be another one again. However, if he is going to take this path, he better understand that from this point on his life will not be easy. Everyday will mean new decisions he will have to make on his own. He might be poor, he might be bored and that might be all he will ever experience and unless he makes the right choices he will not be afforded second chances either.
One of the things I really hate about anime based manga is that you often need prior knowledge to fully appreciate these titles. Sometimes the series moves at a pace that moves too fast or it glances over details. Eureka Seven -Psalms of Planet- jumps into a property that itself starts off a little shaky. I saw Eureka Seven in Japan when it debuted on TV and it began with a dash of sky-surfing with some mecha action sprinkled in and nothing made a bit of sense.
Psalms of Planet starts off in a much lighter way, showing the monotony of Renton Thurston's life. The teens who would read this in Shonen ACE would easily relate to the boredom and repetition of being a youth. The lack of excitement of school, college and entering the work force is a dramatic contrast to the life of a rebel Renton and teens across the world would like to experience. So when Renton chooses to leave we quickly see the positives and negatives of living on your own. Renton's dreams of hover-boarding and dating the blue-haired girl become just that, dreams! Instead, the kid has to learn to take care of himself and not depend on anyone else. He has to learn to earn a living and also earn the respect of those around him. These are common themes seen more often in shonen anime than manga, but Kondou and Katayama really present this in a very casual way where the experiences not the outcomes (because they always turn out well) are critical.
If I do have problems with this title it has to come from the transitions. First with a cast as big as this, it is very difficult figuring out roles and relationships. So when the manga transitions from the Gekko State to the Federation (whatever it is called) I tended to get lost. I could not figure out what the government was fighting, let alone what exactly their problem with the Gekko State was. Outside of grand theft and some minor terrorism, even the Gekko State's motivations were rather cloudy. On one side you had a what I would describe as a surfing commune against a bumbling military state. Neither one was really exciting and I almost had to wonder why anyone would care what Gekko did anyway. Maybe the mere idea of a youth movement that did not involve the military would be considered rebellion in this world. Deep, especially in the context of our modern times, but quite likely to go over the heads of most shonen readers.
As far as adaptations go Psalm of Planet is actually pretty good on its own. Outside of the breakneck fast pacing and the lack of background laid down, the characters are fun and the youthful adventure is great. Yeah E7 as a whole is a bit derivative, but this manga really is a great example of a teen title where kids could pick up this title and completely immerse themselves with the fantasy of taking off and joining the circus... I mean hover-boarding squad. When I read this I didn't have a care in the world outside of finding lunch, hanging out with the girl I like and that next big wave. Good art, especially the rendering of BONES' designs, fun story and cool characters has got me interested in the E7 property again. (maybe I'll check out the anime again, when does that come out?)
Mania Grade: B+
Art Rating: B+
Packaging Rating: A-
Text/Translatin Rating: B
Age Rating: 13 & Up
Released By: Bandai Entertainment
Orientation: Right to Left