It's weird - I'm confused by this movie, a lot of problems with it...yet despite the grade, it's definitely doing something for me. Like check out the main series.
What They Say:
It is the year 2054 and humankind is on the brink of destruction. A select few are evacuated to colonization spaceships just as the government is about to fire its doomsday device, the Hammer of God. Caught up in the midst of this war are two teenagers, Renton and Eureka, childhood friends who were raised together and became close when very young but were separated when Eureka was kidnapped by government forces eight years ago.
Now, Renton is a soldier enlisted in the Independent Youth Unit 303 of the First Mobile Force, piloting his own Nirvash, a bio-mechanical armour and control system based aboard the aircraft Gekko. Unknown to Renton, a plot has been hatched to extinguish an ongoing alien invasion, a plot that involves not only him, but also Eureka. Reunited, fate will test the young lovers as they fight for the future of mankind and for the fulfilment of their own dreams.
Unlike a series review, with it being a movie - decided to try and be unique and watch half the movie (first half) in Japanese, and second half in English. This was a good decision as both are in high quality 5.1 Dolby Surround where you can hear every heartbeat of the movie as the action flies by. No transition problems between subtitles and audio, the background effects are excellent in the fight scenes but not overpowering in the main audio, making this an excellent release from Manga Entertainment.
In a few series, I've moaned about some obvious problems in the test discs regarding visual quality. I'm happy to say that I didn't experience any problems regarding watermarks, resolution issues or slow down between subtitles and visuals. The video quality is superb in both full and wide screen format, with some really good animation, CGI effects and colour schemes flowing through the screen, ranging from dark and grainy atmosphere near the beginning, to full blooming colour during the fight scenes, and hellish and intimidating during the Anemone scenes. It helps that the screen effects seem to literally pull you in, as the animation is so good it does almost feel like 3D at times. Excellent stuff.
There was no packaging for this test disc.
The menu again is very classy, the opening menu has background clips on a hexagonal image from the movie on a grainy background with Eureka and Renton watching in the foreground. The selection is from Play. Scenes, Set Up and Bonus, and I'm happy to say this is a release that does allow you to pick which scenes you want - which isn't surprising when you compared a movie release to a series release obviously - when a selection is made, a sound effect combined with a ripple effect visually flows naturally into the selection, making the release seem much more real, like you're having a real experience with the movie.
There are two main extras on the release - one is the TV spots, a selection of brief Japanese commercial type television spots, showcasing the movie.
The second extra is a 50 minute documentary about the making of the movie, which is quite interesting because you get not just a few interviews with some of the staff and voices, you get some behind the scenes work regarding storyboards, voice acting, all the way up to initial release. Most of the interview part is with director Tomoki Kyoda, along with the Japanese voices of Renton, Eureka, Holland, Talho, Dominic and Anemone - there is plenty of discussion regarding the differences between the movie and the series, how the characters changed, how the script had to be revised, and the reaction to the changes. It all leads up to a live show discussing the movie to the first showing of it - literally taking it from start to finish and condensing it to 50 minutes. It's very interesting and does show fans what the process is to creating an anime movie, albeit briefly in all aspects.
Before I begin, I would like to say I have never seen the original series so whatever comparisons to the original there are, I don't have a clue about. I'm basically doing this review just as a movie on it's own.
That said, I get the feeling I need to watch the series. Not so much for the characters, but...well, you'll see.
We start off with what appears to be a flashback sequence involving child versions of our two leads, Renton and Eureka, who appear to be childhood friends who leave with a professor named Dominic who seems to be quite knowledgeable about some interesting alien facts - especially as it's revealed early on that Eureka seems to be hurt by light. It is revealed that there are invaders to Earth, the battle being between humans and aliens known as IMAGES, and Eureka is an IMAGE in human form raised together with Renton by the researchers who are trying to discover her secrets, but one day the military raided the research facility and took her away, leaving Renton only the memory of her face and some lucky seeds that she gave to him.
Cut to several years later, and Renton is serving as a pilot for the military, where a number of evacuations and battles with the IMAGES are already taking place. However, as luck would have it, during this mission he is able to find a now grown up Eureka from the military compound before the IMAGES can take her for their own needs. The groups' crew, particular a veteran pilot Holland, and his girlfriend Talho, seem to want to take care of the reuniting pair, but there definitely seems to be ulterior motives...
It's revealed that Eureka is in fact a spy for the IMAGES, but defaults to Renton's team mainly due to her friendship (and love) for the boy pilot. This leads to fights within the crew especially as Eureka is seen to be part of the Myth Rejuvination Project, a project that Holland states that she has the capacity to bring them to a place known as Neverland, which as the name probably fills you in, is a place that can stop you aging. Renton is not happy at a lot of these revelations and is basically forced to help them out for Eureka's sake.
The movie basically then goes into territory of Eureka and Renton rediscovering their lost romance, Holland slowly going more and more insane as he showcases his ideals (along with the surprising revelation that the crew bar Renton are in fact much younger than they appear, due to some unfortunate experiments in the past). It's at this point that certain sub-plots kind of intermingle throughout the film, such as the fact that Dominic, who was presumed dead, is in fact alive and has help from a goddess like being named Anemone, the fact that Talho is in fact pregnant, and the fact that it all appears to be the sake of a story that needs to be written - which leads to the conclusion of...well, an ending. Not really a happy or sad ending, but an ending.
And this is basically the main problem of the Eureka Seven movie. There is so much going on in a two hour movie - and unless you have prior knowledge to the series, a lot of it is extremely confusing. A lot of the technical terms, the names of the mecha - they went over my head. The antagonists on the Gekko, the movie tries to make you feel sorry for them considering what they went through (and considering the movie implies not just experimentation, but pretty much paedophilia, you can see why) - all the sub plots seem to switch in and out and didn't get enough time for me to care or enjoy (I loved the little I saw of the Anemone/Dominic relationship, but they really needed more screen time) - and the romance between Eureka and Renton is way too rushed. Now granted, Eureka is a very interesting character - a young girl who is a spy for the alien race, yet because of the child she was with basically becomes a good guy, and yet is treated as both a goddess and a disaster waiting to happen, that when two of the crew try to out her as a possible fake, it really doesn't get resolved bar Renton being a bit of a badass, and then forced to help out. Granted, it does further the plot on, but with so much terminology thrown it, it was really hard to keep up with. The relationship, while nice, doesn't have any story of bonding, because it basically switches from childhood friends, to all grown up and finding her in about 10 minutes, so it definitely was a rushed story. This lack of character development basically hurt the movie as none of the characters really were that interesting bar Eureka, and there wasn't enough time to really showcase them more.
That said, because of that - the movie did do one thing right - well two, the main thing is that it's a gorgeous movie to watch, some great animation and sound (near perfect mix of BGM with voices, in both English and Japanese) and it flows effortlessly throughout your screen. Secondly, it did make me wanna check out the series - from what I understand from what friends told me, it's an alternative universe tale compared to the original series, and considering that lasted more than 50 episodes, there is surely more than enough time in the series for me to learn the terminology, get better acquainted with the characters and see what the truth behind everything was. There were a lot of characters in the movie, and to be fair, it tried to get them all into the movie (I assume most of the cast in the movie did appear in the series) and it did succeed in that, but didn't succeed in making the characters interact well enough with the audience to care about them. That said, I intend to watch the series and then come back to the movie, hopefully with renewed appreciation, because it's definitely a joy to view, I just need to get into it. This isn't the first time this has happened - my favourite anime of all time is Clannad, and yet I saw the movie first and it was just above average - then I watch the TV series and the series just blew me away. I hope that Eureka Seven does the same to me.
Eureka Seven: The Movie seems specifically for fans of the franchise. If like myself, you've only seen the movie before the series, a lot of the plot and terms are going to get lost on you. Because of the short time of converting a 2 hour movie from a TV series, the characters don't get developed enough, the romance is bland and the story just isn't interesting enough without enough background. However, it's gorgeous to watch, some great action scenes, and audio/video wise it's one of Manga's best releases. My advice: Watch the series first, then go to the movie. Which is what I intend to do.
Japanese Language, English Language, English Subtitles, Making of Eureka Seven, TV Spots
Playstation3, Sony Bravia 32 Inc EX4 Television, Aiwa 2 Way Twin Duct Bass Reflex Speaker System.