Eureka Seven Vol. #02 - Mania.com



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Mania Grade: B+

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Info:

  • Audio Rating: B+
  • Video Rating: A
  • Packaging Rating: B+
  • Menus Rating: B+
  • Extras Rating: A-
  • Age Rating: 13 & Up
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: Bandai Entertainment
  • MSRP: 24.98
  • Running time: 125
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Eureka Seven

Eureka Seven Vol. #02

By Chris Beveridge     August 03, 2006
Release Date: June 27, 2006



What They Say
Renton has joined his idols as a member of the Gekkostate, but he's finding that life on board this legendary ship isn't what he thought it would be. He struggles to fit in among his new teammates, and has to come to grips with the fact that Holland isn't exactly the perfect hero Renton thought he was. He's also subject to harsh lectures from Talho for no apparent reason, and of course, Renton is still trying to find a way to get closer to Eureka and tell her how he feels.

The Review!
While some minor story elements that will be important later on are revealed, the bulk of this volume pushes forward the growing familiarity/family status between Renton and everyone else on board the Gekkostate.

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 cover art for this volume has the same artwork as the Japanese release an interesting look to it as it has a very sharp and clear image of Eureka standing amidst some rubble and ruins that have a very textured and rough feel to it. The contrast between the two is really interesting as it gives it an odd feeling. 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.

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 second installment of extras is pretty good as it has some enjoyable material on it. The first thing up is a textless version of the closing sequence which is quite welcome, though I wish Bandai would adapt to having the clean openings and closings on all discs. The second is a fun fifteen minute or so interview with voice actress Stephanie Sheh as she talks about her role and what's involved with the show and her characters part in it. The final extra that I'm glad made it over is the audio commentary on the first episode by the Japanese cast, which is light and fun, as they talk about just about everything. They've been working together a fair bit by the point this DVD was released in Japan so they're all quite comfortable with each other and joke a lot about things. It's not a serious commentary by any stretch and is quite similar to a lot of the US voice actor commentaries.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Eureka Seven's first volume was something that turned out to be more enjoyable that I thought it would be at first, especially with the various comments from overseas friends who had been watching the show on a weekly basis. Through them I had gained the impression of it being a rough show at first but one that turned quite strong as it progressed, which had me keep it in the same mindset as a Gundam series. Shows that are at a set length in the fifty or so episode range tend to be a bit slower and more leisurely just after their start in order to really showcase the characters and slowly tease out their origins and connections. Eureka Seven certainly seemed to be following that mold based on the first volume.

The second volume with its five episodes plays out in much a similar way as we get a couple of relatively quiet and personal episodes that explore how the Gekkostate is changing with Renton's arrival, some of the history of the characters and a good bit of action along the way to keep things interesting. It's still just as mellow as I had remembered parts of the first volume being as it does things in a most "casual" manner but when it does get to doing some of the bigger moments, such as exploring key moments of the past or getting the group out on their LFO's, it's got all the energy and adrenaline running that it needs.

While the show isn't being told from Renton's point of view, it's certainly following him around for the bulk of it and a lot of his continued troubles early on here revolve around having to deal with Eureka's "children." Children are in my mind one of the worst things that can be added to a show since they tend to all do the same stuff, cause the same kinds of grief and in general annoy the heck out of me. They follow pretty much to pattern here as the three kids really don't like Renton because they believe that he'll somehow take Eureka away from them, and as we see, they've lost a lot because of her so there's a definite sense of attachment there between all of them. It's a strong emotion that comes into play in another episode here when Maeter disappears briefly and one of the boys sees her disappearance as a sign that everything is falling apart.

Their emotions are born of the tragedy that hit them hard and those aspects are well done but their playful side where they torment Renton just gets to be annoying during the first several episodes of the series. It's understandable but with Eureka unsure on how to discipline them since she hasn't really had to before just makes it all the worse, and Renton's inability to do so because he doesn't want to get on Eureka's bad side just enables the kids all the more. From their rampant vandalism across the ship and even the Nirvash, they just go too far. I was surprised that someone like Holland didn't step in when it got to that point, or some further retribution after the kids got into an area they shouldn't have been and wrecked the stealth technology. Writing kids into a show like this just isn't easy though and there's so many things that should be done with them that simply aren't.

While the main theme early on is Renton's fit into the family that is the Gekkostate in how his arrival has changed everyone, there are also some really good explorations into the past and some of how the world works. One brief storyline has the crew going to capture an anti-government key player named Triptoly, an older woman who follows the Vodarac, something that seems like a religion of sorts that's now fallen on the bad side of the military. She has an interesting line after being "captured" by Holland and the others in that she'd been fine in her beliefs and lifestyle for many years until the military decided that she wasn't welcome anymore and they wanted to remove that element from society. Through her being involved, we get a bit more of a sense of the way the military is working, albeit in a disconnected fashion at times, in trying to secure its own power and keep a good portion of the society at a certain level.

This starts something of some minor flashbacks to the past when Holland was in the military and with Talho and Eureka as part of something much bigger that led to the destruction of a city. The military background aspect is interesting to look at for Holland and Talho since they both approached it differently, particularly with Holland not wanting to do some of the dirty work that he was ordered to but carrying out the orders nonetheless. His past is still affecting him strongly and directly in the today as we see during one scene where Renton and Moondoggie are waiting for some waves to really hit by the location of the dead city, something that happened ages ago in Renton's mind, but it's so clear in Holland's that he can't let the area be desecrated by someone having fun there. It's a solid scene as Holland's emotions really get out from his control and Renton can't understand it, leaving a rather surprised Moondoggie to just sit there and watch.

In Summary:
A good part of the show is various characters having a good time, often at the expense of someone else, such as the crew putting Renton through his dues as the newest member, or the kids tormenting Renton or the entire crew doing an sub-orbital flight to get to a place where a really big wave is about to hit so they can do some lifting. The serious material is mixed into it and some of them are facing new challenges about them, often because of things Renton inadvertently says or does, but there's some small growth and changes going through. When we see the flashbacks to how these characters used to be, we can see how much they've changed since then but that they still carry a lot of that weight. Some of what we learn here is going to be key going forward and I'm looking forward to seeing how that happens. This is definitely a slower paced volume but the show still has me quite interested in all of it.

Features
Japanese 2.0 Language,English 2.0 Language,English Subtitles,Textless Closing,Voice Actor Interviews, Commentary on Episode 7

Review Equipment
Panasonic PT50LC13 50" LCD RP HDTV, Samsung BD-P1000 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.

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