Friday, August 21, 2015

Mechanime: Psalms of Planets Eureka Seven

This anime has robots, hoverboards, and robots on hoverboards!
Original Run: 2005-2006
Number of Episodes: 51
Average Episode Length: 22 minutes
Subgenres: Adventure, Romance
Dub?: Yes

In Mechanime related news, I’ve stopped watching Gundam Wing. It got to the point where the story, no matter how good, couldn’t save the experience. I consider it a good show, but I know believe it’s very hit or miss, and for me, it got to the point where it started missing more than hitting. However, since then, I’ve finally gotten around to watching Eureka Seven, which I don’t think I’ll be dropping anytime soon. Keep in mind that this is more a review of the first season rather than the whole show.

The OP of Eureka Seven, called “Days,” is pretty different from most openings I’ve heard. It’s a pretty groovy piece of music, and it gives me this carefree feeling whenever I listen to it. It gives you that sense that everything will work out while at the same time being fun to listen to. It’s one of the best I’ve listened too, not only because it's a good song, but also because it differentiates itself from your average opening.

It's pronounced "ur-ekk-ah," by the way.
Eureka Seven takes place in the distant future. Mankind has learned to harness the power of transparence light particles (or “trapars”), which are given off by a mysterious lifeform called scub corals. Renton Thurston, a teenage boy growing up in a backwater town, desperately wants to escape his boring life. An opportunity literally falls from the sky in the form of Eureka, a mysterious girl, and her mech, the Nirvash typeZero. He is invited to join the Gekkostate, an outlaw militia group led by Holland Novak. As Renton spends more time with Eureka and the members of the Gekkostate, he learns not only more about the real life of the outlaw group, but also more about the world.

Despite the relatively light tone of the first season, it has its darker moments.
There’s a lot more to a story than the basic plot, as Eureka Seven demonstrates beautifully. One of the major pillars of storytelling is world building, something that this show does really well. Information is given to the audience at a rate that isn’t too slow (which would bore the audience) or fast (which would feel like an infodump). The world is interesting, and I kept watching to so I could learn more about it. The actual story feels more like a coming of age adventure which slowly unfurls into something much more interesting. The world, at least in the first season, is more interesting that the actual plot, but I will say that as more information becomes known, the plot grows more interesting.

The crew of the Gekkostate. From left to right: Hap, Talho, Renton, Holland, Stoner, Matthieu, Hilda, Moondoggie, Gidget, Woz, Jobs, Gonzy, Mischa, Ken-gou. Whew.
Image source: Wikipedia
Eureka Seven has a pretty big cast. Aside from Renton, Eureka, and Holland, there’s the many members of the Gekkostate. We have pilots Matthieu and Hilda, who operate the Terminus 606 and Terminus 808 respectively, Talho, the captain of the Gekko (the Gekkostate’s flagship), and Hap, the Gekko’s second in command. On the villainous side, we have Dewey, a commander in the United Federation Forces and Holland’s brother, Anemone, a psychotic counterpart to Eureka, and Dominic, an intelligence officer. There are more characters, but most aren’t terribly important to the overall plot (at least not yet).

The main character is sadly the weak link here.
Eureka Seven has a great cast. Most characters are likeable  and entertaining. Even the more annoying ones are tolerable. Most left me wanting to know more about their lives and personalities, especially the villains. However, the cast has one major deadweight, and sadly, it’s the main character. I find Renton to be very annoying, being a deadly combination of being whiny, oblivious to reality, and a little self absorbed. It also doesn’t help that he has the worst voice on the entire show. If Renton was a secondary member of the Gekko, then I could let it slide, but since he’s the main character, he gets a lot a screen time, which makes it far worse than it has to be. Save for Renton, the rest of the cast is great, especially Eureka, Holland, and the big villains.

There’s more to writing than dialogue; there’s also world building and how you handle exposition. One of the reasons the world building is so great in Eureka Seven is that the writing delivers the information at a pace that keeps the audience interested while still focusing on the main adventure. The dialogue itself is good too, being able to capture the personalities of each of the characters and is able to fit the tone of each scene. Eureka Seven is well written, especially when it comes to world building.

Eureka is on the left . The amazing landscape is in the back.
The animation of this show is freaking fantastic. The whole show feels very fluid and it rarely recycles its animation. It feels more like a long running OVA rather than a made for TV animated show. The scenes that best show off the animation are the sequences were the Gekkostate’s mecha have to maneuver to avoid enemy fire. It really shows how fast and fluid the animation can be without cutting corners. It also helps how colorful and complex the animation can be sometimes. This is probably the best animated anime I’ve said that didn’t include CGI.

Mecha and Fight Scenes
The Nirvash typeZero, the main mech of Eureka Seven.
The mecha in Eureka Seven are known as Light Finding Operations, or LFOs. They have two forms: a vehicle form that looks like a tank-sports car hybrid, and a humanoid robot that can fly by riding the currents produced by trapars with a board. All the mecha in this show are great. They look detailed and interesting, and each look gives off a certain personality vibe. Even the grunt mecha used by the military look really cool. The mecha in Eureka Seven are really unique and well designed, and it’s a treat to see them in action.

The grunt mechs of Eureka Seven.
The draw of the show is not within the fight scenes. The fights in this show are few and far between, and they are usually short, with the grunt mecha blown away with a single attack. However, I don’t find this to be disappointing, since the main draws are the stories and characters. It also works because the heroes aren’t invincible. Unlike Gundam Wing, were the protagonist were practically invincible, the heroes in Eureka Seven do feel in danger enough to feel like they can be killed. It’s a welcome change, in my opinion.

Sub or Dub?
This is the first show I can actually recommend the english dub. Each voice actor does a good (and sometimes even great) job with the character given to them. It’s a good dub, and in my opinion, a good dub is almost always better than a good sub.

Eureka Seven has several great things going for it. It has a great world, a good story, some great characters, and awesome mecha. It has some really good animation, and some sequences look outstanding. Really the only problem I have with the show is Renton, and I’m hoping character development will save the day in the future. Other than that, I highly recommend this series.

8/10 - Great

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