Blast From The Past: Eureka Seven
|About the Series:|
|A Little Bit of History:|
Aired in 2005, Eureka Seven‘s origins began as an idea from Bandai Entertainment, who tried to enlist the animation studio Bones (Full Metal Alchemist, Wolf’s Rain, RahXephon, Soul Eater, Star Driver) for a mecha anime series. Initially, the proposal was rejected, but the decision reversed because Bones already had plans for a mecha series, with designs by Kawamori Shoji (creator of recent series Macross Frontier, Aquarion EVOL and AKB0048). In the end though, Bandai’s idea was scrapped for the most part, and Eureka Seven rose from Bones’ staff work on their own original series. The series premiered on television for the first time in April 2006, as part of Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim, ending a year later in 07′, with some reruns in 08′. It’s sequel, Eureka Seven AO (Astral Ocean), recently started airing last season.
Regarding how I personally got into E7:
Going into 06′, I was at a point in my life where anime was still a relatively small part of my life. Mobile Suit Gundam Wing had gotten me into the anime scene years prior, but I didn’t really start watching anime in earnest (watching shows as they aired) until around 07′. Also, considering the quality of my computer and internet connection, my actual ability to watch anime was pretty hindered… so my only real way of doing so was via Cartoon Network, which I would skim occasionally to find some shows to watch. One day in April of that year, I would find myself going through the TV schedule, eventually stumbling upon a show named “Eureka Seven”. I don’t know exactly why, but there was just something about the name that really appealed to me. Granted it was probably because I was a pretty impressionable young chap back then and everything remotely unique sounded cooler than it was, but the fact of the matter is it ultimately led me to watch the episode airing later that day. And lo and behold, it just so happened to be the premiere of the series. The rest they say, is history.
To say the least, Eureka Seven (to be abbreviated E7 from now on) is a hard series to talk about. Ghost in the Shell was difficult because of its impact on the anime in general, as well as philosophical aspects. Eureka Seven doesn’t have as much in terms of those aspects, but it’s similarly difficult to discuss because the series’ greatness lies in its intangibles, things that can’t necessarily be given a concrete description. What do I mean by that? I mean the feelings you get as you watch the series.
See, E7 is a series that demonstrates what anime should be about. These days, we get too easily dragged into judging anime by factors such as animation quality, music, coherence/complexity of the plot, cast etc. It’s a valid system by which to do things, but it’s misses out and outright makes us forget the biggest factor: the reason why we watch anime in the first place. Deep down, I’d say most, if not all viewers watch anime not because of the factors I mentioned before, but because anime brings us into a world we wouldn’t otherwise be able to visit. It gives us something to immerse ourselves in, something to enjoy in a way other mediums do not allow. It gives a form to the fantasies we all have in our hearts, to the feelings we hold near and dear. And E7 catered to these intangible aspects, at least, it did for me. It offered me a spectacular world I could just sit there in awe of. It gave me a main character who was pretty average, but as a result was someone I could identify with… someone whose journey toward maturity I could root for and someone whose emotions I felt myself at one point or another. And it gave me some lessons that have been invaluable in real life.
Yes, there are some negatives. For one, the series could’ve and should’ve been shorter than 50 episodes. The 50 episode format admittedly ended up having an impact on the story’s development and coherency… which is one of the more common complaints regarding E7. Furthermore, there was a whole thing about pacing issues as well. In addition, others pointed out that the fact that the series doesn’t necessarily break many molds in terms of originality in regards to some of the aspects it touches upon. Still others disliked the immaturity of the main character in Renton and the time it took for him to develop. And well, while they’re all fair critiques, there’s still no doubt in my mind that the positives outweigh all the negatives.
See, regardless of the flaws in the pacing, development, and coherency, the story is still a good one. It wasn’t as great as it could’ve been per se, but it’s still one that made me feel strongly about it, and a story that did an amazing job tying together all the aspects of the series. It gives us themes involving religious tolerance/ideologies, war, politics, and cultural movements. It gives us tidbits about being a parent, being a family, and love. It emphasizes a combination of personal identity—knowing yourself and what you can do—and responsibility, of knowing when you’re obligated to use your skills in certain scenarios. And it gives us a heart-warming and emotional story about the rise and maturation of someone who’s just a normal person like you and me, as well as a romance that’s defines the term “naturally developed”. It’s just a complex story line that ties together so many aspects and one where practically all the character and episode names (see column on “musical reference” near each episode title) are all references to something. Furthermore, how can one go wrong with a world where both people and mecha fly on surfboard like refboards, using particles called trapar to fly in the skies? It’s just sci-fi at its greatest, and I haven’t even mentioned the interactions involving the non-human entities known as Coralians either.
Notably, hand in hand with the story come a great cast of characters. Each of them might have their own unique personalities, fears, and goals, but they mesh together exceptionally well for such a large cast, and are the real power behind the series. There’s Holland Novak (Jujiwara, Keiji). The leader of Gekkostate, he’s a person whose calm and cool demeanor hides behind it an impulsive and slightly immature attitude, a result of past years in the military. There’s Eureka (Nazuka, Kaori), the mysterious girl who has difficulties expressing herself and understand others. And there’s Renton Thurston (Sanpei, Yuuko). The main protagonist for the most part, he’s your run of the mill normal teenager, with grandiose dreams of escaping an otherwise boring life. He’s someone you don’t really count on at the beginning, but ultimately rises up to the challenge toward the end… and well, it’s just a worthwhile journey to follow, regardless of how he seems at the start.
Animation-wise, it’s Bones being Bones for ya, giving you some darn breathtaking visuals to go along with the awesome music by Sato, Naoki. Granted, Naoki doesn’t have many works that the typical person may have heard before, but I guarantee that you won’t regret taking a listen to em. The two soundtracks he composed for E7 are some of the more amazing anime soundtracks to have ever graced my ears. And phew, did my heart skip a beat when I saw he wasn’t going to be the composer for the sequel, Eureka Seven AO. But, that’s another story altogether. The overall thing is this. In a story such as E7′s, where surfing mechs take center stage and the focus of the story is one about coming of age and conquering obstacles, the world needs to be top notch animation wise and the music able to capture all the different emotions of life. Let’s just say they fit the bill.
In the end, Eureka Seven is my second most favorite series, only under Ghost in the Shell. It’s not perfect from an objective standpoint, as it has its share of flaws… but you know what? It’s still what I’d call a masterpiece. The feelings you get from watching both Renton and Eureka develop, from seeing the natural progression of their relationship and the interactions between the Gekkostate members are just things you can’t even describe. And well, it all culminates in an outstanding experience that make you remember the series for years to come. It’s also something that just makes you feel like a kid again, that brings you back to your younger days, a time when you felt everything was possible and that you could do anything you wanted. And as I’ve mentioned previously, it’s everything an anime should be, something that goes beyond the objective measurements we use today to classify and compare anime. In the end, the term I stumbled upon a little while back, flawed masterpiece, is the perfect description for this series. Because despite its obvious flaws, E7 does the aspects it does well so good that it makes up for them and then some.
Granted, I know there will be people who won’t feel as strongly about the series as I do. I know there will be some of you who won’t be able to get through the 50 episode length, who won’t be able to tolerate the occasional dips in story development and pacing. I know there are some of you who are still on the fence, despite my glowing review of it. But all I ask is that if you haven’t watched it yet, is to give this series a chance, and to try and get through its entirety before making a judgement call about it. And for those of you that do get through it and do like it, you guys get to go straight into the currently airing sequel, Eureka Seven AO, without waiting some 6 years! :D Oh and did I mention how great of a sequel AO’s been so far? No? Well, let’s just say if you were to make a sequel to a series, that’s how it should be done.
|Screenshots from OP1 and Episodes 1-3:|