Tuesday, January 12, 2010

DVD Review: Eureka Seven Complete Collection Volume 1

Okay, so I was digging through my collection the other day and pulled out an oldie, but goodie, that I wanted to feature. It's been around for around four years or so and Bandai has done pretty well with the license, but Eureka Seven definitely deserves more attention. Sure it's been on Cartoon Network and yeah there's been a theatrical release of the film, but many of the otaku in my circle haven't actually gotten around to watching it. Blasphemy I say! Blasphemy!

The show takes place on an undisclosed world at a point in time where humanity has unearthed monstrous and ancient machines known as LFO's. Natural changes have occurred through the world and all of the technology seems to run off of tapar, which is an energy of sorts that allows LFO's, boards, and ships to fly. Making matters worse, the tapar often times locked in the ground somewhere and frequent tectonic shifts cause quite a lot of damage when they happen. Cities have been leveled by these events, but in all fairness the militant government that controls the world has done much more damage to the livelihood of people. To that extent there are groups of people who live outside the law by running errands and doing odd jobs for people. One such group is Gekkostate.

Gekkostate is lead by a guy named Holland and consists of a group of talented ex-military types and LFO pilots. They were all part of a squad when they worked for the powers that be, but they became fed up with the military's policies and all the senseless slaughter, so now they enter battle against the organization they used to work for. They have become notorious and people around the globe idolize them for the freedom they embrace. One kid in particular looks up to Holland quite a bit, though he soon realizes that heroes aren't necessarily all they're cracked up to be.

Renton Thurston lives with his grandfather, who professes to being a simple mechanic though there are hints early on in the show that the Thurston name carries some weight. We soon discover that Renton's father, Adroc, is something of a legend. Songs are sung about the man and everyone's jaw drops when they realize that Renton is his heir. There's a bit of a mystery surrounding this connection as well as it becomes quite evident that Renton has a destiny of sorts that is tied together with a girl named Eureka and an LFO known as Nirvash, or Type Zero; the world's oldest LFO.

Since the story follows Renton we see just about all of it from his perspective. He's an average 14 year old, with all the mood swings and hormones that go with it. As such he instantly develops a crush for Eureka, whose odd styles and manners add to a certain mystique about her. Naturally when the opportunity comes to travel with Eureka and his idol Holland, he takes it. Renton joins the ranks of the Gekkostate and from there the mysterious nature about his relationship with Nirvash and Eureka grows. Nothing is really explained in this part, but we do get a lot of fascinating material before episode 26 brings it all to a close. As interesting as all of that is; and trust me when I tell you that it will keep you glued to the set, I found the character relationships and developments here to be the most involved aspect of the show.

Renton grows so much in such a short amount of time. You really get a feel for his character, that he's human and at that age where you're almost an adult but not quite. Eureka gets a boatload of screen time as well and she's every bit as engaging as Renton is as a main character. The other characters in the show all come across as richly developed and human as well. Holland in particular struggles with the responsibilities of leadership, ghosts from the past, and some personal demons. The only thing I didn't like about his character was the fact that he took out all of his anger on Renton, to the point that he continuously beats the kid up, yells at him, and treats him like crap. This isn't so bad a problem later on in the show, but we'll deal with that review when it comes time.

Eureka Seven is presented on DVD with a 1.33:1 full frame aspect ratio as it was produced with in 2005. While the aspect ratio may leave something to be desired, the artwork is striking, fluid, vivid, and attractive. Some blocking is noticeable in parts and there is some aliasing at times. Grain isn't necessarily pervasive but it's visible enough to be noticed in darker sections of the show. The show is presented on DVD with English and Japanese 2.0 stereo tracks. Some of the material comes across as kind of flat, while some of it does have a nice amount of depth. Overall both tracks do a fine job with the material at hand, though if you're looking for something that will work your system you're going to be left wanting. The discs in this collection are recycled form the individual volumes. Each disc contains clean animations and trailers, but the real treat is the fact that they each contain interviews and commentaries with the cast. Some of these selections are quite lively, informative, and very interesting to watch.

As it stands the first 26 episodes of Eureka Seven are downright awesome. I didn't feel that there was a single bad element to anything here and I was thoroughly entertained from start to finish. It's a rich, deep storyline with characters that are memorable and feel real. The constant sense of a mystery just beneath the surface keeps you coming back, and the burgeoning relationship between Renton and Eureka oozes charm. The second part and movie only make the series even better, but if you've never seen the show before definitely give this first part a shot. You'll be glad you did!

Maki Rating:

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