Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Eureka 7 (2005-2006)


Renton Thurston, son of tragic military hero Adroc Thurston, spends most of his days bored in a small town, being trained by his grandfather to become a mechanic. Seeking an escape, Renton's life is dramatically changed when the seemingly emotionless Eureka, and her mysterious mecha the Nirvash typeZERO, crash into his bedroom. Instantly falling for Eureka's unique personality, Renton rushes off to join her and the Gekkostate, a group of counter-culture soldiers.... but all is not what he dreamed it would be.

When Bones set out to make Eureka 7 it's well known they went out to create something so memorable it would be historic. They recruited dozens of studios to help with the animation, got premium, seasoned, voice actors to handle the tale, and writers and directors who had taken part in some of the biggest series in anime history. They knew all the ground they had to cover, and they wanted to handle it all in a one season, 50 episode push... and for the most part they succeeded.

I'll openly admit that the first handful of episodes of Eureka 7 (mainly the first 3) were a bit of a chore to get through. They develop a small amount of a long period, and I wasn't sure this series would work for me... then, like a bolt of lightning I was struck. As the series developed it's layers introduced, its world began to unfold, and I found myself so incredibly absorbed, I felt like a kid all over again. I eagerly anticipated each episode, piled them up on my desktop so I wouldn't have to wait in between them... because, you see, Eureka 7, while flawed, is an amazingly emotional experience.

Eureka 7 isn't about a group of cool people just roaming around, instead it's a show with great depth. Tackling the age old question for soldiers: how does one repent for the crimes they committed? The heroes of the story have painful pasts, dark pasts, and each must deal with it. Yet, at the same time, it's a tale of love. Eureka, who doesn't understand human emotions, slowly understands what it means to care and love someone through Renton, who dedicates himself to her protection. We see how both Eureka and Renton are trying to separate themselves from their associations (to say any more would be to spoil a plot development over half way through - though you can probably guess it 20 episodes in).

The show's deep moral themes are never ending either. Throughout the show we see how Renton, Eureka, Holland (ex-soldier and leader of the Gekkostate) all deal with the many deaths they have caused. Renton's self depression and their various forms really breaths a sentiment of new life into the series, and how he and Eureka support each other blossoms into a beautiful romance. Of course it never hurts when you have a wide collection of go to stories, fun characters, and a variety of romances to explore, and how war affects them.

To top it all off, Eureka 7 has an absolutely premium soundtrack. Then again, with a group of counter-culturists and music buffs, you'd hope they had good taste in beats!

There are of course a few downsides to the series as well. At the half way point, as the plot really begins to take form, there is an obvious shift in narrative tone. A bit darker, and a bit more out there than viewers seeking realism may want (to be honest this show is way out there... literally, in its own world). As well a few characters, notably Anemone (Eureka's evil counterpart, and severe multiple-personality disorder), experience a sudden character shift, that may, or may not, sit well with some viewers. As for the ending I would file two complaints: 1) It handles some core, but not all, character aftermath and 2) It leaves a good amount open to interpretation (though I'm thinking all signs point to happy ever after).

Still, I haven't been absorbed into a series like this in some time. Even the filler episodes felt refreshing, and provided something to make them worth the time (despite one solely recap episode). There's a certain level of heart, and ability to find happiness in even the darkest situations, that removes this series from the downtrodden, darker, anime series (like Death Note or Code Geass), while giving it that same level of quality, and depth. It entertains, creates moves, and intrigues... and that's something worth the effort.

While it has its fair share of flaws, and is open to interpretation, Eureka Seven is a powerful and enjoyable anime series about finding love, yourself, and hope amidst death, and pain.

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