The latest anime series to utilize the ‘boy and his mecha’ formula, Eureka Seven deftly manages to shift its core focus away from the impressive hardware designs and into a more personal story; primarily through unraveling the various neurotic layers of its main protagonist, Renton, an awkward 14 year old boy who finds his angst laden existence turned upside down when a giant transforming robot known as a LFO literally crashes into his home.
But it’s the impact of the socially withdrawn LFO pilot, Eureka (pronounced Ehl-Reak-ah), an aqua haired, purple eyed girl, who’s presence sets the narrative into high gear as she inadvertently draws Renton into an underground terrorist cell known as Gekkostate.
Produced by the crew at Bones and directed by Tomoki Kyoda of RahXephon: Pluralitas Concentio fame, Eureka Seven weaves a multi-layered character driven tapestry of political intrigue, feverish action and solid humour into a story line that could have easily failed as a mediocre ‘boy’s own adventure’ styled series.
Visually populated with character design form Kenichi Yoshida, a key animator on Studio Ghibli’s Princess Mononoke, Eureka Seven is nothing short of impressive, seamlessly blending CGI and traditional animation to craft a world rich in its own unique technology and aesthetics while maintaining an accessibility often neglected in similar projects.
Arriving on DVD, the five episodes first volume comes complete with an extremely enthusiastic audio commentary from the key voice actors Yuko Sanpei (Renton) and Kaori Nazuka (Eureka), who happen to offer a lot of entertainment value without too much substance before both woman offer further insight into their characters during separate cast interviews. Add a clean opening credit to the mix and the DVD extras are done.
Beautifully executed, richly populated and filled with wild battles, Machiavellian subplots and some very cool mech, Eureka Seven shows a lot of promise. But it’s over zealous indulgence of certain pop-culture antics, namely its sky-surfing mecha and an almost too charismatic cast of roguish heroes might be the series undoing. Time, and the numerous volumes to follow, will tell.