Reviewby Theron Martin, Aug 31st 2006
Renton tries to settle in to life on the Gekkostate, but finds that he has dedicated adversaries in Eureka's three “children,” who are merciless in their efforts to try to drive him away from their “mother.” The crew of the Gekkostate is little better, as they make Renton the subject of an elaborate gag which the oblivious Renton takes far more seriously than they expect. The crew isn't all fun and games, though, and some of the dark and painful secrets which originally caused the Gekkostate crew to strike out on their own come up when a job to capture a supposed anti-government agent takes an odd turn. News of a big trapar wave offers hope for a fun respite, but even it may not be enough to help Holland flee from the memories he so desperately wants to forget.
Episodes 6-10 can be looked upon as the doldrums of the first half of Eureka 7, as the action quotient is much lower here than in earlier episodes. The aerial mecha battles which highlighted the first volume are less frequent, appearing in only two episodes and in shorter allotments when they do appear. The focus instead falls much more on the interactions and relationships between various Gekkostate crew members. Of particular note is the gradually warming relationship between the earnest Renton and mostly oblivious Eureka, which offers an interesting reversal of typical male-female dynamics for teen anime romances. Most disappointing is the very formulaic construction of the “Renton vs. the kids” episode, although the next one involving the practical joke well compensates for it.
Although these episodes give the feeling of filler, in retrospect they contain enough content relevant to the overall plot to belie such a label. The Corallion, which will become prominent in the next volume, first gets mentioned here, and Anemone, who later becomes a key character, also makes her first appearance in this block. Throughout the volume viewers are fed tiny tidbits of plot which hint at a grand storyline, enough to whet a viewer's appetite but not enough to be at all satisfying. The character development is also not to be taken lightly, as it provides crucial (if incomplete) insight as to what some of the important characters are doing and why. A proper explanation for why the kids are on board is also offered in one episode and some of Renton's speculations about Eureka point to mysteries yet to be solved. It may not be one of the more exciting volumes in the series, but over the long haul a viewer will probably look back at this one as a crucial set-up volume for what happens later.
As with many Studio BONES productions, this one is much more distinguished by its character designs and costuming than any other visual factor. The mecha, in humanoid or vehicle form, aren't terribly interesting or original-looking; only their use of boards to ride the Trapar waves (which seems physically impossible, but hey, that's never stopped mecha series before) visually distinguishes them from any of a dozen other mecha series out there. The character designs, though, are distinctive, especially in their use of facial expressions, and in most cases very pleasing to the eye. This is also one of the better examples you'll find of an anime where character personalities match physical appearances. The only disappointing design is the silly and too-angular look of Anemone, but the next volume will show that even her appearance is a good match for her personality.
Background art and use of a wide palette of sensible colors is generally quite good, contributing to an overall visual look that's just a step shy of being top-tier. A little more fan service is shown in these episodes than the previous block, including a couple of scenes that were altered for the TV broadcast but can now be seen uncut here. As with the last volume, the animation is quite good, although it has fewer truly good opportunities to show off and still uses the occasional shortcut, such as having characters talk with their mouths out of sight.
The reduced amount of action also reduces the use of the highlight soaring musical numbers, but the mix of techno beats and more playful numbers remains. Again, the score's effectiveness varies. The caliber of the English dub entirely comes down to what you think of Johnny Yong Bosch's take on Renton. Those who can grow accustomed to the somewhat strained style of his delivery should find this to be a satisfying dub overall, as all other roles are well-cast and, at worst, reasonably well-performed. It's less irritating than it was in the first volume, which may just be a matter of getting used to that voice. In any case it's the reason for the upgrade in dub grade since last volume.
Extras this time around include a clean closer and an audio commentary for episode 7 featuring three key seiyuu, which can also be accessed from the Audio options button on a DVD player's remote. Also present is a 16-minute Voice Actor Interview session with Stephanie Sheh, the English voice for Eureka. The questions are not only the typical inane fare one would expect from such an interview but are so obviously stock questions that she struggles to answer some of them given that she doesn't know any more about the series than someone who has just finished viewing this volume. Even so, it's an interesting interview because of how physically distinctive Ms. Sheh is; she's tiny (only 4' 9”) but has a big and very expressive face, very unlike the character she voices.
When it comes right down to it, Eureka 7 is still basically an action series about airboarding mecha with a bit of romance thrown in, one that feeds on thrills and isn't above having a little fun with its characters. References to a darker side to the backgrounds of Holland, Talho, Eureka, and possibly the others do start popping up here, though, which shades the series towards a more dramatic structure than the pure action format it's used so far.
Overall (dub) : B+
Overall (sub) : B+
Story : B
Animation : A-
Art : B+
Music : B
+ Good artistry and technical merits, good development of character relationships.
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