"Thermae Romae is the perfect manga for fans of a) classical history and b) taking baths." Well, who doesn't love both of those?
Reviewby Theron Martin, Oct 20th 2006
When a Coralion – a giant sphere of wind that generates powerful trapar waves – forms, the crew of the Gekkostate jumps at the chance to investigate it, even as Renton is trying to clarify what it is. Eureka, still not feeling well, forays out with Renton to try to penetrate the phenomenon. In the process they encounter Anemone, a half-crazed brat of a girl who has suspicious parallels to Eureka and, even more suspiciously, pilots an LFO which greatly resembles the Nirvash. Their meeting sends all three on a wild mind-trip that ultimately leaves both of the girls in a bad way, which forces Renton and Dominic Sorel to make an uneasy truce while they search for the medicine necessary to help both.
For most of episode 11 Eureka 7 muddles along like it has for the past few episodes: a bit of humor, a bit of drama, more cryptic comments, a new meteorological phenomenon first mentioned in ominous tones in the previous volume, and an odd caricature of a girl as a new character. In its last three minutes Anemone forays out in her Nirvash-like LFO called The End and strikes at the doldrums the series has been sliding into with all the force and electricity of a bolt of lightning. Within moments her up-close-and-personal encounter with the Nirvash and the manic fury she exudes rockets the intensity to incredible levels, giving the series a badly-needed jolt. Series are defined on scenes like the closing moments of episode 11, and for that scene alone this volume is well worth checking out. Anyone who is blasé about the series prior to that point is unlikely to be anymore when the closing credits roll.
The pulse-pounding peak is followed by one of the oddest episodes in the first half of the series, a bizarre trek through a dreamland that is apparently a mix of Renton and Anemone's making. Its content may or may not ultimately mean much, although it does serve to establish a deeper connection between Renton and Eureka than has previously been revealed. Like the rest of the series so far, it and its follow-up episode continue to raise questions (How are Anemone and Eureka connected? What does Renton's sister have to do with any of this?) without providing any answers. No answers will be found in episode 14, which marks the beginning of the series' second season, either; although it has a bit of new content, it is primarily a recap episode.
As the series completes its first quarter it's becoming increasingly clear that Eureka 7 is at least a bit more than the typical mecha action series it appeared to be at first. Sure, it can still deliver a nice action sequence and occasional light moments, but it's becoming increasingly clear that this is a more complex, developed, and edgy series than the norm for mecha or shonen titles. The principle characters are all a bit deeper than they appeared at first, with the “growing up” part of Renton's story being more involved and deliberate than the normal coming-of-age story. Anemone is a great, though not likeable, addition as a character whose attitude is as sharp-edged as her appearance but far more troubled and rotten. The series isn't (yet) delving into the psyches of its characters in the way that Neon Genesis Evangelion did, nor does it seem to be following that series' lead on subtly working in a message to the viewers, but the influence of NGE in the understructure is distinct enough that one wouldn't be surprised to see some psychoanalysis in the future. (And boy, could some of the characters in this series benefit from it!)
As before, the artistry is still very solid, making Eureka 7 one of the better-looking recent mecha series. Its character designs truly distinguish it artistically from other series, but the angular-to-the-point-of-caricature design for Anemone goes a lot too far. The End, on the other hand, is the sharpest mecha design the series has yet produced. The animation has a tendency to exaggerate the motion of characters when they're walking but is otherwise quite good, contributing to some excellent action sequences. The most interesting visual effects come in the dream sequences, where tricks with shifting perspective create several nice individual shots. The series continues to take a minimalist approach to fan service, offering up only one such scene.
Any praise for the third volume has to start with the musical score, which is at its absolute best in the meeting of The End and Nirvash at the end of episode 11 and beginning of episode 12. The massive tension achieved by that scene is more a credit to the terrific background music than anything else. The quality and effectiveness of the score is generally higher throughout the rest of the volume after that. In addition to marking the beginning of the second season, episode 14 also introduces a new jazzy hip hop-flavored opener and jazzy closing number. Whether or not these are better than the original is a matter of personal preference.
By this point you either like Johnny Yong Bosch as the English voice of Renton or you don't, and his is pivotal performance on which the likeability of the English dub swings. The rest of the recurring English cast is fine, and Kari Wahlgreen is right on target, if not a slight improvement, in convincingly making Anemone sound like a maniacal brat. English scripting still stays reasonably close to the original.
The cast interview this time around features Mr. Bosch answering inane questions in a more entertaining fashion than normal. Those who prefer the original cast can opt for the Audio Commentary for episode 13, which features three of the key seiyuu. Other extras include a textless opener and a trailer for the Eureka 7 video game.
It's now official: Studio BONES has a winner on its hands with Eureka 7. Although the series had a dynamic start, this is the stretch where the dramatic elements turn the corner and start to get good. It deserves better TV ratings than it's getting.
Overall (dub) : B+
Overall (sub) : B+
Story : B+
Animation : A-
Art : B+
Music : A-
+ Musical score, solid storytelling, powerhouse mecha confrontation.
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