Reviewby Theron Martin, Mar 28th 2007
Renton, Charles, and Ray start to feel comfortable living as a family, although on one of their jobs Renton learns a hard lesson about how people feel about the Vodarac when he tries to help a Vodarac girl who is deathly ill. Both Charles and Renton have been keeping secrets from each other about their true identities and affiliations, however, and a time ultimately comes when Renton must decide where his priorities lie: staying with the people he's coming to regard as the parents he never had, or returning to Eureka. Meanwhile Gekkostate is in turmoil as the recovering Eureka pines for the missing Renton and Holland must come to terms with the fact that Eureka has clearly chosen Renton and not him. As a showdown with the military and Charles and Ray becomes imminent, Eureka also finally decides where her priorities – and heart – really lie. In the midst of conflict two young people seek each other out.
Eureka 7 has had flashy action scenes and a certain “cool” factor going for it from the start, but what has separated it from the pack over the course of time is an Evangelion-like devotion to character development. All that set-up effort put in over the first few volumes pays big dividends in this one, as the focus of the first three episodes remains firmly on its characters and what they are thinking and feeling. These are not just your cookie-cutter stereotypes anymore, as each of the core cast members has stepped at least a bit beyond the norm. Eureka is hardly the first person in an anime series who struggles to understand and cope with an unfamiliar emotion called love, but she does it more convincingly than most, and the tension generated between Holland and Talho (and within Holland himself) over his reluctance to confront Renton's growing importance to Eureka, instead of him, is palpable; as cool as he may be, Holland is also deeply flawed, but that makes him all the more interesting. Renton continues to struggle through his own growing pains as he tries to deal with the consequences of violence and come to a decision over where his priorities lie, while Charles and Ray make one of the neatest anime couples to come along in quite a while.
All of this character development and philosophizing about growth, finding a purpose, and discovering who you are lay the drama on pretty thick, at the cost of a complete absence of humorous elements. It also restricts nearly all of the true action to the latter half of episode 26. The payoff, however, is more than worth the wait, as the aptly-titled “Morning Glory” proves to be one of those gloriously transcendent episodes in anime, one where everything comes together so perfectly that you can't help being swept up in the moment even when you know exactly what's coming – in this case, the inevitable joyous reunion of Renton and Eureka. In the initial Adult Swim broadcast it was one of 2006's best anime moments, but it also marks a major turning point in the series; all confusion and denial over who Eureka is ultimately going to connect with is now over, Holland finally settles on a new purpose that will define his character for the rest of the series, and the path towards the eventual series resolution is now set. It also throws in a couple of arcane references that do not mean much right now but will have a bigger impact later on. (Pay careful attention to what Charles and Holland are saying as the scene continues through the closing credits.) In short, the last ten minutes of episode 26 sets the stage for the entire second half of the series.
Crucial to the success of these episodes is the voice acting in both dubs, but fortunately the English acting has improved enough to be exactly on-the-mark with the original Japanese performances, especially in the more emotional moments. Some small variances between the English and Japanese scripts do alter meaning a tiny bit in a couple of scenes, but not in a significant way, and in general the English script stays pretty tight. The one place where the translation becomes slightly awkward is in one scene in episode 23 where Renton explains to Charles that he has difficulty calling him and Ray “Papa” and “Mama” instead of “Mom” and “Dad,” as the reason why Renton is saying it that way may not be entirely clear unless one listens to the original Japanese and knows common honorifics. Also notable is the way the “to be continued” statements are handled throughout this batch of episodes; only Renton's VA voices them while he is alone, but Renton and Eureka say it together after they are reunited.
The visuals and animation are still at their best in the limited number of dynamic action sequences spread across these four episodes, which are full of movement as LFOs and characters on individual boards zip around the sky, their trapar trails flashing in their wake. The series also puts more effort than most into animating backgrounds, which becomes especially apparent in episode 26 if one watches closely. Designs for younger characters are excellent, for adults less so; Holland is a little too sharp-jawed, and Charles and Ray are both a little too angular and somewhat inconsistently drawn. Mecha designs, as usual for the series, are well-drawn but nothing spectacular until seen with their armor stripped off, while airship designs distinguish themselves much more. (Ever notice how the military airships seem to be patterned off of the series' skyfish?) Though it does not use the bright palette of colors so common in recent digitally-colored anime series, Eureka 7 is nonetheless beautifully colorful, especially in the scenes set in the Sea of Rainbow Clouds. Quality control is a little too lax for this volume to be considered top-tier artistically, but it is nonetheless a quite good-looking series.
Musical themes used in these four episodes do not offer much that is fresh or new, although its established themes get used quite well in key dramatic and action scenes. Sometimes the music comes off as grandiose, but often that is matched by the nature of the scene playing out at the time, and the soundtrack does know when to be quiet, too. The second opener remains in use throughout this volume, while the second closer holds position for episodes 23-25; episode 26 reverts to the original opening theme, which plays in the background as the scene finishes and the credits roll.
Extras this time around include an audio commentary by Japanese staff and seiyuu for episode 26, another video game trailer, and a textless closer for episode 26. This volume's edition of the Voice Actor Interview features the seiyuu for Holland and Talho in a dual interview. The Special Edition version also includes an exclusive T-shirt and volume four of the accompanying manga.
The drama and character development piles on heavily as the series reaches its midway point, but the end-of-season payoff is equally big as the stage is set for the second half of the series run. Even if you've been following the series on Adult Swim and haven't bothered to purchase previous volumes, this one is worth getting if for no other reason than the replay value of episode 26.
Overall (dub) : A-
Overall (sub) : A-
Story : A-
Animation : A
Art : B+
Music : B+
+ Sharp animation, good characterizations, triumphant reunion scene.
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