Reviewby Theron Martin,
Renton and Eureka are both back on the Gekkostate but under punishment for leaving without permission. Holland, finally accepting that Eureka has chosen Renton and not him, resolves to protect them at all costs and prepares for an inevitable confrontation with Charles and Ray Beam. Although they backed off during the previous climatic battle, they are intent on carrying out their original mission and also rescuing Renton from the “monster” that has claimed him, and when determined former SOF members face off against each other, it can only end in bloodshed. In the wake of that incident Renton and Eureka decide to promote a new mindset on the ship through cleaning and cooking, an endeavor which leads to the dramatic revelation of the Gekkostate's true purpose and Eureka's true identity. The evolving state of the Nirvash and medical problems of one crew member cause the Gekkostate to head to Tresor Laboratories, the installation originally responsible for building the Type Zero and the one most connected to Eureka's past.
Meanwhile Dominic continues his investigation of Renton by paying a visit to Bell Forest.
Episodes 27-30, which mark the beginning of the second season, also lie at the heart of a run of episodes (begun with episode 26) which constitute the series' peak. Although it may not include as much action as other four-episode blocks, nowhere else in the series is the pacing and plotting more fluid or devoid of the padding and overbearing “growing up” euphemisms which litter the whole of the series. In fact, so thinly-spread is the meaty content of the series that in no other place before or after this volume – not even at the end – will you find such a wealth of critical events so close together. In these four episodes you have: two significant character deaths, one key cast member who undergoes a major make-over, the beginning of a major revamping of the Nirvash, the revelation of the Gekkostate's true purpose, the revelation of how Holland is connected to Renton's older sister Diane (although the details won't come out until much later), the revelation of why Ray so hates Eureka, and most importantly, the long-awaited revelation of Eureka's true identity. Most viewers who are watching these episodes for the first time will not see that stunning truth coming, although it certainly does explain a lot of things that have transpired prior to that point.
The theme of “growing up and learning to accept responsibility” is so integral to the series that it cannot be entirely set aside, however. Up until this point Holland has, for all his seeming age and experience, been acting as immaturely as Renton has, but that changes as he get locked into his new purpose and pursues it ruthlessly. Talho also becomes convinced that it's time for her to act more mature, while Renton proves that he has grown up a bit by not being thrown for a loop by learning what makes Eureka special. Despite essentially becoming villains for this volume, Charles and Ray continue to prove that they are the series' best supporting characters, while most of the rest of the supporting cast just muddles along as normal.
The first two episodes of this volume also represents the most explicit and brutal violence in the series to date; parts of “Helter Skelter” (aka episode 27) in particular are not for the squeamish. They mark the development of a more consistently heavier tone that is only briefly interrupted by lighter-hearted content in episodes 29 and 30. The intense action of episode 27, somber drama and flashbacks of episode 28, and revelations and resolutions of episode 29 are all executed so well that those drawn to the series for its more high-spirited elements, humor, and thrilling mecha action may not mind, however.
As always, the series makes good use of its electronica-dominated musical score and the occasional insert songs to heighten tension, push light-hearted or dramatic scenes along, or give the series a cool-sounding groove, especially in episode 28. Episode 27 introduces both a new opener and a new closer, both of which were truncated for the [adult swim] broadcast to only include their highlights but actually sounded better that way; how either stacks up against the earlier openers and closers is purely a matter of personal taste. Curiously, the artistry for the opener looks much rougher than in the rest of the series, while the closer artistry features an unidentified female character.
The good-but-not-spectacular artistry and solid animation remain constant with the quality seen in previous volumes despite having fewer flashy battle scenes to exploit. Though less sexy, the new look for Talho by the end of the volume is a sharp one, and the stripped-down look of the Nirvash provides interesting insight as to what lies at the core of LFOs. Charles and Ray, despite their more angular looks, remain distinctive and appealing characters visually, although Holland looks a bit odd in his counterinsurgency get-up. These episodes also offer a tiny bit of fan service and quite a larger amount of blood and gore.
The English dub also maintains the level of quality seen in more recent volumes. While unlikely to blow anyone away or overly impress sub fans, it is definitely sufficient for anyone who normally tolerates dubs. The English script stays relatively tight through this stretch, avoiding any significant changes.
The regular version of the DVD release includes a clean version of the opener, another video game trailer, and an audio commentary for episode 27 done by a quartet of key seiyuu. The Voice Actor Interview this time features Kate Higgins, who voices Talho here (and has done major work elsewhere) but wears a T-shirt reminding viewers that she is probably even better-known as the English voice for Sakura in Naruto. The Special Edition version also includes volume four of the manga adaptation, the second OST, and the second T-shirt.
If you are using the DVDs to watch the series for the first time then Volume 7 gets the second season off to a strong start, a standard that it, unfortunately, does not maintain for long. If you are picking up some of the DVDs after watching the series on [adult swim] then this volume is one of a handful in the series worthy of picking up for repeat viewings.
Overall (dub) : A-
Overall (sub) : A-
Story : A-
Animation : B+
Art : B+
Music : A-
+ Best pacing and plotting in the series, major revelations.
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