- Titles: E7, Eureka 7, Eureka Seven Psalms of Planets
- Genre: Science Fiction, drama, mecha, adventure
- Episodes: 50
- Studio: bones
Renton Thurston has a great name, a passion for lifting (sky surfing) and unresolved family issues after his hero dad got himself killed rather than spend time at home with his kids. It’s not that his life with his grandfather is bad or anything. He’s learned so much about the repair and maintenance of giant robots and the like. But nothing ever happens in this sleepy little town. So when one of those giant robots crashes into his room, piloted by the prettiest girl Renton ever saw, he jumps on the chance to follow her anywhere she may go. Little did he know that this choice would decide the faith of the entire universe.
Eureka Seven is a fairly classic science fiction story. And it was a nice throwback. I had been meaning to watch it for a while but something else always came up. I’m glad I finally decided to take the time.
Some of you may already know this. I like bones productions. Generally speaking, they tend to be varied and detailed. The studio also doesn’t shy away from adding a lot of flair to the series they release. Granted Eureka Seven is not exactly a recent title but you can still see the quality in it.
This said bones used that old-timey aspect ratio longer than other studios. I bring it up because of course, it’s the case here. And to me, that aspect ratio immediately dates an anime. The colours are kind of washed out as well.
So even though the designs are great in my opinion and the animation downright impressive. The overall impression is still one of an older anime. I should say that when mention designs, I mean backgrounds and characters. The robots are fine but pretty standard as far as they go. Although I did really enjoy the idea of piloting a flying giant robot that is also surfing. It’s just a very funny concept to me.
Story & Characters
Ok, so here’s the deal, Eureka Seven is too long. At least I think it is. And because it’s too long, it starts trying to cram in every theme and parallel concept it can, even if it doesn’t plan on developing them, and it gets muddied. Also melodrama. It packs in a LOT of melodrama. I would say the story sort of goes back and forth between classic science fiction and space opera.
I have a feeling my review is also going to be all over the place so let’s try to get some structure in. Compliment sandwich style.
I don’t like Holland. He’s arguably the deuteragonist and most of the story advances because of him directly. And I don’t like him, as a person. I think that’s amazing! You see, Holland has one of my favourite character designs in anime. He and Ray just captivated me through their looks. Yet the story still managed to make me dislike him. He’s unfair, petty, very childish in an unpleasant way. He takes out his frustrations on those around him, sometimes physically on much younger boys. He’s a coward that runs away from his responsibilities and desperately tries to avoid facing his own faults. Even at the end of the show, when he’s had a redemption arc, he contemplates letting the entire world get destroyed to avoid having to deal with what comes after.
And yet, he’s the hero. And it’s not a case of the show telling me who to like but not knowing how to write a likeable character. The fact is,, everything I said about Holand is true but it’s also true that he is unflinchingly faithful to his convictions, he tries to be both fair and considerate even if he doesn’t succeed all the time, that he will never ask others to do anything he isn’t willing to do himself and would rather take on danger personally than impose it on his crew, and that he is just a very capable person.
It’s not easy to write this character. Someone that your audience has plenty of reason not to like but still will probably begrudgingly respect. That takes nimble writing and detailed characterization that’s worked out from the start.
As you can imagine, a writing team that can pull that off can do some pretty impressive things. There’s an episode somewhere in the middle of the series. Renton is separated from his friends and living with a couple that is just amazing. They are some of the loveliest people in the series (Charles and Ray were also tour the force characters) but they turn out to be on different sides of the conflict. That’s actually a pretty great arc in itself, but that’s not what I’m going to talk about.
So one day, Renton, Charles and Ray are doing a delivery job that brings them to a hospital. There they meet a couple with a young daughter that is dying. There’s a machine that could help prolong her life but for several reasons, the parents have agreed to let a young boy also fatally ill have it instead. Renton is outraged. And there’s this clash of idealogy. It plays out through actions rather than speeches but you see it all. Renton’s slightly naive but deeply human impulse to preserve life at all costs. The parents’ heavy burden of weighing what’s best when considering their daughter’s suffering, their own moral and spiritual beliefs as well as the potential outcomes. It only lasts half an episode and is never mentioned again. It’s also absolutely devastating and the show does not give you an easy answer.
There are moments like these scattered throughout the entire series. Very well-written dilemmas, intricate characters that are rich with detail and ideas even if they only show up for a brief time. And yet…
Renton is basically a stock character. The young idealistic heroTM. And Eureka is not even a character. She’s a collection of narrative devices. In essence, Eureka is simply a mix of a constant maiden in distress despite ostensibly being more powerful than anyone else, unobtainium and a straightforward McGuffin. To be clear, I do understand why they made these two more archetypical and simple. The plot is rather complicated and an equally complex main character might have made the entire series hard to follow. But it did have the unfortunate side effect for me that just about every character was way more interesting than the leads.
Finally, let me talk about the actual plot a bit. No wait, I take it back. It’s pretty complicated so I’m not going to explain the plot here. You can read a synopsis on wiki probably. Let me just say that I do like the core plot a lot. The concept of scub coral and coralians is very good. The internal logic of it makes sense and I really like all the story potential it brings up. It’s also awesome on a xenobiological level. The limit of questions is maybe a bit new agey however it grew on me and I ended up really appreciating it. It helps that the series put a lot of effort into fleshing out its own science fiction.
On the other hand, Eureka Seven is also very much a coming-of-age story and an exploration of how men deal with daddy issues. I mean every important character has some! And I personally didn’t care all that much about the drama. It sort of seemed silly to have these grown men dwell on who their father paid more attention to as the world is literally exploding around them. I think there was a better way to do that.
In a similar vein. Eureka (who is not a character) and Anemone could have been amazing to explore. The fact that they are so similar at their core but evolved to be drastically different was a chance to really look into the nature vs nurture element of the story. Or to go into dystopian tropes and see how the limitations of individual freedoms affect a person’s actual sense of self or how morality might not in fact be an absolute. They could have done that, But they didn’t. Anemone just ends up being a twisted reflection of Eureka but the story is too busy with showing us sad orphans to go into it more than that. Even the very important religious subplot seems to get pushed to the side in the end.
The thing is, for me, there’s a clear line between the elements I enjoyed and thought worked really well for the story and those I found tedious and often superfluous. And you see, I think you could have told this story in about 36 episodes or 3 standard anime seasons. It would have been tighter, maybe some of those interesting but ultimately aborted thematic subplots would have to be dropped and the characters would have to sulk only once every three episodes instead of a couple of times per episode, but I think it would have made for a better anime in the end. Providing that better is entirely defined as an anime I personally enjoy more.
You might like this anime if:
You like classic sci fi and mopey love stories
My favourite character:
It ended up being Norb. He was a latecomer but he made a huge impression.
- Every time anyone says LFO – take a sip
- Every time Renton talks to his sister – listen
- Every time we see the outside of the Gecko – cheer!
- Every time someone pronounces Eureka’s name in a new way – scartch your head
- Every time the crew of the Gecko haze Renton – take a sip
- Every time Renton gets motion sickness – get some snacks
- Every time Holland is in his underwear – rais your glass
- Every time we see Ray-out magazine – take a sip
- Every time Doggie gets picked on – take a sip
- Every time someone other than Renton mentions his sister – take a sip
- Every time Renton takes the blame – take a sip
- Every time Anemone thorws a fit – duck
- Every time Dominic defies orders – gasp
- Every time Anyone mentions Adroc – pour some out
- Every time Talho and Holland squabble– take a sip
- Every time we see skyfish– take a sip
- Every time anyone has desperation disease – take a sip
I save all my screencaps on my Pinterest and you can find more there if you are interested. But I still like to show you a few in the post. If you’re like me, screencaps are something that really helps you decide to watch an anime or not.