In a town where nothing happens, Renton Thurston dreams of taking to the skies and surfing the Trapar waves with his hero Holland and the rogue nation of Gekko State. And then one day his dream comes true, when a member of Gekko State quite literally crashes into his home, sparking off a chain of events that sees Renton join up with them and embark on an adventure that will affect the very future of the planet.
As one of several people to watch Eureka Seven recently, I went into the series fully expecting to not get the hyper and praise that surrounded it. Fortunately, although it wasn’t to hit the heights of the esteemed Gold level, I was to discover that there was a lot to like about this unconventional mecha series.
In its earliest stages, Eureka Seven can’t really be said to have much of an overriding plot, and to be honest, given the ponderous seriousness of the likes of Gundam, this is somewhat refreshing. Instead, we have various character pieces and one-off stories as Renton settles into the life of Gekko State- a laid back, counter-culture group who fly around the world in their ship, the Gekko-go, riding the Trapar waves (think of surfing through the air on a special board or even in a mecha) and taking on jobs for money. It’s cool, stylish fun, and even if the whole series had been nothing but this, I probably wouldn’t have complained.
Nonetheless, behind the fun and games, a more serious story begins to develop, one involving the nefarious plans of an evil colonel (there’s always one) and a bizarre alien race which cohabit the planet with humanity. Unfortunately, whilst this more serious tone helps the characters to grow and mature, in itself it’s a bit of a mess, with too many ideas introduced right at the end of the series, and the whole thing making sense by only the barest of margins, if that. Had the series tried to be a bit less ambitious in this regard, it would have perhaps been better all round.
Whilst the story has its flaws, however, Eureka Seven manages to be much stronger in the character department, bringing us a memorable cast who all undergo their own personal evolution. The stars of the show are of course Renton himself and young Eureka, an enigmatic mecha pilot who our hero immediately falls for. Over the course of the series, we see them both grow and mature, each learning from the other and becoming stronger for it. Equally important are the supporting cast, including Holland himself, a man who starts off as generally dislikeable but slowly becomes sympathetic; my personal favourite Talho, the Gekko-go’s pilot and Holland’s lover, a woman who faces the transition from carefree and easygoing to mature and responsible; Dominic, a young Federation officer who must balance duty and personal feelings; Anemone, an unstable mecha pilot whose spoilt and selfish nature covers her tragic status as a tool and experimental specimen, and many more. The fact that we can look back at the end of the series and see how far each of them has come is truly an achievement on the part of the series.
Even with all this, there is one more factor that gives Eureka Seven its bright sheen and general appeal, and that is the presentation. The visuals are sharp and bright, and that is exactly what gives the series its slick and stylish appeal. Even when fight scenes are just following brightly coloured lines in the sky, the series draws you into the fast paced intensity of a battle, throwing in loops, turns and missile launches with abandon. Even during the times when you know that the animators are just saving budget with distance shots and re-used footage, it all looks so good that you can’t possibly complain. Even the character designs, whilst not especially complex, have their own innate appeal- especially when it comes to the girls. And even the background music rounds out the atmosphere, mixing it up with a variety of energetic tracks including FLCL-style rock.
Although the overall story could have been better thought out, Eureka Seven still manages to impress with its character interaction and stylish presentation, ensuring a fun and memorable outing. In short, whilst it may not be the best series out there, it most certainly is the coolest.