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EDIT: I previously labeled this movie as “Pocket Full of Rainbows” only to realize that the title is actually a reference to the Elvis Presley song “Pocketful of Rainbows.” As such, I’ve changed the title and the associated category accordingly.
When the Eureka Seven movie was announced, speculation began as it always does. BONES said they would be retelling the story of Renton and Eureka, and using some of the existing footage from the TV series in the movie. Fans wondered if this meant the movies would be a retelling of the TV series with content edited to make it flow better as a movie, not unlike the First Gundam movies. Preview images and trailers started being released showing Renton and Eureka together as small children, something that never happened in any previous Eureka Seven media. Now that Psalms of Planets Eureka Seven – Pocketful of Rainbows (or as it’s apparently called in English, Psalms of Planets Eureka Seven – good night, sleep tight, young lovers –) is out, we know that the plans for this movie were much more ambitious than most anyone expected.
Once again, Eureka Seven focuses on the boy named Renton and the girl named Eureka, only this time any hint of the previous series beyond a superficial level are thrown out the window. As mentioned before, now Renton and Eureka are childhood friends who are separated and then reunited amidst a war with an inhuman enemy called the Image. Connecting them is a small fairy named Nirvash, whose words only Renton can understand. Front and center in Pocketful of Rainbows are the concepts of mythologies and dreams, as the movie explores the effects their existences have upon the world and what they mean for human beings.
This is a new world with a new history, and familiar faces are anything but. If you’re approaching this movie without ever having seen any of Eureka Seven in its other incarnations, rest assured that they have little to no bearing on the events of the movie. If you’ve ever seen the Vision of Escaflowne TV series and the Escaflowne movie, the level of difference in Pocketful of Rainbows is even more pronounced. In fact, spoiling the events of one will actually NOT spoil the other!
For those of you who are fans already, let me tell you just one little thing that will make you realize how different this movie is compared to the source material: In the world of Eureka Seven: Pocketful of Rainbows, there are no such things as Coralians.
This movie uses existing footage better than any anime I have ever seen. This is not simply reusing stock footage to show flashbacks or for the animators to go, “We already animated this once, why should we do it again?” Just like how the characters may look the same but their insides have changed dramatically, the TV series footage is given new life. Even though the same animation is being used on a number of occasions, the context of each scene is so different from when it was originally used in the TV series that the meaning of these animations change entirely. You almost can’t tell that it wasn’t originally made for the movie. This also has to do with the fact that this animation was already impressive in the first place, and the scenes newly animated for the movie are just as good if not better.
Being a movie, Pocketful of Rainbows does not have the luxury of developing the relationship between Renton and Eureka as thoroughly as the original TV series, but it still manages to get a sufficient amount of characterization into them and others. Even though you aren’t given all of the information, the way the characters act around each other will make few of the revelations about character relationships seem jarring or negatively unexpected. BONES knew that this was a 2-hour endeavor instead of a 50-episode series and worked accordingly. It really shows, as I do not feel that this movie was rushed unnecessarily.
Overall, this was a fun and thought-provoking movie as an Eureka Seven fan. Expect future posts about it as I explore some of the concepts presented in Pocketful of Rainbows, as the movie has gives you a lot to mill over.
For those of you want to see the movie for real inside of an actual theater, you should know that Bandai Entertainment has plans to do exactly that, albeit dubbed. Tickets go on sale August 21st for a September 29th showing in select theaters across the United States.
Before I start talking about the Eureka Seven manga adaptation, I’d like to explain what Eureka Seven is as a franchise. Eureka Seven was designed by Studio BONES and Bandai to be a sort of multimedia franchise that reaches out and expands beyond the normal frame of any single anime or manga series. You have the flagship anime, video games which retell the story of the anime, video games which act as prequels to the anime (which I’ve never played, but if I do get my hands on them some day I may review them too), a manga that is a prequel to the prequel video games, as well as a recent movie which is an alternate setting using the same characters. The Eureka Seven manga I’m about to review is somewhat similar to the movie in that it takes the characters and settings of the anime and adds a few twists to them here and there, but unlike the movie it sticks a little more closely to the plot of the TV series.
Unlike a lot of anime or manga, the Eureka Seven manga was not really made to be an “adaptation” of some source material that already exists in public entertainment, despite me using the word adaptation numerous times. Instead, the manga and anime were released almost simultaneously, so one does not rely on the other to be an initial source. Instead, the “source” for both of them is the director, Sato Dai. The result then is that as a manga, Eureka Seven is something quite unique, both relative to other manga in general, as well as to the anime TV series.
Premise-wise, the manga is pretty much the same as the anime. You have an impetuous youth named Renton Thurston, an enigmatic girl named Eureka, an anti-government group called Gekkostate, and there’s sky surfing and trappar and all sorts of familiar sights. Many of the plot points between the anime and manga are similar, too. However, many plot points are also quite different, and these changes to the story also change the basic feel of Eureka Seven.
The Eureka Seven manga is a little more action-based, a little more violent than the TV series. There’s not superfluous amounts of blood flying about, but people get hurt in the manga pretty badly. In other words, it reads less like the crescendo that is the anime and more like a sforzando. Now, if you’re like me and only knew the word crescendo (gradual buildup), and had to look for another musical term to continue the analogy, sforzando basically means “sudden changes.” The manga comes at you fast and hard, and at times it can leave you asking, “Wait, when did that happen?” Not that it’s necessarily a bad thing, of course.
There’s also more fanservice in the manga, such as panty flashes. And by panty flashes, I mean a character literally lifting Eureka’s skirt in Renton’s presence in order to get a rise out of him, both emotional and physical. Anemone in particular is given some choice sitations, as well as an ever-so-slightly different personality, where her cheerful side and her not-so-cheerful side are just a bit more extreme on either end.
I personally feel that the manga is not nearly as good as the anime, lacking much of the subtlety and grandeur of the anime, but that doesn’t mean I think the manga is bad or mediocre. I know some people prefer the manga because it doesn’t dawdle as much, and it really does get to the point more often, although it tends to be at the expense of building up the characters more. Still, I think it’s worth reading whether you’re an Eureka Seven fan or not. In fact, you don’t even need to have seen the anime in order to enjoy the manga, and it’s even possible you might enjoy the manga more if you don’t have the anime for a comparison.
The creators of the Eureka Seven manga, Kataoka Jinsei and Kondou Kazuma, are currently working on their own original manga called Deadman Wonderland. Check it out if you want to see them working in a setting that isn’t tied to a greater franchise beast.
With the Eureka Seven movie out, I figured it was high time for me to start talking more about Eureka Seven. I already reviewed Gravity boys & Lifting girl, but now I’ll be reviewing the original for this post, and then working my way towards the new movie.
Psalms of Planets Eureka Seven is an anime I hold very near and dear to my heart. I’ve watched it in almost every way possible: On Japanese TV, using downloaded raws, using downloaded fansubs, on DVD, and dubbed on American TV. It is not the first anime I watched, far from it in fact, but it has impacted my fandom and my life tremendously in positive ways. When asked to present a series of high quality with excellent characters, art, story, and pacing, Eureka Seven is the one I mention.
Eureka Seven centers around the concept of sky surfing, or being able to ride your board through the air, carried on mysterious green waves called Trapar. Sky surfing, known as lifting, is a popular sport in the world of Eureka Seven and influences culture tremendously, much in the same way skateboarding or surfing can attract people. Lifting is so well-known that they’ve become a common feature on giant military robots (called KLFs) to help them fight more freely in the sky. Perhaps the most famous lifter is a man named Holland, whose skills on a lif-board and in a KLF are all but unmatched and is also the leader of a band of anti-government rebels called Gekkostate.
With all that said, Eureka Seven is mainly the story of two people. The first character is Renton Thurston, a 14 year old boy and amateur lifter who idolizes Holland and is the son of a man regarded as the greatest hero the world has ever known. Renton dreams of escaping his dreary town and the shadow cast by his father, a dream which he is granted when he meets the second character and namesake of the series, a beautiful and mysterious girl named Eureka. Eureka has a personality you could almost call cold and distanced if not for the hints of humanity that reveal themselves occasionally. Enamored by Eureka’s calm beauty, Renton decides to follow her, only to find out that she is part of Gekkostate, the same rebel group led by Holland, and is given an invitation to join.
In the beginning, it’s fairly episodic, with the events of each episode pretty much resolving themselves by the end, but always dropping hints that there is more to the series than one might expect. The initial hook, as it were, is that you get to see the adventures of a stylish gang of rebels fighting against their world and its injustices while also having some fun. You also get to see the partnership between Renton and Eureka develop slowly but surely. If the series stayed like this forever I would have been happy with it, happy to keep watching, but fortunately for all of us the creators decided to do more. From here, the story continually ramps up, becoming stronger and grander until you are swept up by the raw emotion in the story. I know many people disagree with me, but I truly feel that Eureka Seven is one of the best-paced series ever. It is 50 episodes long and really knows how to use that number, with only a few hiccups along the way. Other than that, though, if you like a show which builds up gradually and never falters, Eureka Seven is it.
The characters in Eureka Seven are fantastic on pretty much every level. Design-wise, they’re all very unique and stylish, no doubt due to the contributions of character designer Yoshida Ken’ichi, a man who is possibly my favorite character designer ever. What really pushes Eureka Seven though is the incredible amount of character development. Very few characters in the show are the same person they were in the beginning and at the end. Renton struggles with growing up, Eureka has to deal with her strong and unfamiliar emotions, and Holland must come to terms with the contradictions in his real personality and the one he presents to the world.
Then you have other rich and well-developed characters. Talho Yuuki, girlfriend of Holland, is the ship’s pilot for Gekkostate. Having known Holland for a long time, she is able to reach past his facade and talk to the real him in a way no others can. On the government side is a man named Dominic Soleil, a young and intelligent communications officer who is also the caretaker of an unstable pilot named Anemone. Dominic is the main window into the government side of the story, and his presence does a good job of humanizing it, though there are others who add to the portrayal.
I can pretty much keep talking about the characters. It is they who really push the series and get it to stick in the minds of fans. However, there are other reasons for its artistic success, such as the aesthetic presentation that is on par with the characters. The animation ranges from decent to gorgeous, and the music is varied and strong, from the background music to the main themes. In fact, music is connected deeply with Eureka Seven, with musical references throughout. For example, you should know that Renton’s father is named Adrock Thurston.
The only flaw that Eureka Seven has isn’t really a flaw at all. You may be feeling it yourself as I expound praises on Eureka Seven. What I’m referring to is something called “overhype.” Eureka Seven fans have the hindsight of being able to see the entire series as a whole and knowing just how far it goes, so they, myself included, approach telling others about it by explaining how great it becomes. They have the entire image in their heads and their hearts. However, what happens is that this hypes the show up so much that when some new viewers watch the initial episodes, they don’t see the grandiose and life-changing anime known as Eureka Seven. The show is still good at the start, but it takes time to build up, and because of this overhype they ask, “Why isn’t it as good as people said?” You can see a similar thing happening with Gurren-Lagann or Legend of the Galactic Heroes. This is why I’ve tried to write this review in a way which explains the growth that happens in the series, but I know that even I fall victim to overhyping it.
That is Psalms of Planets Eureka Seven, a series which is, as the title of this review puts it, too good for its own good.