Too Good for Its Own Good: Psalms of Planets Eureka Seven (Anime)

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.

19 thoughts on “Too Good for Its Own Good: Psalms of Planets Eureka Seven (Anime)

  1. So yet again another top animeblogger recommends Eureka Seven. I admit, I was one of those people that started the series but put it on hold from disinterest (around episode 10), but it seems like it’s worth another shot.

    However, I wonder if I’ll have time left in my Summer of Anime Backlog Shows to add another 50 episode series after Utena, Monster, and Legend of the Galactic Heroes??


  2. You really write a lot. I think that your final paragraph hit the nail on the head and the rest could be do away with.

    It’s really true: I tried to get into Eureka Seven, thanks to the hype, but felt let down.


    • That final paragraph is good for people who’ve already seen the show and they can determine whether or not their opinion agrees with mine, but for those who know little about E7 I feel that the rest of it is stuff I do want to talk about for the sake of others.


  3. You sir, in that last paragraph summed up what I couldn’t put into words. I feel exactly the same. I’ve tried to recommend the series to my friends, but I definitely felt like I overhyped it and they get turned off by not so spectacular first few episosdes.

    Ironically, my group of friends were passing around Gurren Lagann and Eureka Seven at the same time, and as what you noticed, felt more compelled to watch Gurren Lagann and it’s over-the-topness over Eureka Seven.

    Good job with this post.


  4. This post is spot-on. Instead of talking about the story, I just use the mecha hook to draw prospective fans in (“You like robots? How about surfing robots? SURFING ROBOTS IN THE SKY?”). And there’s the impressive music, too.


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