Eureka Seven

What is it?

Eureka Seven is a mixed media project, conceived first as an anime, but was then expanded to several manga series, a light novel adaptation, three video games and a feature [animated] film. It was co-produced by animation studio BONES and Bandai Entertainment and written by screenwriter Dai Satō.

This post focuses on the first four seasons of the animated series, which was comprised of 50 episodes.

Music, air surfing and giant robots…

The series’ protagonists: Renton Thurston (LEFT) and Eureka (RIGHT).

At first glance. Eureka Seven appears to be a mecha (I.E. giant robot) anime. While most of the action revolves around these piloted machines (Referred to as LFOs), the series is, in actuality, a love story with science fiction elements. The show explores the relationship between protagonists Renton Thurston and Eureka, as well as their role in solving the mysteries of the world they live in. Essentially, the humans in this setting are trying to make sense of a seemingly antagonistic, alien-like life-form called the Scub Coral (This being one of several plot lines).

While the show does have an interesting premise that much of the screen-time could be devoted to, it’s actually very heavily character driven. The series features numerous complex and well-written individuals whom, for an anime, are quite compelling. The writers were very referential with their work, invoking similarities setting-wise to the 1970s American musical counter-culture era, the 1980s acid music scene and of course, surfer culture. They also seemingly put in as many musical references as they possibly could. Examples include key terms (Such as KLF, Joy Division and the Second Summer of Love), characters (Tragic mercenaries and fan favourites, Ray and Charles Beams) and episode naming conventions (Every single episode is named after a song).

One interesting thing to note is that each media told its own story (For example, different characterizations and/or rewritten plots and endings). Purists, in general, hate this sort of thing, which I believe is an unfair criticism. I’m in the minority in thinking that it’s a misuse of time and money to just parrot one medium to another (At least for anime and manga). It just amounts to wasted opportunity for creativity. As long as it’s done well and respects the source material, I don’t see why adaptations shouldn’t be free to diverge from the original story.

While it’s not outright stated in any preview material, the story in the anime takes place thousands of years in the future in a world called Kanan. With this in mind, one would reasonably expect an advanced technological setting and futuristic clothing. This is not at all the case here. Most of the principal cast have eye-catching yet realistic outfits, while minor characters tend to be adorned with clothing that’s very contemporary and similar to real-life clothing. The show has an extensive cast and those given significant screen-time are generally divided into three distinct groups or organizations.

The Gekkostate: The good guys

The Gekkostate are an anti-government and counter-culture collective led by Holland Novak. They are first introduced as a group of free-spirits who perform various acts of rebellion against the ruling government. Series protagonists Renton Thurston and Eureka are also part of this group. While the eighteen members vary by importance to the overall story, every character has a distinct look and style.

The Gekkostate are a motley crew of individuals of all ages and of different walks of life.

Character like Jobs (Dress clothes), Mischa (A doctor’s coat over a plain black sweater and skirt), Matthieu (A tank top, shorts and sneakers) and Stoner (A pullover hoodie and a beret) have fairly mundane outfits. Things get more interesting with Gidget and Moondoggie, who wear accented tops and matching baggy jeans. The most absurd get-up goes to Woz, with his graphic jeans and patterned headband.

It would certainly be odd to see a group of rebels adhere to anything resembling a dress code, so I can just imagine how much fun the production staff had in designing all these different outfits.

The United Federation: The bad guys

The standard United Federation army uniform for men and women.

The United Federation (Short for the United Federation of Predgio Towers) is the world’s ruling government. Its army is the main antagonist group for much of the series and are in direct conflict with the Gekkostate. Unlike the Gekkostate crew, the army has standardized uniforms for its members, which are predominately black with red and silver piping and accents.

As is the case with most anime, antagonists of higher importance get customized outfits. Dewey, a colonel in the U.F. army, wears primarily white with sky blue accents and touches of gold. Dominic Sorel wears a similar colour scheme but with silver as opposed to gold (He also has the standard U.F. army uniform but with beige cavalry pants). The Ageha Squad (A group of five highly intelligent children loyal to Dewey) continues the trend of white and blue. They all wear matching tops with frills and blue bows, as well as white capris.

Colonel Dewey (LEFT) and his subordinates, Dominic Sorel and three of the five members of the Ageha Squad.

The most notably dressed character in the U.F. is a pink-haired teenager named Anemone. Outside of combat, she wears an extensively flared white dress with red accents and orange stripes and matching platform shoes. Her bizarre battle uniform is a thick rubberized bodysuit covering up to the back of her head. It has an oddly satisfying colour scheme of black, orange and lime green.

Anemone: A troubled young woman with a tragic past and pink hair.

The Vodarac

The Vodarac are a persecuted religious group that share some subtleties to the real life Tibet and Tibetan Buddhism. In the Eureka Seven universe, they are branded as terrorists by the United Federation, ostracized by the general population and are victims of regular military bombings and acts of ethnic cleansing. Their robes are generally dark brown. Accessories such as shoulder sashes and belts are usually deep red but can be yellow as well. Outer garments vary by character but priests always have wearables covering up to the back of their heads. Similar to real-world Buddhist monks, male Vodarac priests have their heads shaved. Notably, men and women can have religious facial markings, usually on the forehead.

Various members of the Vodarac religious group.

Officially Licensed Clothing

Fairly popular anime series usually have a merchandising component to make money beyond the initial television run. Eureka Seven was no different. During the height of its popularity, there was a sheer amount of officially licensed goods. Much of it was standard fare: Keychains, wallets, DVDs, figurines and model kits of the LFO robots. But interestingly enough, there was also a clothing line.

Several graphic tees were created for sale in Japan and some of them even made it to North America. T-shirts in size Large were included in the special edition releases of the Region 1 DVDs. Surprisingly, these old box sets are still available on the secondary market, sometimes going as low as $15 to $20 USD (One could assume that Bandai were perhaps overzealous in how many units they decided to produce for the US market). Other items in the range included long sleeved tops, button up shirts and even a jacket and a pair of sneakers modeled after the ones Renton wore on the show.

Some of the many officially licensed clothing items related to the series.

A sci-fi love story for the ages

Eureka Seven is one of my two absolute favourite animated series (The other being the seminal Neon Genesis Evangelion). I re-watch the English dub once a year and still make new discoveries over the course of viewing. Perhaps I’m being clouded by nostalgia, but I can’t get enough of the show. I’m unsure if the project as a whole was a success for BONES and Bandai, but it was notable enough to warrant a direct sequel. Titled Eureka Seven: AO (Astral Ocean), it was met with dismal reviews and didn’t quite live up to the quality of the first series. Even more jarring for longtime fans was that the sequel retroactively changed major plot points established in the original series to fit its narrative. While I appreciate the effort, I simply pretend the sequel doesn’t exist.

Regardless, the writers and producers of Eureka Seven have created a well thought out story and universe with fantastic visuals and unique fashion. Other media in the project will be covered in future posts but in the meanwhile, I selfishly implore everyone, anime fan or not, to watch this show. It’s highly recommended viewing.

Eureka Seven is available on DVD and Blu-ray. The series is also available on a paid streaming service provided by Funimation, the largest distributor of anime in North America. The first four episodes of the show are freely available for immediate viewing.