Koukyou Shihen Eureka 7
Genre: Science Fiction/Giant Robots
When Americans think of “tie-in series”, they usually imagine something fairly terrible. With anime, though, series with video game origins – like Pokemon, .hack//SIGN, or Full Metal Alchemist - have become some of the most successful and respected series of past years. Bandai is clearly looking to help continue the trend with their upcoming Eureka 7 anime series, and all the advance information about the show indicates that it’ll be a very interesting watch.
The “koukyou shihen” part of the title roughly translates as “Book of Echoes” – ‘koukyou’ is something like ‘mingling reverberations’, while ‘shihen’ is a word used to indicate a volume of poetry. There’s no word on an official English name yet, but the Japanese title hints strongly at the likely storytelling style for the series. Eureka 7 is about a group of people whose lives entwine together because of an extraordinary event. And, as is often the case in this sort of anime, the extraordinary event comes in the form of a giant, brightly-colored robot with a mysterious pilot.
The setting is a fair bit more exotic than the premise, though. Eureka 7 takes place on a planet that has been colonized by human beings in the distant future. The human settlements on this world are all clustered around giant towers that collect a strange form of ion called “trapper particles” from the planet’s atmosphere. The planet is ruled by a government called the “Federation of Tower States”, that is essentially a loose confederation of the different human cities.
Colonization on this planet happened a few hundred years ago, and since then the planet’s economy has taken a turn for the worse. The protagonist of the series is a young man named Renton, who is bored and unhappy with life on his quiet little planet. His father is of course a long-dead planetary hero, so he lives with his grandfather and works as a mechanic. Renton’s life is fairly dull, and his favorite respite from boredom on his dingy planet is a sport called “Reef”. In “Reef”, athletes called “Reef riders” utilize the planet’s layer of trapper ions to surf on the air.
The major secondary character and namesake of the series is Eureka, an idealistic and mysterious young girl who pilots a giant robot called the “Gekko-Go LFO Rider Nirvash”. The only notable character trait released about her so far is that she believes that mecha, like her giant robot, have feelings. As for Nirvash, it’s a super-special LFO that is capable of very human-like movements, and can actually Reefride with the aid of its giant robot surfboard. Forces from the Federation of Tower States are pursuing Eureka, so Renton’s life is going is get much more interesting once he meets her.
The Eureka 7 supporting cast is comprised of people whose lives intersect with Renton’s in some way. This includes Holland, a famous Reef rider who Renton admires and the leader of Gekko State, and Talho, a tough-talking fashion model who acts as Holland’s partner. As for Gekko State, it’s located on a huge white airship called the Gekko-Go, and lots of reef riders live there. The ship travels around, looking for places in the air where lots of trapper ions are present; after all, you can’t surf without a good wave.
While Eureka 7’s premise may seem a bit too odd at first glance, a strong creative team is in place to guide the series down an interesting path. The production studio, BONES, is responsible for the animation on mega-hit Full Metal Alchemist, as well as the more understated but still highly regarded Wolf’s Rain. Direction duties for the series will be handled by Tomoki Kyoda, a regular BONES staffer who previously directed the visually stunning mecha series RahXephon. Series Writer will be Dai Sato, coming fresh off of the critically acclaimed Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex TV series. Character design and main animation will be handled by Kenichi Yoshida, who previously did character design work on quirky Sunrise mecha series Overman King Gainer. Main mechanical designs will be by the great Shoji Kawamori, whose credits include the classic Macross anime franchise. The art director will be Kazuo Nagai, whose previous works include the award-winning Studio Ghibli film Spirited Away.
With so much top anime talent focused in a single series, Eureka 7 already stands out as one of the most promising anime series of the upcoming Japanese TV season. This summer’s Eureka 7 video game may actually have a tough time measuring up. An American release for the game or the anime hasn’t been announced yet, but a major franchise like this is probably not going to be passed up. Koukyou Shihen Eureka 7 begins airing Sundays at 7 AM on MBS/TBS on April 17.