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Eureka Seven: AO (Astral Ocean) – Part 1 (a J!-ENT Anime on Blu-ray Disc Review)

August 13, 2013 by  



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The sequel to the original “Eureka Seven” series, for those wondering what happened to Renton and Eureka, will definitely want to watch “Eureka Seven: Astral Ocean”.  An exciting mecha anime series from anime studio, BONES… “Eureka Seven: Astral Ocean is a series that I definitely recommend!

Image courtesy of © 2013 FUNimation Entertainment. All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: Eureka Seven: AO (Astral Ocean) – Part 1

ANIME RELEASE DATE: 2012

DURATION: 11 Episodes

BLU-RAY INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition (1:78:1), DolbyTrue HD 5.1, Japanese DolbyTrue HD 2.0, English subtitles

COMPANY: FUNimation

Release Date: August 13, 2013

Directed by Tomoki Kyoda

Series Composition by Kakuto Takeyoshi

Music by Koji Nakamura

Character Design by Hiroyuki Oda

Art Director: Ayumi Sato, Kazuo Nagai, Makoto Ujiie, Takeshi Waki

Mecha Design by Takehiro Ishimoto

Anime Production: BONES

Featuring the following voice talent:

Kanako Miyamoto/Lindsay Seidel as Naru Arata

Yūtarō Honjō/Micah Solusod as Ao Fukai

Akio Nojima/Charlie Campbell as Alexander Boyd

Ayaka Ohashi/Sainty Reid as Fleur Blanc

Chiaki Omigawa/Jad Saxton as Elena Peoples

Chie Nakamura/Jamie Marchi as Rebecka Halström

Hidenobu Kiuchi/Tyson Rinehart as Georg

Ikuya Sawaki/Kent Williams as Stanley Fry

Kaori Nazuka/Stephanie Sheh as Eureka

Katsunosuke Hori/R. Bruce Elliot as Toshio Fukai

Kazuhiko Inoue/Todd Haberkorn as Truth

Keiji Fujiwara/Johnny Yong Bosch as Renton Thurston

Keikou Sakai/Matt Thurston as Pippo

Kouichi Toochika/Duncan Brennan as Yasumochi Nakamura

Nao Tōyama/Monica Rial as Noah

Rokuro Naya/Chuck Huber as Christophe Blanc

Takuya Kirimoto/Brandon Potter as Gazelle

Tetsuo Goto/John Swasey as Ivica Tanovic

Yoshinori Fujita/Anthony Bowling as Han Juno

Sequel to Eureka Seven.

The year is 2025. Earth is engulfed in the crossfire between massive warring alien life forms that leave annihilation in their wake. While searching for clues about his past, Ao is caught in an attack and forced to fly a giant humanoid fighter craft to save himself and his island. Fragments of the teenager’s origin come to light when a hostile shape-shifter seeking revenge on Ao’s missing mother – who vanished two years after his birth – targets him instead.

Consumed with learning how his machine of war is connected to his mother and the monster that now pursues him, the young pilot will fly full throttle into combat zones without hesitation.

Contains episodes 1-12.

“Eureka Seven”, the 2005 mecha anime series from BONES that captivated viewers all over the world.

The popular mecha anime TV series from Bones has spawned video games, novels and a movie.  But the animated series also was adapted into a manga series which ran in Kadokawa Shoten’s “Monthly Shonen Ace” from 2005-2006 with a total of 23 chapters.

As the anime series was a big hit in the US airing on the Cartoon Network’s “Adult Swim”, the six volume manga series was previously released in the US.  But with the new “Eureka Seven” film released in US theaters in Sept. 2009 and in 2012, a new series titled “Eureka Seven Astral Ocean” was aired on television, a sequel to the first anime series and now the first part of the Blu-ray release will be released in the U.S. courtesy of FUNimation in August 2013.

“Eureka Seven: AO” has received three manga adaptations (“Eureka Seven: AO”, “Eureka Seven: AO ~Save a Prayer~” and “Eureka Seven nAnO”) and also an OVA release.

“Eureka Seven: AO” is directed by Tomoki Kyoda (“Eureka Seven”, “Halo Lgends”, “Wolf’s Rain”, “RahXephon”), music by Koji Nakamura and character design by Hiro Kanzaki (“Oreimo” series).

First, getting to know “Eureka Seven”

While it helps to watch the original “Eureka Seven” series, it is not necessary.

The series takes place 10,000 years after humanity left their planet after an intelligent, sentient life form known as Scub Coral attached itself and merged with the planet.  Humanity was forced to find other planets to live.

Which now leads us to the original series. “Eureka Seven” revolves around a boy named Renton Thurston, a young 14-year-old who is brash and tends to enjoy living for the moment.  His hobby is grabbing his lift board (somewhat like a surf or skateboard but is used for floating in the air) and just riding it and having fun.  Renton, also happens to be the son of the late military hero Adroc Thurston and the grandson of famous scientist Axel Thurston.  But unlike them, Renton is not into studying nor does he have any career ambitions, he’s just a boy who idolizes Ray-Out Magazine’s Holland Novak, a professional lift board rider.

One day, a mecha (an LFO known as Nirvash typeZERO – the world’s first humanoid mobile machine – Light Finding Operation) crashes near his home and inside it comes out a girl who piloted it.  While repairs are being done on the LFO, Renton becomes happy when the girl tells him that she knows Holland (Renton’s lift board idol) and immediately, Renton becomes happy but the more he sees this girl, he starts to fall for her.

The military (U.F. Force) then disrupts their meeting as they try to get the girl and the two quickly escape on the LFO together.   While being pursued, somehow the two managed to create “The Seventh Swell” and grabs the attention of Holland and his crew (known as The Gekko State).  Can Renton be the source of hidden power of the Nirvash?

Meanwhile, we learn from the military why they are pursuing Eureka and that she and the Nirvash were part of a major military secret project that was stolen by Holland and now they want her back.  Meanwhile, the crew wonder if Renton is the real deal of what happened with the Nirvash or was it freak situation that just happened.  As for Renton, he’s just happy to be part of a group that Holland belongs to and most of all, to be near Eureka.

The storylined featured The Gekko State trying to hide from the military or getting into battles with each other, a third party, an alien race known as the Coralians have reappeared and for some reason, they are also going after Eureka.

Outside of the storyline involving the Gekko State and UF Force, the other primary storyline is Renton and Eureka’s storyline as two people who don’t understand their emotions but they are attracted to each other.  The other storyline focuses on the Novak brothers as we see Holland doing what he can to protect his team but trying to calm his hatred towards his brother Dewey, and vice-versa as Dewey tries to put his plan to rule UF Force and using anemone (a girl who looks similar to Eureka but are quite different) to destroy Gekko State and those who will stand in his way.

Leading up to “Eureka Seven: AO”

This series takes place in the year 2025 in Okinawa on the island of Iwato Jima and is about a 13-year-old boy named Ao Fukai who lives with Dr. Toshio Fukai.  His mother mysteriously vanished 10 years ago and one day while he and his friend Naru Arata are on the beach, he is nearly hit by a group of people (Gazelle, Pippo and Han Juno).  As they get into an argument, Ao accidentally takes a bracelet that was trying to be smuggled out by the group.  But somehow a Scub Coral and a G-Monster appear out of nowhere.

The group led by Gazelle were trying to smuggle an item to the Japanese Armed Forces with a hefty payday in return, but missing is a bracelet.  As the group go on to retrieve it, another Scub Coral and G-Monster appears and Cristophe Blanc of Generation Bleu makes a deal with the Union of the Okinawa Islands government to fight the G-Monster.

As for Ao, he realizes that the bracelet that the guys had actually belonged to his mother and Gazelle is wanting it back.  Ao refuses but as the they continue to argue, the G-Monster attacks Iwato Jima and in the mayhem, Ao escapes with the men for safety and ends up inside an IFO that was transported by the Japanese navy and defeats the G-Monster.  But while inside, his hair changes to turquoise.

It is revealed that the people of Iwato Jima have blamed Ao’s mother for the terrible accidents that the island had suffered and because he now has her turquoise hair, they begin hunting down Ao.  Ao is taken in by Kazuyuki Kinjo, a local musician who is apologetic for the behavior of his generation.  Meanwhile, Ivica Tanovich of Generation Bleu is looking for Ao, because he piloted the IFO..the Nirvash.  But how can that be possible?

As for the woman with turquoise hair, Ao’s mother… she had a name.  Eureka.

VIDEO:

“Eureka Seven: AO (Astral Ocean)” is presented in 1080p High Definition (1:78:1 aspect ratio).  As always, when it comes to mecha series, BONES does a fantastic job with character and mechanical designs but also a good blend of CG with art backgrounds to create a futuristic but beautiful landscape.  Mechanical design for this latest series is well-done.  Colors are vibrant when they need to be but if anything, for fans of the original animated series, will enjoy the character designs and overall look of the series.  I didn’t notice any banding or artifacts during my viewing of the series.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Eureka Seven: AO (Astral Ocean)” is presented in Dolby TrueHD 5.1 (English) and 2.0 (Japanese).  As always the case, the English soundtrack has much better dynamic range and use of the surround channels thanks to its 5.1 mix.  During the action sequences throughout the first 12 episodes, scenes are immersive and dialogue and music as well as the special effects are crystal clear.  As for the Japanese stereo soundtrack, dialogue is clear but doesn’t have the same immersiveness as the 5.1 soundtrack, which is understandable.  But I did like the Japanese soundtrack for the way the emotional scenes were done, but for the most part, both English dub and Japanese voice acting are well-done!

Subtitles are in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Eureka Seven AO (Astral Ocean) – Part 1” features the following special features:

  • Episode 5 Audio Commentary – Featuring audio commentary by Chuck Huber (voice of Blanc), Jad Saxton (voice of Elena) and Sainty Reed (voice of Fleur).
  • Inside the Booth: Eureka Seven: AO – (13:55) A special look at the voice recording of “Eureka Seven: AO”.
  • Episode 10 Commentary – Featuring audio commentary by Zach Bolton (ADR Director), Tyson Rinehart (voice of Georg) and John Swasey (voice of Ivica).
  • Original Commercials  – (3:17) The original Japanese commercials for “Eureka Seven: AO”.
  • Textless Opening Song – Featuring four different opening songs for “Escape”.
  • Textless Closing Song – Featuring three different closing songs of “Stand By Me”.
  • U.S. Trailer – FUNimation trailer for “Eureka Seven: AO (Astral Ocean) – Part 1”.
  • Trailers – FUNimation trailers

EXTRAS:

“Eureka Seven: AO (Astral Ocean) – Part 1” Blu-ray also comes with the DVD version.

“Eureka Seven: AO” has been an enjoyable series to read thus far.

If anything, I’m glad of the connection between the original series and the sequel and the whole mystery of what happened to Eureka?

For those of us who followed the original series and even watched the original film, you would hope that the storyline between Renton and Eureka ended with a happy ending.  But sure enough, “Eureka Seven: AO” continues with this all new storyline surrounding a new young teenager named Ao, who has the power to pilot a Nirvash and now he has the same hair color of his mother…. Eureka?

But just when you think that Ao was the focus, by episode 7 we are introduced to the antagonist known as Truth and he is not after Ao, he is after his friend Naru?

But so far for the first half, the storyline features Team Pied Piper along with the military engaging in war against The Secret which is appearing in various parts of the world and Team Pied Piper stand buy, wanting to intervene but the U.S. Government is against it.  So, as Teamed Pied Piper goes on various missions, more questions are left for the viewer especially towards fellow pilot Elena Peoples.

While the 12th episode leaves with a teaser, which I don’t want to spoil.  But I think fans of the original series will enjoy it!

As for non-fans who have no intention of watching the original series (especially since only the film and not the TV series are available on Blu-ray), for those not familiar with “Eureka Seven”, I think those who have followed the “Mobile Suit Gundam” or “Gurren Lagann” series will definitely find “Eureka Seven” to be an entertaining series.  You get a large group of characters but a storyline focusing on the underdog who turns out to be quite the hero but yet has the low self esteem issue and tends to doubt himself.  Sure, it’s a prevailing theme with many mecha series but in this case, where Gundam focuses on survival and “Gurren Lagann” focuses on eradicating the evil on the planet, “Eureka Seven: AO” so far has been a storyline about humanity trying to rid of the Scub Corals while a Secret tries to attack them and areas around the world.

While the first half of the storyline featured more about the Secrets attacking and the military’s response, with how the 12th episode ended, it definitely makes me excited to see what happens in the second half.

As for the Blu-ray release, the anime series looks great and the voice acting is well done on both the Japanese and English dub.  But with the English dub having the 5.1 lossless soundtrack, it has better dynamic range and use of the surround channels for more immersiveness.  You also get special features including audio commentary and more.

I definitely look forward to conclusion of the “Eureka Seven: AO” and for fans of the original series, because it is a true sequel, you’ll definitely want to check this sequel out!






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