This film has less than 10 minutes of original animation. A full 80 minutes is scenes from the original series.
Is this a recap film? No, a recap would have at least been tolerable. The reused material attempts to establish an alternate plotline where Rei and Charles had already adopted Renton long before Renton encountered them in the series. It even goes as far as to re-dub some footage to convey this alternate plot.
Again, this might have been okay if done well, but it wasnt. The editing is all over the place, cutting between scenes with little relevance to eachother. There are probably 20 "X Days
Ago" title cards scattered throughout the film. Lastly, nearly every scene is subtitled with expository text which provides zero benifit to the plot. At some points half of the screen was covered with text.
What about the music? Even I could forgive this film if it had some sweet new soundtrack, but it doesnt. The soundtrack was bland and mostly reused songs. The main theme "Glory Days" doesnt play until the credits roll.
Honestly it's like they only had enough budget for a short film, but wanted to make a full length film anyway, so they just gave a 12 year old Windows Movie Maker and raw footage from the original series and let them go ham.
[Note: This review assumes you have seen at least the original Eureka Seven TV anime. As such, there will be spoilers for it within this review.]
Well, Studio Bones is at it again! Out of all the original series they make (and they’ve made plenty) Eureka Seven seems to be a favorite to many. But to be fair, why wouldn’t it be? The original 2005 series is a stone cold classic, with its arresting visuals, compelling lead romance, and just a grand adventurous tone through and through. I’ll make it no secret that I love it dearly, and its been my favorite anime for nearly 6
years now. It just does so much wonderful that I can’t help but wear a smile anytime I rewatch it.
Unfortunately, with that much praise comes bank to be made on it. And with that bank comes Bones trying to make the magic strike once again. Their first attempt, Pocketful of Rainbows, was an alternate take on the series featuring some reused footage and had some interesting ideas going for it. It was never going to live up to the original, but for what it was it was harmless. The same cannot be said for their next attempt: the infamous Eureka Seven AO. Truth be told, I haven’t seen it myself. But everything I’ve heard makes it seem like seeing it would be the last thing any fan of the original would want. AO was pretty much the lowest point in the series, and many just thought it was done after such a botched follow up.
Perhaps trying to wash away AO’s taint, Bones is taking the old horse out for another try. The Hi Evolution trilogy was announced last year, with the original staff and cast from both languages returning. With the first installment releasing last year in Japan, nerves have never been more on edge. Fans waiting with baited breath to see if they shit the bed once again. And from the first screening at Otakon last summer, reception was...mixed at best. Much of anitwitter was ablaze, claiming that the bed was indeed shat in; some going so far as to say that it was just as bad, if not worse than AO. But with its American release finally here, it must be asked: do those claims ring true? Is Hi Evolution 1 just another blemish on the original? Is it truly worse than AO? To answer this, I must put aside my biased love towards the original series. And now I can say with confidence that this new film is, surprisingly, really damn great. Though truthfully not for everyone.
The overall plot of the film can be broken down into two parts: the first is the story of the Summer of Love. That often talked about but never shown event is finally shown in full glory, as is the story of the man who saved the world, Adroc Thurston. The second part shifts the focus onto the familiar face of Renton Thurston, as he reflects on his past experiences with both Eureka and his adoptive parents, Charles and Ray. For in this continuity, Renton was adopted by the Beams right after his father vanished, and so it’s from them he runs away from to follow Eureka.
Let’s get the obvious praise out of the way: The Summer of Love section is amazing. The first 20-25 minutes is basically one big action scene, and it is jam packed with awesomeness. We’ve got Scub antibodies blasting away at KLF units. We’ve go lasers and missiles flying sky high and exploding into big beautiful bursts of color. We’ve even got a giant missile that transforms into the equivalent of a rave party; god almighty, it is amazing. But it doesn’t stop there, we’ve got plenty of great character moments to boot. It’s great to see Charles and Ray again, and they get a bulk of the early action in the scene. Holland and Dewey actually looking out for and calling each other “brother” is something i never knew I wanted, and it's amazing. It’s impossible to watch it without feeling pumped up.
What’s more, they actually manage to one-up the original series by actually giving Adroc some character. In the series, he was dead by then, and more acted as a symbol for many of the characters. Here, he’s given some depth and it’s quite well done. The film portrays Adroc as a man who genuinely wants to help the world. Someone who is desperate to stop a doomsday plan he created, and laments all the pain caused by his actions. It really succeeds at humanizing him, making him more than just the legendary figure of the original show. All those elements makes his sacrifice all the more powerful in a truly beautiful sequence. The entire Summer of Love was just one big lump of fanservice to the original show, meant to please the fans in every possible way, and it unquestionably succeeded. And then the rest of the film happened and things got more complicated.
See, the controversial reception this film has doesn’t come from the story being told. No, it comes from the way that it was told. Hi Evolution 1 takes a decidedly non linear approach to telling Renton’s tale. Signaled by the words “Play Back” and “Play Forward”, the film leaps throughout parts of Renton leaving the Gekko and his reunion with his adoptive parents. Fans of the original series will recognize these events, in particular Renton’s encounter with the Vodarac girl and his specific reason from running away in the first place. Many have complained that this style of storytelling was too confusing and hard to follow, but for me it wasn’t so. Everything followed a thematic throughline about Renton’s maturation, and it didn’t hop along too large of time gaps. Plus, if you’ve seen the original show, you should know where these events line up time wise. The criticism perhaps comes from how unexpected it was, which while certainly true proved to shake up the original version of these stories.
To be frank, the film basically requires you to be familiar with the original series. It doesn’t really touch on Renton’s life aboard the Gekko, nor his relationship with Eureka; instead assuming you already know about everything Renton went through and giving the new information needed for this trilogy. Some may be aghast at those changes, and while I sympathize, I must also disagree. Had the film gone over that material it would’ve basically been the same as in the original series. Then you would’ve had people complaining about how the film retreaded too much of the same stuff. Some may certainly argue that reusing moments from the series in the first place was a mistake, and while that may have merit, the way they went about telling it was the most interesting approach.
Some will also be disappointed to know that the focus is kept primarily on Renton. In fact, the film kind of turns into a character study of him, squaring in on his reasons for running away and his own problems with relating to Eureka. The elements explored are similar to the ones from the TV series, but they are different. Most notably, it is much harsher on Renton. This section of the original show was a dark time for him, and this film carries that over very well, and then some. It explores how, while he genuinely wants to be a good person, it’s difficult for him to understand what people really want. This was lightly touched on in the series, but here it’s put more front and center as the big character hurdle Renton has to overcome. It’s no coincidence also that the scenes taken are the ones that most strongly reflect that theme.
His encounter with the Vodarac girl proved to be the key example of that hurdle in the original series, and it’s just as much here, but different in a subtle way. In the original, after Renton is brought back to the Swan, Charles comforts him by saying that he doesn’t begrudge his actions; that what he did was “the right thing to do as a human”, but that they didn’t know if the girl really wanted what Renton thought she did. In Hi-Evolution, while Charles still sympathises with Renton, he’s fairly more harsher on him: saying instead that Renton did what he truly thought was right, but that there was no way he could have known if it was for the best. It’s a subtle change, but Hi-Evolution’s version call Renton’s actions into question more and is shown to have a bigger impact on him. And while we don’t see much of her interactions with Renton here, Eureka is shown to be different as well. She’s a lot colder emotionally than she was initially at this point, and her conversation with Renton before he runs away shows that as well. She, too, was more willing to draw attention to Renton’s actions, and the repercussions they had. As such, in the same way that Adroc’s sacrifice is strengthened by his characterization, so too is Renton’s when he once more leaves Charles and Ray. The production name of this film was “Renton Seven”, and that is undoubtedly what this feels like; a story about Renton, his maturation, and where he will go from here.
If I had to point to the films largest shortcomings, it would be its attempt at trying to appeal to newcomers. Text appears often that is meant to explain certain elements that may be unfamiliar to newcomers. Some are actually quite helpful and interesting, such as one explaining the Trapar Waves and the military connections of the characters. Often, however, it’s just running down information that is somewhat unnecessary, and often actually spoil some parts of the series. If they wanted to get newcomers in, they shouldn’t have revealed Eureka’s identity as a human form Corallian, for instance. In fact, I get the feeling that even the writers were aware of the issues with the constant text, and actually played them for laughs in some cases. There’s a text line about helmet wearing rules in Bellforest, and even one explaining what tacos are. Still, the text is somewhat easy to phase out of your mind. But it was a mistake to try to appeal to newcomers in a film like this. This is a film for fans, first and foremost, and we already know most of this stuff.
In terms of visuals, the film devilers in a way you may not expect. Obviously, the Summer of Love is the high point: it’s a delectable smorgasbord of mecha action, gorgeous shot composition, and is a true sight to behold. It’s probably some of the best giant robot footage put to the big screen, and among the best Bones has produced. But after that, the film heavily uses footage from the original series during Renton’s portion of the film. Many have criticized this as a lazy move, and while new footage would’ve been amazing, its use is actually kind of smart. Using it during the primarily flashback-centered part of the movie is thematically appropriate; just as Renton remembers what’s happened to him, we too remember seeing these events from the original. But they didn’t just slap the old animation on and call it a day; they’ve actually cleaned it up quite a bit. Subtle changes to the line work, new background elements, even redrawing some scenes for a greater effect. What was once the Ray=Out magazine is now a governmental propaganda magazine, Hardfloor album covers are seen on Charles’ wall. My favorite would be a certain character appearing to have a vastly different role here, even if she doesn’t appear physically. It succeeds in giving off a surreal vibe; a feeling that what your watching is Eureka Seven, but is still different from the original. Admittedly, the aspect ratio change during this part is annoying, but it’s a minor detail for me at least.
Naoki Sato returns to the score, and it’s as great as ever. The film doesn’t rely too heavily on his original pieces from the TV series (I think they use one song from it and that’s it). Highlights include pretty much the entire Summer of Love sequence; that booming orchestral score is just eargasmic (is that a word? I hope so). In a surprising move, german trance musicians Hardfloor composed a song for this: Acperience 7. Playing during the Summer of Love, it’s a techno feast for the ears, and a straight up banging tune to boot. Considering that Hardfloor’s “Acperience” song was used as the title for a number of the TV shows episodes, it’s very fitting. Additionally, the ending song, Hiroya Ozaki’s “Glory Days”, is a phenomenal piece that really captures the feeling of the series.
As for the VA work, I watched the english dub. Somehow, Funimation managed to pull off the impossible and got the entire original cast back. Equally amazing is that they slip back into their roles without much of a hitch. It’s great to here all these voices again, especially Patrick Seitz and Melissa Fahn as Charles and Ray. Hell, they even got Dewey’s VA back, and he does great too. The big new addition is Fred Tatasciore as Adroc, and while I was surprised when they first announced him, within the first few lines he sold me completely. He captures all the pain and anguish Adroc goes through while also never seeming too overdramatic. In short, he’s exactly how you imagined the character sounding, and is probably the best performance in the whole film. If I had to critique the acting, it would mostly revolve around Renton. Not that it’s a bad performance; it’s quite a solid one on the whole. It’s just that Renton sounds...different. Johnny Yong Bosch still voices him, but either he can’t pull off the same voice as the original or the dub decided to tone down the pitch he originally used. Regardless, it’s still the same Renton voice underneath, and you get used to it quickly. Either way, it’s a stellar dub all around.
Of course, this is only part 1. The film ended with a preview for Hi-Evolution 2 which looked so insane and crazy that it made me even more hyped for it. It would seem that this series is going to be one giant, big tribute to everything Eureka Seven. If so, than this film can only be truly judged as part of one whole entity that is the Hi Evolution trilogy. Even those who disliked this film, from what I’ve seen, expressed interest in the sequel, curious as to where this is all heading. And that’s really what this film was: a giant piece of set up for the sequels. But rather than have it just be that, the crew at Bones decided to make it something truly memorable and different, yet still feel like Eureka Seven.
I can, of course, see why many would dislike this film. But the claim that this is worse than AO is just nonsense; at least this is set in an alternate universe and doesn’t screw up the original shows plot. Hi-Evolution 1 ended up being an interesting and very well done jumping off point for things yet to come. It succeeds in reminding you of what the feeling of Eureka Seven is, while also providing enough changes to keep you interested. At the very least, the Summer of Love part is worth seeing, but I enjoyed the rest of the film just as much. I know I’ll be there for everything to happen in part 2, but until then, all we can do is wait for that day, that most glorious of days, to arrive.
European Premier at the Glasgow Film Theater part of the Scotland Loves Anime festival
Eureka Seven: Hi Evolution show it's potential at the start of the film by showing Fresh new animation of the First Summer of love, this newly animated scene is fantastic, it shows the potential of what could possibly come from the Trilogy, but sadly this doesn't last long, the majority of the film is reused clips from the Original Series that shows the events with Charles and Ray up until Renton Leaves their ship, this becomes confusing to new viewers as they Jump back and forth between time frames a
lot and viewers that are new the series are easily lost when watching this. It is a shame that it is mostly old stuff especially with how the new animation looks! There is a teaser for the Second film in the Trilogy in which they show more new Animation and I hope there is less of the Play Back and Forward stuff as it is used far to much.
There is always something over the screen telling you what things are and give descriptions of what is happening, time frames and Descriptions of the KLF which I really though was a good addition but used way to much as it's happening throughout the whole film a lot.
The soundtrack is the same style that was enjoyed from the original series and is a great techno synth which is just upbeat and fitting. Glory Days is good and is still stuck in my head from listening to it for the first time!
This film calls a lot to the fans of the original series but I'd say that it will be mostly them that will get a kick out of the film as I did but will disappointed with the lack of new content added to the Series. New comers to the series will be lost with the amount of jumping back and forth that takes place and will struggle to keep up.
The film shows potential but falls a bit with the lack of new content which is a shame.
I’ve seen this movie get a lot of hate and I totally understand it. The movie is sort of confused, disjointed and weird. That being said I think I loved it? Hear me out!
Even if it was reanimated for a lot of the scenes, it is still gorgeous. The weird pacing and skipping between different times came together beautifully in the end. I loved being immersed in the world and characters again. I get what the director means when he says that this will hold up better when all three movies are out.
Full disclosure: I love eureka seven, it is easily my favorite show. That
being said I hated Pocket Full of Rainbows and have never seen Astral Ocean. I went in expecting to hate this, but instead I felt the same energy and inspiration I got from the original series. This movie has convinced me to give them another shot. The movies messy at sometimes muddled but so is the show, it’s a retelling from a director that I think wants to deliver something even closer to his original vision.
I understand why some people hate this movie, but I loved it. I plan on watching all the sequels as they come out. I hope some fans will see this and ignore some of the negative press the movie has received and I hope more give it a shot.