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In 2005, Studio Bones brought to the Japanese airwaves a rather unique science-fiction animated television series entitled Eureka Seven. The series ran from April 2005 to April 2006 and followed the lives of Renton Thurston and a young girl named Eureka (pronounced “er-EH-kah”), who was not quite what she seemed. The series became very popular and manga and light novel adaptations soon followed. It didn’t seem to be such a wild idea for a movie to be next, even though the TV series ended on a pretty conclusive note after 50 episodes.
However, that movie has appeared, and what it brings to the big screen is nothing short of breathtaking.
Instead of continuing on from the TV series, Psalms of Planets Eureka Seven: Good Night, Sleep Tight, Young Lovers presents a re-imagining of the story, keeping the characters largely the same but placing them in different circumstances, allowing fans a fresh look at the franchise while also allowing newcomers to understand and enjoy the film. Following the Japanese theatrical release, Bandai Entertainment and Bang! Zoom! brought the movie to American theaters for a single night’s showing on Thursday, September 24, 2009, with the film dubbed into English.
In the theatrical version, Renton (Johnny Yong Bosch) grew up under the care of Professor Dominic (Peter Doyle) alongside Eureka (Stephanie Sheh), rather than meeting her after joining Gekkostate as he did in the TV series. Due to Eureka’s special circumstances, which will not be revealed in this review, she is kidnapped by the military right in front of a terrified Renton’s eyes, and taken away to live a life of seclusion. It is only when a rebellion is staged by the bitterly angry Holland Novak (Crispin Freeman) and his lover Talho Y?ki (Kate Higgins) that Renton has a chance to reunite with the girl he loves.
Renton pilots a special machine called the Nirvash, which has a personality and, in its non-combat state, resembles a cross between a rabbit and bird. The Nirvash operates by mentally bonding with Renton, though it is capable of acting on its own when the need arises. Other members of the Gekko, including Holland, have similar machines they can pilot into battle, though it seems Nirvash is a rather unique case.
The enemy: a species called the Eizoh, which resembles aquatic life forms that can take to the air and obliterate anything they come across. The hostile creatures landed on Earth in April of 2009 and began a war with humankind that, by the time the movie’s story takes place, has lasted for over 40 years. In desperation, the human race has developed a Doomsday weapon called The Hammer of God, which can obliterate the Eizoh in one blast but also send mankind into utter devastation as smoke and ash will envelope the planet for decades to come.
Holland and Talho, along with other members of the Gekko, are in actuality teenagers who, due to a horrible experiment, age four times the rate of normal humans. They are called “The Neverland Children” and seek to reach a place where time has no meaning, so they can have a future to look forward to instead of simply death. Holland will go to any length to reach his goal, but like Renton, it is his deep love for the girl at his side that truly drives him, and this prompts Talho to reluctantly keep a very important secret from him.
Renton, torn between the fight for humanity’s existence and the fight to find Neverland, decides he’ll fight anyone and everyone that stands in the way of living his life with Eureka. Eureka means more to him than anything else in the world, and though he has a bit of difficulty convincing her, she embraces his dream for the sake of the love she feels for him in return.
The movie was created by combining cel animation with computer animation, something increasingly common in visual entertainment. However, this movie combines the two so seamlessly that it all appears as though it were put together through a single process. The animation quality is staggeringly high, very beautiful and a true joy to watch. Whether it is a scene depicting a violent battle, a moment of comic relief or a tender talk between lovers, the movie’s grand visuals utterly command the audience’s attention.
The English language cast does their job well. The ADR script, while containing a few minor redundancies here and there, conveys clearly what needs to be conveyed, telling a complex, highly detailed story without leaving the audience in a haze. This is a movie that requires the audience to really pay attention, but it is not difficult to follow.
It is a true shame that movie was screened for only one night, as its well-developed characters and story are a grand experience for the theater-goer, and seeing such beautiful animation on the big screen is an experience more audiences should share. It’s true that anime is still not fully considered a truly mainstream form of entertainment in America, but it nonetheless says a lot when an animated film can pack in action and heart-tugging emotional power to dwarf that of any live action movie.