Daphne in the Brilliant Blue Vol. #3 (of 6) (Mania.com)

By:Christopher Homer
Review Date: Wednesday, January 28, 2009
Release Date: Monday, January 05, 2009

Starts of with a hilarious episode, ends with a trademark episode, but in the middle we can see the plot starting to take shape and Maia becoming the true focus as her past is explored…

What They Say
Ever since Maia's grandfather passed away a couple of years ago, she has been on her own. Her own parents died of a car accident when Maia was only 10 years old, and she does not have any memories of them due to amnesia she suffered from the accident. However, while on a company trip to Siberia City, she notices something strangely familiar abou the city she is supposedly visiting for the first time... Will she ever find a clue to recover her past? Then, Nereides is assigned to patrol the city during its centennial celebration. This is the biggest mission yet for the girls, but are they up to the task?

Episodes Include:

9. Only I Don't Have Tomorrow
10. Siberian Super Vacation
11. The Long Stay
12. The Day Earth Floated Away

The Review!
Audio:
I initially listened to this disc in Japanese. You may have noticed the surprising low grade I’ve given – I had to change it to English on episode 11 for the simple reason as it was becoming unwatchable for me in Japanese due to the fact that the subtitles and audio were COMPLETELY off in both episode. Not a little off as it was in the first disc, but completely as the timing of the audio with the subtitles was literally non-existent. The actual audio quality was fine (and the English dub is in fact quite good) but for an experienced company to make such bad timing is not what you’d expect. Keep in mind that my review copy is a test disc so the problem may have shifted now it has been released but if you’re primarily a Japanese watcher, you may have to get used to the lines coming a bit after the words have come.

Video:
Due to the subtitles mess, whilst not causing a major problem with the video, it’s still lower than expected due to the poor transition – also in episode 11 the subtitles ere faster after the words were spoken, but in episode 12 the language is quicker than the subtitles. Again, there was some parts where the video was quite fuzzy (especially during Maia’s flashbacks) and whilst the video is very clear mostly and colourful, you have to wonder considering there have been some problems on each disc of one kind or another if there are any problems with the content when MVM have got or if there is another reason for these errors.

Packaging:
N/A

Menu:
The menu is very basic, with an easy selection box of play, episodes and languages easily selectable. The menu has a fanservicy shot, this time of our favourite seductress/money-grabber Rena tales the shot in her trademark sexy red outfit, full in repose, making it’s probably the most attractive of the three screens as for some reason despite being the ‘sexy’ character, she doesn’t go overboard with the fanservice.

Extras:
There were no extras on this disc.

Content:
Onto the third disc, and we finally get some hints towards a plot as during a holiday, Maia discovers something on her past that is going to play some part towards her Nereid work and the future.

So of course, to completely not prepare me for that we have an episode which whilst seems serious initially, is set up to be complete slapstick. The girls are having a medical examination and the branch manager Hanaoka overhears something that Gloria only has one week left to live. So the combination of everyone being nice to Gloria (even Yu) and then Gloria finding out about her death sentence means she wants to do the one thing she always wanted to – find love. After describing who her perfect guy would be, she unexpectedly bumps into him in the street. The man introduces himself as Clyde, but it quickly turns out that the guy not only is an obvious set up from the Nereids to get Gloria happy, but in fact Clyde is actually Tsukasa in disguise! I cracked up so much during the ‘date’ at the amusement park, where she wins tickets to Siberia at the shooting gallery and completely exhausts Tsukasa, and the aftermath – the kiss, taking ‘him’ home for some fun and when Tsukasa reveals the truth – it ends up being very silly as well as what the real story was behind the line Hanaoka overheard – so yes, it was predictable but hilarious.

Ironically, the date does lead into the first true plot of the series, as the girls (leaving behind the poor manager after his part in thinking Gloria was going to die) head off to Siberia, which is now quite the resort place in the future – everyone is having fun in their own way (except Gloria who is stuck at the airport after security found all her guns…) but poor Maia is stuck with Shizuka who basically sees Siberia as a gourmet’s paradise, and whilst she can handle eating anything and everything, it’s a little too much for poor Maia. It leads to Shizuka going to a particular restaurant where mammoth meat is sold, a cloned delicacy and two guys come to dine with the girls. They spike their drinks, but Maia avoids it as she’s too busy being sick. Shizuka is kidnapped as the guys are sex traders. Maia goes to try and rescue her, finds Yu and she begins to track her. However, the real surprise is that Maia seems to know EXACTLY where she is going, yet she doesn’t know why as she’s never been to Siberia before. After the conclusion of Shizuka’s rescue is complete, Maia seems to notice a particular tree and the word ‘Daphne’ is in her mind as she asks Rena if they can stay a little longer, as she reveals something surprising to the girls…her amnesia.

Episode 11 brings us a flashback to Maia’s past, where she has been in an accident (first sight of her is in a wheelchair) and been in a coma for a year, her parents had died in the accident and undergoing rehab. She sadly doesn’t remember her parents, or her grandfather Sho who becomes her guardian – it takes a lot of time for Maia and Sho to become a family due to Maia’s memories but after a lot of hard work at the hospital and with Sho, she finally calls him grandpa and smiles – as their relationship and rehab gets better over the next 2 years, Maia expresses an interest to work at Ocean Agency due to the hard work her doctors at the Agency did to get her better, however interestingly, Sho seems quite concerned at the idea. One day however, Maia returns and her grandfather is having a heart attack – his final word to Maia before his death is ‘Daphne’. We don’t know what this Daphne is yet, and despite the Nereids all on Maia’s side and they stay another day at Siberia to try and find out, they get no-where. However, the seeds are now put in for the plot to come full circle and it was a surprised yet enjoyable surprise of Maia’s amnesia and see that this happy go lucky girl had such a torrid past.

The final episode puts us back in the episodic format, as the girls have been hired to keep the streets safe for the Eight City Union Memorial Festival. After a bit of background about how the city rose from the ocean and became what it was 100 years ago and some amusing scenes about how each of the girls are protecting the city in their own way, we get the welcome return of Millie and Tsukasa, who are in a race with Maia as an exhibition between 4 Class A drivers. After the unnamed 4th drivers attempts to show off ends in futility, the 3 girls treat the race as a true race rather than as an exhibition. Maia shows how much she’s grown as a character as she takes the initiative when either of the girls makes a mistake, and even leads at a strong point but the other two girls are simply better drivers than her and she gets defeated. However, whilst it’s slightly filler, it shows the life that Maia has outside the Nereids and has two good friends in Millie and Tsukasa and how they interact is nice, albeit in a different way from her 4 fellow friends at the Nereids.

The audio/video problems nearly got in the way of what was the best disc to date, but fortunately it wasn’t too much of a problem – Maia is coming into her own as a character as in all these discs she is a focal part of the episode or planning (poor Tsukasa though…) and whilst there was some episodic format, the comedy of the first episode and the plot of the 2ns and 3rd episodes including Maia’s surprising announcement means there is a lot more to this than meets the eye. The fanservice wasn’t as over the top either so I was able to pretty much ignore it and just enjoyed the series for what it is…just now there is a little big more icing on top of the cake…

In summary:
Daphne In The Brilliant Blue isn’t a series who can really say is for everyone – however the signs are there in this disc that it’s starting to develop into something good. Maia is a worthwhile heroine and the other members of Nereids and her other friends are all great characters in their own way. With the mixture of comedy, plot, action, friendship and fanservice, there is a lot on offer, and you can switch your brain off and enjoy. Just be wary though because if the audio/video problems persist, you may need to play catch up with your eyes.

Features
Japanese 2.0 Language, English 2.0 Language, English Subtitles

Review Equipment
Toshiba 37C3030 - 37" Widescreen HD Ready LCD TV – Tangent Ht-50 Home Theatre System Multi-Regional DVD Players/Speakers – Tangent Subwoofer 50-150 Hz, Impedenced 8 OHM.



Mania Grade: B+
Audio Rating: C-
Video Rating: C+
Packaging Rating: N/A
Menus Rating: B
Extras Rating: N/A
Age Rating: 12 and Up
Region: 2 - Europe/Japan
Released By: MVM Entertainment
MSRP: £15.99
Running time: 100
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Disc Resolution: 480i/p
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Daphne in the Brilliant Blue