Daphne in the Brilliant Blue Collection 1 (of 2) (Mania.com)

By:Bryce Coulter
Review Date: Friday, January 01, 2010
Release Date: Tuesday, August 18, 2009

A brilliant display of fanservice or a hidden gem found only in the deep blue?

What They Say
Maia is having a very bad day. Her life-long dreams to join the elite Marine Environment Agency wither and die, when, despite everyone's high expectations, she fails the entrance exams. Then, with the loss of her student status, she gets evicted! Penniless, homeless, and unemployed, Maia finds herself in the middle of a shoot-out between fugitive convicts and the Nereides - sexy agents who only take the most high-paying and dangerous jobs. Desperate, Maia agrees to a job in the next Nereides operation - as bait!

The Review!
Audio:
For this viewing session, we listened to the English dub.  The audio was crisp and clear.  We did not experience any distortions or dropouts.  The series uses a very active stereo mix and has a good bit of directionality in the action scenes.  This is really noticeable with vehicle chase scenes, gun shots, and background explosions.  The mix is not completely immersive.  However, it gives you a pretty good feel for the show and gives a decent level of immersion to make it feel life-like.

Video:
Originally airing in 2004, the transfer for this series is presented in its original full 1.33:1 aspect ratio. Lots of water is depicted in this series and it shows rather well.  The different levels of blue are very well layered and deep.  On a rare occasion, the material at times looks like it has been lifted off of the background.  Don’t let that dissuade you as the meshing of animation with the background is still very solid. The video quality for this series can hold its own as compared to the newer releases out there today.  The transfer is problem free with no noticeable aliasing, cross coloration or gradient issues.  I was unable to detect any noticeable blocking.  Overall, a very sharp looking show.

Packaging:
The packaging for this collection features Maia and Gloria on the front.  Their fan service-esque poses properly reflect their character types.  The cover layout fits the theme of the series appropriately.  Its background features computer generate icons on a grid-like surface.  The color palette is a mixture of blues and whites, which make for an attractive cover design.  The logo for the series is appropriately placed at the top and along the spine of the case.  The backside of the case features Rena and Shizuka along with a brief description of the series.  You will also find screen captures from the various episodes on the back along with a praises about the show.  Not leaving out the entire Nereides gang, you will find Yu’s picture on the spine of the case. The case’s design is fairly simple as it is houses just two discs that are attached to the insides of the front and back panels.  The art on the discs appear to match the art used on the boxart for the single collections.  

Menu:
The menu system for this collection is very basic and does not appear to be the same as the single releases, which is disappointing.  The main menu for each disc features portrait versions of Maia and Shizuka in suggestive looking poses.  The main menu options are laid out on the left side of the screen in a vertical format.  Each episode is also listed here as well.  The menu selections, extras, and the special features navigate into sub-menus that are quick and easy to navigate.  As with most DVD’s a sound clip of the series’ musical score loops in an appropriate fashion.

Extras:
The extras included in the collection are found primarily on the second disc where you get the typical clean opening and closing animations.  The disc also features the TV previews that were broadcast in Japan.  The second disc also features the Japanese cover art gallery where get see some more great fan-servicy goodness.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers). 
As an anime viewer and reviewer, I tend to avoid series that contain overt amounts of fan service.  It’s a preference of mine that I have abided by for years and will continue to do so.  When asked to review this series, I was skeptical and not particularly looking forward to it.  As a forewarning, this is not an anime series that I can recommend for family viewing or for those with impressionable hearts and minds.  With that, I’ll move on to my review.

Daphne in the Brilliant Blue depicts a futuristic Earth that is completely covered by water because of the effects of global warming.  This forced the inhabitants to live in underwater cities that have recently surfaced as floating cities.  The crux of the story primarily focuses on an orphaned Maia Mizuki.  At the age of 15, Maia has just graduated from school and is in the process of applying for employment in the elite Ocean Agency.  The Ocean Agency is responsible for governing and protecting the floating cities throughout the world. Only the best, most intelligent, and physically fit students are eligible for admission into the Ocean Agency. Maia and her best friend Tsukasa are set to become one of the few to make it into the Ocean Agency.

The setup for this series will definitely pick up your interest as you will see Maia and Tsukasa work diligently to make the final Ocean Agency selection.  In fact, the setup comes as a big surprise as Maia unexpectedly fails to be selected despite her high grades. Somehow, Tsukasa makes it in, which makes one wonder why.

Things only go downhill for Maia as she promptly gets evicted from her house, fails to find a job, robbed, and taken hostage. How can things get any worse?  Fortunately, Maia is rescued by two scantily dressed women, Rena and Shizuka, that are part of an unorthodox help-for-hire organization called Nereids.  At her wits end and nowhere to go, Maia becomes a part of the Nereids team, taking jobs from capturing wanted criminals to chasing stray cats, often with unexpected results. From here on out, things get crazy with plenty of action, comedy, and a somewhat loose storyline that can leave you with wondering what just happened.

Once Maia joins Nereids, some time is devoted to the character development of the team.  Currently, Nereids is just comprised of Rena and Shizuka along with their inept and forgetful office manager, Yukari. Rena is the leader of the group and has no qualms about her attributes in manipulating people for what she wants, especially the police.  She is elegant, cunning, and ruthless with money.  Shizuka is the brains of the outfit and is a brilliant mechanic and computer nerd.  What she lacks in combat, is made for her “well endowed” attributes that can bail her out of most situations. 

At the point when Maia joins Nereids, we soon learn that there has been a bit of a spat among their ranks.  This especially holds true for Gloria and Yu.  One of Maia’s first tasks is to reestablish contact with the rogue agents.  Gloria is a loudmouth tomboy.  She would rather pull the trigger on her sniper rifle and asks questions later.  Her lack of brains is made up in her gun slinging skills.  She is the exact polar opposite of Yu, which makes for some slapstick comedy between the two.  Yu, is a nihilistic loner that is an expert in hand-to-hand combat.  Her skills are as great as her outfit is small.  Yu is respectful of Rena and is almost equally capable of leading the team tactically.  Yu has a strong dislike for Gloria, which seems to be mostly for show as she has a softer side that is occasionally observed.

Many of the gags in the story are quite predictable as they mainly involve Maia being kidnapped or sent on missions that put her in awkward situations.  The fan service related gags are not quite as overt as I have seen in some other shows, but it is definitely there.  As for the plot, it is a bit sporadic in that a lot of time is spent on the development of the Nereids team and Maia’s relationship with them.  This leaves one to only guess what is up with the title for this series and what was Maia’s grandfather trying to tell her when he died?

Summary:
Fan service aplenty and a predictable line of gags is what provides the foundation for Daphne in the Brilliant Blue.  While this is not a series that I recommend for a young audience, it does have story plot that may appeal to most.  This collection of episodes does a good job of setting up the main character and the supporting cast while hooking you on the mystery surrounding Maia and her past.  Who is Maia and what do those last words spoken by her grandfather really mean?  Inquisitively recommended…

Features
Japanese 2.0 Language, English 2.0 Language, English Subtitles, Clean Opening, Clean Closing, Art Gallery, TV Previews

Review Equipment

Hitachi 62VS69 62" UltraVision LCD Projection HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080i



Mania Grade: B
Audio Rating: A
Video Rating: A
Packaging Rating: B+
Menus Rating: B
Extras Rating: B
Age Rating: 13 and Up
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: Sentai Filmworks
MSRP: 39.98
Running time: 325
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Disc Resolution: 480i/p
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Daphne in the Brilliant Blue