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

By:Bryce Coulter
Review Date: Monday, January 04, 2010
Release Date: Tuesday, September 08, 2009

As they say, “Nereides can handle it”.  But, can they deliver the goods and wrap this series up in the second collection?

What They Say:
Maia is having a very bad day. Her life-long dreams to join the elite Ocean 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 takes the first job offered to her: to take a starring role 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 Rena and Shizuka on the front.  Their fan service-esque poses properly reflect their character types just as in the previous collection.  This cover is a bit more in your face with Rena’s the posterior.  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 a young Maia and Yu along with a brief description of the second half of 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 Gloria’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 Yu and Millie.  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 two bonus episodes.  The bonus episodes pack in the gags and this is where they really shine.  After finishing the series you will want to watch these two episodes as they expound on the goofiness and gags that are related to the series.  Here, you will find the gang doing odd jobs and running into some old acquaintances.  The second bonus episode is a romp as Maia and Glory switch bodies.  This makes for some great fun as Nereides gang tries to reverse the effects of mind old mind transferring machine.

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). 
In my previous review, I mentioned that fan service heavy episodes are not my favorite, but I was willing to give Daphne in the Brilliant Blue a chance.  To my surprise, I was intrigued by the series and the story plot as it left me anxious to see the second half of the series and what was in store for Maia.  The first collection was very loose in plot in that there were a lot of episodes that strayed away from the mystery that surrounds Maia.  This second collection delivers the goods as the second half primarily focuses on Maia and the mystery surrounding her past.

Continuing the path set forth from the previous collection, you will find more episodes that parody movies and other pop culture events.  The most memorable episode of the bunch is the episode entitled “The Hunt For Green Yomogi-1”.  The Wang Chang Lee gang is up to their antics again.  This causes Maia to have to resort to some pretty desperate measures in order to save the day and the submarine Nereides lifted off the gang previously.

The episodes in this series expound on the relationships the gang has established, which seems to primarily focus on getting Maia out of trouble.  Each of the episodes in this collection slowly reveals one piece after another, amid a  number of humorous distractions.  Much of the forward movement of the plot comes in the form of Maia’s encounters with her former therapists from the Ocean Agency who helped her with her memory problems as a child.  Her former memories also begin to slowly reveal themselves as she continues to reflect the Psalm-like phrase, “A tree planted by the water bears much fruit when the time comes.  It’s leaves never whither.”  It brings prosperity to all things where it grows.  Maia’s subsequent experiences in Siberia with a Laurel tree and knowledge of the old city act as a carrot to her pressing need to know more about her past.  At the same time, her pursuit of this knowledge may lead to her death.  

As stated in the previous review, there is just enough plot in the series to keep you interested as most of the plot points is episodic.  The over arching plot finally kicks into gear around 2010 and moves forward in a well paced and timely finish.  The result is a very satisfying ending that will wrap things up a nice skimpy little package that can only fit in a Nereides outfit. The plot is dramatic and pretty straight to the point.  Answers to all of your questions about Maia, the mysterious guy who has followed her throughout the series, and ultimately her grandfather are revealed.  To expound on this any further would pretty much spoil a simple, yet effective ending.  Of course, a government conspiracy adds just the right amount of flavor that will keep you interested and wanting to marathon those last handfuls of episodes.

Summary:
The overabundance of fanservicy outfits, or lack thereof, is long forgotten as the Nereides gang is pretty much so close to naked it mostly goes right past titillating and into funny.  The gags are predictable and the overarching plot culminates in the last 5 episodes of this collection.  Daphne in the Brilliant Blue is an easy series to kick back with and just watch.  It uses the right amount of humor, gags, and short stories, to keep one entertained.  Add just enough teasers for the overarching plot point, and you have a series that is fun and leaves you with a smile and a happy ending.  I was pleasantly surprised with this series and recommend it for a mature crowd who likes a humorous story that doesn’t involve a lot of brain power to digest the plot.

Features:
Japanese 2.0 Language, English 2.0 Language, English Subtitles, Bonus Episodes

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