Daphne in the Brilliant Blue Vol. #6 (of 7) (Mania.com)

By:Chris Beveridge
Review Date: Monday, January 30, 2006
Release Date: Tuesday, January 24, 2006

What They Say
(Includes Episodes 21, 22, & Bonus Episode 1)BEAUTIFUL, DANGEROUS, AND DESPERATE FOR WORK...Nereides' sexy female agents will take on any job for the right price, no matter how dangerous or demanding.

The Review!
Bringing things almost full circle, Maia finds herself alone once more but this time with far more access to her past.

For our primary viewing session, we listened to this series in its original language of Japanese. The series sports a fairly active stereo mix that has a number of good moments of directionality both in action sequences, notably with the guns and sniping style shots, but also with a fair bit of dialogue that moves across the screen. The mix isn't completely immersive but it's well done and a bit more active than we're used to hearing since so many shows are dialogue driven these days. In listening to both tracks, we had no problems with dropouts or distortions during regular playback.

Originally airing in 2005, the transfer for this series is presented in its original full frame aspect ratio. Being such a recent show and one that deals heavily in water, the blues in it are very lush and layered well, both when it comes to the water sequences and to the skyline sequences. They do a wonderful job of fading it into a lighter color as it goes farther into the horizon. Some of the material at times looks a bit like it's lifting off of the background but most of the time the meshing is pretty well done and the show maintains a good solid feel to it. The transfer is essentially problem free as there's hardly anything noticeable for aliasing, cross coloration or even the gradient problem. Add in no noticeable blocking during the large areas of color and you get a pretty solid looking show.

Using the artwork from the regular edition of the Japanese release, Maia in her Nereids action uniform take the center piece here as she's leaning back so that you get maximum fan service from it. She's still not one of the best character designs out there since her head is just too big but this is a fairly cute shot. The back cover provides a large illustration shot of the mystery man from this volume while next to a brief summary of the premise and a rundown of the episodes and titles. A few small shots from the show and the discs features fill out part of the bottom while the usual production and technical credits take up the rest of the space. The insert has a few shots from the show along the right while the chapter listings are to the left. It opens up to a two-panel shot that has an illustration of all of the main women from the series. The back of the insert provides street dates for all volumes of the series. The cover for this release is reversible and the main side has the artwork from the insert on it which looks much better there.

The menu layout is done in an interesting way that keeps it in-theme but goes off in its own direction. The background is actually a brief clip of the scene underwater from the opening with the bubbles flowing up but its underneath a couple of layers of angled pink and purple lines where small face shots are put located and beneath the white sections of menu navigation while in the center there's full color clips from the show cycling through all set to a bit of music. The navigation is fairly straightforward though without it being linear you can find yourself moving in unintended ways. Access times are nice and fast for the most part and it's the disc correctly read our players language presets.

The only extra included in this volume is a collection of the first twelve next episode previews which are cute as they have the small sized characters moving about and acting up. They are not dubbed however but they are subtitled.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
As the series gets into its last couple of volumes, the episode spread is done in an interesting if somewhat confusing way. The series runs twenty four episodes total and we get twenty one and twenty two here but we also get the first OVA episode as well. Presumably this is so that we don't have a horrible cliffhanger with just one episode to go as the second OVA is on the next volume as well. It's not a bad way to do it but going from episode twenty two here to the OVA episode is kind of jarring story wise.

Ever since her return from Siberia City and all that she's learned there, Maia's time with the rest of the team hasn't been the best as she's continually screwing up as her mind wanders. Even before she's on duty she's having problems as she ends up completely screwing up her exam with the Ocean Agency by deleting all of her answers. From there it's just even more downhill and during one of the missions that the team goes on, her actions cause Shizuka to take a hit in the chest from a firearm. The need to figure out what's going on inside her head has her wanting to focus as much as possible on it and it's something that she can't just push to the side. It becomes so much of an issue that Rena actually takes some good manager like stances and fires Maia since she's far too much of a risk now.

This takes us back to the beginning of the series where she had failed her entrance exam and had no place to go since she had given up her grandfather's place in the assumption that she'd get in without any problem. What few friends she has are either with Nereids which means she can't go to them or with Tsukasa since she's off in another city on business. With little money and no idea where to go next to figure out her past, she ends up in a slightly slummy section of the city and gets caught up in a number of dirty dealings simply by association of being in the same building. While these events are fairly silly at times, it does push Maia into the hands of the mysterious white haired man that's been seemingly her guardian angel as well as Millie. With the help of these two, we get one of the more interesting episodes of the series.

We've had so many different bits and interpretations of the past come to us over the course of the series that it's been a little difficult to piece it all together into one clean coherent picture but with the second episode here, we take a big leap into the past with Maia as a young child with her family. So many simple and obvious revelations are made here that talk about the entire structure of the way the world is set up that it definitely helps to smooth things out in an overall perspective. Other than the problem of having an episode dedicated around the young Maia and going through the motions of her trying to deal with adult situations at that age, the episode does a solid job of bringing to light why so many things have been happening but also the general incompetence level of those who let it go this far. Maia, simply put, is not someone they should have let back into the real world regardless of how she seemed during her therapy years.

Just as everything hits a really interesting point we of course get the shift to the bonus OVA episode that's included which is a look at Nereids through the eyes of Maia as a spokesperson for the company. It has her, microphone in hand, running through a variety of different kinds of new missions that showcase what the company does as well as giving highlight to each of the lead characters and their personality quirks. It's animation level is just slightly better than the TV series itself and it looks great, particularly during the various ocean scenes since they really do a great job with the blues. It's a fairly cute episode and the kind of thing that you can easily see being done after the TV series ended since it's light and fun. Thankfully it doesn't show or reveal anything related to the series ending really and would be a good send off for fans.

In Summary:
Daphne in the Brilliant Blue, a series whose name continues to get slowly revealed over the course of it, has a good pair of episodes here as it takes its lead character back to the beginning of things as she finds herself seemingly without friends, money or prospects. Going back to what she was like at the end of the first episode is amusing since it shows that some things don't change but at the same time you can see what parts of her have changed along the way. We get a lot of new information here that helps to really crystallize events and some of what's been going on in the background for the last several episodes while setting it up for the last couple that will bring it all to conclusion. Daphne's always been a bit uneven at times and these episodes really aren't any different but there's just more meat to it this time which helps a lot.

Japanese 2.0 Language,English 2.0 Language,English Subtitles,Original TV Previews

Review Equipment
Panasonic PT50LC13 50" LCD RP HDTV, Zenith DVB-318 Progressive Scan codefree DVD player via DVI, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.

Mania Grade: B
Audio Rating: B+
Video Rating: A-
Packaging Rating: B+
Menus Rating: B+
Extras Rating: B-
Age Rating: 16 & Up
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: Geneon Entertainment (USA), Inc.
MSRP: 29.98
Running time: 75
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Daphne in the Brilliant Blue