Divergence Eve Vol. #2 (of 3) (Mania.com)

By:Chris Beveridge
Review Date: Friday, May 13, 2005
Release Date: Tuesday, April 26, 2005

What They Say
Murder, mayhem and mystery hurl the young heroes of Watcher’s Nest into an epic adventure that will have them fighting for their lives as dark forces move to attack. Secrets, betrayals and cosmic revelations raise more questions for Misaki – who ultimately becomes an unwilling element of a forbidden experiment. What more could you ask for than a bevy of beauties forced to put their lives on the line to answer the call of duty?

The Review!
After a strong first volume, Divergence Eve has the tough job of building up to the opening episode of the series by laying out the groundwork to get there.

For our primary viewing session, we listened to this show in its original language of Japanese. The series has a fairly standard stereo mix to it that does have some rather good directionality during a number of scenes, particularly the exterior ones inside the armor suits. With the characters, it's a fairly decent dialogue show and there is a lot going on but it's never excessively going to one side or the other though it does shift from time to time. Overall, the dialogue is clean and clear throughout and we haven't had any trouble with dropouts or distortions during regular playback of either language track.

Originally airing back in 2003, the transfer for this series is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and is enhanced for anamorphic playback. In watching the five episodes on this volume, I'm hard pressed to find anything to complain or nitpick about. With such bright colors, solid areas and great looking computer animation mixed in, the transfer is essentially flawless here. Colors are solid without any noticeable blocking, cross coloration is non-existent and color gradient issues simply aren't here. Add in a lack of grain or aliasing and this is just a beautifully detailed transfer.

Using the same main artwork as the Japanese release, Suzanna and her pink motif take over this cover and it's most definitely bright and attractive. The logo is the same as the Japanese one just placed on the other side while the bottom part has the same pink banner but instead of Misaki in her pilot uniform they go with a much more fanservice oriented one with her in a halter and short skirt. I like the look of the cover with the coloring and the layout in general but dislike the change to give it more fanservice when there's plenty there already. The back cover provides a few shots from the show alongside a summary of the premise as well as a listing of the extras which all works well and doesn’t crowd each other not provide more than is really necessary. The bottom half is filled out with the production credits and technical grid and contains all the useful information in very easy to find format. The insert for this show is split into four sections across both sides with a different character in each getting some of their basic statistics, a character shot and some small clips from the show itself. The cover for this release isn't reversible but the other side is taken advantage of through the clear keepcase with the left side talking about the Rampart Carrier and the first contact with the Ghoul. Since this looks spoilerish or at least potentially spoilerish, we didn't read it in great detail.

The opening menu layout is a bit garish with its heavy orange colors that are set to the background and selections while having a bit of character artwork set off to the right. They layout itself is fine and navigation is easy but the colors just don't work well here and you want to get through it as quickly as possible. Access times are nice and fast and the disc correctly read our players' language presets without issue and played accordingly.

There's not a ton of extras for this release but it's nicely filled out. In addition to the standard clean opening and closing, we also get some of the Japanese promo TV spots advertising the series. Another neat but somewhat awkward inclusion is the mini-manga for the show which sort of serves as a mini-prequel; it's done with the pages as their own screens and translations to the right but it is unfortunate it couldn't be printed.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
When Divergence Eve kicked off this season of the show with the end or near end of the season, it tantalized with some fascinating imagery and an interesting kind of pacing that you wouldn't expect from a show with characters that have such massive breasts. It then went back to the beginning of this particular storyline for the core of the show and fascinated even more as it laid out a unique and moody place called the Watchers Nest where mysterious things keep happening. Even better, it tantalized at the start of each episode with a storyline that's even older and leads into everything else so that you really had to pay close attention to make sure you don't miss a clue.

In a way, Divergence Eve feels like a lot of those late 70's and early 80's science fiction movies like Saturn 9 and Alien did back when they first came out, not now through twenty years of being parodied, repeated and so forth. The setting and the way it plays out, where you have this massive station that's got lots of people living in there but it's still seemingly empty throughout a lot of areas gives off that kind of creepy feeling. When the couple of characters running around here with their own agendas start moving them forward, it really takes on an even starker feel since they know they're in complete control and can't be stopped. That confidence becomes a strong point for them and when combined with everything else adds a new layer of oppression.

Some drastic changes and events occur in this volume which isn't surprising since the first season is only thirteen episodes. With the pilot replacement program still being the public reason that everyone is there, they go through the routine some more and we find that Suzanna is selected to undergo the next phase of training but it all turns out to be far too much for her. Her inability to handle what she's come to do leads to understanding just how valued secrecy is in this station as they talk about wiping her memories of the past two years in order to ensure that things don't slip out. This kind of talk of course unnerves Misaki since she's become good friends with all of them but with Suzanna in particular.

The fact that things become so secretive is something that opens her up to actually finding out more of what's really going on with Watchers Nest as well as the things down below in the core. With Bernard there, he's able to take advantage of her curiosity about the events of the past and her father to get her card that will let him into more secure areas. The information they get is spotty at best but it reveals a location down on the surface where things went badly all those years ago and her father and other scientists were lost. This is where we start getting more and more revelations about the tragedy that happened where they were killed, the first contact with the Ghoul's and just what the actual plan some of those with secret agendas have there on Watchers Nest. This is all revealed slowly and with a great bit of atmosphere just as things were given out piecemeal during the first volume

Even with as slow and methodical as the show is most of the time, they cover a lot of ground throughout these episodes. There's so much revealed but only partially that it works well to tantalize while still giving out enough information to make it feel like you're learning something about what's happening. The time spent back in the core area where the strange armors continue to attack anything that move has some really neat moments that are very creepy as we realize that there is more to them than revealed before. The ties with other characters becomes more apparent as well and as the sides start to firm up, it becomes clearer just how intent the opposing side that's not really based on the Watchers Nest is on disrupting the plans involving the Ghouls.

In Summary:
Just like the first volume, based on everything I had seen of the show beforehand, I would never have guessed I would have enjoyed or been as fascinated by this series as I am. It has such a rare feel to its science fiction feel that it just draws you in nicely. The continued lack of focus on the actual bodies of the characters, massive as their breasts are, is an interesting choice and not one I would have believed them making. It's all there and apparent but they don't really flaunt it, even when they go to even skimpier clothes for medical and other scenes. This has been a really pleasant surprise and this volume only reinforces that feeling.

Japanese 2.0 Language,English 5.1 Language,English Subtitles,Video look at the original Divergence Eve manga,Clean opening and closing animation,Original Japanese promo spots

Review Equipment
Panasonic PT50LC13 50" LCD RP HDTV, Zenith DVB-318 Progressive Scan codefree DVD player via DVI with upconversion set to 720p, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.

Mania Grade: B+
Audio Rating: A-
Video Rating: A+
Packaging Rating: B+
Menus Rating: C
Extras Rating: B+
Age Rating: 14 & Up
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: ADV Films
MSRP: 29.98
Running time: 100
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Divergence Eve