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

By:Chris Beveridge
Review Date: Tuesday, July 19, 2005
Release Date: Tuesday, June 21, 2005

What They Say
Seraphim must choose who amongst them can fight the final battle. When the price of losing is certain death, only the bravest dare to venture out on sorties. As Misaki battles with ghosts from her past, she must watch as Ghouls violate and annihilate her closest friends.

She must choose between destroying herself, or allowing the Watcher's Nest to be the victim of certain destruction. But someone is about to unlock Misaki's secret... someone who will surely use her power for evil.

The Review!
Going back to the beginning and carrying it forward, the Divergence Eve stumbles through some awkward moments but pushes forward to a strong conclusion.

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, Prim gets the cover this time with her holding a gun and flashing a smile while sitting down, which means we get a bit more skirt and leg in this image. The logo is the same as the Japanese one just placed on the other side while the bottom part has the same green banner but instead of Misaki in her pilot uniform they go with a much more fanservice oriented one with her in a very skimpy bathing suit. 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 science of the series.

The opening menu layout is a bit garish with its heavy purple and white colors that are set to the background and selections while having a bit of character artwork set off to the right. The layout itself is fine and navigation is easy and the colors work out nicely compared to the previous volume. Unfortunately, there's a big spelling error on the main page as the volume title is spelled "Begining". 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. One new feature added here is a commentary track that's done with Christine Auten and the series ADR director, Sandra Krasa.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
From the beginning, Divergence Eve has been a strange series. When we first got into it, it did the old trick of doing a late episode in the series first and then backing up to tell the story. In addition, that episode and most of the subsequent ones went and told a surprisingly strong science fiction story that was filled with the obvious large breasted fanservice moments, but that fanservice was sort of just… there. More often than not, it wasn't really acknowledged but rather just done to provide a hook for those that needed it. Once you got into it, you found out that there's more than just a skin deep beauty here.

The first two volumes unraveled a rather interesting premise with the Watcher's Nest and the arrival of new pilots to deal with the Ghoul's and all that it entailed. We saw some secrets from the past come up as the prologue to each episode and how it tied to various characters there now in the present. While a number of science fiction clichés were used along the way, the series didn't stand out as most anime science fiction series do. Things became ponderous, introspective and filled with quiet tense moments that didn't end with the usual surprise shocking moment. The biggest scares came from revelations rather than creatures coming around a corner or explosions. While I fully admit that a movie like Saturn 9 is campy beyond belief, it did the same kind of thing that Alien did for a lot of its runtime; it built up interesting characters doing their job in a familiar but eerie setting and let the suspense really do the job of creating the tension. Divergence Eve plays back to a lot of what those kinds of films do.

Where this is a problem is when you have a few months between volumes, especially as the story gets more intricate and the cast starts to dwindle. The start of this volume took some effort to get into but as it all comes back it really starts to sweep you along. Divergence Eve is a series that really strikes me as needing to be viewed in one sitting for all three volumes to watch the progression properly. It may even be the type that would work better from some judicious editing and being put into two "movie" length pieces. All the effort put into the first two volumes is well worth it as this volume brings us back to the first episode eventually and we now understand far more of what Misaki truly is and what her past has brought her to.

Watching as LeBlanc, using Prim, sets about to test the clones he's created of Misaki in order to push forward his agenda to gain the power of the Ghouls is confusing to some extent until more pieces fall into place. LeBlanc's been a bit too much of a cipher in this series to really be a true villainous villain since his motivations, while given, aren't all that threatening. While he does manipulate Misaki, it's not until he sets about for the potential to kill everyone on the station that he comes across as a really bad guy. Luxandra and Kiri manage to get some good material in these episodes as well as we see the slow breakdown of the Misaki clones as they end up in battle much more frequently. A lot of little bits from earlier episodes come back into play here as things and conversations come full circle. This is even more true with the grainy flashback sequences that are done as prologues as we find out more of what happened when things first started at this site and how it relates to Misaki and the others.

If there's a downside, it feels that some of the material before the final ending where we get the Ghoul, Misaki and LeBlanc all going about their last preparations is just a bit too much technobabble that doesn't make much sense mixed in with some existential philosophy. All in all, it comes down to LeBlanc making a power grab with the tools he has at his disposal, of which both Misaki and the Ghoul can be considered one of. It may make more sense if viewed in full with the previous two volumes but there were parts that just felt needlessly confusing. The resulting moments from there when Misaki has her moments of clarity however, that propelled the series into some fun if clichéd old science fiction motifs which only makes me want the Misaki Chronicles series all the more to explore how that reality will work.

In Summary:
If you've written this series off as pure fanservice due to the big bazongas that you see on the cover, you've probably failed an Anime 101 test. Divergence Eve is one of the more interesting hard science fiction stories cloaked in fanservice that I've seen in quite some time. It's serious nature is so strong that it probably could have used some lighter moments but they would have felt extremely out of place. There's a fascinating story being told in here with some really neat concepts and visuals. Some of the CG meshing is for garbage at times, but once you get past those relatively few areas when taking the series as a whole, you're left with something that's much more than meets the eye. There's always a show out there that surprises us, but I can't think of many that surprised me more than Divergence Eve.

Japanese 2.0 Language,English 5.1 Language,English Subtitles,Original Japanese promo spots,Commentary with voice actress Christine Auten (Luxandra) and ADR Director Sandra Krasa,Clean opening animation,Clean closing animation

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: A-
Video Rating: A+
Packaging Rating: B+
Menus Rating: B
Extras Rating: B+
Age Rating: TV 14
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