Divergence Eve Misaki Chronicles Vol. #1 (of 3) (Mania.com)
Review Date: Tuesday, December 27, 2005
Release Date: Tuesday, January 03, 2006
What They Say
For a hapless young cadet, boot camp is no picnic, and Misaki is as hapless as they get. With the help of friends Luxandra, Kiri, and Suzanna, however, she advances in her training. Pretty normal, right? Wrong. Luxandra should be dead. Suzanna should be discharged. Misaki herself should have vanished in the exodus from the Watcher's Nest outpost. And the mysterious life form known as the Ghoul still keeps popping up.
It's up to Lieutenant Commander Ertiana and the rest of the survivors from Watcher's Nest to find out why everything on Earth is back to normal... when everything else in the universe is anything but.
For a series that's seemingly all about the boobies from a distance, Divergence Eve continues to play with some high concept storylines.
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 2004, 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.
Unlike the first series which used several of the Japanese covers, it looks like artwork was used from different places for this season. The cover here features three of the cadets in uniforms we really don't see them wearing in this volume while shadowed in orange behind them is the rest of the cast, again, one or two of which are barely in the episodes here. The artwork and layout in general is good though but after seeing the disc it feels slightly out of place. 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 cover for this release isn't reversible but the other side is taken advantage of through the clear keepcase with the entire thing filled to the brim with the girls from the series in skimpy bikini's on a beach. It's pure massive mammary fanservice. No insert is included with this release.
The menu layout is well done here as it continues the same kind of font as the previous season and uses a grid style faded in background that lets the character artwork of Misaki in the foreground really stand out with its colors and shading. The layout itself is fine and navigation is easy and the colors work out nicely compared to the previous volume. 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. The basics are included here such as the clean opening and closing seqeunces. Another neat but somewhat awkward inclusion is the mini-manga for the show; it's done with the pages as their own screens and translations to the left but it is unfortunate it couldn't be printed.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
With the first season of this series under our belt, we've already put away the massive misconceptions that this series has because of the characters breast designs. The first season, while oddly paced and played out at times, proved to be a rather engaging series that dabbled in some hard science fiction ideas and ran with it while not giving away all its answers easily or wearing its emotions on the sleeve. Unlike some shows where you can jump right into the second season without seeing the first, Misaki Chronicles requires the first be seen. If you haven't seen it, the next paragraph will spoil it entirely.
The first season with its storyline at the Watcher's Nest ended in an interesting way with the Exodus back to Earth. We saw Misaki taking one of the Rampart Armors for her own and heading down to deal with the Ghoul, which in turn brought us back to the beginning of that season where we saw a good portion of the ending. Divergence Eve, and Misaki Chronicles as well, plays heavily with shifting back and forth in time to tell its story. With the end of Divergence Eve, we saw Misaki trying to make everything right as she saw it, which meant having her friends alive and well and moving forward into the future once again. Her wish turned into a rebooting of the universe in a sense and the series ended with her back on Earth and living her life once again away from the Watcher's Nest and the Ghouls.
But that's actually been a bit deceptive. Misaki didn't hit the reboot button as we were led to believe but rather she sought out a time in Earth's history where everyone could be happy and went back to that. But taking a cue from some of my favorite time travel books that deal in quantum mechanics, they introduce the idea that she didn't return to the same Earth from when she started and it's caused a freakish branching to occur. The arrival of the Exodus portion of the Watcher's Nest into the solar system brings us to the most obvious changes; the ring has settled to latching onto the moon and observing the earth which is covered with the hazy green energy that seems to symbolize the Ghoul nature. Through the technology that they have, they've identified that Ghoul's are making their way back to different periods in human history and attempting to sway things there. In order to figure out how and to stop them, Lyar and Kotoko have reworked the Rampart Armor and with the new weapon designed by the engineers there, head down for brief periods to eliminate them. Once the Ghoul disappears though, the window of time shrinks considerably, often down to seconds, before they lose their ability to return.
It's during these various journeys that Lyar discovers that the past is not what it really was as she comes across Misaki during her academy days in training with Kiri, but Misaki didn't even meet Kiri until they were going to the Watcher's Nest together. Misaki's rewritten past has inserted her into that group of friends far earlier and that revelation to Lyar marks a change in how they have to approach what's going on down on Earth. The first episode spends a good deal of time just focusing on Misaki and showing us her new life, the reasons she joined the military academy and the motivations that got her to go even further. It's interesting that she didn't go to rewrite this part of her past though since she's looking for a place where she can be happy.
With the idea that Misaki is searching for a place in time where she can be happy, the Ghoul events start happening at different dates and Lyar and eventually Kiri have to go back to try and stop it before things get out of hand. They have the potential problem of influencing history while doing so since seeing the Rampart Armor could cause a huge anomaly so they spend more time on foot trying to deal with it. But if time is not a constant flow but rather constantly splitting, does doing anything do any good in the long run? Interestingly, the show goes back to two distinct periods in time during the first volume. The first one runs across two episodes as it brings us to 1534 where Goemon Ishikawa is trying to assassinate Hideyoshi for the things he's done. Hideyoshi's actually controlled or influenced by the Ghoul and Lyar gets far too involved in things while not being able to track down Misaki properly but the two part storyline shows just how deeply connected Misaki's family, the Kureha's, are to the history of the country.
Another trip into the past brings us to a late February date in 1936 Japan which is where the country began its changes that led it deeply into World War II. Some of that event is covered but it shifts more to the relationships that are tied to the men behind it which Misaki tries to alter in order to save so much pain and anguish. These trips, naturally Japan-centric, are interesting as they play out since they provide so many divergence points for how history could change. These are the fodder of many kinds of science fiction stories by writers around the world as they write and talk about how changes locally and in their history could reshape the world, so seeing something fresh from a non-western perspective is something that I have to say I enjoy a lot. What few time travel shows there have been in anime tend to focus on a few particular eras or key events that are more well know and they don't really move away from those here yet but it's done with a straightforward look and without the inclusion of bouncy comical material.
Similar to the first season, the character designs for the shows almost all highlight the girls massive breasts which is something that unfortunately at times does work against the show. It does lead you to wonder whether this design was the only way this show could have been greenlit because I have to wonder if it would be any different if they were all just normal sized women. The breasts rarely really have any influence on what's going and after awhile you don't notice, though it's a bit harder with the first episode here as there is simply far too much bounciness going on. The further the show progresses though, the less noticeable they are and the less they seem to impact the storyline or attract attention. They're still there of course but the show simply becomes so engrossing that it's easy to just filter this out.
Divergence Eve: Misaki Chronicles takes the first season of the show and builds beautifully upon what has come before. The series overall is one of a very small handful that seems to want to play with some larger hard science fiction concepts and make it accessible. It's not easy at times, particularly since some of the historical pieces aren't easily figured out unless you've seen it before like the 1936 piece, but the payoff is there for the more that you know. The five episodes here definitely needed to be on the first volume as it provides so many hints and explores so many potentials that cutting out even one of them would have kept so much basic understanding out of the picture. This season is very much just like the first; if you're writing it off because it has big boobies then you're missing something spectacular in progress.
Japanese 2.0 Language,English 5.1 Language,English Subtitles,Mini-Manga,Clean opening animation,Clean closing animation
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: A-
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
Running time: 125
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Divergence Eve