Mars Daybreak Vol. #5 (of 6) (Mania.com)
Review Date: Monday, April 10, 2006
Release Date: Tuesday, April 11, 2006
What They Say
As the final pieces of the puzzle start to fall into place, Captain Elizabeth makes a startling announcement: they're going to build a new RB out of the spare parts and the training module.
There are going to be dangerous times ahead, buts will the Ship of Aurora be able to fight off the Earth Forces, elude the pirate Kubernes, and find the treasure before time runs out?
The journey to the mysterious treasure is almost upon them but not before some character study episodes are gotten out of the way.
For our primary viewing session, we listened to this show in its original language of Japanese. The included stereo mix is a pretty standard one with a fair bit of directionality across the forward soundstage for things such as ships moving across through the water as well as various weapons. Dialogue gets a bit of directionality as well but it's otherwise a fairly standard solid mix with no real issues. We had no problems with dropouts or distortions on either language track during regular playback.
Originally airing in 2004, the transfer for this series is presented in its original full frame aspect ratio. Across a lot of their series, BONES has a certain look and feel to their works and it continues here with Mars Daybreak. While the level of CG interaction continues to go up in terms of meshing with the animation, the series in general has a very smooth and colorful look that's not overly vibrant but has a real life to it. Colors look great throughout and avoid blocking but there is a fair bit of gradient issues that come up with some of the CG sequences, particularly the ships. Aliasing and cross coloration are non-existent and the artwork in general has a very clean and smooth polished look to it that's well maintained. This is a good solid looking transfer overall.
More appropriate for the last volume since it features the characters acting out events from episodes not on this volume, it is a good looking piece since it has the women in towels as well as some decent action-ish images for the background. The back cover is tightly laid out with a lot of open space around it as the bulk of the text and images are kept to a central piece where there are several paragraphs of summary and four images showcasing the characters. The discs features are clearly listed and the bottom is rounded out by production information and very little useful technical information. No insert was included with this release.
The menus here are more animated than usual for Bandai as it moves around an underwater setting that has video panels down below and showcases clips from the show as explosions and other vehicles move by, all set to some of the choral style music that's from the show. Navigation is nicely done along the bottom and in submenus and is quick to access and load. The disc unfortunately did not read our players' language presets and played to a default of English language with sign/song subtitles.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
In a way, Mars Daybreak is feeling like a couple of other Bones series during this particular set of episodes where but it's a bit more distilled with what it's doing. Not quite as moody as something like Wolf's Rain, Mars Daybreak is closing in on the final episodes of the series but hasn't quite provided those few episodes where there's such a great hook that you feel like you're getting a lot of the payoff just before the finale. The show is very much a traditional adventure show at this point that's trying to squeeze out a few more character studies before it wraps things up.
Of the four episodes on the volume, they all deal with specific character issues in a very simple and accessible way as opposed to things that are spread across and slowly developing. Each of them are interesting on their own level but it feels so disconnected at times and while not filler, something that you know they're telling just because so much of the show is really about a ship sailing underwater and not having problems most of the time. The opening episode is the most action oriented of the batch in terms of everyone working as a group while the last one is a bit more specific. The most interesting of the set is the second episode though where we finally get the confrontation between Vess and Gram that answers a lot of the questions that we've had. It's a fairly simple action piece at first with Vess finally getting a chance to challenge Gram having won over Kubernes enough now and it's set up in a neat location of an icy underwater graveyard.
Some of what we learn from their exchange is pretty interesting though a bit of a cliché in that she's chasing him because she likes him but wants to kill him because of what he did to her years ago. It's a bit deeper than that but it boils down to the girl likes the boy so she shows it through hitting. Where it goes once they actually deal with what happened is more interesting since we see more of what makes Gram do what he does, something that starts to creep up into a few more episodes. His longtime desires is something that he tries to explain more to Takigawa who himself is trying to figure out what he wants out of life. He's pushed for awhile now but with the help of the "Grandfather" BALL, he's finally able to get himself into one of the RB's and do some basic training. But like many young men of that age, he needs to be nudged in the right direction about why he's piloting one and why he has to be so committed to it.
Some of the character motivations that get revealed feel a bit weak as it goes along, mostly when it comes to Yagami. We get some interesting moments with him as he's close to making some changes in his life but even with what little background we get about him it doesn't feel like there's any real strong characterization to him that really makes it easy to connect with him. He's been one of the weakest characters in the show and the time that he gets in this volume doesn't change it much. Thankfully it's balanced by the fact that he's one of the better action scene characters with his RB and there is a good deal of action to be had during the last couple of episodes here as the group gets closer to the treasure. Some of the threads from earlier episodes, particularly Vess, start to surface again and while it's all very light and fluffy what we get towards the end here is the start of the set up for the finale.
Mars Daybreak hasn't exactly won me over as it was a very weak and poorly executed show at the beginning but as its progressed some of the characters and situations have made parts of it enjoyable. It really fits the mold of a mid range action/adventure show without anything that really provides a solid enough hook to make it unique. The one area that would make it unique, the oceans of Mars, is treated as such a mundane and almost inconvenient thing at times that it doesn't help to be a draw past the first episode or two. That said, I'm curious to see how it's all going to come together at the end and where everyone will end up but it's easy to realize that this is a pretty forgettable show in the long run.
Japanese 2.0 Language,English 2.0 Language,English Subtitles
Panasonic PT50LC13 50" LCD RP HDTV, Zenith DVB-318 Progressive Scan codefree DVD player via DVI, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Monster component cable and 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: N/A
Age Rating: 13 & Up
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: Bandai Entertainment
Running time: 100
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Mars Daybreak