Daphne in the Brilliant Blue Vol. #1 (also w/box) - Mania.com



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Mania Grade: B-

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Info:

  • Audio Rating: B+
  • Video Rating: A
  • Packaging Rating: A-
  • Menus Rating: B+
  • Extras Rating: C+
  • Age Rating: 16 & Up
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: Geneon Entertainment (USA), Inc.
  • MSRP: 29.98/44.98
  • Running time: 100
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Daphne in the Brilliant Blue

Daphne in the Brilliant Blue Vol. #1 (also w/box)

By Chris Beveridge     January 23, 2005
Release Date: March 01, 2005


Daphne in the Brilliant Blue Vol. #1 (also w/box)
© Geneon Entertainment (USA), Inc.


What They Say
Maia is having a very bad day. Her life-long dreams to join the elite Marine Environment Agency wither and die, when, despite everyone’s high expectations, she fails the entrance exams. Then, with the loss of her student status, she gets evicted! Peniless, homeless, and unemployed, Maia finds herself in the middle of a shoot-out between fugitive convicts and the Nereides- sexy agents who only take the most high-paying and dangerous jobs. Desperate, Maia takes the first job offered to her: to take a starring role in the next Nereides operation- as bait!

The Review!
Some time in the future when the seas have risen a bit and the layout of many coastal cities have changed into becoming more like Venice, the Ocean Agency is the place to work at.

Audio:
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.

Video:
Originally airing in 2004, 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.

Packaging:
Using the artwork from the regular edition of the Japanese release, we get a nice looking character shot of Maia in her regular outfit waving and looking generally happy. The background is fairly indistinct and just shapes and colors that have little to do with anything but the overall look and layout of the artwork and border looks really nice and is appealing with its simple lines and curves. The back cover provides a large illustration shot of Shizuka showing off her ample assets 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 cute shot of Maia running with the animal in her arms while the chapter listings are to the left of her and it opens up to a two-panel shot that has the character artwork from the Japanese limited edition first volume cover but set against a blue-green background. 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 of Shizuka from the second volume to use in all its glory while the back cover goes minimal and has an illustrated shot of Maia in her work outfit and the basic technical information.

Menu:
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.

Extras:
The only extra included on this volume is a clean version of the opening sequence.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Every now and then a show comes along that I'm just not quite sure how to take. There are parts that are enjoyable, parts that I don't care much for and then there's just parts left unexplained since it's early into the series. After the first four episodes of Daphne In The Brilliant Blue, there are definitely some interesting things to it, some things that I really don't care for and a lot of things that are simply unexplained.

The premise of the series isn't all that clear at first as we're introduced to young Maia Mizuki, a woman who along with one of her best friends are in the midst of taking their multi-part exams in the once a year application period for joining with the Ocean Agency. While no reasons are given as to why, the sea level is higher now than it used to be and most cities are vastly different than they once were with a lot of water ways throughout them and a closer feel towards the water. The city goes unnamed, but where the exams take place outside of the Ocean Agency, it is for the most part a city that looks like something out of the near future with a clean look to it and enough differences in the way it operates to give it a really neat feel.

As it stands, the Ocean Agency is the only really powerful ministry in the government left anymore and it's able to do more good and more work than the others, hence Maia's interest in joining up. Over the course of the written exams and the in-field test where she has to go to a wrecked ship and salvage a container, she's proven herself to be within the top 20% of the class and is basically a shoe-in for the job. It's such a given at this point that after she finishes with her oral questioning segment, she goes to turn in her residence card of the home she and her grandfather had shared (though he died a year ago). This is actually something that's a really bad idea to do since you have to move out almost immediately after you turn in the card but Maia is sure to be in the Ocean Agency and living in their dormitory.

So it isn't exactly a surprise when she's not accepted but her friend is and she gets or at least mentions no real reason why she isn't accepted. It hits her like a ton of bricks and events suddenly start to spiral out of control for her. She spends the entire day afterwards trying to find a new affordable residence now that she has to get out and can't rescind the process but she's got little money after she finds herself mugged (as she apparently kept all her cash on her as well). Her job prospects find themselves equally poor and she can't find anything good and what she does find is either something she'd never do or they won't be ready for her to start for a month or more. Everything is just going down the tubes as she stands under the bridge in the evening as the rain pours down.

So naturally, it's a good time to be held at knife-point while a pair of scantily clad women try to capture the joker whose got her trapped. As it turns out, the two women work for the Nereides Kamchatka organization which is some sort of jack of all trades operation that handles all kinds of jobs no matter the size. Seeing a use for Maia, they decide to use her for a brief operation in order to regain ten million rimas back from a thief. Lead by Rena and with the assistance of Shizuka, the two of them use Maia to try and get back the money but flub it all over the place until things eventually work out as they're supposed to. Rena takes extra advantage of the situation and offers Maia a job with the organization as one to handle cleaning duties around the office, assisting the others and taking on as many small jobs as she can handle. Rena's an absolute manipulator and a penny-pincher but is generally just quite frugal with money but in a way that it always works to her advantage. Shizuka, the bespectacled purple haired buxom beauty, doesn't quite fit the ditz role but fills out a good part of it with her style and attitude. She's a lousy shot but she knows the rougher areas of the town inside out as she grew up there and seemingly everyone owes her a favor of some sort. She doesn't take Maia under her wing but she doesn't ride her nearly as roughly as Rena does.

The first two episodes, a two-parter no less, go into the setup a fair bit to get everything into place but there's simply a lot of things that don't get covered and a lot of what does happen is just plain silly at times or badly done on Maia's part, particularly the instance of turning in her residence card before getting the results of the tests that are due out the next day. That's just poor writing to do it that way as there are surely many better ways of handling it. While it's a long road to get Maia into the organization, once she's there she hits the ground fast in doing a variety of jobs from walking dogs, rent collection and general housecleaning here and there. We get one story that shows the good side of the organization and how they're not entirely about money and then we get another episode that brings in a missing member who is all about money and the show really emphasizes that point about its characters.

During their regular daily routines, Maia's the only one that dresses in anything resembling an outfit that would, well, actually be able to be worn in public. Shizuka's skintight watersuit makes sense since there's so much more water involved in this future but the outfits that all of them wear when they're doing a mission is beyond ridiculous. It's supposed to be over the top and it doesn't exactly offend me but it just seems far too gratuitous. I'd almost wager the character designer did it as a dare to cosplayers to try and wear something like that as they do without a bodysuit to cheat. When Maia shows up in less of an outfit than you find in some of the nastiest of hentai releases and she doesn't even bat an eye about it, you know we're not going to get any explanation about why they're as skimpy as they are. If they had been full skintight bodysuits, I would have been completely accepting due to the above and underwater nature of some of their jobs as well as the seemingly more common mode of transportation being waterways throughout the city. But they just went too far this time I think.

After the first four episodes, I'm really not sure what to think about it. There are some really fun parts to it that had me laughing out loud at the situation. The action is generally fairly brief but there's usually a slight bit of a twist associated with it so it was fun. I like the concept of a more Venice-like city and some of the changes that come with it. And while I'm ambivalent about the two "leading" women of the organization, I enjoyed the time where it focused more on Maia and Shizuka as well as the amusing moments with the branch manager who is just incredibly abused by everyone. But these opening episodes just have some writing problems that really stick out before they're shoved to the background and it made it difficult to get into the groove of the show. The back and forth financial arguments between Rena and Gloria are probably going to get old as well but there does seem to be some sort of storyline that is forming towards the end of the first volume that will tell more in the next volume about where the series is going. With the two-parter as an opener, they changed the dynamic a bit in how the series kicks off.

In Summary:
Even a day after taking it in I'm still not exactly sure how I really feel about this show so far. It's definitely early yet but they've managed to put me off with the outfits that the girls end up wearing while on the job but at the same time the near-future water-heavy environment is something that's appealing and can provide some different kinds of stories and situations to work with. The way things work at first end up being more complicated than they needed to be in order to get the characters from point A to point B, but once there the show starts to get into its groove and things slowly but surely start to fall into place. With the last of the main characters being introduced in the fourth episodes, I think it'll be more telling with the next installment to see how well it's all going to work out.

Features
Japanese 2.0 Language,English 2.0 Language,English Subtitles,Clean Opening

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.

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