Daphne in the Brilliant Blue Vol. #3 - 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: B-
  • Age Rating: 16 & Up
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: Geneon Entertainment (USA), Inc.
  • MSRP: 29.98
  • 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. #3

By Chris Beveridge     August 15, 2005
Release Date: July 26, 2005


Daphne in the Brilliant Blue Vol. #3
© Geneon Entertainment (USA), Inc.


What They Say
Nereides' sexy female agents will take on any job for the right price, no matter how dangerous or demanding. Maia doesn't have any living relatives ever since her grandfather passed away a couple of years ago. Her parents died during a car accident when she was ten years old. She suffers from severe amnesia, and she has never quite recovered from it. She wants to recover her memory, but there seems to be someone who is trying to prevent her from recovering them...

The Review!
The show goes for the fun aspect with a trip to a vacation island but it also leads into explaining a lot of the past and the world at large.

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 2005, 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, Shizuka gets the cover this time around in her combat uniform which is like the others in that it's pretty much less than nothing that's held together by glue and a prayer. 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 Gloria 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 few shots from the show along the right while the chapter listings are to the left. It opens up to a two-panel shot that has an illustration of the entire female cast together now at the office. 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 full shot of Rena from one of the Japanese covers where she's showing off her back end assets quite nicely.

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 in this round is a collection of the Japanese DVD cover art, a very welcome extra at that.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Daphne in the Brilliant Blue taps on the door to being through the first half of the series and this volume finally provides some much needed information about how this world works. While the show has been interesting at times, particularly the first two episodes before they changed the story entirely from what you thought you were getting, it's been very minimal in providing some key information about how this world works and more of Maia's past. Things have been sort of a reverse harem in a sense and mostly been girls, guns and boobs but now it's providing some meat to itself.

Things start off in a very amusing manner though as the company undergoes its yearly medical examination in order to ensure its employees are in a healthy state. It's pretty normal but some of them balk against it, but it's a requirement and not doing it will keep them from participating in the company vacation trip that's coming up. Naturally, there's going to be an element of miscommunication in something like this and it comes when everyone's favorite branch manager misinterprets something going on in the doctors office and everyone now believes that Gloria has a fatal form of cancer and will die within a week or so. They decide not to tell her but everyone acts so out of character and overly nice to her that she suspects something.

This has some of the usual gags that play out but Maia gets terribly involved when she finds out that Gloria's never had a true love happen before so she engineers just that thing to happen. This turns out to be comical enough since her ideal dream date is a skinny effeminate type that's a bit manly and wears glasses and she bemoans every finding one of these. The romance plays out in a very amusing manner and naturally Gloria eventually learns what's going on and the mistake behind it, but before she does she ends up winning five tickets to Siberia City, one of the best resort spots in the world and she intends to take everyone. Well, except for the branch manager for obvious reasons.

Siberia City is one of those great vacation places that's just like the other cities and sprawls out in the ocean and simply looks like a place you'd never want to leave. The groups arrival on the island leads to the normal kind of split you'd expect. Rena heads off to the high class places and the older wealthy and handsome men. Yu is pretty amusing in that she hits up all of the famous places, statues and locations and does a picture of herself there with it. Gloria ends up spending most of it in jail since she came with her weapons and refused to give them up and Shizuka… well, she ends up with Maia in tow since Maia's not sure where to start and Shizuka has her days all planned out. Unfortunately for Maia, they're all for places that have the best foods to sample for the city. The episode has a lot of fun to it and I was highly amused that their bathing suits have more fabric to them then their combat uniforms.

One quirk that happens towards the end of their stay launches the show into a very interesting episode. Being reminded of her grandfather, Maia starts to have memories of her past with him. This allows the episode to kick off with an explanation of how the world is, with it's dozen or so cities that survived the surfacing event a hundred years prior. Apparently something had happened that caused the land on the planet to disappear and humanity, what was left, went underwater and lived there for some unknown length of time before they finally were able to surface again and try to rebuild their lives. Land is still minimal so everyone is still in these vast cities.

The focus on Maia has us following her after an accident caused her parents to die in a car crash and she was thrown free of it but ended up with amnesia. Over the course of two years she works with some people from the Ocean Agency to understand the trauma she's had and she's lived with her grandfather though she has no memory of him. It's a scary situation when you really do think of it and this fear plays out with her throughout her stay until she reaches some level of being able to handle things. She struggles with those who were trying to help her within the agency and she struggled against her grandfather as well but eventually she settled into her life until we catch up with her at the beginning of the series some time after her grandfather died. This view into her life before the series helps to explain why she is the way she is and the revelation of it to the others in the company has them far more sympathetic than they were – but within reason which is a nice.

Having much of this explained now has lifted some of the shroud on the series since the workings of the world were vastly different from what we expected and it wasn't really centric around any one kind of national ideal. The greater depth given to Maia here helps to flesh her out more and it explains away a lot of what she was like at the beginning of the series but it also reinforces just how strong of a person she really is to do what she did. Of course, there's a huge amount of stupidity in her actions that can be attributed to age even more so after learning all of this but it was the kind of things that needed to be done to push the series in the direction they wanted.

In Summary:
After something like twelve episodes, we finally have someone utter the word 'Daphne' and it gives hope that the series title may actually make some amount of sense before all is said and done. This volume provides a great level of comedy in the first two episodes and then shifts to up the ante in the mystery department. While the series has been enjoyable so far, the plot has been as thin as the girls and this is the volume that gives it some meat and dresses it up into something more interesting. Hopefully they'll follow through on it and we'll get more of this in the second half of the run.

Features
Japanese 2.0 Language,English 2.0 Language,English Subtitles,Japanese DVD Cover Artwork

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.

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