Daphne in the Brilliant Blue Vol. #4 - 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. #4

By Chris Beveridge     September 22, 2005
Release Date: September 27, 2005


Daphne in the Brilliant Blue Vol. #4
© Geneon Entertainment (USA), Inc.


What They Say
BEAUTIFUL, DANGEROUS, AND DESPERATE FOR WORK…Nereides' sexy female agents will take on any job for the right price, no matter how dangerous or demanding. But they first have to fight off the infamous crime family, the Wong Chang Lee brothers, out to revenge Nereides for getting them arrested. Than, a mission to find a runaway boy with broken heart takes Maia to Siberia City again, where she gets caught up in a conspiracy involving the Eight Ocean Cities and the entire Nereids organization...

The Review!
After providing so much interesting information in the last volume, Daphne returns to its standard methods of standalone chase tales.

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, Gloria gets a cover at long last and no she doesn't have any sort of issues nor is there any subtext at her holding a massive rife from her crotch while the rounds are in her belt pointing at her crotch. No, none at all... The back cover provides a large illustration shot of May looking all commanding 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 Yu from one of the Japanese covers where she's performing one of her fighting moves in the skimpiest of outfits.

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 an art gallery that you can thumb through.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
The previous volume of Daphne in the Brilliant Blue was the kind of release that had a sizeable amount of new information about the shows world and the lead character herself, as well as a clue into the title, that you usually get some of a bit earlier in a standard run. Now that we've gotten it, you'd expect something to leap forward from it but apparently there's still more setup to be done first as this batch of episodes reveals.

This release plays up a pair of standalone episodes before it goes into a fairly enjoyable two part story that gives us a bit more insight into the world at large. Each of these seem to be pushing forward small ideas that are likely to gel into the larger ideas in the rest of the last half of the series. The opening episode in particular is a rather good one as it brings back the trio of brothers, Wong, Chang and Lee, as they're rescued from prison by their younger sister May. This is one hilarious family and the kind of side characters that I normally detest in any series. They manage somehow to work really well here though as May has rescued them so they can go on to the lost city of Elpida as the treasure hunters they want to be and go about finding vast riches.

May's spent the last few years working hard to acquire enough money to buy a surprisingly modern and well equipped massive submarine and the boys are duly impressed over it. While they're out getting some basic training on it, they inadvertently run into Maia who is doing training herself as the either Nereides crew has come to this supposedly abandoned area to do some shooting, driving and more. The brothers recognize her right from the start as she's the one that got them jailed to begin with so their training is suddenly off after they pursue and capture her. Like typical bad but comical villains, they throw aside the idea of possible riches with their sister in order to gain revenge on Maia and the other women, something that only frustrates May to no end. This goes back and forth a bit until the rest of the women show up and there's an amusing and quick shakedown of the bad guys. So why go through all of this? Why, to get a new submarine for the group that Shizuka affectionately names the Yomogi-1. If it was for the three brothers being as funny as they were this would be a bad episode since its entire setup is to get the girls a bigger ship.

With the new ship that means they need to get familiar with it and do a shakedown run which means we get a really poor filler episode that's an "homage" to the 'Old Man and the Sea' called "Old Kook and the Sea'. It's a necessary thing since it lets a number of areas get covered in terms of the new ship that's obviously going to be important the further we get into things. The real fun with this volume is in the two part story at the end. Maia's getting rather good at her job now and she's taken on a new assignment that she has to do on her own by finding and returning Kenta to his parents after he ran away from home. He's having girl trouble in his early teenage years and things went badly so he ran off to Siberia City and Maia finds herself tracking him down there. Once there though she gets misdirection from the Nereides branch there since its head has issues with Rena so it takes her an age to find the boy.

While that's going on, a number of other things are happening such as Gloria and Yu being stuck on six very difficult missions and Shizuka doing the work of the branch manager since his wife is sick. Rena's keeping things going otherwise so it's a busy time for the office in general. The branch manager even pulls an extra day off and takes part in his daughters school trip to the massive columns around the edge of the cityspace where the water and waves are controlled that keep things calm and smooth for the most part. So while he and his daughter are there, Maia and Kenta are returning from Siberia City and the president of a huge influential company are on the same flight heading for the same area it's little surprise that a terrorist attack is about to take place there.

Through all of this we get to finally see some insights into the Ocean Agency as they're actively involved in trying to stop the terrorist as well as seeing what kinds of projects they're involved in. The project of the corporate president that's involved is just another piece of the puzzle that allows for certain action sequences to take place but at the same time it is something that expands on how this world of the future works with food gathering and the like. While there isn't any heavy forward movement in terms of the overall plot, I think we saw a lot of characters move into place and for Maia to finally achieve a real level of confidence in herself and in the job she does.

In Summary:
Daphne in the Brilliant Blue is a series that still feels wildly uneven overall and very much something that is lacking in direction. We got some major hints as to what it could be in the last episode of the previous volume but then it's essentially ignored for another four episodes in this volume instead of being built upon. I like the way they added some new equipment to the group and worked the stories so that Maia is now likely to be much more confident in herself and others around her being confident in her as well but at the same time it does just feel like the show doesn't know where to go. It's fun and enjoyable and I'm really blasé about those uniforms now but it's missing that critical oomph to make it something that needs to be watched.

Features
Japanese 2.0 Language,English 2.0 Language,English Subtitles,Art Gallery

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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