Mania Grade: A-
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- Audio Rating: B+
- Video Rating: A-
- Packaging Rating: A
- Menus Rating: A-
- Extras Rating: N/A
- Age Rating: TV PG
- Region: 1 - North America
- Released By: ADV Films
- MSRP: 54.98
- Running time: 325
- Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
- Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
- Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
- Series: Diamond Daydreams (Kita e)
Diamond Daydreams Complete Collection (Thinpak)
By Mark Thomas
July 03, 2007
Release Date: June 05, 2007
Diamond Daydreams Complete Collection (Thinpak)
What They Say
© ADV Films
The bitter-cold winter of Hokkaido meets the warmth of the human heart as six women suffer through their own tragic love stories before fate brings them all together. We begin with Atsuko, whose arranged marriage collapses in the face of a love triangle. Then there's Karin, a sickly schoolgirl who develops a crush on her doctor only to have it blow up in her face. These are just two of the women chasing their own Diamond Daydreams.
Contains all 13 episodes.The Review!
A slice-of-life look at six women and their struggles to find what makes them happy.Audio:
For this viewing, I primarily watched the English dub. Both the English and Japanese tracks are only available in 2.0; however since this show is dialogue based, this is not a big deal. Outside of some musical pieces and slight sound effects, sounds mostly stayed even across both channels. However, what was there was nice and clear, with no distortion or imbalances to speak of.Video:
This show is offered in a 4:3 full screen aspect ratio and has a very nice look and feel. The many different characters all have their own look and feel, and especially good attention is paid to details in the backgrounds. Being a show that is dependent on interactions between characters and the environments they are in, these are both appreciated and nearly essential to making this anime work. This particular transfer is also pretty smooth, as the colors are nice and vibrant in most places and subdued when they need to be. There were a few brief instances of pixelization, though nothing major and probably nothing that would be noticeable if you were not looking for it. Packaging:
Like most ADV sets, a lot of detail went into the packaging. The box itself has watercolor images of the girls in a field on the two sides. One side features Shoko; Atsuko; and Suomi, while the other side portrays Karin; Akari; and Kyoko. An interesting dichotomy is that both images appear to be warm weather images, but there are images overlaying the pictures in the foreground, hinting at the Diamond Dustdrops theme throughout the stories. On both images, the Diamond Daydreams logo sits at the top of the image. The spine of the box also has the logo, this time with silhouettes of the six girls next to it (three on each side). The top of the box is plain, only having the background pattern from the rest of the box, and the bottom has the technical information for the set. Like all ADV sets, an insert sits just under the shrink wrap outside the box with the series logo and a summary of the entire series.
The individual cases are also pleasant and show the same amount of care and detail. Along the front side of the case is an image of one of the girls on that particular disc. The first disc has a picture of Karin sitting in bed looking at her diary; the second disc has Suomi in a kimono sitting in a traditional Japanese garden; and the third disc has a picture of Akari taking a break from cleaning her house. The back of each case has a subtitle at the top, different for each disc, followed by pictures from the show down the left side and summaries for that discs stories down the right, with the technical information of that disc along the bottom. All of this is set to a nice snow flake motif in the background.
One of the nicer touches is along the spines of the cases. Besides the series title and the names of the two girls featured on the disc, there are small, thumbnail images of all six girls near the bottom in the order their stories are told through the show. Of the six, only the two that show up on that particular disc are highlighted, the other four are darkened. A minor, but nice, touch in an otherwise pretty set.
The discs themselves are also nicely done with a simple design. The logo along with volume number and featured girls appears on the top, with the ADV logo underneath. This is also set to a snowflake theme for the background, though one that is different from the cases.Menu:
The menus on this release have a nice, simple design. Each features a picture of one of the girls from that disc: Atsuko on disc 1, Kyoko on disc 2, and Akari on disc 3. For selections, there is a choice for each episode on the disc. Selecting one of these just takes you to the beginning of that episode. We also have a selection for the languages, and disc 1 has extra options for some ADV previews and the DVD credits. The selections are highlighted well, making the menus easy to navigate, and the overall design is fairly pleasant to look at.Extras:
Being an ADV Thinpak, there are a few previews and nothing else.Content:
(please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Instead of being one coherent story, Diamond Daydreams is a collection of six essentially short stories. Each of these slice-of-life stories gets two episodes to play out while the very last episode wraps them all up. None of the stories are connected in anyway, except for the fact that they all take place in Hokkaido, Japan's northernmost island.
Atsuko, Karin, Kyoko, Suomi, Shoko, and Akari are the six women in question. Atsuko's and Karin's stories take place on disc one, with Kyoko and Suomi on disc 2, and Shoko and Akari on disc 3. Atsuko is finding herself falling in love with an older man despite being stuck in an engagement to a wealthy, childhood friend; Karin has been in the hospital for over two years needing a surgery that she is too afraid to have; Kyoko is a promising, young filmmaker who finds herself in a creative rut. Suomi was once a championship figure skater, until an accident forced her retirement; Shoko hosts a popular radio show that gives romantic advice, and yet finds herself not able to deal with her own romantic issues; and Akari works and goes to school fulltime to help out her father, an existence she happily accepts until she finds out her father is dying.
For a show such as this, there is a particular emphasis on the story itself and interactions between characters, not to mention a focus on realism. These stories are well played out, with believable actions and reactions from the characters, and despite only having two episodes each to work with, the characters are well rounded. Each story gives us just enough information about each girl so that we can understand their point of view, but not so much that we are inundated with facts. We are able to see why Kyoko is viewed as a good director, or why Karin is afraid of surgery, but we do not need to know, nor are we given, their entire life story up to this point. The show's creator's found just the right balance to make these characters seem real.
What makes this show even nicer is that even the secondary characters are given enough to work with that makes them real. Through information about the main characters, we can understand why the people around them act as they do. Seeing Kyoko's past allows us to know why her actors and coworkers are fed up with her attitude, or why Hanna is initially so cold towards Suomi. The whole show is filled with believable people, which is essential for a show such as this to succeed.
This show is aided by the beautiful visuals throughout. Despite being a show not dependent on special effects, the creators found a subdued style for the artwork helps enhance the overall feel of the show, and yet does not take over. Each character, both primary and secondary, has their own unique look that helps reflect their personality. For example Shoko has the dress sense and short hair style that one might expect from a mature, business woman, while both Atsuko and Akari find a delicate balance between looking like responsible adults and yet retaining their youthful appearance.
The music also beautifully accompanies the show. Orchestral, and yet also subdued, the music is never the focal point of the sound in the show, and yet it helps enhance the sweet and subtle solemnity of the characters and their stories. It sets the mood in that it never allows things to get too boisterous, but never too serious either. Combined with the artwork, the music creates a feel for the show that perfectly matches the mood that the stories are trying to attempt.
An interesting plotline that connects the six girls together is their fascination with the legend about the Diamond Dustdrops (which is the Japanese name for the show), with each putting her own particular spin on it. Diamond Dustdrops are really fine particles of ice that float in the air like snow and sparkle like Diamonds. The legend essentially says that if one is lucky enough to view the Diamond Dustdrops, a rare phenomenon, then his or her biggest dream will come true. For some, like Atsuko, this means that the love of their life will come to them, for others it means that they will discover what it is they need to be doing with their life. Regardless, by viewing the Diamond Dustdrops, a person will get the happy ending he or she is looking for.
However, another nice point about the show is that none of the characters ever get that "mega happy" ending. While each gets through their particular problem, and is better for it, they never get everything that they want. This is important in slice-of-life stories, as life never really gives us that storybook ending that we might strive for. This is a trap that many stories of this ilk fall into, but with one exception, Diamond Daydreams manages to avoid it. While each girl finds herself in a better place when all is said and done, there is still some sense of loss or sacrifice they had to make to get to that point.
The one exception to that rule is the final episode of the series which wraps up all six stories. All the girls have traveled to Sapporo for a winter festival, and we get to see what has happened to each since the end of their two episodes. By this time, a few of the girls have found that storybook ending they were searching for, which tends to ruin the effect of their story, not to mention the open ended nature of the conclusion to that story. It is during this episode that the six girls also manage to finally see the Diamond Dustdrops, wrapping up that last loose end from the rest of the show. However, it was a wrapping up that did not need to be done.
The other problem is that a show of this nature tends to have a limited audience. What we get in this show are six pleasant, realistic stories with nothing out-of-the-ordinary ever happening. There is no real comic relief, no fanservice, and no action. These stories are based all around dialogue, and the character's reactions to said dialogue. People who are looking for something more might find that there is not enough going on to keep them interested.In Summary:
The six stories in Diamond Daydreams are all wonderful little tales, each with interesting characters, conflicts, and believable conclusions. However, since this is a slice-of-life show, the appeal of the show is limited. Those looking for something more than just a look at the lives of some average people will need to look elsewhere. However, I think those who do enjoy slice-of-life material will find this a pleasant show to watch, as this was one of the better shows of this type I have seen. Highly recommended for fans of this type of show, or fans interested in trying slice-of-life, all others will probably want to look elsewhere.
Japanese 2.0 Language,English 2.0 Language,English Subtitles
Phillips Magnavox TP3285 C129 32" TV, Samsung DVD-V5650 Progressive Scan DVD w/ DD/DTS, Durabrand HT3916 5.1 Surround Sound System