Divergence Eve Complete Collection (Thinpak) - Mania.com



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Mania Grade: B+

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Info:

  • Audio Rating: A
  • Video Rating: B+
  • Packaging Rating: A
  • Menus Rating: C+
  • Extras Rating: N/A
  • Age Rating: TV 14
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: ADV Films
  • MSRP: 44.98
  • Running time: 325
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Divergence Eve

Divergence Eve Complete Collection (Thinpak)

By Mark Thomas     April 10, 2007
Release Date: June 13, 2006


Divergence Eve Complete Collection (Thinpak)
© ADV Films


What They Say
Something wicked is waiting to be unleashed! In the 24th Century, Intergalactic Space Travel has become a reality. One of the first outposts in the far reaches of space is Watcher's Nest - an inflation hole drive portal - which has recently come under attack by a mysterious force known simply as GHOUL. A group of young female cadets assigned to the portal are unexpectedly thrown into a hornet's nest of trouble as they finalize their training to become an elite pilot in the Seraphim Squadron.

The Review!
Cleverly disguised as cheap fanservice, Divergence Eve is the surprisingly deep story of four young women given the unenviable task of defending the universe from inter-dimensional invaders.

Audio:
For this viewing session, I primarily listened to the English track, which is available in Dolby 5.1. The sound quality on the English track is excellent, using the surround capabilities to their fullest. Great directionality is on display throughout the entire series, whether during dialogue or intense battle sequences. During parts of the show, I did switch to the original Japanese track, which is only offered in 2.0. The sound on this track as crisp and clear as the English track, and though directionality comparatively suffers a little due to being only 2.0, it is still very well done.

Video:
This release maintains the original 16:9 Anamorphic aspect ratio. The transfer is very clean. I noticed only one brief instance of pixelization, which may only have been an error on this particular disc. The show displays an impressive mix of traditional animation with computer animation. The colors in both areas are bright, clear, and crisp, though the scenes of computer animation tend to be a little less vibrant. The switching between the two styles is also sometimes abrupt and jarring, as during the battle scenes, it frequently jumps back and forth as the cameras move in and out of the cockpits. This can be a bit distracting but is more a problem of design rather than transfer.

Packaging:
The box itself has a fairly simple design, with three of the female cast members featured on each side set to a white background: Misaki, Luxandra, and Susanna on one side, and Kotoko, Prim, and Kiri on the other. Essentially, it is all one image that wraps around the spine of the box. The top of each side has the title logo and the ADV logo, and the technical specifications are listed on the bottom of the box.

Each individual disc gets its own thin case, with artwork matching the individual releases, though in a disappointing move, the science information on the inside of the cover from the individual releases appears to be removed. The front cover of the first disc prominently features Misaki, with Susanna on the second and Prim on the third. Each case also features a smaller picture of Misaki in the bottom right corner in various states of small clothing, adding to the fanservice illusion of the show. In the bottom left corners are graphics showing the number and title of each disc. The series title logo is printed along the top. In addition, each artwork has its own color scheme: blue for disc 1, pink for disc 2, and green for disc 3.

The spine of each case has the disc number and series title along the top, though not the title logo, and near the bottom is the same image of Misaki that adorns the front of the case.

The back of each case has a tag line at the top, followed by a brief summary of that particular disc with the episode listing right below that. Down the right side of the back are six images from the episodes on the disc. Along the bottom is the technical information for each disc.

The discs themselves have the same two images that appear on the front cover of the case, along with the series logo and disc number. The discs also follow the color scheme of their cover artwork.

The set also comes with a small insert that can be seen along the side of the box under the shrink-wrap. This insert is completely separate and has no place once the set is open unless placed inside with the discs. The insert is a light blue with the series logo along the top. Under that is a summary of the entire series followed by a few technical details of the show. Down the right side is a picture of Misaki in her battle outfit. All-in-all, while I find it disappointing that the packaging plays up the non-existent fanservice, the set has a simple and well designed look.

Menu:
On the one hand, the menus are fairly simple in design and easy to navigate. Each main page has a similar composition to the disc covers with a large picture of one of the characters featured prominently (Kotoko on disc 1, Kiri on disc 2, and Luxandra on disc 3) with a smaller picture of Misaki super imposed. The bottom of the page has the disc number and title. The opening theme plays while on the main page.

The main menus list each episode on the disc individually, though there is no option for scene select within each episode. After the episode listings, there is an option that takes you to a separate screen for changing the audio options from English 5.1 to Japanese 2.0 with English subtitles. The first disc also contains selections for trailers and DVD credits.

On the other hand, the menus feature horrible color schemes. The colors of the backgrounds and the text tend to be so similar, that it can be hard to tell what the menu says unless you are right up on the TV. The fact that options turn fluorescent green when highlighted helps a little, but not much. This could have been done much better.

Extras:
Like most ADV thinpaks, there are just a few trailers on the first disc, and nothing else.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Upon first glance, the character designs for Divergence Eve give the impression that it is little more than a fanservice tribute to the female body. The four main characters are young, well developed women whose uniforms are very form fitting. It does not help that those same uniforms bear striking resemblances to the traditional schoolgirl, sailor uniform. In fact, these traits are shared by all of the female characters throughout the series.

It can be easily expected, therefore, that this series would contain cheap laughs and be wholly dependent on the female anatomy for its entertainment. However, within the first few minutes of the series, that idea is quickly dispelled. While there is plenty of bouncing throughout all 13 episodes, it is never used as a prop for the show, nor does it ever play a part in the plot in anyway. The designs of the girls seem more of an artistic choice than an artistic necessity. The story in this series is too grim to be caught up in those antics; what we get instead is a well-written piece of serious science fiction.

Divergence Eve takes place on a space station housing ten million people called Watcher's Nest that sits in the farthest reaches of space from Earth. Snippets of information on how Watcher's Nest came to be are given to us in the form of short flashback sequences preceding the opening credits of most episodes. Thanks to the Voyager spacecraft, the human race has proven the existence of wormholes, and therefore the ability to travel across the universe almost instantaneously. What they did not expect, though, was the presence of another race of beings called the Ghoul, who continually attempt to attack the Watcher's Nest settlement. In response, the human military set up a mobile attach force called Seraphim.

The gravity of the situation these people find themselves in is given to us within that first twenty minutes, as the first episode actually takes place in-between the last two episodes of the series. The rest of the shows leading up to the finale are actually flashbacks to help the viewer catch up to the present. Within that first episode, we see not only the full destructive power of the Ghoul, but also the only response that the station has against them: a young girl named Misaki and the strange powers that she possesses.

The episodes that follow detail how Misaki and her friends, the four newest members of Seraphim, get to the point that they are at, and how Misaki goes from a hopeless, seemingly thrown-in afterthought from the reserves to the sole hope of humanity. We also begin to learn why Misaki has this power and how it connects her to the Ghoul. It is in these episodes that the series really shows its strength: characterization.

Again, upon first glance of the character designs, it can be easily determined that the characters of this show are shallow airheads. However, again, looks can be deceiving. Each of the principle characters of this series are given plenty of time to develop their own personalities, whether it is Misaki's unending optimism, Kiri's competitiveness, Susanna's elegance, or Luxandra's confidence. Though the series focuses most on Misaki, the rest of the girls are given plenty of airtime for their personalities to come out in full bloom.

The most interesting character is Lieutenant-Commander Ertiana, the commander of the Seraphim unit who is forced to carry out her sometimes unpleasant duties while wishing that she could find ways to better help the four girls. Ertiana is continually conflicted with maintaining military confidentiality with the desire to warn the girls what Seraphim is up against. Despite her stern outer shell, Ertiana's compassion is shown through small conversations she has with the girls, especially Misaki, and with her continuing interactions with her personal android assistant, Kotoko. Through it all, Lyer von Ertiana truly cares about her newest charges.

The only character that could have used more exploring was the series' main antagonist, Lieutenant-Commander LeBlanc. From the first moment Jean-Luc LeBlanc appeared on screen, it was obvious that he was up to no good. As the series progresses, we learn that he is trying to use the power latent in Misaki for his own nefarious reasons, however, we are never really given a reason for why he is doing what he is doing. For much of the time, he acts like he is just trying to appease his sense of scientific curiosity, though it is obvious that he has other plans, and we are never given any background information for LeBlanc that might hint at the motives for his power mad actions. Due to this, it can sometimes be hard to understand, or even care, what he is up to.

The voice acting in this series is also superb. Shelly Calene-Black truly commands as Ertiana, and the understated accent that Christine Auten brought as Susanna really enhanced her elegance and honesty. Kira Vincent-Davis, though, steals the show with her performance as Misaki. Through the show, Misaki hits just about every personality extreme, from perkiness to anger to fear o hysterics, and Vincent-Davis hits each of those extremes perfectly. Misaki's character demanded range, and Kira Vincent-Davis gave it to us.

The other area in which this series excels is that it is able to maintain a sense of tension and mystery, even though from the very beginning we know where the series is headed. The story is generally told from the perspective of Misaki, though the viewers are limited in that perspective. From the start, we know that certain characters are going to die, or otherwise disappear, and that there are certain people in the chain of command that are pulling strings for their own purposes. However, this series generally delivers on all fronts, not only in providing us the details, but many times taking us past our expectations and revealing that events are even more grim then they appear on the surface. In particular, the death of one of the characters late in the series is not only slightly uncomfortable to watch, but reveals a frightening side to the Ghoul that was previously unknown.

There is a definite feeling of "being along for the ride," as most questions are only answered for the viewer as Misaki uncovers the truth herself. It is the ride itself that makes this series a joy to watch, in particular learning more about the Ghoul and Misaki's strange connection to them. Throughout the show, the Ghoul seem to have a particular fascination with Misaki, and every time she encounters one, she learns a little more about them and her past. Seeing how the show slowly pieces the puzzle together as it builds to its eventual conclusion is riveting.

Unfortunately, the eventual conclusion is the one weak point in the series. As I noted before, many times it was hard to really care about the actions of LeBlanc, and therefore it was a little underwhelming when his plans fell apart at the last moment. More importantly, aside from LeBlanc, the show ends before we discover the fate of Misaki and the rest of the people from Watcher's Nest. It also attempts to be philosophical about the events and effects of the final attack, but that does not really fit with the hard science fiction nature of the rest of the show. It is obvious that the creators were using the last episode to build towards the sequel series, The Misaki Chronicles, which is a shame because a proper ending could propelled this series to excellence. Instead, it is merely very good.


In Summary:
Assuming one can accept the more exaggerated aspects of the character design, this is one of the better science fiction anime titles out there. While the lack of any real comic relief might turn off some viewers, it really has no place in a story such as this and would have dragged it down. In some ways, the illusion of fanservice is a shame for this show, because the story is such that it should not have to resort to this to trick people into watching. The plot is strong enough to stand on its own.

With the series starting where it did, the viewer is thrown right into the heat of the action and is forced to play catch up along with Misaki. This really helps to add to the tension of many of the scenes. For a 13 episode series, the story is surprisingly deep and is able to use the time wisely to develop methodically instead of rushing through things. The addition of the opening segments explaining the history of Watcher's Nest was definitely a nice added bonus and contributed well to the plot development of the show.

The only drawback to the show is that the conclusion opens up new questions instead of answering the ones left over, like what exactly are the Ghoul and what happened to everybody after the attack? Hopefully, though, these questions will be answered in The Misaki Chronicles, and it certainly does not detract from the fact that up to that point, the show absolutely enthralling. I had planned to spread the episodes over a few days' time but was instead sucked into watching it all in one sitting, certainly a pleasant surprise considering what I was expecting heading into the show.

Features
Japanese 2.0 Language,English 5.1 Language,English Subtitles

Review Equipment
Phillips Magnavox TP3285 C129 32" TV, Samsung DVD-V5650 Progressive Scan DVD w/ DD/DTS, Durabrand HT3916 5.1 Surround Sound System


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