Mars Daybreak Vol. #3 -

Anime/Manga Reviews

Mania Grade: B-

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  • Audio Rating: B+
  • Video Rating: A
  • Packaging Rating: B
  • Menus Rating: B
  • Extras Rating: N/A
  • Age Rating: 13 & Up
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: Bandai Entertainment
  • MSRP: 29.98
  • Running time: 100
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Mars Daybreak

Mars Daybreak Vol. #3

By Chris Beveridge     February 06, 2006
Release Date: January 03, 2006

Mars Daybreak Vol. #3
© Bandai Entertainment

What They Say
Gram's pendant has unlocked the secret that leads to the mythical treasure of the original Mars settlers. Before they can begin, they'll have to shake off the Earth Forces who have them cornered. The crew will also have to contend with a rescued bride from the bottom of the sea and the return of the dread pirate Kubernes. There's no rest for the weary as the pirates of the Ship of Aurora continue on their journey.

The Review!
With the Box of Guidance in hand, the Ship of Aurora heads off on its search for the potential treasure that it may lead them to.

For our primary viewing session, we listened to this show in its original language of Japanese. The included stereo mix is a pretty standard one with a fair bit of directionality across the forward soundstage for things such as ships moving across through the water as well as various weapons. Dialogue gets a bit of directionality as well but it's otherwise a fairly standard solid mix with no real issues. We had no problems with dropouts or distortions on either language track during regular playback.

Originally airing in 2004, the transfer for this series is presented in its original full frame aspect ratio. Across a lot of their series, BONES has a certain look and feel to their works and it continues here with Mars Daybreak. While the level of CG interaction continues to go up in terms of meshing with the animation, the series in general has a very smooth and colorful look that's not overly vibrant but has a real life to it. Colors look great throughout and avoid blocking but there is a fair bit of gradient issues that come up with some of the CG sequences, particularly the ships. Aliasing and cross coloration are non-existent and the artwork in general has a very clean and smooth polished look to it that's well maintained. This is a good solid looking transfer overall.

With no tin versions available, we get the standard keepcase style release which really looks awkward up against the first volume. This release has a good looking bright piece of cover artwork that features the captain, Takigami and Yagami together on the bridge with a neat looking green background. The back cover is tightly laid out with a lot of open space around it as the bulk of the text and images are kept to a central piece where there are several paragraphs of summary and four images showcasing the characters. The discs features are clearly listed and the bottom is rounded out by production information and very little useful technical information. No insert was included with this release.

The menus here are more animated than usual for Bandai as it moves around an underwater setting that has video panels down below and showcases clips from the show as explosions and other vehicles move by, all set to some of the choral style music that's from the show. Navigation is nicely done along the bottom and in submenus and is quick to access and load. The disc unfortunately did not read our players' language presets and played to a default of English language with sign/song subtitles.


Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
At the halfway mark of the series, Mars Daybreak starts to hit its stride a bit more but at the same time shifts from having a strong potential plot to work with to dealing with a number of side stories that push the characters along minor bits of simple growth and fleshing out. The first half of the series has been fairly chaotic with a sizeable cast of characters that get along too easily too quickly but in the second half their familiar nature works for the better as they chase a potentially big treasure.

This volumes opens up in a fun way as the Shop of Aurora has to figure a way out of the city-ship that they're in while the entire fleet is outside waiting for them to come out, providing that they're really actually inside. While the captain learns of a trick to escaping, Vestemona has reached her limit with the way the military is working and with the lazy nature of her own captain and heads off into the city-ship in her Seahorse without waiting for approval. The discovery of nothing in there causes her to start a wider search among the fleet itself while those without her impatience tend to just look busy as they hunt out the Aurora. The Ship of Aurora has found a neat way out by using an old underwater mine tunnel which has them moving carefully through it while putting out some amusing ways of hiding from the military. The entire idea of hunting ships by smell continues to be highly amusing.

Once past this the show sort of meanders as the Ship of Aurora is basically on a journey now to reach the Citadel as described in the Box of Guidance. It takes a bit before they key in on where it is but eventually they do so it's just time spent to get there. During that time there's a couple of episodes that while they provide some fun for the characters don't do much for the plot overall. The first is the standard ghost story tales told on board ships that has the cast telling a few of their own and then finding that things are happening on board their own ship that seem similar in some ways and they all freak out about it until they can track down what's going on. Very standard material and you can almost predict each aspect of it depending on how much you've seen of anime in general before.

The other tale involves the ship coming across an SOS signal that leads them to a very wealthy mini-ship that's basically like a luxury hotel suite on the inside and it contains a single person, a very attractive young bride. It turns out that she's taken the ship out to the seas to find her pirate husband to be after he left her on some adventure and has yet to return. Her presence on board the ship some of the men leering at her but also one of the pilots which leads to him doing anything he can for her since she's not entirely clear on what she says and leaves it open enough that people can interpret her the wrong way. It's actually a fun episode as it leads to a costume party and the young bride is pretty nicely animated. The show plays up the comedy a fair bit while letting the cast have fun with each other as they all have different opinions of what's going on.

The show does get close to getting back on track by the end of the volume as it deals with Vestemona getting free from her confinement and heading out to try and capture Gram again now that she knows that they're close by. We get some good sized underwater battles as the fleet is close to catching up with the Ship of Aurora but everything goes wacky when Kubernes arrives on the scene and his completely weird looking ship just causes a lot of problems for everyone. A lot of the character interactions get cleared up as this episode progresses and various people are put in danger, particularly the way that Gram and Vestemona interact with each other. The first half of the series has had its issues but there are ways that it's playing out now that is making the show enjoyable. Any scene with Poipoider in it is just perfect, especially his costume in the Bride episode. The larger plot with the Box of Guidance continues to work in the background here after the first episode on the volume sets things up for what will obviously be important going forward but shows that keep putting in straightforward material like most of this volume continue to make me cringe a bit since the time can be so much better spent as seen by so many other original series.

In Summary:
Mars Daybreak has some real highlights in this volume but they're still outweighed by the many mediocre and near-filler style moments and episodes that seem to plague the show. The series has some interesting material to work with and at times has some great moments of clarity but so much of it seems to be lost to average storytelling and designs. The idea of a water filled Martian landscape that has all sorts of potential both above and below the waves is mostly squandered here. The wonder of such a world, which we saw beautifully done in their series Wolf's Rain, just isn't here at all, which gives it a less that top shelf feel from a company known for making the locations of its shows stand out.

Japanese 2.0 Language,English 2.0 Language,English Subtitles

Review Equipment
Panasonic PT50LC13 50" LCD RP HDTV, Zenith DVB-318 Progressive Scan codefree DVD player via DVI, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Monster component cable and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.


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