Reviewby Theron Martin, Jul 11th 2005
Daphne in the Brilliant Blue
DVD 2: Reunion
Hand-to-hand combat specialist Yu Park, the final member of the Nereids, rejoins after being released from prison for a stint brought on by wanton damage caused on a job prior to Maia's arrival at the agency. Maia continues to adjust to her new job and life while trying to keep Gloria and Yu from each other's throats, though she has not yet lost hope about eventually getting into the Ocean Agency. Tasks facing her and the Nereids this time around include saving a cruise ship which has been taken over by criminals, busting a rental car theft ring, helping their Branch Manager look good for his elementary school daughter, and assisting Albatross, a hover vehicle company, in the test-racing of a prototype vehicle which may be the subject of industrial sabotage.
Volume 2 of Daphne in the Brilliant Blue finishes the character introduction portion of the series by featuring Yu, the final core member of the Kamchatka Branch of the Nereids, before proceeding into a series of episodic missions. The story still lacks any degree of substance and does not score high on the originality meter, but let's be honest here: this is a series all about putting nubile female characters into the skimpiest imaginable costumes while sending them through a wide variety of danger-laden action scenes. Such a series cannot take itself too seriously and still be entertaining, and Daphne doesn't try. Instead, it has fun with its various mini-stories, such as the recurring appearance of a family of criminal half-brothers, the way the police chief reacts to Rena's seductive tactics when a work permit for Yu is at stake, or the brutal way the young daughter of the Branch Manager points out the stereotyped roles of the main female characters. The series also gets a lot of mileage out of the head-butting between the minimally-speaking Yu and the wild and reckless Gloria, which gives a much-needed spark to a group dynamic that had, up until that point, been focused primarily on keeping Maia and/or Gloria out of trouble. Still lacking is much semblance of an ongoing plot beyond Maia gradually growing in confidence and this odd guy who keeps popping up as if following Maia, but presumably that will eventually follow now that the character introductions are out of the way. Also lacking is any historical context; background information on the series claims that it is set in a late-21st century world where the melting of the polar ice caps has partly flooded the world, but nothing about this has yet come up in the series.
[For those curious about where the “Daphne” in the title comes from, since none of the characters introduced to date bear that name, it seems to be a clever reference to Greek mythology. Daphne was a particular nymph in those stories, while nereids were a class of sea nymphs. Since nymphs are described as shapely young women, and all the members of Nereids certainly fit that description, the connection is logical (if a little obscure).]
Nothing can be said about the artistic style of Daphne without mentioning the eye-popping battle costumes of its shapely female cast, many of which look like they once belonged to strippers or Vegas showgirls. Granted, minimalist dress seems to be even more of a general fashion statement for futuristic Ocean City than it is in current day in the less conservative parts of the world, so at least the series is consistent, but the costumes are taken to a ridiculous extreme. I like fan service as much as the next guy, but quickly found this approach to be more annoying than appealing. The sexiest outfit in this volume is actually the evening gown that Rena wears while trying to seduce the police chief, which is still skimpy but probably has more fabric in it than the battle uniforms of all the Nereids combined. The series has its greatest artistic appeal in episode 8, perhaps not coincidentally an episode where most of the women are dressed more normally throughout the entire episode. Despite being such a tease with all the cheesecake shots though, no actual frontal nudity ever appears in this volume. The character designs have a better sense of body proportioning with adult women than they do with teens such as Maia's friend Tsukasa, though all of the female characters are prone to pointed, triangular chins. Male character designs beyond the Branch Manager do not share this trait but are instead very generic.
The background art for the series is pretty good, and the designs on the hover cars of the future are appealing. (A particularly nice touch is a security system which registers a flashing message on the exterior of the windshield when a vehicle has been stolen.) The animation, which uses panning shots and still frames wherever possible, is wholly unremarkable, as is the soundtrack. Neither the opener nor the closer especially impresses, either.
The English script for this volume is very loose but rarely completely off track; one such case involved the criminal half-brothers referring to their mother's “husbands” in the dub where it is “boyfriends” in the sub, but the change has no real bearing on anything in the story. One gets the impression that some accuracy was sacrificed in favor of a smoother and more natural-sounding script. While this was not a major problem for me, it may be for others. The performances are delivered well by the core cast, with Wendee Lee deserving particular note for her infusion into Renna of the husky, seductive tones she used so well as Faye Valentine in Cowboy Bebop. Casting is also done reasonably well, with the notable exception of the Branch Manager's daughter, who sounds much too old. The weakest point of both the English dub and original Japanese vocal track is Yu's dog, which is one of the lamest-sounding animals to be voiced in an anime title in a long, long time.
Extras on this volume are as sparse as they are on the first volume, with only company previews and a clean closer on the disk and extra artwork present in the insert. A reversible cover was also included. At least the DVD is put together right, with English and Japanese voice actor names listed together for each role in the credits and separate language and subtitling options.
The second volume of Daphne in the Brilliant Blue is a mild improvement over the first volume, primarily because it has more interesting character dynamics and a good eighth episode. Overall though, it is still a light, sometimes funny, and usually shallow action series primarily of interest to those drawn in by the skimpy clothing of its characters. If you saw and liked the first volume, or are a big fan of fan service, then you should like this one, too.
Overall (dub) : C+
Overall (sub) : C+
Story : B-
Animation : B-
Art : B-
Music : C+
+ improved character dynamics, some genuinely funny content
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