R2 DVD Reviews
Friday, 17 April 2009 00:00
Daphne in the Brilliant Blue finally begins to go somewhere (other than on holiday jaunts to Siberia), as Maia's memories finally return - but not before her confusion over who she is leads to her losing her job. Add in two "bonus" OVA episodes, and you get a reasonable disc - but one that in places still doesn't quite feel right...
21 - Whatever Happened to Baby Maia?
Maia's preparing for the Ocean Agency entrance exams again, although there's so much running through her head that focussing's a no-hope prospect. Little does she know that the Ocean Agency has been keeping a close eye on her progress, at a very high level - and they're just as concerned and surprised at events in Siberia as she was. When her lack of focus puts the other Nereids girls in danger, though, Maia quickly finds herself out of a job and back on the streets...
22 - Terms of Endangerment
It's back to Maia's younger days. Her father was a scientist working on the preservation of land-based species back before the cities returned to the surface, and young Maia spent a lot of time with her father while he was working. They were happy days for little Maia, but her father's work had also attracted the attention of some terrorist groups. Enter Ai Mayuzumi, a bodyguard for her father, and who after a rocky start soon became Maia's close friend. Back to the present, and the memories are starting to click into place for Maia - of the time capsule she planted under a tree named Daphne, in the garden of their home. In Elpida - a city lost over 100 years previously...
23 - Escape from Kamchatka
Maia's former therapist Kevin comes to visit her in her cell, aware that she's unlikely to be happy with him, having now realised that everything he'd told her about her past was a lie. He's there to help, but before he gets a chance the Ocean Agency's intelligence people interrupt - and it doesn't look like they have good things planned for her. Meanwhile, Tony approaches the Nereids gang and asks for their help in freeing Maia. Rena's happy to let the matter slide - Maia's no longer an employee, after all - but Shizuka and the others see things differently...
24 - Daphne in the Brilliant Blue
Elpida: the lost city. When the other cities of the Earth returned to the surface, Elpida failed to rise, resulting in a huge loss of life. Or at least, that's the official story - when Maia and the others arrive at Elpida, they find the city in too good condition for that to have really been what happened - if anything, it looks more like the city was attacked. Maia's convinced that if she can get inside the city and retrieve the capsule she remembers, it'll make everything clear, but the Ocean Agency are on their tail and determined to make sure they don't get inside...
OVA1 - Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Nereids (But Were Afraid to Ask)
It's Maia's fly-on-the-wall documentary all about Nereids and the services they provide - although filming doesn't go smoothly...
OVA2 - Heaven Can Wait for Maia Mizuki
A garbage barge as the home base of a crime syndicate? How appropriate. Gloria's taken on a little out-of-hours assassination work, and has brought Maia along for some help - the target is the head of the Roberto family, and a softly-softly approach is required. Sadly, Gloria's usual attitude and a very loud vending machine soon ends that plan - and also results in Gloria's and Maia's personalities switching bodies. Are they doomed to no longer be themselves..?
I'll start at the end, with a look at the OVA episodes. The first is really a series of comedy shorts, showing a day in the life of Nereids & how just about every job they take on somehow manages to go wrong - nothing much in the way of story, but it's certainly fun enough to watch. The second OVA stands outside the main story and can be watched whenever you like. - it's an action / comedy story in the mould of the earlier part of the series, and it's great fun to watch, even if the switching-bodies storyline is a little far-fetched. The fun I could have with that vending machine, mind you. Fortunately, the rest of the episodes here make up for the lack of story in the OVAs.
While it's good to see the pieces of Maia's past finally begin to fit into place, there's an awful lot here that still doesn't feel quite right. Isn't is a bit suspicious that Millie and Tony just happen to look like / be related to her brother and bodyguard, who would have been killed when Elpida sank? What's so dangerous about Maia's continued existence now, especially when her grandfather, who knew the truth, was allowed to live in peace for nothing more than a promise to keep his mouth shut? Through most of these episodes, there's a niggling feeling that something else is going on, something unrevealed, but it may just be my imagination - there's certainly nothing that outright says that what we're eventually told is the truth, isn't.
I'll also admit to missing the Nereids girls for the first two episodes - there were always the source of most of the show's comedy, and the show definitely feels as though it's missing a little without them. They're soon back in the action as the series ties up it's loose ends, though, and the final two episodes do that very nicely, if in a slightly understated kind of way. It's already been established that Maia was a survivor from Elpida - we just needed to find out how and why that happened, as the Elpida disaster was over 100 years previously. There are no prizes for guessing that the offical version of Elpida's demise is a complete cover-up, but there are a few surprises to be unveiled along the way to finding out what really happened.
Maia's quest definitely doesn't have official sanction, meaning she needs a fair amount to help to see it through - and as well as getting that from her friends and the Nereids girls, there are factions within the Ocean Agency which would seem to be quite happy to see the truth come out. That side of the story ties up the background maneuverings at the Ocean Agency and explains why Maia so conveniently failed her entrance exam way back at the beginning of the series.
Overall, Daphne in the Brilliant Blue has more meandered its way to its conclusion than ramped up to a high-powered climax like you would normally expect, but in this case it just feels "right" given how the series has progressed - and to be honest, there's not that much hidden in Maia's past that it would have needed a huge event to conclude it anyway. The story has been more about Maia coming to terms with who she is and being able to look to the future for once, than about her finding out about her past, and as far as that's concerned it's mission complete. I doubt that this is a series that will ever be looked on as a classic, but it's been fun to watch and definitely has enough good about it to make it well worth watching.