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The Journal of the Lincoln Heights Literary Society
Miscellanea and Ephemeron

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08/15/2005 Archived Entry: "Anime review: Daphne in the Brilliant Blue, Vol 3"

Daphne in the Brilliant Blue, Vol 3
Published by Geneon, 2005

Review by Kelly S. Taylor

Margaret Cho has said that girls tend to travel in groups of three consisting of: the sweet one, the pretty one, and the 'ho'. The Japanese must believe that young women travel in groups of five: the nice one, the cute one, the smart one, the quiet one, and the wild one... And they all like to dress as the 'ho'. Following in the girl team formula perfected in titles as diverse as Bubblegum Crisis, Silent Mobius, and Sailor Moon, Daphne in the Brilliant Blue explores the adventures of nice girl Maia. She joins a team of female bounty hunters, who strip down to tiny, bikini-like strips of cloth when they go to work.... Oh, silly S.W.A.T. teams bundling up in all that stuffy body armor! What are you thinking?

Okay, I'm getting old. I can remember a time that doesn't seem that long ago when my mom walked in while I was watching Dirty Pair.

"What are they wearing?" she asked, appalled.
"They're anime characters," I replied, blasé. "That's just their costumes."

Now, I sit staring at the cover of Daphne in the Brilliant Blue wondering what special laws of physics are at work to keep those things on. This cover is an example of what is called "fan service" by those in the know. I'm strangely happy that anime aficionados have come up with a term for pandering to the lowest common denominator of fan desire that actually sounds like a euphemism for prostitution.

For those of you who look at the cover and think (as I did) "Is this porn?" fear not. Daphne in the Brilliant Blue is actually a nicely-paced classic anime series. (Conversely for those of you looking for porn... Well, sorry Bucky. As usual, there is no sex in the Champagne Room.) I was pleasantly surprised to find that Daphne in the Brilliant Blue is more than just the chronicle of the misadventures of big-eyed, big-boobed, battle babes. The story is intriguing. It's set in a post apocalyptic future... Although it is the cheeriest, brightest post-apocalyptic future I've ever seen. Although the identity of the titular "Daphne" is a mystery, viewers will immediately see "Brilliant Blue" everywhere. Earth's surface has been ravaged. Humanity escaped annihilation by retreating to cities on the ocean floor. These cities have now risen back to the surface and exist between sparkling blue oceans and clear blue skies.

My favorite aspect of the show is the plethora of little touches that reinforce the viewer's impression that this story is set in the future. In one scene, unmentioned and unnoticed, a little robo-trash-pail whirrs through and collects a drink can from a trail in a park. Our scantily clad heroines go on a vacation in a huge jet-powered ocean liner instead of an airplane. Once at their destination, they rent translator headsets that allow them to speak with the natives. Clever little touches like these abound and really drew me into the story.

Volume three seems to be an important collection of episodes in the continuity of the series. Episode 10 gives background on Maia's past. Episodes 11 and 12 fill in some gaps about how the Earth got into its present condition. I like the way hints and clues that all is not well are dropped casually into each story without ever giving too much away.

The artwork is lush and attractive... especially if you've got a taste for cheesecake. The writing manages to capture that brand of goofy Charlie's Angels/Dirty Pair sort of a mildly exploitative sort of way. Despite my reservations, I enjoyed the episodes and look forward to seeing more.

Geneon wrapped this bonbon in a pretty package. First off, there's the DVD cover art that I'm going to have to hide the next time my mother's in town. Complimenting this, there's a mini-poster inside the liner notes and more pin-up art inside the front and back covers. Our only extra on the DVD is an art gallery. While this will certainly service some fans, I'd like more. A short featurette with information on the series creators would be nice. A guide to each of the formerly submerged cities would also be welcome.

While it's not going to get the Gloria Steinam Award for sensitive and empowering presentation of positive female role models, Daphne in the Brilliant Blue is highly watchable bundle of fun with a surprising amount of brains to match its surprising amount of boobs.

To see more of Daphne, click on and lean back from your screen, please.

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