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Brighter Than The Dawning Anime DVD Review

9 min read

The fate of Earth/Lunar negotiations and peace rests in the results of a homestay on Earth.

What They Say
It’s never easy when a stranger moves into your house, but if you have to host a foreign exchange student, Feena Fam Earthlight* would be almost the perfect choice – She’s smart, kind, generous and attractive, BUT the problem is that she’s the Sphere Kingdom’s Princess, and tensions between Earth and our Lunar neighbors have been tense since the big war. So you might forgive Asagiri Tatsuya for having some reservations, but since his father IS the first assistant to the president, what better place to board the Princess so she can learn more about Earth culture? And, as mentioned before, Feena is VERY attractive. Unfortunately, the course of true love doesn’t normally have to contend with either interplanetary diplomacy or Feena’s bizarre entourage of assistants’ and then there’s the question of how the kids at Tatsuy’s school are going to react. Get ready to see stars as two teens from totally different worlds collide in Brighter than the Dawning Blue ‘” The Complete Collection!

The Review!

This release is rather standard for Sentai Filmworks in that we get only the Japanese language track in stereo encoded at 224kbps. The show is mostly dialogue with a bit of mild action here and there so it has a fairly center channel feel to it where there isn’t a lot of placement or depth to it. It’s not hampered by this since it is a fairly dialogue driven show with a lot of quiet moments throughout. The bigger scenes and the opening and closing sequences have a much fuller feel to them and work well, but the audio mix for this is rather basic but it works well and is clean and clear of any noticeable problems.
Originally airing in 2006, the transfer for this TV series is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and is enhanced for anamorphic playback. The show is spread across two discs with six episodes on each of them. Brighter then the Dawning Blue has a good look to it with lots of vibrant colors and a slightly plastic feel to the meshing of character animation and background that has them standing out a lot more than they should, but it all blends well as it goes on. The colors throughout look very good with only some noticeable noise depending on the scene while backgrounds hold up well. Line noise is minimal with it only showing during a couple of panning sequences and cross coloration is non-existent. The color palette chosen is really nice and with the vibrancy given to it the show stands out nicely in an almost 90’s classic kind of way.
The release comes in a standard single sized keepcase that holds both discs on the interior sides of it. The front cover has a nice framework to it that holds together the three separate character images, where the two Earth girls are on either side of Feena who is in the center set against a darker image of the moon with the night time clouds around her. The contrast works really well and the detail and overall designs are pretty appealing. The logo is lengthy, to be expected, but it doesn’t look as bad as it could have been. The back cover uses the same kind of layout overall with the center strip expanded a bit. The left and right sides have several small shots from the show and some supporting character artwork while the center strip has another shot of the moon, a bit lighter in color, with a text heavy summary of the premise. The bottom of it has the production credits while below the framework we get the solid technical grid that lays everything out in an easy to read clean format. No show related inserts are included nor is there a reversible cover.
The menus for the release utilize the design structure from the cover artwork which looks really nice here as it’s zoomed in a bit to accommodate the 16:9 framing. The layout works nicely with good colors and a strong unifying them while offering up some good character artwork as well for both discs. The navigation is simple with each of the episodes selectable from the top level while a special features section is below it, though only the second volume has any real special features as the first is just the credits and the trailers for other shows. The menus are quick and easy to navigate and it overall has a good clean look to it. With it being a monolingual release, player presets are a non-issue.
The only extras included in this release are the clean opening and closing segments as well as a ninety second music video that’s nice but fairly forgettable.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Drawing from the source material of a visual novel game, manga and light novels, Brighter Than the Dawning Blue is a twelve episode series that deals in the delicate relations between the Earth Federation and the Lunar kingdom. Having not seen any of those versions, I’m uncertain of how much is drawn from them for the series, but like any good series (and one that eschews the ero-game aspects of the original material), this series has to stand on its own without it. While the show may make more sense and have more nuance because of those other elements, for most people, especially in America, it has to tell a self contained story without any of the other trappings.
The series revolves around Feena Fam Earthlight, a princess from the moon which is politically known as the Kingdom of the Sphere. Feena has been on Earth once long ago, but now she’s returned as a teenager in order to see about the relations between the Earth Federation and the Kingdom. Tensions have eased between the two over the years, but they were high for quite awhile and there is some long, bad blood over the Oedipus War that occurred in which many died during a massive space battle between the two places. Since the war ended, there are those on both sides that don’t want to normalize relations or find a good middle ground, but some effort has been made as a Lunar port city has been made on Earth, under control of the United Nations, from the ruins of a blast from space. While the show doesn’t explore how the moon was settled by mankind or the full reasons for the war, the tension and results from it are all quite apparent.
Its into this situation that Feena arrives, along with her attendant Mia, as they’re about to do a homestay in the city with some of its Earth residents. She’s been set to live with Asagiri family where the elder sister works for the United Nations under the president as an adviser. Within the family there’s Tatsuya, who is the same age as Feena, and his younger sister Mai. Tatsuya works at a fun little restaurant where he’s good friends with Natsuki, though there’s only some mild joking about a relationship there and nothing serious. He also works with her brother and their father through which we get some regular gags about how the brother is working constantly without pay because of all the things that go wrong, namely events that cause him to be booted out a glass window.
The arrival of Feena is a shock to the Asagiri family, but it turns into a rather pleasant affair with Feena moving in nicely, attending school on most days and dealing with princess duties on other days. The two have some simple moments of bonding as it progresses and the show, sadly, does go for the childhood acquaintance route but it does have some nice simple elements to it that don’t feel too forced. As it starts to draw the ties together, the Kingdom of the Sphere starts to pull its influence out as there are those that absolutely want no peace at all, and even less so after meeting Tatsuya and realizing that there is a relationship brewing there between the commoner and the princess. There are some interesting elements to it when it comes to how the past plays into the present, such as how Feena’s parents met and the feelings of her father since her mother died, and it adds a rather pleasant layer, one that deals with how things happen in cycles.
Brighter Than the Dawning Blue is admittedly pretty predictable when it comes to its main plot. Some of the trappings are interesting as we see the past with the Oedipus War and how it has a very 70’s kind of design to the ships and such. The show also has a good sense of humor about things outside of the main bits, such as the chibi sized areas or the gags with the restaurant. One of the longer running gags that’s used rather sparingly but beautifully involves Tatsuya’s father as he’s an archaeologist. They paint him as Indiana Jones with a blunt brushstroke but it works well as they cover various bits of the first three movies and even utilize the fourth movie to wonderful comic result as the show races towards its finale. Granted, it’s a moment that ruins what could make this a very strong show with real challenge, but its decision to run with humor works fairly well.
The look of the show overall is fairly standard fare outside of the Oedipus War material. The character designs are very clean and while not overly detailed, they have a good sense of style to them when it comes to clothing. Since some of it takes place in school, there are uniforms abound at times, but the main cast does wear other outfits as well throughout the series which is quite welcome. There’s a really good sense of color here with lots of bright pieces that are well placed and I came to like how the character animation looks since it’s very clean and vibrant. The animation has a good sense of fluidity to it when required, but much of it is dialogue driven so they’re often just walking around, sitting and talking or they shift to chibi mode for some of the fun. They strike a good balance between the serious moments and the silly ones and the animation itself reflects that well.
In Summary:
Brighter Than the Dawning Blue was a series that was more fun than I expected it to be based on the overall premise. It uses a lot of familiar things to it but it manages a really nice balance overall. The homestay angle is nicely played and they layered it well with connections to the past that make sense in the present, though some want to deny it. There’s a certain kind of simplicity here, a serene nature that occurs throughout a lot of it that makes it work. It knows when to up the ante nicely as well while making sure there’s a fair bit of comedy throughout. Though the show could have hit some really solid material in its finale, it instead went to the more predictable yet enjoyable route. This is a show that almost became something special, but fell just a hair short of it because of that. But it’s definitely worth checking out and savoring what it does offer.

Japanese 2.0 Language, English Subtitles, Clean Opening, Clean Closing, Music Video

Content Grade: B
Audio Grade: B
Video Grade: B+
Packaging Grade: A-
Menu Grade: B
Extras Grade: B-

Released By: Sentai Filmworks
Release Date: June 1st, 2010
MSRP: $49.98
Running Time: 300 Minutes
Video Encoding: 480i/p MPEG-2
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen

Review Equipment:
Sony KDS-R70XBR2 70″ LCoS 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.

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