What They Say:
In the early 21st century, the discovery of the first wormhole made faster than light travel possible. However, what promised to be a gateway to the stars also proved to be a Pandora’s Box, and the process of jumping through space via parallel universes unleashed terrifying consequences. Now, a quarter millennia later, the deep space outpost Watcher’s Nest must stand on guard, defending the vanguard of humanity against attacks by the monstrous Ghoul, who emerge from alternate time streams and turn their victims into the living undead horrors known as Necromancers. For newly arriving cadets Misaki, Luxandra, Susanna and Kiri, it’s going to be an assignment in Hell as they train to become members of the elite Seraphim Squadron. Because this is a war mankind has been losing, and a new, top secret plan to take the fight back to the Ghoul may end up costing them their minds, lives and even their humanity. At the edge of known space, fighting an enemy from beyond time, the battle to keep the final frontier from becoming mankind’s final resting place has begun in DIVERGENCE EVE!
For this viewing I listened to the English audio track which was in Dolby Digital 5.1. There is also a Japanese language track, but it is only in 2.0. English subtitles are also provided. The quality of the sound was solid with no problems with dropout or fading.
Each episode is presented in 16:9 anamorphic aspect ratio and the overall video quality was sound. The animation was clean and clear.
Divergence Eve comes packaged in a standard Amaray case with all twenty-six episodes divided over six disks (three for the first season and three for the second). The front cover features Lyar, Kotoko-01, and Misaki standing in water in some tropical location, wearing bikinis. Kotoko-01, stands between Lyar and Misaki, and has her arms around both women. With her right she is pulling down Lyar’s bikini bottom, and with her left she is pulling back (possibly untying) Misaki’s bikini top. The show’s title is below them.
The spine is dominated by the show’s title and a picture of Misaki in her space suit.
The center of the back cover is taken up by the show’s description and it is surrounded by various screenshots from the episodes. Underneath it are Misaki, Luxandra, Susanna, Kiri, and Kotoko-01 in various states of undress, and underneath that are the DVD specifications and cast and crew credits.
It’s a fine design, but the emphasis on the fanservice aspect of the show underlie—perhaps undermine—the aspects that make the series so enjoyable to me. It seems to be a systemic issue with the entire production: the story is actually quite solid and rooted in hard science fiction with real moments of human interaction and grief and joy; however, the character designs and overreliance on fanservice makes this an incongruous experience. There will be more on that in the review proper, but it needed mentioning here since fanservice plays such a large role in packaging.
The menu is fairly simple with a stripe running along the bottom of the screen featuring the show’s title and the languages and special features options. One of the characters from the series stands in the left-hand corner above that and to her left is the episode listing. All of the options are bright and clear and easily discernable from the background. The show’s main theme plays on a five second loop, which does get a little annoying at times, but doesn’t detract that much from the overall clean, efficient design.
While there is nothing wrong with the extras on this set, there was nothing that particularly caught my attention, either. The mini-mangas were quite interesting but reading manga on the television isn’t my preferred method.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
The Seraphim Squadron comprises the best of the best. In humanity’s distant future, wormholes have been discovered, allowing for faster-than-light travel. These wormholes (or inflation holes as they are called) bore a path through our universe to a baby universe still expanding after its big bang. This creates a cosmic shortcut that humans have managed to use. Two bases exist currently that take advantage of this phenomenon: one on Saturn’s moon Titan, and the other on a distant, hollowed-out planet in the Lyra system known only as The Core. A space station, Watcher’s Nest, is created to watch over the Core, and the Seraphim Squadron is tasked to keep the peace.
What no one outside of Seraphim and the highest echelons of government know, however, is that aliens from the baby dimension, called The Ghoul, have been making incursions into our universe, and reanimating the corpses of their victims. Entering into all of this is Misaki Kureha, probably the most unlikely candidate ever for Seraphim. She’s clumsy, she’s silly, and while she certainly isn’t stupid, she occasionally makes stupid mistakes. Her fellow cadets put up with her due to her kind and bubbly personality, but none of them would be surprised if she washed out of the program. Although she doesn’t know it yet, Misaki will be the key to saving humanity from this army of the undead and their hideous masters.
Divergence Eve is a fun, interesting, but ultimately erratic show. The parts that I enjoyed the most about it were the strong character interactions; Misaki’s character arc; the strong, plausible science behind the story; and the genuinely frightening enemy. It’s a show that does not pull its punches: characters die in awful, painful ways, and Misaki almost loses her mind. The story is powerful and psychological, and in some ways illustrates science fiction as its best because it uses a science fiction concept to illustrate and interrogate some aspect of the human condition.
However, all of these strong points are mitigated by the level of fanservice in this show. The character models are ludicriously proportioned and they often go around wearing the flimsiest of clothes in inappropriate settings, such as tankinis on the gun range. There is also the requisite Jell-O physics going on with their breasts where they will sway and bounce at the slightest movement or breeze. While I typically enjoy fanservice, in this case it sometimes takes away from the emotional core of a scene, such as when Misaki undergoes her first transformation. She passes out afterward and when a rescue team discovers her, she’s naked and covered with blood. It’s a scene that should be disturbing, but it’s also slightly titillating as well, which makes it disturbing in a completely different way that is unnecessary.
This disparity in tone is also reflected in the opening credits where the female protagonists are shown in various “sexy” poses, and in the ending credits where a light, breezy J-Pop song plays over various scenes of Misaki trying on various cute, sexy outfits. After spending thirty minutes watching a woman being psychologically deconstructed, seeing her then play sexy-time dress up show feels odd and somewhat undermining to the show’s theme.
However, the fanservice issue isn’t the only area where the show feels inconsistent. Divergence Eve was broken into two seasons, the first simply called Divergence Eve and the second, Misaki Chronicles. In the first season Misaki discovers that she is a human-Ghoul hybrid specifically bred by a shady government agency called Alchemy. This allows her to transform into a Ghoul-like being with incredible power, but the discovery nearly breaks her mentally. The final episode ends on a cliffhanger with Misaki basically rewinding time to avert a disaster and bring back to life her friends who had died. The Misaki Chronicles takes the story from there and it becomes slightly lighter in tone in some areas and at first focuses more on Lyra diving into the timestream to repair it. In her trips to the timestream, she discovers that Misaki is alive, and is trying to “fix” history—basically eliminating pain and conflict from the world. Lyra manages to bring Misaki back and the plot then revolves around a final confrontation with the Ghoul and LeBlanc, an evil member of Alchemy who sets in motion events that might destroy humanity. The show picks back up again when it regains Misaki, but the episodes involving Lyra time-hopping felt extraneous to the plot.
Divergence Eve was an erratic, but ultimately enjoyable experience. Its strengths lied in the quality of its characters along with the manner it mixed science fiction and horror. All of these strengths were offset slightly by the high level of fanservice and the tonal break that occurred between series one and two. While those issues held back the series, they weren’t enough to ruin it. Recommended.
Japanese 2.0 Language, English 5.1 Language, English Subtitles, Production Sketches, Japanese Promotional Spots, Divergence Eve Mini-Manga, Misaki Chronicles Mini-Manga, Commentaries, Clean Opening Animation, Clean Closing Animation
Content Grade: B-
Audio Grade: A
Video Grade: A
Packaging Grade: A
Menu Grade: A
Extras Grade: C
Released By: Sentai Filmworks
Release Date: November 19, 2013
Running Time: 650 Minutes
Video Encoding: 480i/p
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Panasonic Viera TH42PX50U 42” Plasma HDTV, Sony BPD-S3050 BluRay Player w/HDMI Connection