What They Say
For a hapless young cadet, boot camp is no picnic, and Misaki is as hapless as they get. With the help of friends Luxandra, Kiri, and Suzanna, however, she advances in her training. Pretty normal, right? Wrong. Luxandra should be dead. Suzanna should be discharged. Misaki herself should have vanished in the exodus from the Watcher’s Nest outpost. And a mysterious life form known as the Ghoul still keeps popping up. It’s up to Lieutenant Commander Ertiana and the rest of the survivors from Watcher’s Nest to find out why everything on Earth is back to normal…when everything else in the universe is anything but. Get ready for a high-octane, faster-than-light ride through space and time in Misaki Chronicles!
For this viewing session, I watched the English dub, which is offered in 5.1 and is used to full effect. Like the first series, Misaki Chronicles displays some really nice directionality on both the dialogue and the sound effects. During discussions, the different characters tended to be centered in different speakers, shifting well as the camera angle changed, which really added to the realism and the sense of “being there.” Add into it the fact that the audio was clear throughout, with no dropout, and Misaki Chronicles gives a pleasant aural experience.
A few times while watching, I also switched over to the Japanese track, which was also very well done though only offered in 2.0. Directionality used as well as 2.0 allows, and again the audio was as clean as can be. In all, both tracks were very well done.
Also similar to Divergence Eve, the visual track is another high point for Misaki Chronicles. Colors and clarity were excellent throughout, with no observed instances of distortion or cross colorization. Both hand-drawn and computer graphics were used to full effect, giving us some wonderfully rendered visuals, especially during space and action scenes. If I only have one complaint with the video, it is that sometimes the transition from hand-drawn to computer graphics was a little jarring. The computer animation tended to be a little smoother, but duller in color, than the hand-drawn portions. However, this is more a result of the technology rather than lack of effort. Overall, the visuals and video quality for this set are among the best I have seen.
The packaging for this show is fairly simple, but also well done. The box is yellow in color, with the show’s logo and a picture of one of the girls in their battle outfit on each side. On side has Misaki clutching her shoulder, with her outfit torn in numerous places, while the opposite side has a shadowy picture of Luxandra raising her arms above her head. The image of Luxandra wraps to the top of the box. The bottom of the box has the technical information for the show, and the spine has a small thumbnail of Misaki’s head with the title underneath.
Each individual box continues the yellow motif and has a head shot of one of the girls, which wraps around the open side of the case. Volume one has a picture of Kiri; the second has Misaki, and Lyer is on volume three. In the bottom left corner on the front is the show’s logo. The spines have the full title of the show with the volume number underneath, and the right side of the back of each case has the technical details for that disc. There are no screenshots or disc summaries on any of the cases. The discs themselves repeat the same image from the front of the case.
Finally, there is a small insert that sits between the box and the shrink-wrap that has a few screenshots and the summary of the show, set against the same image of Luxandra from the box.
The menus are fairly simple to navigate and have a pleasant layout. Each menu has the same picture from that case (Kiri, Misaki, or Lyer) in the background, with the show’s logo prominently displayed next to it. Each disc has a selection for each episode and language setup. The first disc also has selections for ADV previews and DVD credits. An instrumental version of the theme song plays while on the menu. Simple, but well done.
Being an ADV thinpak release, the only extras are some previews.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
To say that I was looking forward to seeing Divergence Eve: Misaki Chronicles would be an understatement. The first show was one of the better science fiction shows, anime or not, that I had seen in a long time, and I was chomping at the bit to find out what happened after the show’s creators left us hanging at the end of Divergence Eve. Misaki Chronicles gives us these answers, and more, though it does not quite live up to the expectations I had.
When Divergence Eve ends, we are left wondering what happened to Misaki after attacking the Ghoul, and why the refugees from Watcher’s Nest have arrived at Earth trapped in a time vortex. Misaki Chronicles picks up right where its predecessor leaves off. Episode one begins with Lieutenant Commander Lyer Von Ertiana using a window in the time vortex to travel to Earth, where she discovers that it is five years in the past, and Misaki, Kiri, Luxandra, and Susanna are still in their cadet training. Yet, events do not appear to be correct. After her mission is completed, Kiri (the one back on the ship from Watcher’s Nest) informs Lyer that she had never met Misaki until they were picked for Seraphim, meaning that what Lyer had just witnessed never happened.
The next few episodes take Lyer through a rift in the time vortex a few more times, visiting other time periods where Misaki is unexpectedly showing up, eventually causing Lyer and the other refugees from Watcher’s Nest realize that it is not the Earth caught in a time vortex, but themselves. Lyer, Kotoko, and Kiri, with a newly re-recruited Susanna, decide to venture back through the wormhole to Watcher’s Nest so that they might be able to figure out what exactly happened during the exodus. From here, the girls learn all about the history of Watcher’s Nest, why it was originally built, and who exactly the Necromancer are, all leading up to a much more complete conclusion than the first show gives us.
This shift in the story half way through, from Lyer’s excursions on Earth to the voyage back to Watcher’s Nest was a little jarring for me, and I, unfortunately, found the second half of the show to be a bit less interesting than the first. As Lyer explores the various different time periods on Earth, she continually runs into a version of Misaki who is trying to manipulate events in an effort to reduce, if not completely eliminate, all sorrow and suffering. Since she cannot deal with the losses of her parents, Luxandra, and the memory of Susanna, Misaki assumes that the world would be much better off if it did not have to deal with these problems. To me, it was fascinating to see her struggle against basic tenants of humanity and slowly learning from her past mistakes, both in action and philosophy.
When the series shifts back to Watcher’s Nest, however, it also shifts into being more grounded in Science Fiction than psychology. It was certainly interesting, not to mention necessary, to finally learn all of the past secrets surrounding Watcher’s Nest and the Exodus, tying up all of the events nicely. However, when that was done, I found it a little underwhelming to discover that with all of the philosophical, psychological, and otherwise bizarre events leading up to the conclusion, a big fight was all that was left. In most likelihood, this is more a problem with myself than with the actual story, however, and I would imagine that there will be plenty who do not see this being a problem.
Interestingly enough, fanservice and character design play even less of a role in this show than in its predecessor. Obviously Misaki, Lyer, and all of the other girls in the show still possess their rather exaggerated physiques, but outside of a few cadet training scenes in the first episode, I found it to be less of a distraction than the first show. Part of that may just be that I was used to the character designs by Misaki Chronicles, but it seemed to me that this sequel series had less scantily clad or bouncy moments than the previous. Still, the character designs are an odd choice for a show that is then going to ignore them, however, it’s hard to expect them to change the character designs from one season to the next.
Much like the first series, the voice acting remains a strong point, as all of the principle actors return for a second go around with their characters. Once again, Kira Vincent-Davis does a superb job with Misaki as she adds just the right touch to all of the various circumstances that Misaki finds herself. Shelly Calene-Black as Lyer also really steps it up in this show as she is given more to work with than in the previous show. Since ADV really used 5.1 to its fullest capabilities, the efforts of the actors in this show shine through as they are given the best possible platform to show off on.
Also done well in this series, like the first, is the characterization of all the players involved. Lyer still struggles with her determination to do her job and do what’s right. Susanna rebounds well from her cowardice in Divergence Eve to playing a major part in the final push to drive back the Ghoul and complete the Exodus from Watcher’s Nest. However, it’s Misaki who does the most growing in this series. When we first see what she is trying to do in manipulating time, she is as determined to have her way as she was at the end of the first show. That determination quickly begins to fade, though, and her former insecurities once again rise as she begins to realize the implications of her actions. She seems to be falling once again back into her pit of despair when Lyer rescues her from the core and her struggle with the Ghoul. As all of the pieces of the puzzle begin to fall into place, Misaki’s once found determination rises again, even in the face of some unpleasant revelations about her parents and her past. Like with Divergence Eve, characterization is most definitely a strong point for Misaki Chronicles.
With all this said, though, I cannot escape my feeling that this show should have been more than it was. My enjoyment of Divergence Eve, coupled with the open-ended way that it concluded, gave me some high hopes for Misaki Chronicles. The first half of the show looked to be doing a good job in answering those hopes, though the psychological nature of the conflicts gave this show a much different feel than the first series. However, once the show shifted back to an “everybody versus the Ghoul” conflict, the show seemed a bit more prosaic even though it was a formula that worked very well in Divergence Eve. Some of that is most likely due to heightened expectations that could never be lived up to, but I still felt a twinge of disappointment towards the show as a whole.
Ultimately, I did not enjoy Divergence Eve: Misaki Chronicles quite as much as I did the first show. However, I will happily admit that much of that might have been an exaggerated sense of expectations. With Divergence Eve, I went in expecting nothing special and was blown away. With Misaki Chronicles, I expected a lot, and it did not quite measure up. That does not mean that what is here is not worth seeing. Misaki Chronicles was a good show in its own right and one that some people might say outstrips the first. Fans of the Divergence Eve should definitely see this one to finish out the story, though people who might be coming in cold would do well to watch the first show before checking this one out as this one cannot stand on its own.
Japanese 2.0 Language, English 5.1 Language, English Subtitles
Content Grade: B
Audio Grade: A+
Video Grade: A
Packaging Grade: B+
Menu Grade: B
Extras Grade: N/A
Released By: ADV Films
Release Date: May 29th, 2007
Running Time: 325 Minutes
Video Encoding: 480i/p MPEG-2
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Phillips Magnavox TP3285 C129 32″ TV, Samsung DVD-V5650 Progressive Scan DVD w/ DD/DTS, Durabrand HT3916 5.1 Surround Sound System