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Daphne In The Brilliant Blue - volume one: Initiation

voice cast: Mai Nakahara, Carrie Savage, Kana Ueda, Michelle Ruff, and Masumi Asano

creator: Seishi Minakami

96 minutes (12) 2004
widescreen ratio 16:9
MVM DVD Region 2 retail

RATING: 6/10
reviewed by Sarah Ash
"Beautiful, dangerous, and desperate for work..." In the far future, we're told, the polar ice caps have melted, the seas have risen, cities have waterways instead of roads, and the Ocean Agency is responsible for maritime safety and resource management.

We first meet teenager Maia Mizuki as she undertakes the final underwater test to become an employee of the prestigious Ocean Agency. So confident is the young student of passing that she - rashly, as it turns out - gives notice on her rented home. When she hears that she has been rejected, she finds herself jobless and homeless, trudging the streets of the less salubrious 'other side' of the city in search of work. And just when it seems that her luck could not get any worse, the hapless Maia is taken hostage by a cornered criminal who is being pursued by two svelte female bounty hunters, working for the NEREIS Agency or 'all-round service provider' whose motto is "our clients' smiles are our reward." After a bungled hostage exchange, Maia finds that the skills she learned training to enter the Ocean Agency come in pretty handy in a high octane underwater chase.

Taken in as the NEREIS Agency's newest recruit, Maia finds herself carrying out the most menial tasks to earn her board and lodging: anything, in fact, from rescuing stranded kitties to collecting late rent. Shizuka (blue hair and glasses) and Rena (scarlet hair) are her new bosses. The explosive arrival of a third Nereid, the larger-than-life blonde ganguro Gloria, livens things up considerably, especially when newbie Maia dares to call her new partner, 'too forceful'.

Both the original Japanese cast and the English voice actors make the most of their material, with convincing performances from Mai Nakahara and Carrie Savage as wide-eyed Maia, and Masumi Asano and Megan Hollingshead as the feisty Gloria.

Maia's (mis)adventures are told with a light touch; if you take away the fan service (I can only assume that the non-outfits worn by the girls when in pursuit of their targets are due to the tropical temperatures of this future Earth) there's really nothing in these first four episodes that merits a 12 certificate. So there's nothing remarkable yet about this likeable but slight tale of crime-fighting girls; even the underwater scenes, though pretty, are little more than window-dressing, and the show already seems to have settled into a 'solve the crime of the week' formula. There are hints of more plot to come; a sinister guy in shades has been shadowing Maia since episode one, but by the end of the first disc we're really none the wiser as to who he is, what his motives are - or whether he is responsible for her failing to be accepted by the Ocean Agency, in spite of her excellent results. And it's about time we were given a clue as to who - or what - Daphne is.

Reminiscent in some ways of classic caper series like Slayers or Dirty Pair which depict a bevy of pistol-packing (or sword-wielding) feisty females, Daphne In The Brilliant Blue is described as "a science fiction anime that blends action, comedy, and titillation." Yup, that just about sums it up.

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