Judge Mitchell Hattaway says Divergent Eve is nothing like Christmas Eve, except perhaps for the mass consumption of eggnog.
Something wicked is waiting to be unleashed!
The year is 2317, and mankind is using inflation holes (read: worm holes) to quickly traverse vast reaches of space (32.6 light years in two minutes, for example). The planet Watcher's Nest has an inflation hole at its core and is chosen by the nations of Earth as the base of operations for interstellar colonization efforts, but these plans are halted when members of a race of interdimensional creatures known as the Ghoul materialize in the core of Watcher's Nest and attack the Earth forces. The military quickly mobilizes the Seraphim battle squadron, a group of elite pilots who use modified Rampart Armor mecha to combat the Ghoul threat. Exactly what sort of pilots can be found in the Seraphim squadron? Young, big-breasted women, of course.
I have several problems with Divergence Eve, with a sense of familiarity being the biggest. If the plotting in these first five episodes is any indication, this series will fall squarely into the "cute, bubble-headed, klutzy teenager saves humanity" subsection of anime. Sure, a couple of new ideas might be thrown into the mix, but I don't think it's too hard to see where this series is headed. I don't mind a plucky heroine, but do we really need another plucky heroine who screws up at every turn but at the same time has mysterious, untapped abilities that will eventually allow her to save the day? The story opens with Misaki (that's our heroine) being yelled at by her supervisor for screwing up, and we quickly get the idea that this isn't the first time she's screwed up, nor will it be the last. (Just once I'd like to see one of these stupid kids screw up and die, or at least cause someone else to die, as a result.) There's a familiar air about the other characters, too: the gruff, no nonsense captain and the smart, no nonsense lieutenant who deep down really cares about the cadets she's training (want to guess who's the first to go into action when Misaki crash-lands on Watcher's Nest and needs to be rescued?). And, of course, Misaki has three cadet friends, and all are more serious about their training and mission than she is. Not a single attempt is made to develop any of these characters beyond their standard personality traits.
The science (or, more accurately, the pseudo-science) in the series isn't handled very well. A lot of information is offered regarding inflation holes, worm holes, baby universes, and time waves, but none of it makes a damn bit of sense. Characters expound for interminable stretches on the technology and astronomical phenomena at the center of the plot, and after a while it becomes headache inducing. I tried to keep up with what was being explained, but eventually realized I would be better served by simply ignoring it.
What I couldn't ignore, however, is the number of female characters with over-inflated breasts. In fact, only one female character doesn't have ridiculously large breasts, but that's because she's an android. Given the physical appearances of the cadets and their lieutenant, I'm led to believe that breast augmentations are a requirement of military service for these women (and the fact that no one comments about all these huge mammary glands only furthers this belief); I imagine that makes for a hell of a recruitment campaign, but in the context of the story, I found it to be a nonsensical distraction. While we're on the subject, I have a couple of questions: First, why do the women all go through live-fire weapons training in sports bras and bikini bottoms? Second, why does Misaki always lose her uniform whenever she encounters a Ghoul? Last, does Miskai not own a pair of underwear that will cover her entire butt, or is this just a nod to the climax of Alien? I can understand a little fan service here and there, but this is just stupid.
The last thing I'd like to mention is the animation itself, which is an uneasy mix of traditional cel animation and CG animation. This is probably just another part of my pigheaded nature, but I'm from the either/or animation camp; I generally don't like a mixture of techniques. I can normally accept the use of CG to augment cel animation (smoothing out or enhancing motion, for example), but what's done here really bothers me. All of the vehicles in Divergence Eve are CG, as are the Ghoul and Watcher's Nest itself. To make matters worse, it's really cheap, crude CG animation—we're talking two steps back from The Last Starfighter or the opening credits from Amazing Stories. This stuff would be laughed at by three-year-olds, who would probably also notice that the same CG sequences are used over and over again.
As far as the technical presentation goes, well, it's spectacular. The transfer is just about as good as it gets, as are both audio options. The Japanese track is one of the better stereo tracks I've heard, with a nice spread between the channels, firmly anchored dialogue, and some pretty deep bass activity. The mix in the English dub is fantastic, with terrific immersion, very good surround use, and even more deep bass action. The dubbing work itself is above average, probably due in large part to the efforts of producer Carl Macek (the man who helped bring Robotech to these shores). Extras include a commentary on the second episode from Macek and three members of the English language cast (they discuss various dubbing techniques, which I didn't find very interesting), production sketches, credit-free opening and closing sequences, one of the original Japanese promo spots for the series, ADV's ubiquitous previews, and a few pages from a Divergence Eve manga.
Divergence Eve looks great and sounds great, but it's not great. Not by a long shot.
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